DIY writer’s journal

It is no secret that I have a fondness for notebooks. Big thick ones with pretty covers, thin little back ones, those with lines and those without. All notebooks are perfectly acceptable to me.

 

writers-notebook

 
Two weeks ago I wrote about how much I love New Years because of that energy it gives.
The same principle goes for a nice, clean notebook.
A notebook in and of itself is just a bunch of pages with potential. You can use it for traditional journalling, to keep a schedule or bullet journal. I don’t want to talk about that – what I want to talk about today is one of my favourite types of notebooks and that is the writer’s notebook.

The topic of this month’s posts is inspiration and this week I decided to do a bit of a DIY tutorial instead of a writing lesson. So find an open space and gather your ingredients because today I’m sharing with you how to start a writer’s journal.

 

How to put together a writer’s journal.

 

Part one: the outside.

This is not a necessity but I’m decorating my own notebook this year. Normally I’d just buy those pretty books that are already decorated but this year I’m on a bit of a budget and those are almost six times more pricy than the plain notebooks that you can buy anywhere.

So I’m going to be decorating it myself but if you prefer to buy a decorated notebook then just skip this step.

Ingredients:
A plain notebook.
Some ribbon.
General art supplies (E.g. scissors & glue)
Coloured paper or anything else that you feel like decorating with.

Here is a pick of my stuff.

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Now that everything is gathered you should start by simply wrapping it in a base paper.
I did mine in black paper, because I really like the clean and elegant that black paper gives.

From there off on I simply decorated as I saw fit. I suggest you name it and of course make it look pretty to you.

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You can see that the name of the book (idea pile) is written in the most OCD bugging way ever. This is simply my personal way of creating journals because I like them to not be completely clean and straight forward. I want them to catch my own attention and to invite imperfection into my work.
Inspiration often comes in really raw and a backwards. So if I tell myself I have to do everything perfect I would never write a word.
You can do yours however you want but I really suggest you adopt this mentality whenever you write in your little book. You need to allow yourself to write gibberish at the start.

I then went and did my little pen holder slash bookmark which is basically just a ribbon with some stretchy material stapled onto the back. I cut small holes so it could hold my pen and then decorated it with only one single button instead of the six that I bought originally.

Here’s a photo!

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This is the end result of my notebook, so let’s opens it up and discuss what goes into a notebook like this one.

 

The inside of a writer’s notebook.

First I started off by writing my name on the inside.
You see when I was little we were given these little girly diaries with the small lock and everything. On the inside there was always a space to write down your name so anyone who found it would know that it’s yours. I still do this today because of more reasons than simply for if I lose it.
I like acknowledging that the little book is mine because for some reason it helps certify to me that this little book does indeed belong to me and everything I write in it is my own. It’s like saying this little book and all the wonderful pieces of junk on the inside is mine. So hands off.
This of course goes along with some contact details for in case I do actually lose it.

 
The second page is dedicated to a simple list of my projects.
This probably shows more about my personality than I would like you to know because it really highlights how goal driven I am. I like seeing what I’m busy with right at the beginning of the book so I can have parameters within to work so I can keep focused.
Not everything that goes into the little book has to do with my projects but I still like reminding myself that these are the most important things I’m working towards and that I shouldn’t let myself get too sidetracked by all the inspiration I gather.

 
This leads me to the third and fourth pages which are dedicated to story seeds.
If I have a vague idea that can be summed up into a line or two it goes onto these two pages.
This has always been one of my favourite parts of my writer’s notebook because these ideas tend to come at bizarre moments and later on when I feel like writing I can use them for prompts that will almost certainly inspire me.

 

Those are the only really set pages I have for any notebook so I’m quickly going to give you a list of 5 other things you can put into a writers notebook.

 
• Progress report: You know those main projects that I showed earlier on page two? Yes pick one of them and find a way to measure your progress with it. Set a few goals within the project and then make tick in little boxes as you work towards it or something.

 
• Character file: Draw a stick figure of your character and then get writing. Figure out what a character’s name is and work on making them real within the pages of your notebook.

• Short practices: This one should be really obvious. If you feel like writing grab some inspiration and just start writing anything and everything down. Focus on what words you use or how you are expressing the scene. Even if it’s not perfect at first you’ll have a solid idea down on paper when you’re done.

• Draw plot maps: There are different kinds of plot maps and so I suggest you go figure out which kind works for you and then you can use your notebook to build your ideas into stories.

• Write down encouragement: This is a little silly of me to say for this kind of notebook. Normally encouragement goes into something more like a personal journal but I think you can work it into this sort of notebook too. When you feel unmotivated just go to a page and after taking a deep breath write down all the reasons why you love writing. It’s a good exercise and then if you feel unmotivated again later you can return to it and be reminded why you write.

 

I really believe that writing on paper is good for you because it doesn’t have a backspace, which I think is really important when you’re just trying to get ideas down.

 

There are more things you can put into a notebook but I’m going to leave you here and let you go and experience it yourself. So go now and finish that notebook of yours and get writing.

 
Although, before you go – answer me this:
Are you new to the whole writing journey or have you been on your way for years now?
Any comments are welcome!

New year and a new writing lesson

Happy new year – the phrase you’re probably hearing, slash seeing for the hundredths time between today and yesterday. Gosh even I’m starting to get tired of the phrase and I absolutely love this time of year.

It’s very possibly my favourite time of year. January just has that energy you know, where people are slowly rolling their shoulders and straightening their backs so they can charge this new beginning. There are kids who are excited for going to first grade – or in other words the “big kid’s school”. There are young adults who are finally planning a year that doesn’t involve school and who looks forward to meeting new people in university.

It’s also a time where people set goals and create lists and let themselves start to dream about the new year and all the things and places and people they’ll see during it.

I myself have been a complete sucker to the whole experience this year. You see what I didn’t write about in December – like I should have – is that I’m walking into 2017 with a new hairstyle, wardrobe, mindset, and goals with a decent holiday behind my back where I did a bunch of exciting stuff that range from spelunking, to swimming and movie marathon-ing and many more things.

New Year new me – that’s the other thing I’m getting tired of hearing; but I love it anyway.

So with all the excitement of it bumbling inside me I decided on a proper topic for this month’s blog posts and that is… inspiration.

This is becoming the ultimate cliché for me to write about because I’m certain I’ve written a blog post series on it nearly every year for the past two years.

Who cares – I’m doing it again. This time, a little different.

No ‘you can do it’ inspirational speeches. No ‘how to gather up inspiration’ tutorials, or anything else like that.

Instead I’m going to make this first post really simple and about one definite topic.

How to find inspiration in the world around you.

Life isn’t always easy but there are lot of story ideas hidden around you if you care to look for it. (Yes this whole post is writing related)

So let’s get into how you can search and find those ideas and inspirations.

Mindset: Positivity.

I don’t know if those who know me would agree with me on this – but despite the fact that I struggle with positivity, I like to think of myself as a positive person who sees the bright side in most situations.

It’s an important skill that, like most others, I taught myself.

I mentioned this right off because I believe that being positive is part of why we manage to see inspiration in bad places.

Somewhere in the past two years I was feeling really anxious to that point where my lungs seemed to close off and I felt as if I couldn’t breathe. I clutched my head and sank to the floor as I tried to dislodge the twisted thoughts running through my head. Then suddenly I found myself smiling amidst the bad feeling. Not because I was feeling any better but because it occurred to me then that at least I can write about that specific feeling as well. If my characters felt scared or anxious I had real life experience to draw from. That’s pretty cool isn’t it?

So I’ve been cultivating this sense of positivity so whenever I’m in a bad situation I can actually see all sides to it and then later exploit it for a creative base.

Not to mention, being positive actually makes you enjoy the happy moments more too. You’re mind is more likely to notice all the details of a moment when you’re positive about it than when you’re negative.

(Please note that there is a difference between being positive and ignoring all your problems. Please let me know if you want to delve deeper into this topic)

Action: Sight seeing.

The second part of seeing the world in a more inspiring way is to actually go out into it.

At home I come up with about three story ideas daily. That may sound like quite a lot but it’s not really anything compared to what I find when I’m away from home.

This holiday I’ve been on so many great places; I’ve seen mountains that look like giants, oceans that smell so strongly of salt that I can nearly choke on the air just standing on the beach, horses that gallop along muddy tracks, rivers that cut deep paths though the ground and many more wonderful things.

Sure you can read four to five books about owls on the internet but it’s not the same as going out and seeing an owl face to face.

The more input you get from the world around you the more things you have to add to the inner world of your stories, it’s as simple as that.

Input: Read a lot.

Let’s say it again.

Read. A. Lot.

Anything and everything with words on was meant to be read and so you should go right ahead and do just that. Read books in the genre that you want to write in – this will give you an idea of how to write. Read books outside of the genre that you want to write in – this will give you insights that your genre can’t give. Read magazines and brochures. Read those pamphlets at the doctor’s office; even if they’re scarier than the doctor himself. Read advertisements and wonder about how much work and study is behind it – was there an artist involved? Any psychology?

Read with an open mind and let it sweep into you and your work.

This will not only add to your skill level but also give you more ideas. It give you things to think on and show you that funny books is just as good as depressing books. You’ll find ideas that you wouldn’t have even thought about before.

Lastly: Talk to people.

People are these complicated bundles of stories, passions, sadness, hopes and fears.

There is this joke among writers where we say we’re going to put people who cross us into our books and then kill them.

Violent? Yes. Funny? Maybe.

More to the point though, putting fragments of people and into your stories isn’t technically a bad thing. You want your characters to be people and not just clichés.

So talk to people and actually listen to what they have to say. That funny story that they tell every time you hang out with them might actually be perfect for your next book (even if it is simply back-story)

The heart of a story (or at least mine) is in the characters and so you want people to relate to them. Pay attention to the people around you so you can integrate that human aspect into your characters. Each person you meet has their own story to tell and so have potential to be a character.

There you go then, I’m done. Now remember to keep a phone or a little booklet with you at all times so when these ideas strike, you can jot them down without any hassle.

On my phone I have colour note for this (although if you have any other apps to suggest go ahead) and in my handbag I carry a notebook at all times. (A tutorial about setting ne up will be coming out next week)

Now you’re going to go out there and enjoy this New Year with all its energy for change. Go and write that thing you’ve always wanted to write and most of all enjoy the journey.

Tell me where do you get most of your inspiration?

Any and all comments welcome!

Four NaNoWriMo tips

nanowrimo

It’s just past the second week of NaNoWriMo and things are getting tough. I’ve been seeing it everywhere; the lack of sleep is finally taking a toll on people, plots are failing and jobs and children are screaming for attention.
I’ve seen this happen every time I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo and so for this year I decided I’ll share with you my top four tricks to finishing a successful NaNoWriMo.

These tricks are easy and simple and in fact I would call most of them habits instead of tricks but the main thing you need to understand before I share them with you is that they are ultimately successful when paired with the right set of mind. I’ll explain this for each trick so let’s get to it.

Trick number one – flashcards.

Often times you go sit in front of your computer (or other writing instrument) and you just have nothing to write. Your story might have come across a problem such as having a flat middle or perhaps you’re actually reaching the end of your novel even though you’re still far from 50 000 words. Now you suddenly have a mindset problem because you don’t know what to write, and you don’t feel like doing that whole free writing thing because face it sometimes free writing sucks sometimes, and you want to be certain that you’re writing something good. So you simply don’t write anything and you fall a day or two behind.
So your mindset here is I have nothing to write so I’m not going to write.
This has a very simple fix and that is my flash card method.
Take a pile of empty note cards (just cut up some paper) and on the first five cards write down a simple description of the previous five scenes you wrote. Now it’s time to brainstorm and ask yourself what you want to add to this story. Perhaps it’s a side plot about redemption or more scenes that shows the dynamics of your characters or… whatever really.
Break this down into scenes and write down one scene per card for the rest of the flash cards.
The reason I wanted you to write down the previous five scenes you wrote is because often when we review what we’ve written then ideas start coming in for what we want to write.
Now you have a couple more ideas right there with you to keep you going when you are running out of writing juice and you can know what you’re going to write next. The trick about the flash card method is to be constantly adding to your pile of flash cards. If you get an idea write it on a flash card and add it to the pile.

Trick number two – write in the morning.

You’ve probably heard this advice before: write in the morning because that’s when your mind is freshest… I think that’s nonsense because I really take very long to fully wake up but this advice does hold for a different reason.
The morning is your only real set time of day. It doesn’t matter if you have the best schedule ever things in everyday life goes slightly off course all the time. Perhaps your mother tells you to study more in the afternoon or for a different example your children’s school runs a little late or even just the traffic that day isn’t great. All of this is potential threats to your writing. All of this is trying to stop you from reaching your word goal.
In the morning though there isn’t anything in your day yet to throw you off course and the chances that something will disturb you is much smaller.
Why this has to do with mindset, is because all those other things are often an excuse to not write as you tell yourself that today you can’t – and so you won’t. In the morning though you’re willpower is at its strongest and there isn’t a good reason to not write.

Trick three – Word sprint without spell-check.

A word sprint for those of you who don’t know is when you set a timer and try to write as fast as possible in that time.
The real part of this trick though is to turn off your spellchecker.
You see I have a lot of trouble ignoring words that have a red line under them. I also have a grammar check and that is just as bad because I constantly go back and fix what I’m writing as I’m writing.
It’s not really a horrible thing to do in most cases and I have never heard of anyone completely stopping with their writing because of spell-check, but for NaNoWriMo we’re pressed for speed and it almost certainly is slowing you down.
So turn it off. Write for fifteen minutes without your spell-check (I like typing with my eyes closed) and then when the time is up turn it back on and do a quick fix – which means no deleting any sentences and focusing on grammar and spelling.

Trick four – Carry a notebook everywhere.

I know that men don’t carry handbags like women so for the male writer this one might be a little tougher but if possible I really suggest carrying a physical notebook with you during NaNoWriMo. ( A phone will suffice but I like real paper for this more.)
Why I suggest this is because to stay excited for your novel you need a reminder of it with you when you are not in front of a computer. A notebook is good for this because that way you can write down your ideas and everything, which will keep your mind excited for your novel until you can, once again, return to a computer.

 
As I said these tricks are more habits than anything else and is really simple to implement into everyday life. (Something that NaNoWriMo isn’t always)

I haven’t done a post like this in a while but I hope it helps with the rest of the month.

Now share with me, what tricks do you use during NaNoWriMo to keep you going? Is there something similar to the tricks I mentioned or is it something completely different?
All comments welcome!

Time to make a scene.

scene
Sorry for not posting a proper post last week I was sick. It seems to be a bug that is going around the area and I still cough on occasion but all in all I’m feeling much better. I might even try to convince my parents that I’m well enough to go on a Poke run (I’ve got Pokemon go and it’s great!)

Today I would like to give you the ultimate guide to planning and writing a scene.

A scene is one of the most basic things in writing and probably not something you need explained to you, but since I write my novels scene by scene I figured I might as well take a look at how I plan these.

A scene is not a chapter by the way, it is the smaller bits that a chapter is made out of. A scene is a single time and place in a story and a good way to see when a scene ends is when the character changes location.

A scene, like every other part of writing is made out of different elements but in this case we’ll look at the two main elements.

 
1. The first element to a scene is the sense of time and place.
In each scene you want to paint a picture to your reader so they can know where your character is. Even if your character is in pitch-black darkness you need to show this to your reader.
2. The second element is that something needs to happen.
The general idea is that if a scene does not further the story then it’s not worth having in the story and you might as well take it out. Have you ever read a story where they take nearly three pages just to describe grass and in the mean time the characters aren’t doing anything? These kind of books are boring and quickly makes the reader lose interest.

So those are the basic elements of a scene.
Setting and plot.

Now you can take it further when planning a scene and ask yourself a couple of questions before you start writing.
Questions such as what needs to happen? Where does this scene take place? Who is in this scene? What conflict is in this scene?

Here is a list of questions that I made.

5 scene questions

 

The thing I want to close off with is scene structure.
You get many different types of scene from 6000 word monstrosities to 500 words. (the rule of thumb is 1500)

All scenes have a sense of structure though which is something you probably learned in high school. Before writing a scene you are encouraged to structure it.

The most common structure looks like this.

  • Show character and their goal
  • Give them a problem.
  • Make your character get passed the problem for a resolution.
  • Repeat for the next scene.

 

If you do it right then something has changed for your character and your story has furthered.

This might not work for all scenes but is a good guideline to keep in mind.

 

This is not my longest writing post but I hope it helped anyway and that I won’t wait too long to write another one. If you have any specific topic you’d like me to write about feel free to mention it in the comments.

The right way to use subplots

subplots

I didn’t really plot the novel, which I’m busy with, before I started writing it. I just sat down and wrote.
This means that every now and then I have to pause in my writing and revaluate what I’ve written and then go figure out what I have to write next. While I wish I had taken a couple of days to just plot before I started writing, the process is working and I’m making great progress.
I mention this because recently I’ve had to stop in my writing again and take a look at my subplots. I had to decide what they are doing in my story and how exactly they will affect the end result.
After doing research and working out my own novel’s problems I’ve decided to share with you all I now know about subplots.

First let’s take a look at what a subplot is.
A subplot is a strand of plot that supports the main plot.
If you consider the plot of your novel to be a braid then a subplot would be a single strand in that braid. It is a sequence of events that is part of the story but stands on its own aside from the main plot.
Now I’d like to underline a word in my definition and that is “supports.”
The thing about a subplot is that it has to somehow be relevant to the main plot. It has to support the main plot and there has to be a reason for the subplot to be in the story.
Whatever you do, don’t just create a subplot to be filler. Instead use your subplots to strengthen your main plot and ending.
There are a whole bunch of different kinds of subplots, so here I want to share with you the most often used half dozen.

1. The romance subplot.
This is by far the most common subplot. It consists of the main character overcoming obstacles to be with the love interest.
2. Character arch.
The character arch can count as a subplot. Often how the character changes affect the end of the story and of course it has obstacles and revelations that lead your character to changing.
3. Proving themselves.
I’m simply calling this category “proving themselves” but it covers both redemption and revenge. This is when your character feels like they need to make up for something that happened in the past.
4. Non romantic relationship subplot.
You can have a subplot for relationships such as child parent relationships or friendly relationships.
5. Side character subplot.
If one of your side characters has their own separate goal from the main character than this can be a subplot as long as there are obstacles to overcome and it helps with the story’s end.
6. Other goal subplot.
I’m using this one for my story. My character’s main goal is to get the villain to stop hunting her. But there is a second goal and that is to help an injured friend.
Your character can have two goals which both lead to strengthening the end.

Now I just want to share with you a little about mixing the subplots.
First, let’s talk about where a subplot begins. The importance of the beginning of a story is to introduce your protagonist, antagonist and the main plot or goal. That means that the best place to introduce a subplot is after you’ve laid the ground for those three things.
But how do you close a subplot?
You might have noticed that I mentioned quite a few times that the subplot should strengthen the end of the novel. Keep in mind what closing each subplot looks like.
The most common and normally best suited place to close a subplot is in the third quarter of your story. Before the main plot closed so it can help give that ending some strength.
There is an exception for the romantic subplot though. For some reason we as readers and watchers of movies like to see the romantic subplot closed last. After the final battle we want to see the main character kiss the love interest. We want that subplot to be resolved at the end.
I’m basically done but one last thing you might want to keep in mind is that too many subplots can crowd your story and make it feel confusing, so unless you are writing a 500 page epic stick to less than four subplots.


I hope this will help you with your writing and that you’ll share this post.
If you are busy with camp NaNoWriMo, then good luck to you from me.

What are your story’s subplots? What do you think is most important to keep in mind about subplots?

How to incite an inciting incident.

Inciting incident

Since I just started working on a new rough draft I get to struggle with starting strong and the inciting incident. In discussing this with someone I realized that some people are confused by the thought of an inciting incident and so I’ve decided that I want to write a post on the topic so I can just make it clear what an inciting incident is and how you create one.

The inciting incident is a plot point in a novel where your main character (MC) is taken out of the life they are used to and put into a new situation. To put clearly it is when your character’s life goes from normal to not so normal.

 
How to create an inciting incident.
I want to start with a simple tip.
Ask yourself what does your character consider to be normal? You get different kinds of normal for example…

My normal is not having a teacher since I’m homeschooled and waking up at 8am.
A vampire’s normal on the other hand is going to bed at 5am and waking up at 6pm.

My normal is eating toast and drinking tea.
A vampire’s normal would be eating raw flesh and drinking blood.

Your MC’s normal is what you are going to be disrupting. Whether your MC’s normal waking up at 8 am or drinking blood it is still their normal.
Find your “normal” and then decide how to disrupt it.

 
Next thing you need to know is where in the story the inciting incident takes place.
Some people think that the inciting incident is the beginning of a story. It can be but that’s not its defining factor. The inciting incident is simply when things are set into motion.
Some people like starting their story with the inciting incident to make it immediately interesting while others like to show you a little about their character in their normal life first so you can get to know them. How you start your novel is totally dependent on the story but if you can’t decide feel free to talk to me about it in the comments.

The only general rule for the placing of the inciting incident is that it has to be in the first act (first quarter) of the story. If you put it in the second then your story’s start is probably boring and the rest of your plot will be unbalanced.

The last thing I have to say about constructing the inciting incident is that the MC is not the one who incites the inciting incident… if that make sense to you. The MC is generally just pulled into it and someone or something else is the cause for the disruption in your MC normal life.

One of the best examples of an inciting incident (and I’ve used this before) is that of The hunger games.
The inciting incident is the moment of the reaping. When Prim’s name is called and Katniss takes her place to participate in the hunger games.

It’s a good example for multiple reasons but mostly because it shows really well how the character’s normal was shifted and she was placed into a new situation.

 


What is your character’s normal and how will you disrupt it?

You might also what to go read one of my older posts “three main plot points” where I discuss plotting.

I hope you found this helpful so now I just want to challenge you to go out there and plan that novel of yours.

3 steps to creating character goals that won’t bore your readers

Character goals

I have recently decided to give you valuable content so you see, whenever I write a writing lesson post for you I feel it’s just not good enough. After all I actually want you to learn something not just get half built second hand information.

 

So it wasn’t once or even twice that I started a post and then shook my head and said to myself BUT THEY ALREADY KNOW THIS!

Nearly four times I wrote something and deleted it.

Luckily this is that fourth time and as you can probably tell I have not yet deleted my stupid ramblings instead I will continue to write this post and it will be about…. um…

3 steps to good goals.

YES! That’s it.

 

Step one.

Define your character’s goal.

So what is a character goal?

The easy answer is it’s the thing your character wants but a little more complicated. You see while it is something your character wants it needs to drive your character to do things. It needs to make them active.

A goal is also specific with a clear way of achieving it.

A good example of a goal is my wish to be a published writer. It makes me active, makes me write and blog and research agents and genres. My goal has a clear end point that states that if I get published then it’s achieved.

That’s what a goal is and what your character needs.

 

In my story that I’m working on my main character Felix has the goal of mastering his magic power. (cliché I know)

It drives him to practice and to train and even talk to people who can help.

It has a clear point where if it takes the commanded form he has it under control.

 

Step 2.

The next thing you need to make your goals important to your readers is something that has many names. Some call it a dreadful promise, or something to dread but I like to call it stakes.

This is what will happen if your character fails to achieve his goals.

You get two types of stakes, the kind that is fulfilled and the kind that your character evades. I prefer the kind that is fulfilled and plan on using it for my next story but I’ll give more on the details of making that work in a moment

First you need an effective stake.

Ask yourself why is your character going after this goal?

Then ask yourself what is he risking by doing this?

Lastly ask yourself who would want to see him fail? This is usually the antagonist or villain.

Now that you have all those questions answered ask one last question what is the worst thing that can happen to my character while he is attempting this goal?

Based off what you know now create your stakes.

 

If I continue on with my story as an example then Felix’s stakes are losing his position of power. If he doesn’t master his goal then he will lose his position in the ranks of his family’s army.

 

Just like the goal itself the stakes needs to be clear and precise.

 

Now as promised let’s talk about fulfilled stakes and why I prefer them.

You have been telling your reader that something bad can happen but if you don’t let it happen it means that at the end of the book these stakes appear void. After all they didn’t happen so there probably wasn’t any way that it was going to happen anyway. If none of your stakes for your goals big or small happen then it’s simply a character breaking his or her way through the opposition with nothing ever going wrong which means no real tension.

Let’s say these stakes are fulfilled and your character is thrown into some deep trouble, now your reader starts to worry and your character needs to be resourceful. Your reader gets to see so much more than just your character walking over everything that can go wrong and instead sees them handling the problems.

 

If you are going to go with fulfilled stakes then there is one thing I need to mention here.

Just fulfilling the stakes isn’t enough, you need to make things worse.

Everything is going bad but your reader already in part knew that this could happen so now you add on top of this something that they didn’t know. You make failing the goal even worse.

Let’s say your readers knew your characters where dangling over a pit and now you make your characters fall in. It’s bad but it’s also expected. What isn’t expected is the monster living in the pit and thus that monster makes falling in the pit even worse than your reader first anticipated.

 

Step three.

Now it’s time for the last thing that makes your reader care about the goals. It might just be the most important one in fact.

Suffering

For some writers it’s against our nature to hurt our beloved character who we sculpted out with so much love. You mustn’t fall for this though, if you want your readers to care your character needs to suffer.

Readers know a goal is important when a character goes to great length to get it. A goal is important when a character is willing to offer things and get hurt to achieve it.

 

There are different levels of suffering but first I want to cover physical vs. Emotional.

Physical is the level of suffering new writers tend to fall on and it’s a mistake I’ve made quite a few times myself but emotional suffering is stronger.

I’ll use lord of the rings for a reference here since I watched it just the other day.

Frodo got stabbed quite a few times in the movies and we cared but not for long. I mean he got hurt but the physical pain only kept our interest momentarily whereas when we lost Gandalf the blow was emotional and it kept our attention. We were reminded that the goal is so important that Gandalf was sacrificed.

It kept our attention longer, made us want the goal more, and it made us sympathise with the characters.

 

Now for the other methods of suffering.

It starts at inconvenience. A character wants something and is willing to inconvenience himself for the goal. This doesn’t really make the reader care about the goal but it works at the beginning of a story to just capture their interest.

 

Then it goes to discomfort. At some point the character starts taking the goal even more serious and is willing to discomfort himself. Perhaps it’s by doing something such as staying outside a store all night to be the first in line for a new toy.

 

The next one is real physical pain.This is when the character cuts off their own finger or jump in front of the cracking whip. It’s when they are willing to be hurt for their goal.

 

The last stage is loss.This one hurts the most because it means you are willing to give something that meant so much to you away for this goal.

It’s  Rupunzel’s hair being cut off to stop the witch in tangled or Anna running to Elsa instead of Christoff to catch Hans’s sword.

In Harry Potter it’s when he willingly goes to Voldamort.

All these heroes knew they were going to lose everything but still threw it away to achieve their goal.

 

Tip: when you make your character suffer it’s good to make the suffering grow worse and not less throughout the book.

 

I hope this helped and that you are at least a little excited to go planning out your character’s goals.

Let me know if you like this post and know that my next writing lesson will be next month somewhere. Until then you can go take a look at these other writing lessons.

Now go and make your stories the best you can and remember that striving toward goals will make readers love your character more than achieving it.