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.

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.

 

 

 

You need other writers.

Hey guys! Today I have something a bit different for you: a guest post! I reached out to my good friend, Enette Venter of Enette’s World, to see if she would like to write a post for you lovely people out there. (You know, all twelve of you.) I wrote a post for her blog,…

via Guest Post: Enette Thinks You Should Consider Writing Groups — Ayli’s Offerings

 

So the link you see above is for a guest post I wrote for Ayli from Ayli’s offerings and it’s basically about my writing group and why I think people need their own writing support. I really want you to check out this link because when I wrote it I could tell it was going to be epic and now that it’s published I still stand by that point.

So go read it… right now… enjoy!

Word of the day #3

word of the day

I’m certain it’s obvious that English is not my first language. I’ve been reading and speaking English from a young age and that has led me to writing in English. Now recently I have been taking my language usage a little more seriously and I’m currently trying to broaden my English vocabulary.
Part of this is not only learning new words but also learn to use the large amount of words I already know.

 

So here it is, the word of the day.

Candor: noun

Means genuine, straightforward, frankness, sincere expression.
The adjective of Candor is Candid.
A candid person expresses his thoughts frankly and without hesitation with sincerity and without deception.
(I like this word, you can build an entire character around it.)

Word of the day.

word of the dayI’m certain this is very obvious, English is not my first language. I’ve been reading and speaking English from a young age and that has led me to writing in English. Now recently I have been taking my language usage a little more seriously and I’m currently trying to broaden my English vocabulary.
Part of this is not only learning new words but also learn to use the large amount of words I already know.

I figured I can share this experience with you and who know perhaps you can pick up a few new words as well.

So here it is, the word of the day.

 

Paraphrase.

To restate what someone has already said in different words.
This isn’t to be confused with the word quote because to quote something is to say exactly what someone else has already said, word for word.
To paraphrase is to restate what someone else has said using different words to give the sense of the passage in fuller terms.

What you and I can do to not suck at writing beginnings.

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Today I want to talk about what makes the beginning of a book good and the elements that it should have.

This week’s topic is something that has really caught my attention these past few weeks because I’m editing my novel, Imaginary friends, and well… it’s not going great.
My editing was well on track, I had highlighted exactly what I needed to fix in my story but then just as I started putting in the changes I realized something. The beginning of my story is not in line with the rest of my story. I had opened it wrong and if someone were to read it they might read a line and put it down again because it’s just not gripping. So after I threw a tantrum in my room and ate some chocolate spread right out the jar I got back to work. I went right back to the basics of storytelling and that’s what I want to share with you now.

The beginning of the book is what sells the story, it introduces your character and genre to your reader so it really is important.

What make the beginning of a story interesting?

The basics that your beginning needs.

• Character – the who behind it all
• Setting- the where that is dependent on both place and time.
• Conflict- this is a must in any story.
• Style- understand, your whole story will look like this.

Now those are big things I can nearly write posts for on their own. I’m not planning to do that but hey if you want to know more just ask.

 

Let’s start with character.

Character

I’m going to assume you know your point of view character really well. If you don’t then you should go sit down and invite him or her to talk with you.
You get a lot of different stories but the one thing that normally has people continue reading a story is that they like the character. So in your first paragraph it is best to introduce your main character. Not an unimportant side character because that’s like lying to your readers. You need to show them what the story is about so open with your main character or a similarly interesting and important character that will be with them throughout the entire story. (that’s of course if you don’t kill them at the end of act two.)
When I say introduce though a lot of people might think I mean that they should launch into something that goes…Charles had red hair and blue eyes…
No don’t do that. That’s not interesting and it doesn’t show your readers what they should be expecting from the rest of the story.
Introduce your character as a person beyond how they look and really just make it interesting. Show your reader who your character is from line one.

Extra characters
Extra character that you should introduce in the beginning or first act really depend on what you are writing. Here is the general rating from importance.

  • Villain
  • love interest
  • sidekick

The next big thing your beginning needs to make clear is the setting.

Setting

There is nothing quite as confusing as when someone is on the phone one minute and driving in a carriage the next. I’m sure you can do this just make sure that your reader knows that this is something you will be doing. You want to pull your reader into the story and for that they need to know how the things around them look.
If you love world building like me then I have to warn you however not to overdo it. I have read stories where people push the reader out of the story because they have paragraphs and paragraphs of description for something that isn’t relevant right at that moment. I know you love this creation you had built but please you need your reader hooked before they will truly care.

Show your reader where they are but don’t show them only where they are but also what is happening in this place. Got it?

Conflict.

Conflict is one of those things that work side by side with good characters. If you have good character but there is no conflict your reader likes them but they don’t see why they should be concerned. They won’t keep reading because there is no answer to find out.
But…
Just because you have a big war going on doesn’t mean that it’s interesting either, you need to make your conflict personal to your character so it becomes personal to the reader. For the first scene in the story you might also want to make it a more immediate conflict such as an argument or new information that needs to be acted on now.
You need to grip onto your reader and pull them in. So do that. Pull them as close to the personal side of your story as you can.
The last thing you need to show your reader in a good beginning is style

Style

Style is basically a mix of smaller elements that form how you write. First person or third? Past or present tense? What kind of words do you use? Those are all part of style.
Style isn’t something I can tell you how to do because no two writers have the same style and that’s okay. Writing styles tend to grow with the writer and the characters but it’s still important to establish at the beginning of the story.
I don’t know about you but when I read a book that’s written in third person and it suddenly switches to first it really throw me off. Or if the book is written really funny at first and then by the second act it stops having any humour and goes all serial killer on you, I will stop reading.
I have stopped reading a book specifically for that reason. Not because the dark parts where bad but because that harsh change made me feel like I lost the story. If you promise your reader that your story is going to be a horror then keep it a horror. If it’s a romance in act one keep it a romance in act two.
If you want it to be both then make sure that when the horror comes you don’t stop having a romance thread and better yet show your readers that it will be both from act one.
Before I close this post off I figured that I should show you what my first line is currently settled on.

Charles’s breath came in ragged and his legs were starting to ace. Shouldn’t he be fit from all these years of running away from flesh eating monsters? His burning lungs answered no.
So  what do you think? If you read that first line would you maybe take a look at the rest of it?

I hope you manage to nail your story’s start, if you’ve already got a great start feel free to share your first line. If you’re not happy with your start at the moment tell me why.
What do you think makes a good start for a story?

1st person POV vs 3rd person POV.

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Last week I told you why Point Of View (POV) is essential in good writing and the effects it can have on your story.
Now I want us to delve a little deeper into it and take a look at the difference between 1st, 3rd, and 2nd person POV.

I’m sure we’ve all read books that are written in the way that the narrator is the main character telling you what happened. It generally looks like this.

I wasn’t sure what they planned on doing to me but I knew it was nothing good. I glanced up to meet her seemingly innocent eyes. She grinned at me.
“Well goodbye,” I said launching into a run. She called after me but I didn’t even look back.

This is called first person POV. It is when the story goes, I did this, I did that.
In the more experienced group of writers 3rd person is really popular. It’s when the narrator isn’t a character and the story is told as if simply observing everything. It normally goes like this.

Charles wasn’t sure what they planned on doing to him but he knew it was nothing good. He glanced up to meet Sarah’s seemingly innocent eyes. She grinned at him.
“Well goodbye,” Charles said launching into a run. Sarah called after him but he didn’t even look back.

Third person is all about he did this, she did that.

The last point of view is hardly ever used because really it’s weird. 2nd person POV is when you tell the reader what they did. As if they are a character in the story. Normally a book is only written like this if it’s a multiple choice book.
It looks like this.
You weren’t sure what Sarah planned on doing to you but you knew it was nothing good. You glanced up to meet her seemingly innocent eyes. She grinned at you.
“Well goodbye,” You said launching into a run. Sarah called after you but you didn’t even look back.
As you can see this is a confusing way of writing because you are telling your reader what they did to which they will shake their head and say… No I did not do this.
I still thought it was worth sharing because in truth there are no one way to write and when I was little I had read a book exactly like this.
It told me what I did and at the end of each chapter I got to make a choice. Each decision I made would lead me to a different chapter, a different way for the story to pan out.
So while I can’t share with you all the tips and tricks of writing 2nd person POV there really are people who use this and if you feel like you want to give it a go who am I to stop you?

 

Now I want us to take a closer look at the first two POV’s, 1st and 3rd, and compare them.

Telling and showing.
One of the most shared piece of writing advice out there is show don’t tell and a lot of people take it close to hart. While I do agree that showing is a writing skill every writer should learn I think that to what degree you use it is your choice.
A first person POV is based on a lot of telling while 3rd person POV is based on showing. If you want to work mainly with showing then try 3rd person. If you want to add that little more voice to your story try 1st.

Multiple POV.
This is a rather simple rule in writing. When you write in first person you can only have one POV character while if you write in 3rd you get to have as much as your story needs.
This is because if you write ‘I did this, I did that’ you have chosen your narrator for your story and it get’s confusing when you keep switching between narrators so the best advice I can give you here is stick to 1 POV if you write in 1st. If you write in 3rd you are given more leeway.
Character.
This is where 1st gets a lot of good words because you get to give your reader an easy access to your character. You get to show them how your character thinks. You get to add funny monologue without trouble. 1st person really is the best for getting your reader close to your character.
If you plan to write in 3rd POV though you can still add a lot of your character’s personality to your writing through deep POV which is a topic on its own for a next week.
Secrets.
This is something I like to play with for no better reason than I’m secretly evil.
You can use the limitations of both 1st and 3rd POV to add secrets to your writing.
If you’re writing 1st then it’s easy because you can’t share anything with your readers that your POV character doesn’t know. That way you can hide something in plain sight but make your POV character look straight past this leading to a big surprise for your reader when they find out.

In third it is just as fun because you can torture your readers by giving them only pieces of information. You can warn your readers that bad things will happen by writing from the villain’s POV in one scene so they’ll sit on the edges of their chairs during the next when they helplessly wait for your MC to step into danger. (Evil Laughter!)
This is something you have to be careful with though because if you surprise your readers to much with 1st you might actually hurt their feelings so much they will stop reading. They will stomp their feet and ask why you didn’t warn them who was going to die. When hiding secrets in 1st remember to hint at what’s to come just a little. This way your reader will be mentally prepared for hart brake.
The danger of 3rd person is that you can’t keep showing your reader what the villain is doing. This is a trick that should only be used one in a story. Maybe twice if you’re this generations JK. Rowling and can pull it off. The reason you can’t keep showing your reader this is because it works on their nerves and it makes them angry.
I know the general rule of writing is to toy with your reader’s emotions but you want them to be angry and sad with your MC. The minute the anger is no longer attached to a character the anger becomes directed at you and they’ll put the book down. So remember you want to add suspense using secrets but you also want your reader to keep reading.
Now the last point between 1st and 3rd is…
Difficulty level.
The fact is that 1st is easier than 3rd to pull off.
If you are completely new to this and considering writing for the first time I will suggest to you what was suggested to me when I started… Write in 1st.
It’s really easier than third. It is good way to simply get into the writing swing.
If you are more experienced and you haven’t tried 3rd yet then I really suggest you do. It might be hard and suck at first but it’s worth the practice and a good skill to have even if you don’t plan on ever using it.
So that’s basically the difference between 1st and 3rd. For the record while I had started with 1st I now prefer writing in 3rd person. Having written in both I really suggest you keep practicing both.

Here is a little exercise to go with the post. If you normally write in 1st person then write something in 3rd today and vice versa.

So what do you think? How do you write and do you have any tips? Have you ever read or written something in 2nd POV?