Tag Archives: story writing

Writing Wins and Woes: What I’ve learned from Writing

Writing is a very difficult process. It’s like building a tower. You can’t just start building. You have to have plans. If you just start building, your tower will fall over like kids with blocks. Many people seem to think that if you are a writer, you just sit down and the words just flow out like magic. This is not true. Even the inspiration is hard and thought out. Some of it may come from research, meditation, reading, life experiences or something I’ve heard from somebody else. Not every inspiring thought will develop into a good story. Some just fizzle out.

After the inspirational thought I start working on a plot line. Some think you just begin the story. No, every story has to have a beginning, middle and ending. So the next step is either writing the plot of the story, or thinking it up in my head. Some call this outlining. I never write clear outlines but I do want to know where my story is going so I have a clear picture in my head. Sometimes I even know what my last line of the story is going to be.

After I decide on the plot, I may think some on characters. Every story has to have strong characters. So I may want to decide what kind of personality my characters have. Stories often fail because characters are not developed enough. A lot of times, they are too one sided and flat. They don’t have flaws. Every character should have some flaws or they are not interesting. I often think about the good guys and the bad guys of my stories. Most narratives have these. Bad guys should not be all bad. Good guys should not be all good.

Now, I may start writing. However, it’s only the rough draft. This is often hard for me. I want to stop and improve my story, but I shouldn’t. Rough drafts should flow and they should be rough. I can work on making the story better later. If I spend too much time pouring over the story now, I might get discouraged and quit. I might forget where I’m even going with the story.

When I finish the rough draft, I need to edit. Editing is a large part of story writing and it’s not fun. I have to look for mistakes in spelling, context, tense, characters that say wrong things, or are misnamed. Believe me, I have renamed a character in a story without even wanting to. He may start out Ethan and end up Edward because I forgot his name. I have to cut out words and sentences I don’t need. If I’m honest, this is where the rubber meets the road and where I’m most likely to fail. Nobody likes to edit but it has to be done or the story will most likely be terrible.

Now, you think I’m done, ¬†right? and I could be, but I shouldn’t be. I need somebody to read the finished product. I may need more than one somebody. They should not be someone who likes to pat me on the back but objective enough to tell me where my story stinks. After that wonderful person reads my story, I probably will have to edit again based on their advice. More grueling work I don’t like.

Then I’m done, right? No, I’m not. After all that work, I’m not done. Why? Because I need to let my story lay around a few days and rest. After the few days, I need to pick it up again and re read it. Maybe I like it and that’s great. But maybe I see stuff I don’t like. Now what? Back to editing again.

So, now you see why being a writer is so hard. What am I going to get for all this? You’re probably thinking that I’m going to make money from my story being published. And you think wrong. Nine times out of ten, my story will never be published, even if it’s good. Because I need to find the right publisher/magazine or ezine to run my story. That’s difficult, too. I may never find a home for my story except in my files. I have dozens of stories just like that. They are great stories in my way of thinking but they are just my stories. They only belong to me. And I want my stories to belong to the world.

Do you want to be a writer? Be prepared for a battle. To be an author, you have to write to win.

Writing Wins and Woes: Yay! I wrote a story.

I’m giving myself props. We give props to kids all the time and I’m glad to see that now. I think it’s a little over done, because kids are getting participation awards now, not just awards for winning, but overall I think it doesn’t hurt to build up a child’s self esteem that will most certainly be ripped to shreds by the time they get in high school, if not before. I love to tell a child thank you for good behavior. I really think that encourages them to do more of the same. I often use this technique in my preschool class at church. When a child does what I ask him to do, I don’t just ignore, I praise. Kids eat up praise.

So, I’m praising myself today. It’s kind of funny, but I’m hoping it encourages me to do more good work. Because I’ve had a few months off of writing, and I really needed the pat on the back to get me motivated to write again. It’s so easy to get out of the habit of writing and say, “I just don’t have time anymore”, and after awhile you just don’t.

I wrote a story this week. Actually, I started the story last week, and my goal is to write a chapter or story a week every week of ¬†this year, but that may have been a little ambitious, as it took me two weeks to write this story. I don’t know if it will be accepted or not. Most stories don’t and that is just a fact. But, at least I began the steps to writing again. I’m proud of myself. Here’s to future writing successes. Join me in some goals of your own and do your best to follow through, and then give yourself some applause. You deserve it!

Writing Wins and Woes: Recognizing the genius

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Okay, so you know you’re a genius. You’ve written a story, a book, a poem etc. and it’s great. It’s better than great. It’s phenomenal. Someone else has read it (probably a family member, but they’re objective, right?) and they said, and I quote, “Yeah, it’s good.” That’s a tad understated with your work of art but you’ll take it, so you send it in to a publisher. And they send you a letter of congratulations, nominate you for an award and pay you oodles of cash (okay, paypal money). Yay! Yeah, right. Actually, they send you back a brief email saying your piece is not right for their magazine/publication etc. They don’t even tell you why they don’t want your masterpiece. Huh? What planet are they from anyway?

Believe me, I feel your pain. I’ve been there. Let’s just say at least 400 times. People just don’t recognize the genius and what’s sad, you don’t always either. So what’s my word of advice? What can you do when someone/anyone doesn’t recognize your true talents?

1. Get a second opinion. It’s like when you see a dr. and you don’t like his prognosis. See someone else. Let someone else read and or critique your piece. Make sure it’s not a family member or even a close friend. You don’t believe all your friends and family will be honest with you if they don’t like your stuff, do you?

2. Revise it. I know you will get the advice if it’s been rejected, it’s probably no good. I don’t agree. Sometimes, it just needs fine tuning. Look at it again and revise it.

3. Change it completely. Suppose it isn’t as genius as what you thought, but maybe the concept is good, give it a total make over, but keep the essence.

4. Send it out again, and again and again. I will attest that you can sell something that has been rejected to someone else. I’ve done it, more than once. Just because your story has been around the block doesn’t make it bad.

5. Set it aside for awhile. I have many set aside stories. They are my children. I can’t wait to get rid of them, but I want them to succeed. I don’t want them to grow up homeless. After awhile a place may materialize that is just right for this story, or I might think of something I want to change about it. Who knows?

6. This may be in the revise it category but I don’t think so. Make it shorter or make it longer. Maybe your story needs more detail or less detail. Only you can know that.

7. This goes with number 4, but I’m too lazy to add it. Research where to send it. Read the stuff the magazine/publishers like in their publication. Does your story fit? Does it sound remotely like any of the stuff they publish? That’s really important. Yeah, sometimes publishers change it up a bit for true genius, but sometimes even genius doesn’t wash with topics publishers don’t like or are overdone in their opinion. They often tell you in their writer’s guidelines what they don’t want to see or do want to see. Respect that.

8. Keep believing in your genius. This, I believe, is the hardest one of all. When you’ve been knocked around a lot and told you’re no good, you tend to start believing the press, but don’t. Just because someone says it, doesn’t make it true.

So, you’re a genius and you know it. Prove yourself right and write.