We all have a favorite book, or many favorites, if you’re like me. And as writers, we also have favorite characters that we’ve created, whether it’s a hero or a villain (sometimes, they’re both). We often times don’t want to admit this, because we could be accused of playing the favorite game, but it is true, isn’t it?
Case in point: in my YA fantasy series I’m working on, there are two young men that I love writing equally well. One is a soldier, and one is an assassin. I would never tell them they are both favorites, because characters have egos just like writers. If you haven’t found this to be the case, just wait. There will be a character someday who demands a lot of your time. And somehow, he or she becomes a favorite.
The problem with having a favorite, or favorites, is that sometimes you have to let them go for the betterment of your story, and you don’t want to. You know you should, that their death will raise the stakes, but you just can’t do it. Friends, you have to. If it makes your story that much richer, that much more riveting, do it. You will feel bad. You might even cry. But if it causes you that much pain, consider what it will do to your readers. I know, over the course of my fantasy series, I will lose some characters who have become very dear. But their death will enrich the stories, and it will be worth it.
So remember, when it’s time to say goodbye, to let them die, how much more amazing your story will be because of it.
I bet, at some point in our writing lives, we’ve all had someone say something like, “Really? A writer? You?” Even if said with good intentions, it can make us falter. We start to doubt. Are we really capable of becoming a writer? The answer is a resounding YES.
Why? Because, my friends, you took the first step to becoming a writer by simply doing the hard part: writing. Anyone who has the guts to put down on page or screen the words that want, need, to come out, has the courage to keep doing it.
I know this because I wrote fan fiction for years. Back in 1999 or so, I discovered Voltron fan fiction on the web, and around 2002, I finally got up the nerve to write my own and post it to a well-known fan fiction site. I got quite a few reviews; most of them were kind. I then started writing Gundam Wing stories, and found the readers there not so gentle. But I leaned. I took advice. I wrote better. And eventually, I started working on my own original work. Now, though I still get occasional requests for more fan fiction, I work solely on my original fiction.
We all get down about our writing. We have hard days when the words gum up and our characters stomp around upstairs and throw tantrums. But oh, remember a day when it all comes together? When you got that review that made you shout with excitement? That’s why we have to keep our nerve. We need to be brave.
We need to persevere, because we are writers, and no one can tell our stories but us.
As most of us know, world building is an important part of creating our stories. Without a world of their own, where do our characters act out their journeys? For those of us who write fantasy and science fiction, this is particularly important, but it’s also important to writers who work in historical or realistic fiction.
So how do you, as the world builder, go about doing it? I write fantasy fiction. My first novel is called Lift, and it’s about a carousel of magical horses. It’s set in the here and now, in Michigan. But there is still plenty to do in regards to setting scenes. Michigan’s weather is tempestuous, and I use that throughout my novel. There is a magical house, that may or may not be pleasant to live in. Each piece of your world needs to work together to create the overall sense of belonging.
The world for Lift has been easier to create than that of Pentallia, the world my fantasy series is set in. But in some ways, Pentallia has been more fun, because it’s not part of our world. I am an avid Pinterest user; each story has its own board. Because Pentallia needed to be built from scratch, I currently have four boards devoted to it, and I’m not sure that’s even enough. Its helpful to have pictures that represent my characters, wardrobes, and places. I also maintain a board solely for quotes that remind me of my characters.
Is all that necessary? For me, yes. You might find using Pinterest tedious, or worse, a nasty time suck of your limited writing time. Every writer has to learn what works for them, and do it. Our main goal is to create new worlds, portals, for our readers to get lost in.
Find what works, and exploit it. Your readers, your fans, will thank you.
Every single person on the Earth is unique. This applies to every writer, too. Each one of us has a story, or three or ten, to tell, and only we can do it. Even if given the same basic plot and characters, each of us would twist it until it was different from everyone else’s.
I grew up reading primarily horse stories. I showed horses, did 4-H rodeo, and rode trails. But trying to write a horse story? It didn’t go as well as one would think with so much real horse experience in my life. Instead, I’ve been blessed with a definite bent toward fantasy, so that’s what I’m writing. Once you’ve come to terms with what kind of stories you’ve been given to curate, your writing path, while not easy, should be clearer.
And we know that writers sometimes lead interesting, if not weird, lives. That’s okay. Give yourself permission to be strange, to dabble with different stories and elements, or do wacky things. I probably wouldn’t recommend going to the local cafe in your undies, but hey – once you do it, people will just roll their eyes and whisper from the corner of their mouths, “Well, you know she/he’s a writer.”
So it’s okay to be a little strange. Don’t be afraid to try something new. You never know what you can accomplish until you do it.
I just finished watching Moana for probably the fifth time. Her journey was the catalyst for me choosing the path of an indie writer. The music is beautiful, the scenery captivating, and she is inspiring. Choosing to go the indie route was not a decision I made lightly. It’s not for everyone. But after watching this movie, I realized that I wanted to be an indie writer and author, and I’d been holding back because I feared failure.
I am working with a writer/publisher, K. R. Conway at Wicked Whale Publishing, so I’m not really on my own. But much of the work still falls to me. It’s exciting, though. Ms. Conway answers all my questions, and she’s very encouraging. I enjoy working with her.
What has inspired you as a writer? Is there a movie, song, or book that speaks to you? We all need encouragement, because this writing thing can be arduous at times. We might feel like we’ve chosen the wrong path. Hang in there. Let yourself be adventurous. Be willing to try something new.
And above all else, ask yourself: who are you?