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Related post: Police Work / Law Enforcement (US) - may contain useful general information here as well.
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1. You are a writer. You write letters or you journal or you write the beginning of a novel that goes absolutely no where. But you play with words and you do it often — how could you not be a writer?
2. You’re young. Or you’re old. Or you’re living in a hazy middle. No age is the absolute best perfect age for writing.
3. Stopping now would be ludicrous. Because you still secretly enjoy it. Because you’re in too deep. Because you can’t let down the little voice of your 9-year-old self when he said that he wanted to be a writer for the first time. Continuing may not feel good, but stopping would feel at least 67,485 times worse.
4. Figure out how to see the poetry in the every day again. Move to a new neighborhood. Try on a new city. Name at least 10 different shades of green on your walk to work. Habit saps the art out of places — shake things up.
5. If you’re worried about people actually reading your stuff, start with one person. Then another. Sift your name through as many meshy little worlds as you can. Read as much of other people’s stuff as you can. Tell them you like it or that you don’t like it or that you don’t agree, but start a conversation.
6. If you’re going through a slump, put down the pen, pick up the novels of your favorite artists. Devour Woolf and Didion and Atwood, whomever makes your fingers itch. Read whatever evokes language out of you. That’s the key and maybe the only thing that makes it possible to keep going, even when it seems impossible.
Love is one of the most relatable feelings. Therefore, writers tend to feel an excruciating need to sneak some love into their stories. While this might help reaching a broader audience, it may also ruin the whole idea of your book.
Most people have been in love at least once in their lives. Even those who were never in love probably really want to be. That way, reading about love is something that people seem to enjoy. It makes them reminisce on beautiful memories or dream about a colorful future. People who usually write in a genre that appeals to only a minority often want to add some love to their stories so that more people will be interested in reading them. This is a good strategy and there’s no problem with that. In fact, having two (or more) characters fall in love is a great way to show character development and gives you room to create interesting plot twists. However, love doesn’t always work in fiction.
If your character doesn’t have time for love, don’t throw love in your story. Hundreds of books and movies have been written about characters who are just too busy. They need to save the world or to solve a mystery or to get in a bank to rob it. And somewhere along their quest, someone of the opposite sex shows up and helps them and, by the end of the story, they live happily ever after. When did these characters fall in love? What do they appreciate about each other? What struggles have they overcome together? If you can’t give your characters time to fall in love, why would they? Making your characters kiss just to add a little romance to your story will not work. It will seem forced and make you writing less believable and relatable. In short, don’t write love if your character is too busy for work.
Don’t make your characters fall in love just because you need them to. Making two characters fall in love just for the sake of your story might ruin your plot. If you need two characters to be together, but their personalities don’t match, why would they fall in love? There are unlikely couples, indeed, and these are couples that seem to disagree on everything, yet there is something that connects them. However, if your characters don’t have anything that holds them together, making them fall in love will not come off as believable or understandable to your readers. This brings us to our next topic.
Don’t give your characters similar personalities so that they’ll fall in love. Two people usually fall in love because they have similar interests or they can have interesting conversations. Pushing two characters to be similar just so it will seem believable for them to fall in love will make your story weak. You need your characters to start walking in each other’s direction, figuratively. If you make them completely alike right in the beginning, the relationship will be predictable and boring.
Experiment with differences! While two completely different and incompatible people aren’t likely to fall in love, it’s true that opposites attract. Making two very different people fall in love can be a little cliché, but if you experiment correctly with personality differences, it can definitely work. If your characters are too different, the relationship will be predictable too because this has been done too many times. However, if they are different, but one and the same at the same time, your characters will make a cute and believable couple.
Write with your audience, your characters and your genre in mind. This is one of the mistakes many writers make when writing fiction. While you should always write for yourself, if you’re aiming at a very specific audience, keep that in mind when writing love stories. Teenagers and older people won’t look at relationships the same way, and therefore the formula that works for one age group might not work for another one. You also need to keep your character’s personalities in mind when writing about their relationships. If your characters are very shy, they’re not likely to display their affection in public or to be very comfortable expressing their feelings right away. Also, you should always keep the genre in mind too. Some genres are prone to have love stories, others aren’t. This doesn’t mean that there are genres where you shouldn’t include a love story. What this means is that when you’re writing a romance novel, the love story should play a bigger part than when you’re writing an action book.
Perfect relationships don’t exist. I know that couple next door seems to be happy all the time, but they’re not. Let me break this to you: Couples fight. Couples hate things about each other. Couples yell. And yet, these are the most perfect relationships you’ll ever see. Couples that can still respect each other after having said or done the most awful things during a fight are the happiest ones. You need to write believable relationships, in which your characters fight and disagree and have flaws. A flawed relationship is beautiful and, most of all, it’s real. If your characters agree about everything and like everything about each other, you’re doing something wrong.
To sum up, always know that if you’re determined to have love in your story, you have to make room for it. You have to develop the relationship like it’s a character or your plot. You need to show the reader why these characters like each other, what made them fall for each other, what they hate about each other and what are the weaknesses of the relationship. Treat a relationship like it’s a person and you might get something very nice out of it.
NOTE: I’m using this medical research about food poisoning for future reference. It’s especially useful when I have a character that is a healer.
Food poisoning occurs when you eat food contaminated with bacteria or other toxins. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps, and generally start 4 - 36 hours after eating contaminated food. While food poisoning is often caused by bacteria, it can also result from eating poisonous plants (some mushrooms, for instance) and animals (pufferfish). Every year, more than 76 million people get sick from food poisoning, especially during summer when food may not be kept cold enough to prevent bacteria from growing.
This is awesome
This isn't really related to writing, but I was wondering where you found th picture in the side bar and if it's a picture of any certain character or just a person in a pencil costume. :3
Oh, it’s no random drawing. It’s Carson Phillips from Struck By Lightning. My friend Andrea drew it and it’s been my sidebar since the beginning of this blog!
Posting just in case anyone else would like to know.
One of the most basic and fundamental aspects of writing a character is making them feel like a person, and not simply a collection of traits. The most direct way to accomplish this is to get into their mindset and have them make decisions that make sense for their personalities. Their values, ego, and understanding of the world and its rules should all come together to form a coherent decision-making process, and the various aspects of their character should reflect that process. Characters should possess a sense of agency and ego, which is to say that they should be making decisions “themselves” based on their own desires and ideas.
This is a neat article tracing the linguistic roots of words we use in idioms but not in everyday speech. A useful tool for writers of historical fiction, or who are interested in the changing nature of language.