Make-up is to writing

My sister and me with make-up on

Me without make-up on

*For those who are boys and reading this post, don’t skip it. I’m sure there are boys out there who are into make-up, and even if you’re not one of them, just imagine this as advice you’d tell your girlfriends when they don’t understand your writing obsession.

So, this morning I woke up in a dream-like state. I kept thinking my sister was lying next to me, talking to me about how there was a smudge under my eyes. I nodded, thinking how understandable that was because I went to sleep with my make-up on (which is something you shouldn’t do, but because I rarely wear make-up, I totally forgot I was wearing it and didn’t take it off). But whatever. I only wore a little bit of make up. Easily fixable.

And that was where my writing brain thinking-ness started.

Make-up is like writing. (You’re liking these analogies aren’t you? I know I am.)

How?

By the saying both make-up users and writers know: less is more.

Make up is only supposed to highlight what’s already there. To make a clear face that’s already pretty, even more beautiful. Use too much, and well, it’s not so pretty. It’s fake looking. And sometimes, if you don’t know your face well enough, you might end up higlighting the wrong features.

In the same way, that’s what people do when writing. Showing vs Telling. Not “showing” enough makes the story dull and plain (like a face with too light of a make-up). “Showing” too much and it’s like an overload and the readers wouldn’t know what to focus on (like someone wearing too many color eyeshadows and bright red lipstick with pink blush caked on someone’s cheeks). What you’d need to do is know when to balance the act of “showing” AND “telling.”

To do this, you’d need to know your story well enough. What do you need to stress? That the man is nervous because he’s being narrowed down as a suspected murderer? Or the cate in the corner of the room licking himself? I’m sure the man being nervous is more important in the scene so that’s something you’d want to “show.” As for the cat? If you really need the cat in that scene, just telling the readers he’s there would be enough. Don’t color him in or else you’ll leave the readers wondering if there’s some sort of connection/importance between the man and the cat.

If you’re able to do this, you’ll have a prettier and cleaner manuscript, with a good balance between showing and telling.

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Truth and Dare

Truth: Although trying to tell the readers as much as you can about the story and its characters may seem to fasten the pace as you write the novel, it actually drags down the story.

A couple of days ago, my family and I went to Six Flags: Discovery Kingdom instead of the camping trip we have been planning for forever. It was really fun. I haven’t been there since the eighth grade field trip. I ate funnel cake, went on pretty much ALL the thriller rides…I even found the raft ride (which is so freakin’ hard to find. I had to ask five workers with the map in hand just to find the ride). From 10 in the morning until 9 at night, it was non-stop riding and eating.

It wasn’t so much fun for my mom. Unlike the rest of us – we slowly built up the “levels” of the rides – my mom’s first ride was on V2, a ride that goes upside down the majority of the time. It was too much for the first ride and she ended up sick. She even left the park soon after because of it.

This is something some writers do to the readers. Instead of building up the intensity of the conflict/story/characters/ect, the writer goes straight to the action (which may or may not work), info dump, or have a story with so much impact in the beginning, the more the reader reads, s/he ends up disappointed because nothing could compare with the beginning. When the writer does this, like my mom, the reader will get sick of reading the rest and would go home (or in this case, put the book down).

And that’s something we writers do not want to do.

So…

Truth: Too much, too fast = makes the reader sick

Dare: Although it may seem TOO slow to you as you write, slowly build up the characters and conflict. Read the story out loud to see if it flows. Have someone read it and ask your CP if the pacing seems off.

Microsoft Word Shortcuts + Anti-Procastination tricks = Happy Writers

picture fromhttp://1.bp.blogspot.com/-vM_w-IaNZEQ/TaRd-7Sb89I/AAAAAAAAARk/K_CZZIV5dCQ/s1600/Hungry-LazyDilemma.png

Don’t let the above picture be you when it comes to your writing!

 

I realized something: I’m actually not that lazy.

Okay, okay. I know…shocking. But I think that’s going to change soon. Why?

Because when I’m typing my MS (aka “Manuscript”- darn, should have put this in the vocab post I wrote), I was doing everything from actually spelling out the full character’s name or whatever, and boy was it a pain to do. It wasn’t until I found this niffy blog that I found out that I was actually doing it the hard way.

Microsoft shortcuts? Seriously? Bring it on.

Because The Intern did a good job explaining it as is, I’ll just give you guys the link. (Sorry, I don’t know how to do that clicky thing that would just pop the link up…but still, check it out.)

http://internspills.blogspot.com/2011/04/7-mindblowing-microsoft-word-tricks.html

Also, to go along with what Vicky had said about procrastination, I also came across another niffy blog post that just might help you keep your butt on the chair and your fingers flying across the keyboard! (As you could tell, I’ve been procrastinating with reading blog posts. Haha.)

http://rapidprogressive.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/lets-talk-about-it-later/

Let me know if any of this is helpful and if one of those procrastination tricks actually work for you. And if you’re still having trouble going through your writing hurdle, feel free to hit me up on wattpad, fictionpress, or email me! I may or may not be of much help, but just releasing some built up stress just might do the trick.

Starting a new project

“Do you remember how it felt, wearing shoes for the very first time?”

That was what I asked my friend one day before track practice. She gave me a very weird look and blankly said, “No. I’m a senior. I was probably two years old when I first put shoes on.”

I laughed and explained why I asked the question in the first place. Before I went off to the track and talked to my friend, I was putting my track shoes on at my locker. I wasn’t really paying attention- the process was repetitive. I knew how to put on shoes. But then, there was some sort of oddness. My shoes felt as if it was trying to conform my foot into a new direction. It kind of tingled.

But I ignored it and put on my other shoes, without looking, and searched through my bag for the sunscreen (which was ridiculous, now that I think about it. There wasn’t even any sun out that day). I walked.

After half way out of the hallway, I finally got fed up with the weird footness (yeah, that’s now a word) that was going on and looked down, ticked off that I probably injured my foot so I couldn’t run that day.

No, no. It wasn’t anything like that. I just put the shoes on the wrong foot. Opps.

Okay, before this makes me sound completely stupid and irrelevant to the writing process, there is a point.  

Writing is like putting on shoes (bet you didn’t think I was going to say that, now did you?). You may not remember when or how or why you started writing, you may have just that tinkling remembrance of the joy you felt in writing your first manuscript. And then, when you were done and ready for your new project (or your revisions or editing or rewrites stage), it may just as well feeling as if you had put your shoes on wrong. You’re going to feel as if you remember knowing how you wrote drafts before- you have been working on it for years. Or, if it was your first time writing a story, you at least wrote in school for how long now? Twelve years? It should be easy.

But staring at a blank page? Frightening and odd. You just gotten used to a page filled with amazing tiny words. The feel of the keyboard under your fingers? Silly. Your fingers used to fly across the board…why is it now skittering hesitantly?

You may feel stupid. “How did I even write this last time?” you might say in annoyance. You may give up because it felt so uncomfortable and weird and new.

But this is me saying don’t give up. Take a step back. Breath. Look down. You may just need to do a little bit of adjustment, switch the shoes back to its proper place, and soon, you’ll be running.

-Choppy

How do you feel when you start a new project? Any advice you’d like to give to other writers about tackling the first draft?