Story of my life… Here’s a writing comp…

I’ve been sick with the flu for the last month, and I kid you not I am done! Seriously how long can it last? Fingers crossed it’s on the way out.

Anyway, I haven’t been up for writing much. I can barely handle looking at a screen for more than a couple of hours without a headache. As a result, I haven’t been able to finish a story. They all start great and then it’s all down hill from there. So I took to editing my old manuscripts.

Does anyone else ever read over their work and go…”Seriously, Word, what’s up with that?” Why is there double words like the the, or words missing that you could have sworn were there last time? I am beginning to feel like I’m either going crazy or Microsoft Word has a mind all of its own.

Anyhow…

The Ampersand Prize with Hardie Grant opens Thursday, you can find it HERE on their website or through Twitter.  Or through the post I posted earlier about it.  It opens September 1st, closes September 16th.

I am thinking of submitting one of two manuscripts. I just can’t decide which one. Fingers crossed a couple more coffees will help with that or I may spent the next two weeks contemplating and miss out. Given my current mind set, that is most likely.

I did consider submitting a story to a publishing house but panicked and reconsidered, because I didn’t know if it was the right one. I even considered offering them access to my cloud drive and telling them to enjoy themselves. But I get the feeling it may not lead to a publishing contract. One can dream. With 10 completed manuscripts and eight started something might interest someone. Or not.

If you are looking at submitting to the Ampersand Prize, do it. There’s no harm in it and it’s a great way to get your name out there, have someone read your work and who knows you may be lucky enough to have it published. My fingers are crossed for you.

And now for a detailed description of my day…

Image Credits to The Funny Beaver 

Bec
xx

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Writing Chapter One…

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Image sourced from Pinterest. Credit to the owners.

Writing Chapter One…

So many people say that they want to write but can’t. They don’t have the time, the imagination, the resources, skills, it’s too hard etc.

I want to say first of all, it’s not too hard. NEVER is writing too hard. What it is, is time consuming. And that in itself varies depending on your level of dedication.

Anyone can write. Anyone can draft a story, be it 500 words long or 500,000 words long. It’s not hard. Toddlers can verbally tell you a story. Something as inanimate as a tree can tell you a story, the markings in the bark, the damage to a branch. What you hear however, that is how it is told.

Writing comes in many forms, as does story telling. I have read some pretty terrible stories and some pretty great ones. But there are two things I have learned along the way:

  • Everyone gets better, rarely is your first story your best. My first fan fictions are shocking compared to my latest.
  • Everyone has their own style. This is key for me and it is the one thing I have learned during my time at TAFE studying professional writing. Each person has their own style, strengths, flaws. They all see and tell a scene differently. Some are so incredibly descriptive that you don’t know if you should keep reading or skip that section as you’ve read enough. Some barely have description and tend to leave it to the reader. Find yours and the stories will come. This isn’t just about genre it’s about the way you write as well.

You have the ability to write. Good or bad story telling is still story telling. But it won’t improve unless you start.

Time- that’s a factor many of us have issues with. I spent the first 12 months of my writing life, writing almost full time. Now it’s not as much, but if I ever get published I am happy to go back to that schedule. The more I wrote the better my mojo flowed.

Writing can take very little time, some authors only write a page or two a day, that’s about a book a year. That’s fantastic. Some write less. Some more. Can you get up half an hour earlier? Go to bed an hour later? Type it in over your lunch break?

I will be completely honest, if you want to write you’ll find the time. Writing is a passion and something that you need to want to do for yourself, for others, for your characters. It’s just a matter of putting words to paper.

So many people think you need something fancy to get your story out. You don’t. Pen and paper will do. Although publishers usually only accept typed copies now days. You can write your novel in anything from MS Word to Apple’s Pages, there is even software like Open Office that is free to download.

I tried using Scrivener but failed miserably. I found it too distracting and complicated. I like to be able to source what I need when I need and just have a basic word processing program. I have even added to my stories on my smart phone and tablet using the notes app and sent it through to myself and reformatted it to fit.

Skills, like the story telling ability, are something you learn along the way. Read other books, see how the novel is formatted, how they present it. Take note of punctuation and grammar. Even Google it. Everything is on the internet, you just have to search for it. There are even free lessons on grammar available. Most word processors come with a free spell check, it’s a great starting place, but never rely on it for everything.

When you discover something you were doing wrong or have trouble with it, write it down and stick it somewhere you can see. My wall is covered in grammar notes from when I first started. Including two brief sentences “Grasping for breath.” and “Remember to breathe.” I kept getting the two mixed up and it was just easier that way. Now I don’t need them but it was great to have that reminder. Same with the difference between then and than. While I knew them, in the midst of typing away or editing, I found I would have mental blanks and the reminder was helpful.

When it comes to imagination I will admit some people aren’t as imaginative as others. But that’s fine. It comes with practice. Start by trying to picture things in your head, your favourite TV episode, recall a conversation, think about what you would have said if they have of said the opposite. Then learn to question things. In primary school we were always taught research involved:

Who

What

When

Where

Why

How

Story telling has the same basis.

Who is involved in it?

What is happening?

When does it happen?

Where does it take place?

Why is it happening?

How does it happen?

Starting with these basic questions is a great way to begin to plan a novel if you need that extra help.

But most importantly you need to take the plunge and start. It doesn’t even have to be the beginning of your story. Write the ending first, the middle it doesn’t matter what order it comes together in as long as it does. If you’re worried about it all flowing nicely afterwards. Don’t. It’s why we edit.

What are your tips for starting your first story?

Bec

xx

Why I Don’t Plot…

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Gif Credit to the owner, it was placed on Pinterest from decisivelychallenged.tumblr.com

I am in the process of drafting a new novel called Compliant. I will tell you all about it soon.

This book has been my enemy since I started. It hasn’t flowed as well as I’d like and it’s taken a lot of effort to make it to where it currently is.

Today’s goal was to finish it, at least the first draft. I found notes from a 2am ah-ha moment. And well the notes sucked. They went
Hits scott Shes pres
Army attack
(That’s right, no grammar or punctuation)

I get her hitting Scott. He’s a jerk. I get the Army attacking. But what in the actual hell is “Shes pres”?? I would love someone to tell me cos I really have no idea

As a result, I may have just jumped right over that little bit. Can’t be that important right?

Anyway, my book ended. That’s great. I’m finally there, 81,000 words and  I killed off more people than the producers of Game of Thrones and in a shorter time span. I’m still not sure if it’s due to the plot or my overtired grumpy mood. Either way. I decided that these GIF’s suit it fine.

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Until I got to the end…

I killed off the wrong person. Now it’s do I change it or go with it and enjoy the ending. I had so many plans and well oops… Now I’m tired, have parts of my story missing, my coffee cups empty and I’m crying because of the death of a character I liked.

So there you have it, this is why I don’t plot…

Are you a plotter or a panster?

Bec

xx

 

Who’s Telling Your Story?

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Photo Credit to Shutter Stock

Who is telling your story?

Perspective:

When I first started writing, I wrote everything from a first person point of view; I ran, I jumped, I looked. Every fan fiction I wrote was the same. I didn’t even consider any other way of writing. Despite reading books with it in. I’m not sure why I just never really noticed it. Then I got a message requesting a story, asking if I could do this one in third person, so they could experience everyone’s thoughts.

I was so confused and I will admit, I googled that one. I wasn’t clear on it. I had no idea what I was meant to do. I wrote out a 3,000 word story, and then realised half way through I switched back to first person and had to edit it. It was a messy, horrible, nightmare. But I did it.

Now third person is my perspective of choice for fan fictions, but I still usually use first person in my novels. My newest creation, that I am working on is third person and I’m enjoying the change.

What’s the difference?

Aside from the pronouns that you use. For first person it’s I, my, mine, us and for third person, he, she, them, her or him.

It’s about what the reader gets to experience.

First person perspective means that you can only know for sure what the character who’s voice you are writing in is thinking and feeling. Everything else is written and made through observations. It is basically how one would see real life.

You can look at a person and assume they are angry from the tension on their face, the rage in their eyes, but you cannot know for sure. Even if they admit they are, there’s a chance they are lying. Unless you are in their head, which you aren’t, there’s no way you can ever know for sure.

You can however, accurately and descriptively inform everyone of how you feel and what you are observing.

Third person perspective is divided into two groups. The first is

Omniscient narration here, the character telling the story (narrator) can explore the characters fully. It’s someone else narrating the story. Everyone is he, she, them. It can show what is happening in the minds of every person.

Restricted third person is when the story is still written in he, she, them but you can only tell what is going on in the main character’s head (the one the story is focused on.) They still have no idea what else is going on inside the minds of anyone else, they can, like in first person, observe and report, but never know with any real certainty.

What you use, really depends on your writing style, what your plot is, who’s story and thoughts you want to hear.

For me, I base it on what is happening and whether I want to reveal facts about the other characters.

In Battle for Terra, I used first person, because I didn’t want to have to deal with trying to get inside the minds of the aliens and a couple of the other characters involved. It gave away too much.
In Binary, given the betrayal Addison was facing, I couldn’t write anything that would outright give away who was trying to destroy Audris and her.

And now for my two new work in progress items. Compliant has a dark, mysterious and broody leader of a rebel group, Ben. I felt that if I used third person and revealed his thoughts it would really mess up the story line. I wanted his actions and reactions to show his personality and thoughts.

And my new, still being titled was meant to be making plot notes only story, that has wound up 12,000 words into the story. Yes, my bad. I chose third person restrictive, but I change views through out the story. My main focus is on Sarah, but I do add in brief sections for other people, like my secondary character, Eli and a mysterious unknown who is watching them from the shadows. The reason for this was because without the change in viewpoint you wouldn’t know Mr Unknown was there. Secondly, I needed Eli’s flash backs, they played an important part to the story. And thirdly, I have plans for later. And it will be vital to climax points in the story.

Personally, I love the way third person reads. I feel it makes writing come across more romantic. Not in a hearts and flowers way, but it just smooths it out a bit more and it really does change how a person writes.

So, for below is an extract from my Supernatural fanfic, Lullaby. Which you can find attached to the hyperlink. It was written in third person restrictive, changing perspectives at the line spacing from Rose to Dean.

——

Dean was a private person. It was one of the few things that Rose knew about him. Aside from the obvious anyway. He was tall, had amazing eyes and he was loyal. Even to her, a woman he hadn’t known all that long. Rose thought about that for a moment. Two years, that’s how long she’d known the Winchesters. She had been living with them for three months, 90 ninety days. She quickly calculated it into hunter’s years. Well, her version of hunter’s years. It was a 3:1 ratio. She’d known them six years.

In all that time, she’d never heard or had Dean ask for help. He’d never discussed any issues he had, never shared his emotions. Nothing. It intrigued her, fascinated her, ate at her curiosity. She often found herself sitting back watching him from a distance. She watched most people, but he was the one that captured her attention the most.

‘You’re doing it again,’ Dean commented, raising an eyebrow over his book.

‘Sorry.’

Rose blushed slightly and went back to reading. She hadn’t realised she was watching him that intently.

 

Dean glanced up at her again, at that same moment she glanced up at him. They caught each other’s eyes and smiled. His smiled widened a bit more, but he beamed on the inside. She captivated every part of him. He hadn’t figured out why yet. He wondered, if in part, it was to do with her fascination for him. Whether it enticed his own curiosity. He knew what she was doing when she watched him. To begin with it confused him, the way she watched everything. It was like a child who had first started noticing the world around them. She took everything in. You could see her absorbing it. When he questioned it, she was honest, up front and told him everything. She was trying to figure out what made him tick, get to know him, and in general, understand him. Dean smiled, he made more of an effort to hide things from her since that talk.

At first it was a game, to annoy her. But after a while, it was because he feared once she knew him, she would stop paying attention.

Dean knew it was her thing, and she was good at it. She could read most people like a book, and quickly. She was their human lie detector. And at times Demon/Angel detector. She could tell when a person wasn’t “human”. Solely through their actions.

—–

So the extract below is my first fanfic, called It’s Not a Thong. The quality of writing isn’t as good, but it’s first person perspective, just to give you an idea.

I sat back in my chair, raising my eyebrows at the man in front of me.

‘I can’t believe you are even thinking of trying to pull rank, let alone attempting it,’ I stated in disbelief.

‘Really?’ he challenged.

I smirked. He was arrogant and liked to be in control, so this wasn’t that much of a surprise.

‘Sweetheart, I can out hunt you without even breaking a sweat. It makes sense that I out rank you.’ He leaned forward on resting his forearms on the table and interlocking his fingers.

‘And yet, it’s usually me that ends up saving your arse,’ I countered, mirroring his actions. Looking deep into his green eyes, not wavering on my stance. Hearing a smirk coming from my left, I turned to look at his brother.

I looked between the two brothers, Dean and Sam Winchester. I had met them 12 months ago on a hunt in Ohio, turned out there was a male werewolf on an ex-wife torture spree.

He had started killing her family, eventually trying to turn her. I was standing in as coroner, when the two “FBI” agents approached me.

Having been a hunter myself, I was able to call B.S. on their cover. The werewolf was massive and stronger than any I had encountered before. So having the extra couple of sets of hands helped.

Since then we had randomly met up at several salt and burns, vamp nests and even a wendigo case. We kept in contact regularly and ended up travelling together. It seemed to make sense as more often than not we arrived at the same case. Now the only bad side is we are down to one car. My 1970 Dodge Charger got put in the bunker garage and we are using Dean’s Impala. It was a beautiful car. But being down to one vehicle was frustrating at times.

‘How about we drink for it?’ Dean suggested, wriggling his eyebrows.
I couldn’t help but laugh, ‘Really? You want to drink ourselves stupid, which I might add we are about on par with, and then the looser goes to grab tea?’
——

As you can see, perspective can change how a story is told, how it is written and the way in which emotions are expressed.

Finding what works for you, is essential. But it is always best to learn how to write in all perspectives as you never know where your story will take you.

Figure out what you want to portray, to keep secret and to reveal and go from there. Sometimes it might even help to write a paragraph or two of your work in the different perspectives to see what works. I will admit some of my work from my early days would have been pretty amazing if I had of used third person.

What’s your favourite perspective to write and read?

What do you find easiest?

I’d love to hear from you, either in the comments below or you can find me on my contact page.

Bec
xx

 

 

Weekend Writing Prompt

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Welcome to the weekend writing prompt. It’s Friday here in Australia, and I thought it would be a good time to put one of these up, for those who use weekends to write and relax.

Never have I felt as scared as I do now.

Where does this lead your imagination?

Is your mind running from something?

Are you hiding?

Is there a rumbling of a distant storm?

Gun fire in the distant?

A scream that is breaking through the silence?

Are you facing a fear?

What is happening to make your character so scared?

For me in my mind right now, my main character is running scared, ducking between buildings, hiding in the shadows. Trying to escape the enemy who want her dead at all costs. Where does this lead…For me right now a new novel I started this week.

Where will yours lead? I’d love to hear what happens you can comment below or

Twitter

Instagram

Tumblr

Google+

Email: bechombsch@dodo.com.au

Bec

Understanding Fan Fiction

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I received an inbox from a follower on tumblr today, asking if I can help her answer some questions about fan fiction. I thought that I would I would write up a more detailed answer and post it here for those who are not sure exactly what it is and why it’s done. I have plans for putting up how to posts for tumblr later so this is probably a good place to start.

Fan fiction is a world that I didn’t even know existed until early last year. I went onto tumblr looking for funny gifs and vines, based on things I had seen on Pinterest, and stumbled across it by accident. It’s a bit like the underground world of writing. Some people have heard of it, others haven’t and the fans and writers tend to keep quite about it unless they are talking to someone they feel will enjoy it.

Fan fiction is the viewer/reader/fan’s interpretation of what could or should happen with a piece of media that they enjoyed. I will admit I thought it was only based on movies and tv shows, but I have since found out that it includes almost everything, there doesn’t appear to be limits, TV shows, movies, books and even video games all have fan fiction stories written and based on them.

It uses the characters and sometimes plots of a piece of media to make a new story. Sometimes including reader inserts, which is where the reader is placed in the story using acronyms such as Y/N for Your Name. The story lines are anything from re writing some of the already used plots to include other characters, fix issues fans had with them or to include things they thought would have made it more interesting, crossovers with other fandoms, based on songs, brand spanking new ideas or just to end a series that fans didn’t think ended very well.

Fan fiction is a great way for writers, like myself, who want to test the waters with their writing skills, develop their writing, learn how to write or even see what people think. Fan fiction has also brought about a few famous authors. E.L James, wrote (according to fan fiction legend) 50 Shades of Grey as a fan fiction of Twilight and The Mortal Instruments author Cassandra Clare also started out writing fan fiction.

Not all producers, published authors and video game creators like the idea. Some really have an issue with it. Other’s don’t mind it and have admitted to reading it.

As an author, although not published, personally I think the idea can be great. Would I be offended if someone wrote some for my work? Probably not. I think writers can get a lot of good ideas and a greater understanding of what their fans want and possibly even ideas for future works. I also think it’s a great way for writer’s to be able to see how people judge and interpret their characters and storylines. It’s really does help someone know if they are portraying a person how they meant to. And for those who have stepped into that world as a reader or writer, once there you really do get an idea of the size of a fandom; Supernatural, Dr Who, Sherlock or the SuperWhoLock fandom is a great example.

For me personally I have seen how fan fiction can change a person’s life. My own blog and work is open to requests. I allow people to send through story ideas based on what they want to read and I write it up. This have been everything from: “Can you do a birthday fic?” to “I have a friend living with terminal bowel cancer, who is a Supernatural fan, could you please write something that includes the boys helping the reader through the end?”

Other requests have been about how one of the main characters falls for someone who is flawed according to the rest of the world, be it overweight, glasses, underweight, has stretch marks. Fans like to be able to feel that their hero’s, celebrity crushes etc can fall for someone who isn’t Hollywood gorgeous and it then becomes a massive confidence boost. Something a lot of people need. And what is meaningless to one may end up helping someone else who is really struggling.

These kinds of stories usually end up with private messages from people thanking me, because they had a bad day and were suffering low self esteem etc and the story just helped them realise that they are not as bad as they thought. I have even written stories based on a blind hunter and another who was deaf. Giving these people a chance to believe that they can still achieve anything and “save the world,” means a lot.

It’s also a great place to make friends. I have spoken to some of my readers who have been going through some pretty tough times and spent hours talking to them. Helping where needed and sometimes all they need is just an ear. It’s amazing how strong a friendship’s can grow from this. I have one reader/friend who is now on my personal Facebook and we talk most days about random stuff, I have another that I chat to privately through tumblr about random stuff as well or use her to throw idea’s around with. I’ve seen other’s who have made life long friends who have changed their lives.

Getting into writing fan fiction is easy. Firstly, check it out. Read others works. On tumblr do a search for your favourite character x reader (eg dean x reader), fan fic, fan fiction etc. See what others have done. It’s pretty easy to pick up on a few things. There are a few sites out there who host fan fiction, but tumblr was an easy place for me to start. Set up a blog, this is automatically done once you sign up, so pick a good user name.

Find something you love or have read/watched/played enough to know what it’s about, the main character’s personalities etc. And come up with an idea. Write up your story and give it a good edit. I like using Word to write it up and then I copy and paste into tumblr. Other’s happily just use the tumblr app and type it straight into it.

Tag it! And use your tags wisely. I’m not entirely sure how it works, someone once told me places only count the first five tags. I’m not sure. I have a list that I add in. Tags are what search terms the story is placed under. Without tags no one can find you. So this is things like: #supernatural #Dean x reader #dr who #Matt Murdoch #Dean Winchester. I’m not sure if capitals matter. Then click post.

In the world of fan fiction, a lot of writers do help others out. They shout out for new blogs, share stories, read and review, and offer advice on setting up blogs. But usually only if asked. I am one of those. I happily help out others, we all had to start somewhere. And when I started I had no help and had to go at this and figure it out all on my own.

Keep track of your stories and make sure you copy all the web links into a word document so you can post what is known as a Masterlist. A list of all your story’s web links. This is vital. I cannot stress it enough. You will be asked for one, usually on a regular basis.

Layout and formatting is important. I have read a lot of posts from readers who will not read a fan fiction that isn’t spaced out, well formatted, correct use of everything. Sometimes this can’t be helped. Tumblr known for changing story formats being viewing modes, eg phone to pc. But where possible make sure you include things like line spaces between paragraphs, and a new paragraph per speaker/new lot of dialogue. Also always spell check. We all make mistakes, even some published books have errors in them. But a story that’s riddled with mistakes is hard to read. And if you are re reading old stories and you notice an error. Edit it.

Post regularly, eg weekly or fortnightly. If you have a schedule let your fans know. If you are going to be away for an extended period, let them know. They are great and really supportive and understanding. But those die hard regulars like to know when your next story will be. And who can blame them, we are all like that with our favourite authors.

If you have rules let them know. I don’t do smut (R18, porn writing and sex scenes) not my style. Could I? Probably. Will I? Nope. I have fans and readers, including my kids who are under that age group, I have readers who are under the age 13 so I keep it clean. I will imply it’s happening. I will give a bit of details about kissing someone’s neck, hand going up the shirt. But that’s it. I usually cut scene to lying in bed after or the next day. I don’t feel that it’s needed. It can take away from the story line, it can ruin a story, and ultimately it can give readers that are too young for that kind of thing, details that they didn’t need to know.

I can and have managed to write stories based around a sexual relationship without actually writing sex scenes. However, this kind of thing is each to their own. Some writers enjoy it and do it happily. But it’s one of my rules and I stick by it. If it’s requested, I politely decline that part of the request but write everything else. If it’s too hard to leave that out, I will offer the request to other fan fic writers and ask someone else take it on. As a writer you should not feel pressured into anything.

Also decide if you are taking requests. This is when people contact you with a story idea. And let people know. It’s your choice. You can open it once a month, once a week, not at all. Your choice. I do, and it generally stays open. I just line them up and work on them around my other writing schedules.

What do people like to read? After nine months I think I’ve figured it out. Angst, tear jerking, emotional rollercoaster type stories. Will you please everyone. God, no. I have had emails complaining because I killed someone off and I need to fix it. Nine times out of 10 I do. But funnily enough, the times I write up the next part to bring them back people don’t ask for it. But they love to be drawn into the story like an addiction.

It will take a bit to get going and find your style, pace and ultimately you will. It’s just takes patience and trial and error. My work when I first started compared to my work now is completely different. Don’t get discouraged about the amount of likes or reblogs you get. I’ve had some that have only had 10 all up and others that have hit the hundreds. Don’t compare yourself to other writers. You’re not them. You are you and that’s all there is too it. People will love your work, it’s just a matter of them finding you, of you making yourself known. Love your fans, sure aim for more. But what you are doing is for those who are following you now. You will notice a regular group of them who come back for every story. I have some that I know without a doubt will be one of the first people to like my work and if they don’t I worry. Not about my work, but them.

Fan fiction starts as a way to test the waters and ends up as an online family and book group. It can be a brilliant way for people to refine their skills, test different styles (Point of view for me was a huge test) and see what works for you. It’s worth undertaking and using to it’s full potential for emerging writers. Embrace it.

I am the author of the Supernatural and Avengers fan fiction blog, 5 Minute Fan Fiction on tumblr.

Bec
xx