The Loquacious Bibliophile

Confessions of a bibliophile and aspiring authoress


Writing Tips

NaNoWriMo Survival Kit–Are You Ready?

Everybody is different, something that the people over at the NaNoWriMo site understand!  Something that I like about that is that they realize people write differently.  There are the Pantsers, and the Planners.  The former, Pantsers, fly by the seat of their pants–which explains the funny name.  And the Planners…are just that!

Are you a Pantser, or a Planner?
Funnily enough, I’m a Pantser.  At least, in regards to NaNoWriMo I am.  I take it seriously, but perhaps not as seriously as I would other projects, so I’m not sitting there mapping out every detail for months.
Personally, then, all I have right now are a handful of ideas.  I know what I’m going to write about, and a few vague ideas about plot points here and there, but that’s all.  I find that planning things out scene by scene is overwhelming and limiting–this is true in my “regular” writing as well.  It’s stifling, and my poor muse is confined to a small room instead of the vast outdoors.  There’s nothing wrong with the people who plan for months and months, but that’s just not how I approach NaNoWriMo!
It might also help that I really only ever see myself doing something like fan-fiction for NaNoWriMo; that’s what I did last year, and what I’ll do this year.  It helps, then, I think, as I have my characters sorta figured out, and a bit of a plot to mess around with as I see fit–or one that I come up with entirely!  The setting could change, too…the possibilities with fan-fiction are endless (just click around the Internet!), but it also provides a bit of structure, so that’s nice.

As a Pantser, my survival kit is probably a bit smaller than that of a Planner might be.  I don’t have a myriad of notebooks to keep track of, maps that I’ve sketched, any of those things….  But here’s a few things that I think will help me get through NaNo this year:

My wonderful writing program, Scrivener:
Up until NaNoWriMo last year, I mostly wrote things on paper.  Obviously that would prove difficult for writing 50,000 words, so I had to change that up.  And I’m glad I did.  My problem with writing things by hand was that it took too long; my thoughts would get ahead of what my hand could scrawl across the page–and that’s with writing in shorthand!
Sure, any ol’ program will work just fine, but I’m excited to use Scrivener this year!
And if you’re the type who attacks NaNoWriMo with a paper and pen (or pencil), then…more power to ya!  I can just imagine the hand cramps….

Chocolate!!  (Or some other snack….):
Snacks are important, of course!  I prefer chocolate to anything else, and have a stash in my desk just for the purpose of eating while I’m writing!
Over the course of the month, I’m sure I’ll eat many different things as I write…but chocolate is just so wonderful!
It provides a slight distraction (especially if you have something like Skittles with different flavors to it!), and something else to focus on for a moment or two, but sometimes that’s helpful.  Plus, if you’re eating chocolate, there’s some caffeine in there!  XD

Good music:
Your taste will differ from mine, and probably on the type of scene you’re writing!  I mentioned some of my favorite artists/albums to listen to while writing in a previous post.  What do you find helpful when you’re writing–or can you not have any noise at all?

Moral support:
NaNoWriMo is not easy.  The very act of writing isn’t easy–it’s simple, sure, but that’s not the same thing!  Though I don’t talk much about what I’m writing, that doesn’t mean that I don’t need a few people to encourage me while I write!
My family and friends are wonderful at this…and the NaNo community is awfully nice, too!

A designated writing space (and time?):
I need minimal distractions.  I’m not the type of gal who will go to a coffee shop with my laptop and write to my heart’s content; partially because I don’t drink coffee, and just because that doesn’t appeal to me!  I might do it for a change of pace, but that has yet to happen….
The room I choose to write in is my bedroom, but that’s as specific as I get with it.  Maybe I’ll sit on my bed, or at my desk…it just depends!
Also, I usually choose to write late at night, when most everyone else is sleeping; the distractions are kept to a minimum, then.  And I just like to write at night!

Tea (or coffee, if that’s more your thing):
Always!  Tea is good for everything, but I see myself drinking an awful many pots of the wonderful stuff over the month of November.  (This won’t be a big change for me!)  I like to drink tea as I write…for no particular reason!  🙂  The same reason that I snack while I write, perhaps?  It’s calming, if nothing else.

Something to reward yourself with once you’ve reached your goal:
Whatever your goal is, you deserve to reward yourself once you’ve reached it!  This will provide a little bit more motivation, too, though the feeling of having reached a goal is a reward in itself!
Splurge a bit!  You’ve accomplished something incredibly difficult and taxing!  Throw yourself a little party and celebrate!

What will help you with NaNoWriMo this year?  Are you a Pantser or a Planner?
Good luck, to anyone attempting NaNo this year!  You’ll do splendidly!

I would love to know how you’re doing with your novel!
Follow my Instagram and Twitter accounts, and be my buddy over at the NaNoWriMo site!  I’ll gladly follow you back!

I’ll be sharing updates here daily, as well as on my social media sites–and the NaNoWriMo one!

You can do this!  And so can I!  XD



{Writing Quotes} “…Writers write from empathy.”

Writers don’t write from experience, although many are hesitant to admit that they don’t. …If you wrote from fromempathyexperience, you’d get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy.
~Nikki Giovanni

I’ve not heard of this author, but came across this quote on Pinterest and kinda loved it!  🙂

I have never been a fan of the whole “write what you know” thing.  It doesn’t make sense.
If we only wrote about what we knew, what genres would that leave us with?  In fact, I’m not sure fiction would even exist, if you took the statement that far.
Fantasy wouldn’t exist.  Sci-fi wouldn’t exist.  I doubt many horror novels would exist–if you’re reading Stephen King, a lot of his inspiration comes from the “what if?” questions, which implies the answer isn’t known right off.

QUOTEWriters write from empathy.Writing fiction shouldn’t be limited by what we do and do not know; by what we have and have not experienced personally.  If there is something that will play an vital part in a story and it needs to be written about well and knowledgeably, then by all means, do your research!  That’s not the same thing.
The only thing that should limit your fiction is what you can feel about/for a subject, character, story, etc. etc..  That’s where that empathy comes into play.

If you’ve read extensively, as all authors ought to do, then you’ll have empathy mastered already–at least when it applies to the fictional world.  You feel what the characters feel when you read, don’t you?  It should be the same way when you write.

You have to put yourself in someone else’s shoes–a great many person’s shoes, really.
Say you want to write something about a chainsaw-wielding clown going on some murderous rampage.  (Sorry, but Halloween is coming up…and I hate clowns….)  I doubt you’ve ever been such a clown, or been affected by one, but you have to see what the world is like from the point of view of the clown, the victims, the family and friends of the victims, the police officers hunting down the maniac….

You aren’t one of those people in real life…but what if you were?

I do believe that this is a skill that will be better learned by reading and writing more.  Empathy in writing is a skill, and the better you become at it the more believable your writing will be.  And who doesn’t want that?


4 of the Best Albums to Listen to While Writing

4bestalbums…in my opinion, at least.

Background music is a very important thing for me when I’m writing; I don’t know that it necessarily influences my writing, but it does keep the rest of the real world at bay, allowing me to better immerse myself in the one I’ve created.  I do try to match the music I’m listening to to the type of scene I’m writing, or the genre, but that’s not always the case.
I plan on another list devoted to good Pandora stations to turn on while writing!  🙂

Without further ado, and in no particular order, here’s my list!  Let me know what you like to listen to while you write and if this inspired you to check out any of these albums!  There are links provided here, too, that will take you to Youtube videos!

Anything Mannheim Steamroller…but specifically the Fresh Aire albums:
Learn more about Mannheim Steamroller by reading my blog post linked to above!
I have recently fallen in love with the Fresh Aire albums; they’re my go-to albums for when I need background music for anything.  It’s about the time of year where I could turn on their Halloween album, too, which is always a lovely thing!
I will confess that I’ve not listened to all of the Fresh Aire albums (there are eight of them), but there’s no real reason behind that.
Some of my favorite tracks from those albums are the Interlude tracks (ten in total); a handful of which feature elements of nature such as rain, a thing that I find very inspiring and relaxing.  Interlude I might be my favorite, but it’s so difficult to choose!
A few others are Amber, Mere Image, The Cricket, and Velvet Tear.
The sounds of the individual tracks can take a bit of a turn from one to the next, but the first four Fresh Aire albums are each inspired by one of the four seasons.  Some songs are much more upbeat than others and I adore them all for their individuality and unconventional “instruments”.

The Lord of the Rings Soundtracks:
Need I say any more?
I prefer the ones from the LOTR trilogy to The Hobbit (grr) trilogy.  The range of emotion in these songs (it is a soundtrack, after all) is wonderful and keeps things from getting boring.
These soundtracks are all completely beautiful and I don’t think they’ll ever get old!
Not only are the original recordings fantastic, there are some amazing covers out there!  I’m quite the fan of Peter Hollen’s Into The West cover, for example.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Beethoven’s Last Night:
This is the only album on this list featuring lyrics.
We all know that Beethoven went a little bit crazy, but TSO took that concept and turned it into an album!
Obviously a very intense subject and, as a result, the tracks of this album are the same way–some more than others.
One of my favorites is Misery!

Yanni’s In My Time:
If New Age-y piano songs are in any way your thing, I’d suggest checking out this album!
I used to listen to it to fall asleep to when I was little; at least a decade later, I’ve been known to listen to it every now and then when I’m writing.  Usually only if I don’t want anything specific on but still need the noise.
All of these songs have a similar vibe, and I enjoy all of them.  The one standing out to me at the moment is Until The Last Moment.


{Writing Tips} How to Create the Perfect Character

Writing TipsPerfectCharacter

*Dreamy sigh*  The perfect character….
Yeah, they don’t exist.

But, really, how could they?  Authors are imperfect people (they’re people–everyone has faults) and what they write, the characters they bring to life, are never going to be the epitome of perfection.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t brilliant writers or characters–on the contrary, there are many authors I can only aspire to be like and characters I will only ever be able to draw inspiration from.
It also doesn’t mean that you don’t try for perfection–just don’t beat yourself up when it seems unreachable, as it is.  Even the greatest author ever (you and I have differing opinions on this, most likely, but pick a favorite and insert his/her name here) couldn’t write each sentence perfectly.

I’ve been stressing out way more than I should be lately trying to figure out a character.  I understand that the standard I’m trying to hold myself to probably isn’t even attainable…but realizing that and actually applying that fact to my life are two very different things.

As it’s been on my mind lately, then, I’ll share a few things about what I think make a character good–maybe even great.

  • A Good Name ~
    Everyone has different opinions about names, so this will differ from author to author (and reader to reader).  Names are things that I agonize over for ages, because it has to be just right.
    How do you know if a name is right for a character?  I wish I had a better answer than “you’ll know”, but at least for me, it’s just one of those feelings.  Or perhaps more like the lack of one–there’s a massive weight off my shoulders when I finally find the right name!
    Generally, though, you want to make sure the name fits the personality of the character.  (Unless you’re going for irony, but make sure that’s something you mean to do and that you have a reason for it.)
    Fitting the genre is important, too.  (A Paul would seem out of place in a fantasy world.)
    I prefer a name that isn’t impossible to pronounce, though that doesn’t mean it needs to be a certain amount of letters or that there are letters you should avoid entirely.
    The way a name looks is a big part of it–at least to me.  Especially if it’s going to be the name of a major character; if you’re going to be seeing it every handful of pages, don’t cram a bunch of letters into a name just because you can or pick one that…doesn’t look nice.  (Again, this is a personal preference type of thing.)
  • Give Him/Her Flaws ~
    As I said before, people aren’t perfect.  In the same way, a character should never be without faults.  I won’t say “the bigger the better”–not everyone needs to be a serial killer–but if nothing else, flaws are there to make a character seem more realistic.  If not downright relate-able.
    Sure, a flaw could be something as little as cracking knuckles when nervous…but you can do better than that!
    The more inner conflict that would arise from a flaw because of the situations that character is put in, the better.

    I read a book once where the main character had absolutely zero faults.  It is one of my least favorite books for that very reason–it was just annoying to read!  I’m all for unreal things now and then (*coughfantasycough*) but unrealistic is something completely different.

  • Get To Know Him/Her ~
    For you, the author, I don’t think you could possibly know too much about your darling.  They’re always going to surprise you with something.
    This doesn’t mean that your reader must know everything that’s happened to a character–half of the fun of reading is getting to know a character, after all.  Flash-backs and the like aren’t necessary for a good story…in fact, avoiding them when it’s possible is probably the best option.
    But before you plop your character into your story, you should know how (s)he grew up.  Even if (s)he was a test-tube baby, that’s important!  But the environment one grows up in plays a big part in their personalities.  This can work either way, of course; if (s)he was exposed to something (negative or positive) early on, (s)he might be drawn towards the same thing, or might run from it as if his/her life depended on it.  That just depends on the character and the situation.
    I’ve heard of people going so far as to pick out a character’s favorite color and the like…if you decide to go so far as all that (I don’t think it’s necessary, though it might be fun!) I wouldn’t suggest putting it in the book, but just jot it down for your own enjoyment.
    Why do they do what they do?  What makes them enjoy or hate what they do?  How do they react to situations–and why?
  • Be Honest ~
    The aforementioned serial killer isn’t going to have the mouth of a saint–if that was the case, for some odd reason, you’d better give us a believable reason!  It needs to make sense.
    (S)He might have a soft spot for animals or something, but that’s just a quirk–it isn’t expected, but isn’t ludicrous.  (But, again, please give us a reason…even if it’s never stated in words, per se.)
    Make sure the idiosyncrasies line up and that you, at least, know the reasons behind them.
  • Love your darlings…but don’t be afraid to hurt them.

Who is one of your favorite characters?  What do you think goes into making a great character?


{Writing Tips} Honesty is Always the Best Policy

Writing TipsHonesty

I have roughly a hundred pages left in Stephen King’s On Writing.  It is an absolutely fantastic read–if writing is something you’re at all interested in (Do you want to start writing?  Are you already writing?  Are you just curious to see what a successful author has to say on the subject?) and you don’t mind a bit of vulgarity (it’s nowhere near as bad as his fiction in that respect, I promise!) I would suggest you pick it up.  Even as a non-fiction book, I’m finding it hard to put down, and I have a few thousand little sticky flag things on some good quotes I want to make sure I save!  (There will be quite a few posts containing them, I believe!)
One thing that he repeats time and time again is the concept of honesty in writing.  (If I were reading it on my Kindle, I’d tell you just how many times the word “honesty” is in there, but I’m not.)

He isn’t a fan of the old “write what you know” saying–and neither am I.  We would be without so many wonderful genres if people didn’t use their imaginations to the extent they do–to the extents of writing about what they can’t possibly know or ever hope to.
But he does go on to clarify that you must write what you know, at least a little.  If you write about an everyday thing that you don’t know much about–an occupation, for example–it will show.  You can always do some research, because it’s not like we can know everything there is to know, but if you’re only writing about a subject because it might sell, that will be clear to your reader.
Write what interests you; odds are you’ll have learned about it to some degree and will be willing to learn what you need to to make the story believable.
Mr. King also mentions that even something as strange sounding as a sci-fi story about a plumber is similar to the plot of another book.  It seems like it would never work, but it did.  If you’re honest and begin with what you know and love, even the most unique and random of ideas could be wonderful successes.

Honesty in dialogue is also important–vastly important.  We get to know so much about the characters by the way they speak.  Their accents, the ways they might say a certain word…things of that nature can tell us how educated the character is, where they’re from, how they grew up, basic characteristics and habits (patience, humility, etc, etc)….  So many things.

I’ve not yet figured out how I feel about the topic, but he touches on the issue of profanity here too.  He says that if the character is more likely to swear, don’t avoid it or try to get around it somehow–substituting a word for the profane one.  It will seem out of place and perhaps make the character a bit unbelievable.

I certainly see his point there, and it’s something to think about for sure.

Be honest in your writing.  It will make the writing easier and the reading that much more enjoyable.  🙂


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