Jump to content

Search the Community

Showing results for tags 'article'.

  • Search By Tags

    Type tags separated by commas.
  • Search By Author

Content Type


Forums

  • Gay Authors Community
    • Clubs
    • The Lounge
    • Forum Games and Humor
    • Help
  • Authors and Stories
    • Promoted Author Discussion Forum
    • Stories Discussion Forum
    • Peeks and Prompts
  • Writing Forums
    • Writer's Circle
    • Speculative Fiction
    • Poetry
    • Anthologies
    • Editors
    • Copyrights
    • Writer Clubs
  • Comicality's Shack Clubhouse's Cafe
  • Headstall's Paddock's Topics
  • Mikiesboy's Drop in Centre's Topics
  • C James Fan Club's Topics
  • Mark Arbour Fan Club's Topics
  • Stellar's Fan Club's Topics
  • In Memorium's Topics

Categories

  • Fiction
  • FanFiction
  • Poetry
    • 2024 - Seasons
    • 2023- Exploration -Poetry
    • 2015 Poetry Anthology: Remember
    • 2014 Poetry Anthology: A Storm Is Coming
    • 2013 Poetry Anthology: Whispers in the Dark
    • 2012 Poetry Anthology: Cracks of Time
    • 2011 Poetry Anthology: Into the Unknown
  • Fiction - Gay Authors Anthologies
    • 2024 - Long May You Run
    • 2023 - Leap of Faith
    • 2022 - Anniversary
    • 2021 - Spring - On The Road
    • 2021 - Spring - Potluck 2021
    • 2021 - Fall - A Winding Path
    • 2021 - Fall - An Unconventional Gift
    • 2021 - Fall - Potluck
    • 2020 - Spring - Full Moon
    • 2020 - Spring - The Storm
    • 2020 - Fall - Bridges
    • 2020 - Fall - Shadows
    • 2019 - Spring - Into the Stars
    • 2019 - Spring - Snapped
    • 2019 - Fall - Fall From Grace
    • 2019 - Fall - Raincheck
    • 2018 - Spring - Now or Never
    • 2018 - Spring - Encounters
    • 2018 - Fall - Fight Back
    • 2018 - Fall - Good Intentions
    • 2017 - Spring - Unintended Consequences & Jagged Edges
    • 2017 - Fall - The Fallout and Secret Spaces
    • 2016 - Spring - Crossing the Line
    • 2016 - Summer - Wicked Games
    • 2016 - Fall - Blindsided / The Forgotten
    • 2016 - Winter - Rewind: Pre-2016 Themes
    • 2015 - Spring - Full Circle
    • 2015 - Summer - Road Trip
    • 2015 - Fall - Blurred Edges
    • 2015 - Winter - Blackout
    • 2014 - Spring - Nature's Wrath
    • 2014 - Summer - The Backup Plan
    • 2014 - Fall - Scars
    • 2014 - Winter - Chain Reaction
    • 2013 - Spring - A Night To Remember
    • 2013 - Summer - Roll the Dice
    • 2013 - Fall - Pandora's Box
    • 2013 - Winter - Recipe for Disaster
    • 2012 - Spring - It Wasn't Me
    • 2012 - Summer - Choices
    • 2012 - Fall - Friends & Enemies
    • 2012 - Winter - Desperate Ends
    • 2012 - Special - Mayan Tribute: End of the World
    • 2012 - Anniversary - Secrets Can Kill
    • 2011 - Spring - People Are Strange
    • 2011 - Summer - Walk on the Wild Side
    • 2011 - Fall - Legends
    • 2011 - Winter - Aftermath
    • 2010 - Spring - I'd Never Do That
    • 2010 - Summer - Out of this World
    • 2010 - Fall - No Going Back
    • 2010 - Winter - Haunted
    • 2009 - Spring - Oops
    • 2009 - Summer - Carpe Diem
    • 2009 - Fall - Something Unexpected
    • 2009 - Winter - Deceptions
    • 2008 - Annual - It's Just a Game, Right?
    • 2008 - Spring - Living in the Shadows
    • 2008 - Summer - Escape
    • 2008 - Fall - Anniversary
    • 2008 - Winter - Ghosts
    • 2007 - Annual - The Road Not Taken
    • 2007 - Spring - Fairy Tales
    • 2007 - Summer - Ending and Beginnings
    • 2007 - Fall - The Rainy Day
    • 2007 - Winter - Worth Fighting For
    • 2006 - Winter - Blizzard
    • 2006 - Fall - Halloween
    • 2006 - Summer - Going on Vacation
    • 2006 - Spring - Day of Silence
    • 2004 - Winter - Christmas
  • Fiction - Story Contests
    • 2017- Halloween
    • 2017- April Fool's
    • 2016 - Secret Admirer Short Story
    • 2015 - Secret Santa Short Story
    • 2011 - Novella Contest
    • 2009 - Novella Contest
  • Non-Fiction
    • Writing Tips
  • Letters
  • Screenplays
  • World Building

Blogs

  • Liukas Soli's World of Words
  • Daddydavek's Blog
  • Escaping for just a little while
  • Myr's Corner
  • Tropical Paradise
  • Fortune and Mens Eyes
  • Wildenberg’s Blog
  • Gay Authors News
  • Incubus Lover
  • harcallard's Blog
  • Memoirs of Forgiveness
  • The Fantastic Mr. Wilde
  • 2010
  • GREEN & CHAZ'S BLOG
  • Daddydavek's other Blog
  • A Demented Blog
  • No longer here
  • Toast
  • but don't forget about my bomb...
  • Pocket Full Of Stars
  • Val's Blog
  • harveybirdman's Blog
  • Wombat Bill's out takes
  • What are you currently reading?
  • Writing Unblocked
  • Daveys Blog
  • A Stone's Throw
  • Stephanie L Danielson's Blog
  • Vic's Blog
  • Grunge - Zen
  • Just a thought
  • seanriter's Blog
  • wildone's other Blog
  • My Daily Bread Crumbs
  • Wry Wrambling of a Rebellious Rimbaud
  • mr.chris' blog
  • Fir Pro Diet
  • Mark Arbour's Pride
  • James Matthews Blog
  • Viv's Blog
  • Qboi's Cogitations On Life
  • Words, Words and Words
  • Joe's Blog
  • Fishwings' Blog
  • Editor's Notebook
  • ;; " .MidnightSecret. " ;;
  • Z's Blog
  • mmike1969's Blog
  • scotty94's Blog
  • Mercys writing
  • Read my blog
  • huktaunluv's Blog
  • CF's Ramblings
  • Owls' hoot's
  • Ichthyic Insanity
  • My Only Escape
  • advocatus diaboli's Blog
  • Zuri's Blog
  • Thoughts And Ideas That I'm Happy To Share
  • Rise and Shine
  • Rising towards reinvention
  • Twilight Chronicles
  • thephoenix's Blog
  • Aditus' Road Blog
  • The River Song
  • Personal Blog
  • Bender's blog
  • Daddydavek's Other Other Blog
  • Libby Drew
  • jamessavik's Blog
  • Ron's Random Access
  • Stevie’s In Love
  • HearSay
  • TetRefine's Blog
  • mickey1952's Blog
  • The Bad Dog Chronicles
  • Sagar
  • Thorn's Edibles
  • Thoughts, Oddities and Utter Chaos
  • Insurgency's Blog
  • Blog Archive
  • Thicker Than Water
  • John Doe's Blog
  • paul.b's Blog
  • On The Outside, A Soundtrack
  • Xan's Blog
  • Chronicles of My Life
  • DynoReads' Blog
  • When I'm Stuck
  • Genderqueer Musings
  • Zot spot
  • Little Buddha's Thatched Hut
  • Arizona Legislature: Crazy, Stupid, Misguided...or all of the Above?
  • Caedus' Blog
  • ACEd it!
  • See My Secrets... See My Shame...
  • Caz Pedroso's Blog
  • Nephylim's Blog
  • quokka's Blog
  • Camy's Blog
  • arsimms' Blog
  • PrivateTim's Blog
  • Reset, Reload, Redo
  • Kurt's Corner
  • THIS IS NOT A BLOG
  • Cole Matthews' Dark and Dusty History Corner
  • trackstar195's Blog
  • Wolf At The Keyboard
  • vlista20's Blog
  • Esther Night
  • Life's a Conflagration
  • JohnAR's Blog
  • LouisHarris' Blog
  • I fell in love with my straight best friend & it destroyed our friendship
  • Luc's Dementia
  • Renee's News
  • I fell in love with my straight best friend & it destroyed our friendship
  • My blog
  • Douw's Blog
  • ColumbusGuy's Blog
  • BarricadeBoy's Blog
  • IBEX's Blog
  • Craftingmom's Blog
  • Marc's Blog
  • lostone's Blog
  • Hogan2015's Blog
  • old bob's Blog
  • lilansui's Blog
  • Musings from Valhalla
  • drak's sekrits
  • John B.'s Blog
  • The Wisdom of M
  • Albert Nothlit's Blog
  • Dabeagle's Blog
  • The Life and Times of a High School Dropout
  • Mann's Ramblings
  • Jay's Blog
  • The Jordanation
  • Alex Canton's Blog
  • JustynC's Blog
  • Love that always hurts
  • Drew's Slice of Pi
  • Bolg
  • Meh
  • Riding Thoughts
  • blogage
  • double meh
  • Ducks and Fucks
  • C James' Goatpen
  • wildone's Blog
  • TheBlackDragon's Blog
  • It's knotme
  • My Life - My Views
  • On Call
  • Blog of Cynus the Pan-Ace
  • Ninja Scroll
  • Fixing My Destiny
  • The Alphabet Game
  • skinnydragon's lunch
  • The Talon's Claw
  • peaceofthesouls' Blog
  • Brandon Smiling: The Soundtrack
  • nobody
  • Making of My Stories
  • Melancholy ... the broken staff of life
  • James Hiwatari's Blog
  • Victor's Wavering Weirdness
  • My Feelings
  • North to Alaska
  • TIMID
  • Nymphetamine Abuse
  • Edward's Blog
  • Random Thoughts of an Alpha Female
  • NightOwl88's Blog
  • Writing World
  • Put onto paper...
  • Freddyness' Blog
  • Looking for sense in the chaos of my thoughts
  • jeet01's Blog
  • The Persephone Chronicles
  • General Silliness
  • blog
  • KC's Blog
  • GaryKelly's Blog
  • Snowflake: The Soundtrack
  • RainbowPhoenixWI's Blog
  • MusicalAlchemy's Blog
  • Renee's Recipes
  • MusicalAlchemy's Blog
  • Hunter Thomson's Blog
  • lomax61's Blog
  • Mortal Morphology
  • Ieshwar's Blog
  • Andy's other Blog
  • Chatter from the Chatterbox
  • Cailen's Conclave
  • Cody Waustin's Blog
  • What once was is now lost.
  • In My Own Way
  • News of My World
  • Skywriting
  • hands in the air.
  • The Seashell: Soundtracks and Textures
  • CassieQ's Fractured Thoughts
  • Reflections
  • MHSebastian's Blog
  • Character Galleries
  • jamiiewhiite's Blog
  • Continuous Story
  • A.J.'s Blog
  • JC's Writing Blog
  • Glittery Place
  • Mark92's Blog
  • Mikiesboy's Blog
  • ValentineDavis21's Blog
  • Adagio: Music and Textures
  • V's blog
  • Day in the life of KibaNaru
  • S.L. Lewis Many Thoughts and Updates
  • Strife and Harmony
  • HB's Blog
  • Altimexis' Blog
  • Wayne's Updates
  • Just random entries
  • The Fall of Ast@r0th
  • nordmanni's Blog
  • journals of the poems
  • We're all mad here
  • clo's closet
  • Musings by MacGreg
  • Randomnicity (aka Jay's thoughts)
  • Billy Martin's Blog
  • Dodger the Blogger
  • Eric's Blog
  • This and That
  • The GA Law Blog
  • Nick Buchanan
  • Bloggie Blog Blog
  • D/s BDSM
  • Of Gratitude, Goofing Off, and Good Times
  • 365
  • The DL Diaries
  • Trebs' Blog
  • Labrador's Blog
  • Lit's Blog
  • What Scares You?
  • Claustrophile's Blog
  • Nobody likes you when you're 23.
  • Michael's Playroom
  • hh5's Blog
  • Percy's Blog
  • Mollyhousemouse's Stash
  • Life is worth an entry
  • podiumdavis' Blog
  • sean's scribbles
  • ryan jo's Blog
  • Moggy's Haunts
  • Menace Years
  • Jordan's Blog
  • Raphael Farmer's Blog
  • The CSU Stories
  • Prompt du jour
  • KingdombytheSea's Blog
  • Happy birthday and I'm sorry
  • The Yettie's Blog
  • The Secret Life Of Billy Chase: Music For A Teenage Dream
  • Gone From Daylight: The Music of the Darkness
  • Intellectual Circuit Boy Gone Seriously Crazy in Hollywood
  • Linxe Termoil's Blog
  • Le Musique de le Souvenir
  • Andy's Blog
  • AdamP's Blog
  • Methodwriter85's Blog
  • DragonFire's Cave
  • kjames' Blog
  • Blashi Blog Blog
  • Ravings of a VampireMystic
  • My kingdom by the sea
  • Rompecabezas
  • BB's Blog
  • vEETalk
  • The Saga Continues...
  • Ashi's Blog
  • The new kid in school music collection
  • Do the sins of a parent transfer to the child?
  • Once Upon a Time Prompts
  • According to Puppilull
  • Saint Peter
  • When Life Gives You Lemons Make Beef Stew (PRIVATE CLUB)
  • Dear G A
  • Comments, Musings, Ponderings, Thoughts, 'N' Thangs
  • blogage (PRIVATE)
  • Pride of Lions
  • Simply Sid
  • Loveless - The Jimmy LaPlane Experience
  • Rano's Blog
  • Goodbye my Love.
  • asamvav111's Rainbow Couch
  • Random Thought's
  • Musings From Me
  • joann414's Blog
  • THINK BEFORE YOU WRITE
  • Jesse 101 Soundtrack
  • Thoughts from the Faerie Fool
  • The Triple J Ranch
  • Marty's Musings
  • SimonOhNoes' Blog
  • No Comments
  • layla's Nightwhisperz
  • A Class By Himself: Derrick’s Mixtape
  • Colored in Gray
  • Blog
  • S H E L T ER
  • TheLifeOfRydo
  • In Chandler’s Hands
  • Left Without Words
  • Gabriel Caldwell
  • miker33's Blog
  • rick thoughts
  • A Point of View...
  • Ranting and raving
  • The Great Escape
  • Autumn Dream's Blog
  • Umbereth
  • Dolores Esteban's Blog
  • Stuff from Cia
  • The Occasional rantings and ravings of Anita
  • Bandage's Blog
  • Waiting Outside The Lines
  • Delusions in A minor
  • The Vault of Worlds
  • Spots of Ink
  • My One Truth
  • GA Blogs's GA News Queue
  • GA Blogs's WW Queue
  • GA Engagement's Blog Staging
  • Review Team's Blog Staging
  • Site Archive of Doom's Blogs to Review
  • Site Archive of Doom's Archived Blogs
  • Prompt Team's Prompt Blog Posts

Product Groups

  • Member Groups
  • Advertising, Story / eBook Promotion

Categories

  • General Site Help
  • Step-By-Step Guides
  • Site Membership
    • Account Questions
    • Profiles
    • Rules and Discipline
  • Author Related Questions
    • Story Archive Author Questions
    • Authors
    • Tips & Tricks
    • Anthology Questions
  • Reader Questions
  • Forums
  • Forum Apps
    • Store
    • Blog
    • Gallery
    • Calendar
  • Advertisers

Find results in...

Find results that contain...


Date Created

  • Start

    End


Last Updated

  • Start

    End


Filter by number of...

Joined

  • Start

    End


Group


Favorite Genres


Topic Display Title


Interests


About Me


Website URL

  1. Comicality

    Exposition

    Not long ago, I wrote a short article on the concept of ″Show, Don′t Tell″, and made sure to add that both sides of the equation are needed to tell a good story. When it comes to exposition, it is the skillful use of both show and tell in unison that can give your story a smooth and natural feel, while still giving the audience the tools it needs to fully understand what′s going on. Finding a way to finesse both sides takes a little practice, but once you nail it down, it will pretty much become automatic in your writing process. So that′s the topic for today! Let′s talk ′exposition′! Exposition is basically a way to fill your readers in on everything that′s going on with your story. Details like time, location, character details, what period the story takes place in, and more. Who are these characters? Where did they come from? What is their background? It′s fuel for the imagination, and it gets the writers and their readers on the same page as far as kicking things off and keeping them going from beginning to end. This is especially important if writing something from the supernatural or science fiction/fantasy genre, or in a story that takes place during some sort of past era or during a historical event. The world building aspect makes exposition super important so your readers can grab onto the rules of society and boundaries put in place for what they′re about to read. Now, exposition is a bit more ′tell′ than ′show′, but I′ve always thought that it was important to figure out how to find a decent balance between the two, regardless. Doing it out of balance can slow the entire flow of your story, and that′s not good. There are two ways of delivering exposition...narration (Or simply what you write about the characters and their situation) and dialogue (What the characters say out loud to one another). Without balance...giving an entire ′info dump′ of narration all at once can seem a little complicated and boring. While having a character deliver 100 years worth of backstory in one long winded speech can seem weird and unnecessary. It would be like randomly asking a stranger on the bus how they′re doing and having them tell you their life story without so much as taking a break to realize that you only wanted to hear, ″Fine. How are you?″ as a response. We want to give readers details, but we don′t want it to be a stumbling block in the story itself. Not easy, but possible. One thing that I′ve learned over time is that exposition goes a lot smoother when it′s spread out over time. Not only does it keep your audience from getting bored, but it actually makes future chapters more engaging as your audience finds out a little bit more information as they keep reading. Things get a little deeper, layers are added, characters become more developed. It builds momentum in your storytelling. Much better than explaining everything all at once in the first ten pages of your story and having everyone try to remember it all for later use. Many readers look at exposition and treat a lot of the info as, ″Is this going to be on the test?″ So trying to cram a ton of details into their brain all at once can be a bit of an overwhelming experience. Trim it down. Think about what′s most important for them to know right away, tell them what they need to know to get started, and then add more details along the way. I′ve always found that it works out better that way in terms of reader involvement So, how do we choose between ′showing′ and ′telling′ when it comes to delivering the important information? And how do we trim it down in an efficient manner? When I first started writing stories on Nifty, I used to always make sure that I mentioned the fact that my main character was gay. I was still brand new to writing gay fiction, and I always felt it was necessary to make that distinction so my readers wouldn′t suddenly be caught off guard. That...was totally unnecessary. Hehehe! I was writing gay fiction on a gay website for gay readers. There was hardly any ′surprise′ involved when it came to the fact that my main character was a homosexual. So I don′t feel the need to add that detail anymore. That can be ′shown′ to anyone reading, simply by stating the fact that this is a boy who finds another boy attractive. The fact that he′s gay is demonstrated through his feelings and his actions, and the audience will immediately come to the conclusion of, ″Oh, so he′s gay. Got it. Moving on.″ Done. The information has been delivered, and I didn′t have to muddy up the waters by explaining to my readers what′s going on. They got the memo, now let′s keep going. You can ′tell′ your readers what they need to know without actually ′telling′ them at all. Use your prose to set up situations that will deliver the message you want them to receive. Like...you could begin a story like this: ′It was a particularly cold Winter night. I was huddled in a tent with three other soldiers, dreading the next battle against the Confederates that was sure to come just before dawn. I think about my dearest sister Eliza, back home...and I pray that her and the baby are alright.′ Now...in those first few sentences, you can cover a lot of ground in setting the stage for your audience. What has this small section suggested to us as readers? We know that it′s Winter time. We know that our main character is a soldier during a time of war. We know what side he′s fighting for and what side he′s fighting against. We know that he′s frightened and worried about going into battle. We know that a battle is quickly approaching. We know that has a sister, named Eliza, and that she has a baby back home, and he loves them both dearly. There we go. ALL of that information was given to your readers in the first three sentences of your story, and your audience is immediately engaged in what′s going on, and intrigued by what might happen next. You don′t have to explain the entire history of the Civil War, or talk about the horrors of combat, or mention that the soldier is straight or gay or anything like that. The audience has the foundation set for the story you′re trying to tell, and that′s all they need for right now. Later on, maybe you write a scene where the soldier wakes up the next morning, and while feeding on breakfast rations, your main character looks over and sees another soldier that he thinks is beautiful beyond words. (″Oh, so the main character is gay″) You can use that moment to mention that he′s been camping out with them for the past three months, you can give his infatuation a name and a description, you might hint at a few friendly moments between them that gives your audience a hint of their relationship...and then jump right back to the main plot of the story. Just give bits and pieces of information at a time when it′s useful, and keep your momentum going forward. Don′t stop for an info dump of details that aren′t directly relevant to that particular scene. The same goes for all stories. At the very beginning of ″Jesse-101″, I started off with a bit of narrative exposition to detail an event that led up to the exact point where the story begins. Something that I felt was necessary to set the stage. But after those first few paragraphs, the main character, Tristan, is simply talking to his best friend, Lori, in his bedroom. While the opening scene is mostly dialogue, I tried to use their back and forth conversation to deliver the exposition needed for the audience to get a clear picture of what was going on and dive right in with no further explanation. Just from their banter, you learn that Tristan is in high school, he′s only out to his best friends and no one else, that he and Lori share a history of friendship together, that Tristan sees himself as being a bit ′sissy-ish′ and doesn′t have much in common with other boys his age, that he′s dealing with a recent rejection...that one conversation delivers a TON of needed information to the readers about the story, but without just having me write the details down in a narrative with no human interaction or emotional involvement. The bonus to giving exposition through dialogue is that you not only get important details and story plot points out there, but you get a sense of your characters′ personalities as well. You kill two birds with one stone, and you flawlessly move from ′tell′ to ′show′ without your audience even being aware of it. See? It′s all magic! Hehehe! So...all in all, exposition is a part of writing a good story. It′s necessary. I know that there are critics who will pick it apart and try to make the ′E′ word something awful and lazy and worthy of dismissal, but it′s not. It is a necessary function when it comes to telling an effective tale and bringing people into the world that you′ve created. Don′t be afraid to give your readers a map to navigate through the situations that you′ve got planned for them, but don′t be afraid to have faith in their intelligence either. The actions and dialogue of your characters will infer and display the story details your readers need to know for them to understand what′s happening without you telling them directly. They′ll get it. ″Oh, this person is taking an insulin shot every morning before breakfast. He must be diabetic.″ Or, ″The main character is being woken up by his mom opening the shades and telling him to come down for breakfast. He must be a teenager.″ Or, ″This guy is wearing a skin-tight costume, and he′s perched on a rooftop looking down at the dark city landscape for criminals doing wrong. He must be some sort of hero or vigilante.″ Whatever. ′Tell′ in some parts. ′Show′ in other parts. And train yourself to know the difference, and what will be most effective in any given situation. Ok, I′ve babbled on for long enough! Stop reading this and get back to writing! The world needs more of your genius! Hmmm...I wonder if this whole article counts as exposition. Food for thought, I guess. Best of luck! And I hope this helps!
  2. Flashing back to some time around 2006 or so... I remember being really excited to join forces with another massively popular writer here on Gay Authors, and we were secretly trading emails back and forth, putting a story together so we could both bring our individual talents to the table and make something really special. The working title for the story was "Turn A Blind Eye", and the author was @DomLuka. If you haven't read any of Dom Luka's stories on the site, I highly recommend doing so. He's amazing! I still have some of the emails saved. Nobody knew about the potential team up, as it was meant to be a surprise, but I was a big fan. I looked forward to it. The idea was for each of us to take a character (Alex and Bryce), and write the story from two different points of view. My chapters would be from Bryce's POV, and Dom's would be from Alex's POV. Unfortunately, much to my regret, the story never came to be. We began working on it, but his schedule and mine were too hectic and unpredictable for us to really coordinate our efforts and make it happen. Life gets in the way, sometimes. Not to mention that we were both focused on continuing series of our own on our individual sites at the same time. So it was hard to pull off that particular magic trick, hehehe! But...Dom if you're still out there somewhere? Hehehe, I'm ready when you are, dude! This week, the topic is writer collaboration! How to jump into it, how to smoothly navigate your way through it, and how to combine your best instincts with the instincts of another author that you're eager to work with. I think that working with another writer can be a truly positive learning experience for both parties. Joining your passion with the passion of another author brings the best out of you sometimes. You begin to examine your similarities as well as your differences, and it gives you another perspective on the craft of putting a story together in general. Now, it's extremely difficult for me to collaborate with other writers these days, personally, because I'm constantly juggling a ton of chainsaws at once as far as my 'Comsie Work' is concerned, but I can tell you from experience that I really enjoyed participating in other writer projects when I got the opportunity to do so. It was FUN, learning other characters and storylines that weren't my own, and being able to put a bit of a personal spin on them. You should try it sometime, if for no other reason than you might enjoy the challenge. There was a vampire story that I began on the "GFD: Blood Bank" site called "Lost In Shadow", where I basically set up a cast of characters and a situation that had to be dealt with by writing the first chapter. Then I passed the second chapter off to another author, who was given total freedom to carry the story in any direction that he wanted. The third chapter was picked up by somebody else, and so forth and so on. This Round Robin story was a lot of fun to work on, but, of course...it's hard to keep something like that for any length of time. People have different writing habits, different works schedules, different family obligations...and then there's just plain writer's block lurking around the corner. Hehehe! But, for a while, I LOVED it! I'd love to start from scratch and finish "Lost In Shadow" off as an ebook someday. But that's another story for another time. If I had any tips for tackling a joint project with someone else, I'd narrow them down to the following four suggestions. Everything else, you'll just have to feel out and work through on your own. That's part of the fun, after all. Plan ahead! If you're going to collaborate with another writer, you are both going to have to come up with a game plan before you start writing. Full stop. Don't start a story without getting together in some way and discussing what you guys want to accomplish. When I say 'plan ahead', I don't mean...you plot out the whole idea and story on your own, and then contact the other author to see if he or she would be interested. Hehehe, that's not a true collaboration. The whole point is for you both to create something as a team. So, start with a blank screen, talk to one another, and start building the story together. Figure out a theme, come up with characters, bounce some ideas back and forth with each of you having a say in what you're constructing from the ground up. Not all writers (Or writing styles) are compatible with one another, so you'll have to find a way to mend the two disciplines in a way that inspires, challenges, and strengthens, you both. This is something that you might want to figure out before you put the hard work in. Think a few chapters ahead. Where are you going with this? How will you separate the chapters? What kind of 'events' do you want to happen along the way and which one of you is going to handle that? These are all things to think about before you get started. I know how easy it is to just say, "Yay! I want to write something with this person or that person!" And have no plan going into it. Take some time, get those details fleshed out a little bit and figure out how you're going to trade off your duties as you go along. Communicate! No, the conversation doesn't stop at the planning stages! Hehehe! The thing about writing your own stories without having to pass your pre-planned ideas or spontaneous instincts on to a partner, is the fact that you two (or however many people you're working with) can quickly end up getting in each other's way if you're not communicating. You may take the story in a direction that ends up completely ruining the ideas and creative goals of the other writer. And vice versa. One writer might paint the main characters into a corner, making it difficult for the next writer to get them out of it. You want to work with each other, not against each other. Being in constant contact is essential in making sure you guys are on the same page. If you have ideas, share them with your collaborator(s). If you want to do something big a few chapters down the road, and want to start building up those plot points earlier on? Let your partner know. Hell, they might even be able to help you set things up with their contributions as well. But you have to make sure you work that out ahead of time. If you decide, in chapter 3, that you want Jack and Harry to get married in chapter 10...and your writing partner decides that Harry gets torn to pieces by wild hyenas in chapter 7...hehehe, well, obviously you guys are going to have a major conflict there. So keep sharing your ideas with one another to make sure your individual contributions to the same story are compatible. Pay attention to continuity! This is important. Even if your writing styles are vastly different, you can still create the illusion that this is all the same story, written by the same talent. However, you've got to make sure that you're keeping the story straight in your head in terms of continuity. For me? The stories and characters that I've written over the years are always in my head and close to my heart. And even I get my OWN continuity mixed up from time to time! So you have to pay extra attention when it comes to the continuity of your partner's characters and plot points. Don't have someone's eyes change from blue to brown, or have a shy guy suddenly start beating up bullies at school. Obviously, if your collaborator has a character who's father passed away...and in your next chapter, you have him randomly show up to a family dinner...hehehe, that's going to create a serious 'WTF?' moment for everybody reading! So make sure that you know both your side of the story, as well as your partners', and keep things consistent. This should be easy if you're keeping up with tip #2 above. Don't 'bully' the story! Competition between creative minds is ok. It's natural. Consider literature a sport when you're writing. Put your best foot forward, and get your writing partner to do the same. BUT...don't bully your way through the storytelling. As a writer, you know that it can be a very personal and isolated practice to create a story. We get used to working alone. So, it's easy to fall into the habit of controlling everything that is being said and done in a story. You may have a vision of how you think things should go, and you want to almost force events to follow your ideas to a tee. Yeah...you have to ease up on that. If you want this to be a true collaboration, then you have to make room for another author's voice. Again, this goes back to the 'communication' rule. Talk. Think things out, share ideas, make compromises...give the other author just as much room as you would want them to give to you. If it was just going to be 'your' story, then why collaborate at all? Let your partner breathe. Let them work their own particular brand of magic, and look at it as a challenge to show readers what you've got in response. There's no better feeling than matching wits with another awesome writer, and leapfrogging over one another to bring your 'A' game to the same project. Appreciate the team effort, and the effort will appreciate you in return. Alright, that's it for this week! If you guys are ever looking for a unique experience and want to stretch your writing muscle a bit further than usual, try collaborating with another writer. It's a really great way to find things out about your own writing process as well as the habits of others. Give it a shot! Food for thought! Hope it helps! Seezya next week!
  3. The biggest trick that any writer can pull off when it comes to their finished product...is making it look like writing is easy. Hehehe, getting your readers to think that you just sat down at a keyboard with a cup of tea or coffee, and tapped into some level of genius to type something out from beginning to end. (Cue snickers and laughter from the writing community.) Obviously, this isn't true. Sure, it becomes easier through practice and discipline, and we get used to the habit of expressing our thoughts in this particular way...but there is nothing 'easy' about writing a story. Not at all. From conception, to creating characters, to plot devices, to dialogue...it takes a LOT of time and patience and skill to pull off a story from beginning to end. You have to juggle a series of different talents all at once, and once you're finished...you've got to edit it and start all over again to catch anything that you may have dropped along the way. Yeah, to say that it's easy to do is not only a mistake...it's an outright lie for many of us. Because of this pleasurable, self torturing, practice that we love so much...it can sometimes cause our most ambitious ideas to seem more intimidating than they have to be. At least that's been my experience so far. There are stories that I wanted to write years ago that still intimidate me to this day. Every time I consider sitting down and just getting it started, I almost get overwhelmed with anxiety about how I'm ever going to create that story, those characters, and actually get it right. I get intimidated by the time I'm going to have to put in. Intimidated by the emotion I'll have to pour in. Intimidated by whatever research I might have to do for the details. I feel the story idea looming over me to the point where I'm forced to back away from it, and like the procrastination savant that I am, hehehe...I put it off until later. And as we all know, 'later' often never comes. This week, I'd like to spend a few moments talking about writer confidence, and maybe clear up the smoke and mirrors aspect of possibly beating the intimidation when it strikes. For me, personally, it doesn't always take some massive new project to intimidate me into shying away from putting the work in. Sometimes, it might just be a particularly important chapter that I'm worried about getting right. Or a specific scene where a big secret is revealed, or a dramatic argument or major event has to come along to change the course of the rest of the story. As I mentioned in a past article, sometimes I know exactly what I want to say and how I want to say it...but there's a 'hesitation' involved anyway. For me, that's WORSE than writer's block! LOL! I can deal with writer's block. But fear or lack of motivation? Nothing makes me feel more helpless when it comes to my writing. Also, there are times when the intimidation isn't even creatively inspired. Sometimes I have to ask myself if I'm going to have the time and the focus to really dive into this new chapter/story the way I want to. What is my work schedule like? What are my friends and family up to? Will I be able to remove myself from the world for a week or two to get this as well polished as I want it to be? Some of you guys have kids or partners that need attention and quality time. Some of you have a busy few weeks of work ahead of you, and you know that's not going to leave you with a lot of energy to write when you come home. There are more factors that you can ever imagine that have to be shifted around in order to concentrate on the task at hand. And that can cause a writer to hesitate as well. It's nothing to feel bad about. It happens. And if you decide that this isn't the time for you to jump into that particular project...then so be it. However, you can't let these things destroy your writer confidence. See...being intimidated by a story, chapter, or important scene, in your project isn't going to be like an explosion at the base of a tower, causing it to crumble to the ground all at once. It's more like an aggressive army of termites. It erodes the foundation in secret. You start making little excuses for why you can't jump into it today. You start getting randomly distracted by things like getting your house cleaned, or a sudden Netflix binge. "I'll do it later" and "I'll get around to it when I have more time" become your mantras, and before you know it...it's six months later and you haven't so much as brought it up on your laptop once in all that time. Don't believe me? Look at your files right now? Do you have any lingering projects that you were going to 'get around to', and haven't? When was the last time you opened that file? It might be longer than you think. Hehehe! It usually is for me. So how can we fix this? I think the first step in starting this new project or getting a previous project back on course comes from asking yourself...'What am I so afraid of?' When I mention fear, I'm not talking about outright TERROR or anything! Hehehe, it's not that serious. But something is stopping you from sitting down and typing out the thoughts and emotions in your heart. What is it? What's bullying you out of tackling the next chapter? Find out what is giving you the most hesitation, and give it some thought. Loosen that knot. And be brutally honest with yourself. Maybe you don't like where the story is going. Maybe you're bored with it. Maybe some negative comments on the last story made you doubt your abilities as a writer. Maybe you have such high expectations for this next chapter that you worry you're not up to the task? Whatever it may be...find it, face it, and think about how you might be able to get around it. Diagnose the problem so you know what to fix. As long as you keep putting it off or making excuses, the actual issue that you might be trying to avoid is going to remain vague and unclear. In fact, you may deny that there is a problem at all. "I can't write tonight because...it's National Hot Dog Day! That's all." Hehehe, yeah, that's not a reason. The second step? Take a leap of faith. Find a few minutes of peace, open that file up...read what you've read so far, maybe doing a soft re-edit and making a few changes along the way, and then move right into the next sentence without hesitating. You just read what you wrote, your memory's been refreshed, you've got the file open, your fingertips are touching the keyboard...do it. Right then and there. Pick up where you left off and just start writing again as if it had only been a few hours since your last entry. If you're starting something brand new from scratch, and you're not sure how to begin...stare at that blank scene and think about ONE thing that you want your readers to know about your main character. And then create an opening scene that displays that one trait or attribute (or flaw). Put them right in the middle of it. Like, let's say that your protagonist is madly in love with some boy on the basketball team, right? Your first sentence... "I don't even really like basketball all that much. But I show up to the high school games for 'him'. Only for him." This is an opener that you can easily build off of. That little bit of text both gives answers and creates questions. The answers? This person is probably in high school. He's infatuated with someone on the team. He doesn't like sports. The questions? Who's speaking right now? Who is 'him'? Why is he so infatuated with him? You've immediately planted the seed, and you know have avenues to pursue your next few sentences. You can get into the thoughts and feelings of the main character, or you can describe the beauty and allure of the boy he's watching on the court. You end up writing a few more sentences to complete your thought...and that thought leads to a few more thoughts. You're already a few sentences deep into this new project, right? You might as well follow that path to the next logical idea. And when you complete that thought, you open the door to two or three more things that you might be able to add. Before you know it, you might be 1000 words into your project, with enough inspiration to keep moving forward. Sometimes, getting your brain to operate in that creative mode will create the momentum needed to get things started, and far enough along to actually enjoy yourself again instead of worrying about whatever problem you had getting started in the first place. Believe me, it works. But only with practice. I feel much more confident when I play around with my stories and sort of feel my way through it. I have to put things into motion, and that takes a push and a few extra nudges when I feel myself getting distracted again...but once I actually start writing and get my wheels turning again, the intimidation of taking that project head on ceases to be a problem. I think about what I'm feeling, and what I want a certain scene to accomplish, and I just keep feeling my way around until I feel good by what i see on the screen. That doesn't mean that everything I write is going to be flawless or error free. I don't even worry about that part. The emotion is what matters most. Capturing that moment, and bringing it to the people reading. Most of the time, I'll start a sentence without any idea as to how it'll end. The same way that I might have a spoken conversation with a friend. I don't plan what I'm going to say ahead of time, or what he/she will say after that, and how I'll respond. Stay in the moment. That's important. more times than not, the intimidation you feel is coming from this magnificent vision of what the final product is going to be. But you haven't built it yet. Don't start worrying about the dangers of life on Mars when you haven't even figured out how to get there yet. Hehehe, one brick at a time. I'll just start writing a sentence, let the emotion sort of swirl around in my head for a bit, and I may stop halfway to stare off into space for a second or two, trying to find that one magic word to add next...and then keep going. Don't worry about it being good enough. Worry about it being honest enough. Take one step, and then another, and then another. Learn to trust your instincts. The only way to do that is by putting your instincts to work for you. They're like any other muscle in the body. You have to give them a workout in order to strengthen them. Build them up, sentence by sentence, through little leaps of faith. With time and practice, it'll become second nature to you. Your confidence will grow, your instincts will become more involuntary...and then...there will be these truly magical moments when you truly feel in tune with what you're doing. You own it. You start typing and you feel as if you're in complete control of everything that you're doing, to the point where you might get in the zone and turn out half a chapter in one sitting. Let me tell you, that's the greatest feeling in the WORLD! There are nights when I feel like I'm playing this keyboard like a piano at the Philharmonic! And when I click that 'save' button...I'm truly proud of the work I put in, and get excited for the reaction I might get back from the readers. Now...mind you...I might come back the next day, look at it, and rip it to pieces again, because we're all our own worst critics. LOL! But at least I put the work in, and I got it done. That hesitation that I felt because I was intimidated by my own expectations of what I wanted the story or chapter to be didn't beat me. It didn't bully me out of my creative expression, and once I actually made the decision to get it started, it wasn't anywhere near as scary as difficult as I thought it would be. But it will be a leap of faith. Each and every time. That's not going to change, but you learn to deal with it. And before you know it...you'll have much more written than you ever though possible. As always, I hope this article helps any of you guys who might be struggling with a few 'I'll get to it later' issues as well. Whether it comes to you starting something new, getting back into something old, or even going back to edit and ultimately publish a story that's already finished...you can get it done. Just find your earliest opportunity to sit at your keyboard, and dive right in without waiting. You're all creative people, and you've spent a long time honing your craft. Have enough faith in your instincts to carry you once you make the effort to get started. Start writing, and let your instincts take the wheel from there. They won't fail you. Take care! And I'll seezya next weekend!
  4. Comicality

    Writer Flow

    Can you guys believe that this is the 47th writing article I've done already? LOL! I talk too much! Geez! Reaching that big 50th milestone in the next few weeks! Can't wait! Anyway, let's get into it, shall we? Whenever you read something, whether you actually realize it or not, you are speaking the words on the page/screen aloud in your head. Even while you're reading these words right now...there's a voice in your head narrating the text for you. Then again, there are some people who actually read out loud, and that's ok too. However, when you read something in your head, even though you don't have to use your lips or your tongue or control your breathing...the same rules apply. Somewhere in the back of your mind, you may find yourself doing these things anyway. And I'm willing to bet that a majority of your readers do too. When I talk about writer 'flow', I'm talking about the ease and comfort that people experience when reading the words that you wrote. This is an aside from content, plot, or character. It's different. Subtle. You have to make an effort to notice it and smooth things out if you want your project to be as awesome as it possibly can be. How do we do that? Well, that's what this weekend article is all about! So...let's talk about writer 'flow'! Have you ever read a story that you really LIKED, but kept stumbling over words every now and then...preventing you from loving it as much as you really wanted to? Sometimes its due to spelling errors, or maybe just awkward wording in a sentence, or sometimes there's a language barrier and certain phrases don't translate well. Whatever it is, it can cause that inner narrator to pause or get confused, and that can interrupt the flow of a story. See...there's a rhythm in writing that may seem natural to you guys as authors, but the truth is, it's a skill that you build over time with a ton of practice. If we go back and read our earlier works, we may be able to see the difference in our old rhythm and our new one. At least that's how it is for me. The word usage isn't as refined, the sentences aren't as well structured...I can always tell my older work from my newer stuff. I guarantee you that my readers can too. So, I think it's important to go back and pay attention to what we've done in the past and compare to what we do now. You may be surprised to see a pretty big evolution there. I really started noticing this when I began re-editing my stories for eBook releases. Some sentences needed to be rewritten to keep from sounding...'clumsy'. Sometimes I would add new material, reword certain scenes, or add a little finesse to the dialogue to make sure that the rhythm that I was looking for could be maintained throughout the project. The first rule of creating a flow for your stories? Keep it consistent. Let the tone and feel of your scene play itself through, and then if you decide to shift speeds, segue into it as smoothly as possible. Try to picture the colors changing, like a sunset. It doesn't go from high noon to midnight in a snap. There's a slow and steady transition from one to the other. A sunset. A sunrise. Give yourself enough space to move through your story with graceful curves instead of harsh angles. Hmmm...wait, is this making sense? Hehehe, let me try to put this into words that may seem a bit more 'user friendly'. There's nothing mystical or philosophical about writer flow. It's just a means of taking notice of what you're doing and how you're doing it. When you get a chance, read some of your writing out loud to yourself. Treat it like an actor's audition. Put your feeling and emotion into it. Look at the text on the screen, think about the character and the scene, and then read it out loud. If you have trouble with a word or two, or if it sounds awkward when read aloud...think about how you could change that sentence around to make it sound better and create the emotional vibe that you're going for. Sometimes, changing a single word or adding a few extra can create a whole new 'feel' for your story. I happen to be a bit obsessive about this kind of thing, myself. Hehehe, which is one of the reasons that I know that anyone who offered to be my editor would end up in a mental hospital by the time I got through nitpicking my own stuff to the point of madness. But stories are personal portraits of who I am. If I don't feel it, how can I expect my readers to feel it. So, occasionally I read through a sentence or line of dialogue, and I'll realize that it could be done a little bit better. For example, sometimes I'll say something like..."We stared at each other." Which is simple enough, but I might go back later and change it to..."We stared at one another." it's saying the same thing, but sometimes 'one another' sounds slightly more intimate in my mind. (Hehehe, I told you it was insanity!) I might change the word 'hug' to 'embrace', or the word 'beauty' to 'allure'. It all depends on how I'm reading the sentence and how it makes me feel. Always be aware of your emotions when you're reading your own work. You'll know when you've got the flow just right. Just keep at it. Now, if you find yourself reading out loud and you stumble over the way a sentence is worded...fix it. Try thinking about what you're trying to say with that particular sentence, then close your eyes and try to convey the same message 'naturally'. As if you were talking to a random person on the street. Treat the story as if it was some sort of high school or office gossip that you witnessed yesterday, and now you're telling somebody else about it. Don't think about the writing aspect of it. No mechanics, no structure...just say it like you would say it to a regular person. Let it come out smoothly. If you speak a different language, say it in your own language where you feel most at home, and let it roll out naturally. It's possible to overwork a sentence and over plan our dialogue when we're writing. Sometimes simplicity is the key. If you find yourself having to reread a sentence, if there's a clumsy jumble of words on the page, if you run out of breath or feel that there's an awkward pause that shouldn't be there...get rid of it. Smooth it out. Grab some mental sandpaper and wear it down until those rough edges are gone. Because if you stumble physically, you'll stumble the same way mentally. And so will your readers. As I've mentioned in previous articles, the length of your sentences create pacing. Make sure that the pacing matches the tone that you're looking for. Longer sentences slow things down. It gives your readers time to absorb more details, inhale all of the fragrances you've provided them, experience beauty and color. You can use this tactic to flesh out emotional events and deep conversations. Shorter sentences, however, speed things up. This makes the heart beat faster. It puts you in a different state of mind. Short sentences can be used to increase tension. To enhance the heated back and forth of an argument. To shuffle your readers through an intense action scene. Every time you use a period, it's like an editor's cut in a movie. Cut, cut, cut, cut...look over there, look over here now, back to you. But always remember to try to keep your flow consistent from one moment to the next. Don't throw your readers off with a weird mix of the two. Remember the sunset? If you start off with long sentences that are full of detail and flowery language...and then want the scene to change into something more aggressive or intense...start making your sentences shorter and shorter as you progress forward. Let it smoothly transform from one extreme to the other without it coming off as jolting or out of place. And vice versa for the opposite effect. Again, this is subtle when it comes to writing, but if you read enough stories and have practiced writing your own, you'll be able to 'feel' the difference once you start paying attention to it. Now...this isn't an exact science. Nothing artistic or creative ever is. That's what makes art beautiful. The freedom from rules and regulations, and the dreamlike ability to express yourself without boundaries. But I hope that bringing your attention to the idea of writer flow will help you to notice it a bit more when your writing your own story or reading somebody else's. That way, you can build your own methods of pulling this off and develop your own instincts on how to use it to be the best writer you can be. I feel that writing is both an art and a craft. The craft is being able to put words together and tell a good story. But the art is being able to transcend that craft and translate your emotions for your readers to feel it the way that you do. That only comes with dedication and practice. So keep at it! And I'll be cheering for you the whole way! Take care! And happy writing!
  5. I am sure that there are a lot of people out there who will be quick to tell you that writing your first story is the hardest part of becoming an author. There is so much that is unknown, unpracticed, and an anxiety that builds up before you even get started, not to mention the horror involved with actually getting to the middle or the third act of a story that you've already put some much time and effort into already...only to wonder whether or not you're doing any of this right. It can be sooooo stressful for a new writer to deal with the challenge of penning their very first project. Believe me...I get it. However...speaking from personal experience...it's not the very first story that you write that causes you the most grief. In fact, it usually ends up being the second or third that ends up being the real headache. Because that first outing comes with a certain amount of excitement and discovery for a lot of writers. You sort of get into a 'zone' and are just happy to doing something that you've been dreaming about doing for (what I assume is) a long time now. It's fun, you know? Especially, if your story does well and captures a wide audience. It's exhilarating! But...that always leads to the inevitable question of...'what now?' And that can be an aggravating question for any author to ask him or herself. Whether it's your second story, your 10th story, or your 100th story. Sometimes the anxiety just sets in when you least expect it. So let's take a look at those projects that you may decide to tackle in the near future, and how to calm those negative thoughts down and pursue new projects without feeling like they're taking years off of your life, just trying to get them right. It's easier than you think. The first gay story that I ever wrote online was "New Kid In School". I actually typed it out in an email, did the whole thing in one night, and then sent it in to Nifty, making SURE that it would just be listed under the name Comicality, and that none of my private information would be visible to the rest of the internet. Hehehe, the internet was still pretty new to me at the time and I didn't know what to expect, exactly. But I wasn't 'out' to anybody and was afraid of being found out by my friends or family. Still, I took a chance, and that first chapter was the very first gay anything that I've ever written. That was a milestone for me. And within a few days, I found my email filling up with positive responses to my story. I was seriously flabbergasted by that! It blew my mind that people even read it, much less enjoyed it. That was both a surprise and a huge blessing for me. And I love writing and creating stories...so I wanted to keep going. So I followed up with stories like "Boy Next Door" and "Eddie And Me"...and it's not like they were bad or anything, but it was obvious that they weren't ever going to get the same kind of response as my first story did. Lord knows I tried. So, even though "New Kid" was originally written as a one time short story with the possibility for a sequel...I decided to write a second chapter to continue the story right from where I left off. Again...responses were all positive. And readers wanted more. Cool, right? The thing is...I wanted to be more than the "New Kid" guy. If that makes sense. I had so many ideas and characters and stuff that I wanted to say...but after a while, it was almost like "New Kid" was getting in the way of me being able to express myself fully. It's almost like an actor getting typecast in a role that they can't break away from. You just want some room to spread out, you know? So I tried more short stories, something meaningful, something cute, something that I was hoping would catch fire like that first "New Kid" chapter...but nothing really did. They didn't do poorly, but it was obvious that all of my readers were only looking for one story...and one story alone. "When are we going to get another chapter of 'New Kid In School'?" And it was around that time that I really began to realize what I was doing wrong...and by doing so, I corrected course...and that's what led to the huge variety of stories that exist on the Shack Out Back website right now. I kept trying to focus on "New Kid" and basically recreate it...but better. That's the biggest mistake that I could have ever made. I could try to make the boys even cuter, the sex even hotter, the stakes even higher...but none of that was going to work. I wasn't trying to build up new characters and creating a new story that could stand on its own the way the first "New Kid" did. I was simply using my first successful venture as a blueprint to repeat what I had already done before. And that kept me in a hole that I never would have been able to dig my way out of, no matter how much hard work and raw emotion I decided to pour into it. If you've written something that people love and appreciate, and you want to keep going with new projects...you need to start all over from scratch. Square one. My mistake was thinking that I could have an army of "New Kid In School" stories under my belt...but why would anyone want that? They've already read that story. And it's still running now. So why read a "New Kid" clone when they can just go read the real thing? The main point is that you can't really be free to create new stories and original ideas if you're constantly comparing your next project to the projects that you've done in the past. You have to sort of work to get rid of that mentality. I know that there's this burning desire to always top everything that you've done before and do it better...but it took me a long time to break that habit and understand that every story deserves to be its own entity and stand alone, without being used as a comparison to its predecessor. And realizing that helped to take a lot of the anxiety off of the table almost immediately. Whatever you write, however it is received by your audience...whether it be in a good way or a bad way...you have to force yourself to toss it all aside when starting your next project. Get it off of your mind. Build your new story from the ground up. Characters, dialogue, plot, theme...get back down in the dirt and act as though your last project never even existed. Treat every new story as if it was your first. It's the only way to truly clear your head and come up with something original that will (hopefully) capture that same heart and quality that your fans have come to know and love about your work in the first place. Trying to work in a state of comparison to previous works is only going to stifle in one way or another in the long run. I think this is a really important part of the writing process, personally. I was working with the idea of building on a strong foundation to build a proverbial Tower of Babylon over time...when what I really needed to do was strip myself down and build new foundations with each new story so that they could thrive and grow without having to worry about riding "New Kid's" tail the whole way. I know that it sounds weird to some of ou, and I get that...but let me tell you...once I discovered that one principle for beginning new projects with different ideas and different characters, etc...the whole site began to grow in ways that I never thought was possible. "A Class By Himself" was the first series to actually compete with "New Kid In School" on my site. And that's because I took "New Kid" out of my thought process completely when I began writing it. Then came other stories that were able to grab equal attention because they existed as their own property. "Billy Chase" led to "Gone From Daylight" and that led to "My Only Escape" and "On The Outside" which later led to "Jesse-101"...and once I had three or four separate stories running, each one of them being special and unique in their own individual ways...the mold had officially been broken, once and for all. Thank God! Now, I know that a lot of people have different methods of writing and different vibes that they like to approach in their stories, and that's cool. But for me? I really feel 'trapped' when confined to one story or genre. I write what I feel. Not in general, but in that particular moment when I'm sitting down and placing my fingers on this very keyboard. I can't write something happy if I'm not happy. I can't write something sad if I'm not sad. Not effectively, anyway. My emotions sort of guide me when I'm putting a story or a new chapter together, and I'm not good at faking it. Fiction or not...the emotion is real. You know? You're a writer! You have the ultimate power of creation at your fingertips! Explore the infinite space that you have at your disposal and try out a few new tricks when your muse starts tapping you on your shoulder. Why not? Tear your previous notions of story and character down to the ground, and build something new without looking back at anything you've ever written before. Free yourself from reader expectations and any desire you have to top your last story with something even more amazing. Trust me...the very fact that you finished your very first story at all will pretty much guarantee you a better project moving forward. Your vocabulary will increase, your confidence will grow, you will take chances that you might have been scared to take before. Your instinct will grow automatically with everything that you put out there. I truly believe that a writer's natural instinct is a side effect of hard work. You can't just work hard to produce it. The only way to write a GOOD story...is to start off writing a few BAD stories. It's the only way to learn. We might swallow some water while learning to swim, might skin our knees and elbows when learning to ride a bike...but this is how you earn your medals as an author. Explore the space. Start from scratch and see what you can come up with. Never depend on previous rewards to mean anything when it comes to your next project. Show the world what you're made of. You've got 'magic' in you! Try experimenting with different characters, or a different dynamic between characters. Maybe your first story had two guys that were crushing on one another but were wrestling with getting the courage to say the words out loud. Classic romance trope. But...maybe in your next story, the main characters start out not liking one another at all. Or maybe there's another obstacle in their path that's keeping them apart. For me...in "A Class By Himself" had a big financial gap between my protagonist and his love interest. In "On The Outside", we had an openly gay teen and a teen that was terrified of being found out, so he was deeply closeted about his feelings. There are many ways that you can play with this idea...so why not try them all. It's certain to speak to somebody out there. And if you can capture an audience with one story...they're sure to check out other stories that you've written as well. And the last thing you want is for them to go in feeling like they're reading the same story over and over again, just with different character names. Change up the formula a little bit, while still maintaining a recognizable writer's voice in your work. I'd like to think that, no matter what I happen to be writing, readers can always see hints of 'Comsie' in there somewhere. The voice is present...but I like to stretch out whatever talents I have so I can reach into other territories that I might not be used to tackling for whatever reason. Whether I'm writing romance, or sci fi, or horror...I want readers to still see 'me' in the text. If that makes sense. This is how you can try out different things and keep your options open as an author. I, for one, am constantly looking for things that I've never tried before. It's a self-challenge, I guess. But those challenges keep me racing forward instead of looking backward. I can honestly say that I don't have any real desire to recreate something else that I've done before anymore. I definitely want to finish everything that I've started and bring it to a conclusion the way I always wanted to. But I really want to avoid repeating myself if I can help it. My last big leap was trying out a full blown 'fantasy' story for the first time, called "The Plateau". I had never done one of those before because I was worried that I'd totally screw it up somehow...and I have pages and pages of notes for what I want to do with that story! It's like...it's one of those projects that gets me excited and scared at the same time. It's a part of that stripped down, start all over from scratch, vibe that I was talking about. Now that doesn't mean that I don't still LOVE "New Kid In School" or any of the stories that I've written since then! I just love having enough space to spread my arms out and know that I can take chances and risks on the type of stories that I'm already known for. I want to try something new. Maybe it'll do well, maybe it wont. But find the courage to take those risks as often as you can. You never know when you'll stumble into a niche that really suits you. If you don't have more failures under your belt than successes...then you're not taking enough chances. Spread out. Challenge yourself and see what you're really made of when it comes to new ideas. It's not about success or validation. That's not why I do it. I do it as a part of breaking that 'next project' anxiety wide open and reminding myself that I don't have to balance, one-footed, on what I've already accomplished before. No easy wins. I want to drain my creative well dry and see what I can come up with. Even I'll be surprised from time to time...which makes writing fun for me. Let me scrap all of that tried and true for a short while to see if I can catch a whole new audience. Stories with a different tone, theme, plot, characters, and a different style of dialogue as well as a unique perspective on life, love, and anything else that I might want to throw in there for good measure. Hehehe! Develop your instincts. No one can teach you that, you have to learn it on your own. The main point is...tear everything down. Treat every new story the way that it deserves to be treated. As a NEW story! Give it its own breath. Its own life. Don't worry about making it bigger or better...just make it 'different'. What is it that you haven't tried before? What do you worry most about failing at when it comes to your writing? Do THAT! Hehehe! Never be afraid to reinvent yourself. Take the anxiety out of trying to outdo your first big outing in the writing world. The growth and evolution is there whether you see it or not. I think you create a feeling of trust between yourself and your readers by trying a few different ideas out when the feeling sparks your inspiration. If your story does well, then awesome! You've got another mark in the 'win' column! If it doesn't go over so well...still awesome! Find out what went wrong and learn from it. What does it matter? You're just going to tear it down and start all over from scratch with the next story anyway. So you end up winning anyway. Crazy right? Anyway, I hope this helps you guys think about things a little bit differently when starting a new project. I realize that there are writers who really want to tell ONE story and get it out of their system, just to say that they did it. And that's cool. But...for those of you who want to keep going and write multiple stories, or try your luck with multiple genres...always remember to start with a blank slate when you go into it. Don't be intimidated by the idea of breaking your old formula, and don't try to copy and paste a formula that you've used before in the past. Be 'present' in your work. Use your writer's voice to express itself without guidance. What you end up with is a story that is familiar enough to entertain your audience, and yet it will still be different enough to give them something new and unique at the same time. It'll work. Promise. Happy writing, you uys! And I'll seezya soon!
  6. I know you guys have heard it before. It's been said time and time again to every writer who's ever taken a class, read a book, or watched a video, on writing before. They all say, 'write what you know', and it is assumed that you can't go wrong as long as you stay in that comfortable little pocket and don't stray too far away from it. It sounds like it makes perfect sense, doesn't it? At the most...you'll have to do a little research on your own to get the terminology, the facts, and the details right. It makes for a believable story, and anyone who has been in that same situation or has worked in that profession will be able to relate, because you're coming from a genuine place and telling your truth. Well...the real question is how do you write what you know into a good story? That seems to be the part that a lot of these lessons seem to skip. Don't ever think that something like that can't go wrong, because I assure you...it most certainly can. Writing what you know can add an extra sense of knowledge and credibility to a project, sure. But without the proper finesse and careful weaving of your personal knowledge into a story, it can also create a total disconnect between you and your audience...and that's never a good thing. Always remember that every second that your readers spend getting detached from your story and its characters...it takes them three seconds to get back. Keeping them at arms length will only result in confusion and possible boredom. You don't want that. It's the whole reason that 'Layman's terms' exist. Hehehe! So, let's spend some time talking about the deeper meaning behind writing what you know, shall we? One of my personal guilty pleasures, movie wise...is "The Fast And The Furious" flicks! Hehehe, it's true! As ridiculous as they've gotten over time, I can't NOT watch the newest sequel when it comes out. I love them. Here's the thing, though...the new chapters of the "F & F" saga are pretty simple. Fast cars, guns, explosions, women in bikinis dancing for no reason, and some martial arts thrown in for good measure. And they've become increasingly popular over time. They're pretty accessible to any and all audiences. Hollywood knows how to use that formula to make a great deal of money whenever they want to cash a rather large check at the bank. Way it goes. However, I remember when the first two or three chapters came out. And they were definitely entertaining in their own way, and were still sticking to that same basic formula...but you want to know what was different about that first movie as opposed to the last one? You can tell that it was written by someone (Or multiple people) that were enthusiasts who had a deep passion for automobiles. If you go back and watch it again, you can almost feel it. Right down to the bone. Watching that scene, you can tell that it was crafted by someone who has a real knowledge of cars, engines, racing, and the whole culture and brotherhood surrounding it. Which is very cool! It makes you feel like you're a part of it, you know? So that's an awesome way to bring your love of a certain field, subject, or passion, into a story... ...For a while. Now, some of you guys and gals out there might be car enthusiasts and auto mechanics yourselves...but if not...when they lifted up that hood and was talking about the fuel systems and the Nos and engine...did you understand any of that? Hehehe! I didn't. It sounded cool as shit, but I could never look at an engine and break it down like that. No way. Ask me about writing gay romance stories online and I can go on, non-stop, for hours at a time. But cars? My knowledge is extremely basic at best. Here's the thing...the people who put that scene together were bringing their particular expertise to that scene, and they made it amazing. It was done in a way where other auto enthusiasts could relate and get excited about what was happening, and yet people who know nothing about cars felt as though they were included in the fun of it all anyway. So high fives for working that out in such a masterful way. But remember...that was just a scene from the movie. But can you imagine if that was the whole movie? Like...if it was all mechanics and tech talk from beginning to end? What would that do to their audience? It would narrow it down. Considerably. The key to being able to write what you know and about what you love is being aware of your audience to a degree where you understand that your niche may not be their niche. If it's something specific to you and you want to weave it into your story, then I think that's great. But, again...you don't want to alienate a majority of your readers by getting too technical for too long. Not everybody knows how to fix a car engine, not everybody knows tactical military strategy, not everybody knows the ins and outs of complex heart surgery. It's awesome to display your knowledge for a subject and appeal to others who know the same terminology and have the same nuance and experience that you do, but don't forget that you're writing for a broad audience with a wider variety of interests that might not include your one special 'thing'. I'm not saying that you should cater to that audience or aim for the lowest common denominator with your writing. I'm just putting it out there that this is something that every author should keep in mind when they're putting their project together. No matter what you write or who your characters are...you always want to keep your audience connected, fully engaged, and absorbent to whatever information that you're feeding to them at all times. I think it's a good practice to center in on the emotion of any given scene first, and then let the specific details leak in to support that emotion to create a more three dimensional picture. The reason why I say that is because emotions grab almost everybody in a similar fashion. Using that "Fast & Furious" example again...you may not know the intricate parts of what makes an engine run or how looking under the hood of one car or another can be all that different, seeing as you don't know what's going on in there. BUT...you know what 'excitement' is. You know what pride, and competition, and respect is. THAT is what is being displayed in that scene. That's what makes it work. I have no clue as to what kind of engine that car is running on...but I know that when he lifted that hood, everybody gasped and gathered around to marvel at it. So my brain is puzzled, but my heart is telling me, "This must be BADASS to get people 'in the know' to react like that!" So I get excited too, you know? It's all about how you make your readers feel when you're writing. Take your particular knowledge and expertise, and find ways to weave it into the plot and deeper emotion of your story so that your audience can play too...even if they don't have as deep an understanding of the subject matter as you do. Bring them in. Allow them to explore the same space. You can get a much better reaction from their emotions than you can with a bunch of expert technical jargon. Write what you know, but be mindful of what your audience knows and doesn't know, going in. It's always a team effort...writer and reader. This is a two man sport. To give another example of this, I want to display a clip that comes from an older movie called "Hackers". Obviously...computer hacking is nowhere NEAR being this fun! LOL! I don't even know why anyone would spend the time doing it, to be honest. But, then again, I don't have the skill or the patience to even begin to pull off what some people can with a laptop and a few random passwords, so I doubt I'll ever be in that camp of expert hackers who might watch a film like this and really get a thrill out of it. However, what this movie did was use music and visuals and a variety of other tricks to make this scene look action packed and exciting...when really it would just be somebody sitting at a desk, typing code on a computer screen, trying to figure out how things work through hours and hours of trial and error, and maybe getting an occasional breakthrough every once in a while. Now, to a computer hacker...that's a RUSH for them! And if you happen to be a computer hacker reading that story or watching this movie, you're seeing things and getting all jazzed up over stuff that I simply can't understand. But...for those who aren't computer hackers and are just average movie goers looking to see a cool flick on the weekend, this scene was spiced up and injected with a heavy dose of that Generation X adrenaline that the 90's was known for. Hehehe, check it out. Do you see what I mean? What is probably countless boring hours sitting at a keyboard, eating chips and hardly doing anything at all...has now been made to look like a digital fist fight on camera! The graphics, and the music, and the speed...it brings in the entire audience. What would that scene have been if it was just five minutes worth of tech talk that nobody other than computer security experts could truly comprehend? People would have checked out halfway through...and then your story has to work harder to bring them back in. I think the secret to writing a really good story is to have the plot do as little 'heavy lifting' as possible. Bring the readers in and have them lift with you. They should be working with you. If you lose them and then have to go through the process of dragging them back into their literary engagement...a lot of your genius prose is going to end up falling on deaf ears. It's like wasting gas on an extremely off road detour, just to get back to the main highway. Writing what you know can be a bonus...but it can also act as a distraction. Finding a fair balance between the two will ultimately enhance your story and increase its appeal to all audiences instead of a select few. Lock down the feelings and the emotions that come with your knowledge. The emotion is where you're going to grab your readers and hold them captive from scene to scene. Everybody doesn't get excited by figuring out computer puzzles. Everybody doesn't hear the intricacies of Jimi Hendrix playing the electric guitar, or understand the difficulty of Eminem's rhyme structure, or can tell the make and model of a gun simply by looking at it or hearing it being fired from a distance. If YOU can do that, and want to add that into your story for a more authentic feel and a realistic take on whatever tale it is that you're trying to tell...then awesome. Go for it. But always remember to do it with a balance, and keep it in mind that not everybody is going to know what you're talking about. That doesn't mean that you can't be specific and add fine details where you feel they're necessary. It just means that, if you're looking to appeal to a wider audience, don't give them enough 'show off' knowledge that will allow them to disconnect from what you're doing with the story itself. Remember...for every second that the spend detached from your plot and characters...it takes three seconds to get them back on task. And two or three paragraphs about seeding the ground for farming, solving advanced mathematical equations, or fixing a septic tank...can add up to a LOT of seconds! Hehehe! Add a scene or two, but trade some of that technical jargon in with the emotion surrounding the technical jargon. That's the way to get the best of both worlds. At least, that's my opinion. Writing what you know is so much fun, and it allows you to share a personal piece of yourself with the world that you can feel proud of. The key is just to remember that 'the world' is still out there, and they want to play too. They want to be involved. They want to be engaged. And you don't have time to explain everything to them after they've already started reading your work. A big part of being a popular writer is making your work accessible to a variety of different people from all walks of life. Younger, older, male, female, gay, straight...the more you tap into the core emotions of any given situation, the more people you will be able to connect to and hold still...even when dealing with subjects that they don't really have any previous experience with. If you're a part of the LGBTQ community...think about this. How many heterosexual romantic comedies have you seen in your lifetime? They may not speak to your attraction directly...but you understand the emotion behind it, right? You might only like men...but you get "Sleeping In Seattle", or "Pretty Woman", or "The Notebook", or any one of a million other movies about a boy meeting a girl and falling in love. Not because you share the attraction...but because those movies tapped into the emotional part of that situation, and the details were added to enhance the picture. The emotion is what we all latch on to, whether we feel the same way or not. Keep that in your heart and mind...and you can write about anything and still draw an audience. It's liberating. It really is. Anyway, I hope this helps a bit! Keep writing, and keep expressing your hearts the best way that you know how. You never stop learning new techniques. I'm still learning new ones all the time myself. But, if I can leave a few breadcrumbs for the next big author to pick up and rise up to reach their full potential in the future...then I'm blessed! Hehehe, it'll give me some good shit to read later! Take care! And I'll seezya soon with more! Love you lots! And Happy writing!
  7. One of the things that I regret from years ago was my complete inability to understand the language barrier or even the casual slang that people used in their emails or comments when giving me feedback to the newest chapters of stories that I put online. Hehehe, so my apologies if I misunderstood certain phrases or expressions of personal wit and took it as an insult or a criticism. Trust me, I don't do that anymore. Weird, right??? Comsie matured? Say it ain't so, Joe! LOL! Well...not by much, I assure you! But a little, yes. But there were people from overseas that would refer to certain parts of a story as being 'stupid' or 'lazy', and I used to take those as harsh comments, even if the rest of the feedback was mostly positive. It wasn't until later that I understood that some of these were common words used to describe certain things that were meant to be complimentary more than anything else. And I began communicating more with people from Korea, and Russia, and South Africa, and Brazil...and our communications are so different. It's crazy! It took some getting used to...but I think I've got a much better handle on it now. And I kinda feel bad for taking offense earlier for such petty things. Ugh! I suck for that! But, that's just a build up to something that I want to talk about here when it comes to our writing. Because where my earlier misunderstandings once lied...there are many more landmines placed for your readers to suddenly trip over when reading your story from beginning to end. Word usage is a huge part of being an effective author. There are a lot of people that will believe that words are just words, and the message will be conveyed the same way, no matter how you say them. But, I'm here to tell you that this couldn't be further from the truth. The words that you use have a HUGE impact on how your current emotion, tone, and theme, is received by the people who are reading your work. Don't doubt it for a single second...it's the truth. Sexually speaking, there is a major difference between saying... "I slid into his narrow opening, feeling it tighten up around my erection as this young beauty presented himself to me, wanting more." And saying... "I shoved it into his supple body, his ass clutching my cock in a vice grip as this sexy twink slut begged me to go deeper." Same action, same scenario...but the mood is different. The feeling is different. There's nothing wrong with either one of those expressions...but you can't deny that they have a completely different vibe to them. No matter what it is that you're writing, the words you use to describe what's happening in your story have a major impact in how someone reads it. So it's something to think about when trying to gain attention from a particular fanbase or market your stuff to a certain demographic. So...today, let's talk about word connotation...and how to keep it consistent throughout your story so as not to send out mixed messages. I won't lie...this took me a few years worth of practice before I could find my own particular rhythm when it came to this sort of thing. And that's normal. So no regrets. I chalk it up to being a very helpful learning experience for those first few years of me figuring things out on my own. For instance...I don't really use the word 'cock' in my stories anymore. I just don't. I've reached a point where it almost sounds a bit vulgar to me when it comes to the kind of stories that I write, personally. Romance and love and a bashful kid kissing his dream boy for the very first time? It feels a little off-tone to then say, "And then he shoved his hot COCK in my mouth!" Hehehe, my apologies if the language caught you guys off guard, but that's kind of the point of this article. Words matter! People are reading. And your poetic and lovely romance can turn into hardcore porn in an instant if you're not paying attention to your word usage. It's something that can drastically change the tone of your whole narrative and put your audience in an entirely different place from where they started. And that's how some really good stories end up slipping between the cracks, where neither side is going to end up being really satisfied with what you're putting out there. Is this a super hot story that I can jack off to and explode in the next few minutes? Or is this a romantic character driven story that I can follow and engage myself in over the next few weeks? Instant gratification versus emotional investment. Some people don't know which is which. You either get people skipping the sex to get back to the story, or skipping the story to get back to the sex. And, believe it or not...a lot of this has to do with words you use when you're writing. I learned a lot about my own writing when I went back to re-edit and update older chapters to match some of the current chapters that I was writing, and I was truly amazed by how different the feeling was between my most recent stories and the horny, sexually frustrated, stories that I started out with. Hehehe! It was like night and day. That's not to say that I regret those older chapters or how they were written. That's what I was feeling, and it was perfect for what I needed them to be at that time. But, now that I'm finishing up a lot of my long running series...my biggest worry is that they'll come off as inconsistent as a whole project. And that brings us to rule number one...be consistent. If you want to write a sex story...cool! Write a sex story. If you want to write a romance story...also cool. Write a romance story. But word usage is key if you're looking to maintain that particular mood throughout...beginning to end. There's nothing wrong in burning up some built up hormonal fury by writing a story about throbbing cocks, tight assholes, sucking, swallowing, and sweaty sexual encounters in an empty college dorm room during a party. If that's what you're shooting for, then use words that will paint that picture and give your readers that particular form of excitement. That's not really a place for rainbows and puppy dogs. You're in an entirely different lane of traffic now. (The fast lane, to be specific) However...if you're looking to create a love story, concerning matters of the heart, passion, fear, doubt, and warm and fuzzy feelings for your protagonist and his love interest...then you need to stay in that lane and maybe slow things down a bit. Avoid a bit of the hardcore language, and try to use phrases and descriptions that are more 'beautiful' than they are 'hot'. There's a difference. Create a little online thesaurus for yourself if you have to. Look at all of the words that you might use for a sexual experience...and put the into two different categories, based on how they make you feel when you read them. Read other people's stories to see if you can figure out the difference. If words like cock, phallus, member, or erection, make you think more of online porn? Put that in column A. If words like manhood, shaft, hardness, or length, feel like they take a bit of the 'sting' off and can be used for more romantic stories? Put them in column B. Revise from time to time if necessary. The point is to develop an instinct for how words work and how they affect you. Chances are...they are affecting your readers the same way. The best example I can offer you comes in the form of two stories that I wrote, a few years apart. New Kid In School was not only the first gay teen story that I wrote online...but it was the first gay story that I had written ever. And if you read that first chapter now, you can probably see how different it feels from something that I might have just written a few days/weeks/months ago. I still love it, and it will always have a very special place in my heart, but it's clear that my word usage isn't the same now that it was back then. Skip ahead a few years, when I was a bit more settled into my craft and learning the lessons that I needed to learn to create something a bit more nuanced and complex...you can read the story, "Ryan's Heart"...which is that same first chapter, but written from 'Ryan's' point of view. Go through and see how the word usage is different. How some things are better off 'suggested' instead of written out. Does it 'feel' different? Do you feel different when you're reading it? I have no idea what my word count is on GayAuthors at this point, but I know it's in the millions somewhere...and I've developed some of the weirdest gut instincts about the way I phrase certain things! Hehehe but they work. I stand by them. You see, this doesn't just apply to sexual matters. It works for everything you write. Our connection to words is more emotional than you may think. If you call somebody a rapist...does anything else they say in that sentence really matter? How do you get past the negative connotation of the word rapist? Like...wait, WHAT??? If you say that some drug addict won the marathon for breast cancer this weekend...what feeling does that give you? Mixed messages in your work come from mixed word usage. And it's really hard for me to explain, but if you go through your own work...you might see examples of your own that will stand out as being conflicted in terms of theme and tone. Being consistent is soooo important. Hmmm...how can I describe it...? Let's say that you're writing a romantic story, right? And your main character reaches down to rub the hard lump in his lover's pants. If everything has been written as a love story up until that point, and then you say, "I grabbed his crotch"...well, that could be a stumbling block for some readers. It takes them out of the moment. In terms of tone, you went from 'date night' to 'truck stop bathroom' in the matter of a single sentence. You have to pick a tone and make it your anchor. Don't try to hop back and forth between romance and porn, it rarely works. That's not to say that porn can't be sweet, and that's not to say that romance can't be naughty when you need it to be...but you need to constantly be aware of what connotation the words you use are taking on for your readers. Remember...the connection is emotional. There's a difference between making love, having sex, and fucking. And you can use either one, depending on what you're writing at that time. But make sure that everything that you're doing before and after that sensual moment matches up. Know what kind of story you're preparing to tell beforehand so you can pull this off. Pay attention to how certain words make you feel when you read them. This is why reading a variety of stories other than your own is so important. Find the stumbling blocks and signals in the work of your peers. It's all text...but the text has meaning. Meaning that might go much deeper than you would ever expect it to. Look at the words. The word sadness may affect you and convey a certain message...but what if we crank it up a bit? What about misery? That may give you a feeling of prolonged sadness that has lasted for quite some time. What about torture? What does seeing the word torture do to you? Agony? Heartbreak? Numbness? They all have a different feel to them. Read them, think about them and how they make you feel, and once you get a personal understanding for them...figure out how to best use these words or words like them in your own work. What about being mad? Then anger. Then fury. Then RAGE! Then LOATHING or HATRED! There are different degrees, but the words alone, as well as your audience's connection to these words, can help you create instincts to use just the right word at just the right time. And this will come in handy when trying to convey a certain potency of emotion when writing about your characters' experiences in their story. Does that make sense? Hehehe, I hope it does. Anyway, the point is finding an understanding of the building blocks that you use to create your story. Go through your own stories, go through the stories of other writers, and try to understand how certain words were just perfect in sending out the message that the story needed at that particular point in time. Why do I feel like this? Why does this description of two boys kissing for the first time make me melt and giggle this way? Why does this character's death make me want to cry so badly? Why does that one sentence make me want to angrily put my fist through a wall? Why does this description make me so HORNY? Find the emotional attachments to the words that are used to convey the strongest of your emotions...and then find ways to use them to your advantage when writing stories of your own. You can manipulate your project in ways that will get everyone to feel exactly what you feel when you wrote it, and you can trigger and pull on any emotional strings you want in order to get the feeling to leap off of the screen and truly affect your readers in a powerful way. Words have so much power. When you watch commercials on TV, when you watch the news, when you listen to music...you had better believe that there are people behind the scenes that are working their asses off and getting paid TONS of money to alter your perception to get you to think what they want you to think, and feel the way they want you to feel. Trust me...I've seen it. And it's frightening to witness, to be honest. Hehehe! But your words have just as much power as theirs do. So wield that weapon with caution and grace, k? With great power comes great responsibility and all that jazz. Take care, you guys! And I'll seezya soon with more!
  8. For this article, I'm probably one of the LAST people that should ever claim to be an expert on this sort of thing! LOL! My room is a hot mess! And probably always will be! But I've got a few goodies to pass along your way, if any of you are interested! Hopefully, I can drop a few gems in your lap, and it'll help in the long run! So let's travel back down the rabbit hole, shall we? The thing is, most (if not all) think of writing as merely being a cerebral experience. And in a lot of ways, it is. You sit down at a desk, you stare at your keyboard, and the rest of the world is supposed to disappear for a little while so you can focus on what you're doing, right? But...the question is...does it though? A majority of psychologists say that your current home environment is often a reflection of your current state of mind. The bedroom being the most intimate. And I have to admit...for me, personally...I'm willing to bet that this is the absolute truth. If any of you ever wanted to look at what's going on in my brain all day, every day...hehehe, just look at my bedroom! That will tell you everything that you need to know. One of my major issues is that I am practically a religious fanatic when it comes to being a full blown insomniac. Like...I don't have a 'bed time'. Never did. I actually envy people who can stick to something like that, even if only by habit, to be honest. I can't. I literally stay awake as long as humanly possible and watch movies, or read books, or write stories...until my body completely shuts down and it simply can't take anymore. If I had a dollar for every night that I fell asleep at this keyboard and woke up a half hour later to see "zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz" typed out on my laptop screen...I'd be a millionaire! LOL! Unfortunately...that makes for a perpetual mess in my room. It really does. I write down notes on scrap paper and put it on my bed next to me. I eat dinner, and put the plate on the bed next to me. I drink my Powerade drink, enjoy it, and set it down on the floor next to me. And I eventually go back and clean everything up...but since I sit at this keyboard until I'm literally passing out from exhaustion...I just take whatever few seconds of consciousness that I have left to simply crawl into bed and go to sleep. EVERYTHING else can wait until tomorrow. Right now...I need to faint out of existence. And then I wake up and move everything back on the bed to make my desk clean, and then move everything from the bed back to my desk because I'm about to faint from exhaustion...and this continues as the mass grows until I end up having to take a whole weekend to balance things out again. And then...the cycle repeats itself. Hehehe! It's weird. You'd be surprised how quickly the mess from my bad insomniac habits pile up. it's really bad, trust me. It can be exhausting. And just thinking about it is a variety of distractions that I can truly do without. The point is...my workspace when I'm writing my stories and all quickly becomes cluttered and unmanageable. I look around me, and all I see is a procrastinator's unfulfilled promise when it comes to fixing things up so I have room to move around again. And I've found that this doesn't just affect me physically...like, I need to clean all of this shit up! But it affects me mentally as well. And that quote about it affecting my current headspace couldn't be more true. I'm trying to write a story, but I'm moving papers around, looking for notes that I wrote down weeks ago, stepping over things, thinking about how I need to vacuum the carpet sometime soon... ...My brain looks exactly the way my room looks. Crowded and disorganized and void of any real rhyme or reason at all. BUT... When I do dig my heels in and clean everything up...it's almost like my mind relaxes a little bit more. Like it has more 'room' to create and spawn new ideas. I know that it sounds weird, but if you're anything like me, and have been piling up scrap paper and notebooks and beer and soda cans and other stuff in your room...take a break. Just one day. And dedicate that time to cleaning everything out of your room. Get it out of your vision. Get rid of it! Everything that you have to step over, everything that you have to 'move aside' to put something else down, every over crowded dresser drawer that won't close all the way, every closet full of clothes that you can't wear anymore...and would no longer be fashionable even if you could...detach yourself from it, and free up some much needed mental real estate so that you can create without restriction. And without a bunch of junk weighing your spirit down. It sounds weird right? Like some kind of metaphysical bullshit? I know it does. Hehehe! How can creating a simple change in my environment have any real effect on my writing? Well, I dare you guys to give it a try. It works. At least for me, it does. Look around you right now as you're reading this. Take a moment to think about a story that you've written or are writing now. Look at your writing environment. Is it jumbled? Messy? Full of things that need to be done, but you're taking a break to write instead? Is there noise from the TV or the radio in the background? Are the kids running around screaming and having a great time just outside of your door? Do you have a dog or a cat that suddenly decided they needed love and attention, and want to play at THIS particular moment while you're trying to focus? Do you think that all of these things aren't subconsciously pulling on your mind in one way or another? They are. Trust me. Or...we can go the other way with this too. Is your room sterile? Blank walls? Super clean? Glaring white shades and curtains? You know...in my bedroom (where I do all of my writing), I covered my walls with comic books that I collected as a kid. Hehehe, it's true! And sometimes, I look up at them randomly and they give me some much needed inspiration. Don't know why, but they do. A quick example, my very first fantasy story ever, The Plateau, I was trying soooo hard to come up with a name for the mischievous scamp that was running through the marketplace during an action scene. And one of the comic books on my wall just above my laptop was "Wolverine #8". Hehehe, and after thinking about it for a few quick moments...I took the letters from the middle of the comic book title, and came up with the name 'Verin' (From Wol'verin'e). It's a small thing, but it worked. I liked it. And he was one of the X-Men...so the name 'Verin Hax' was born. Lord knows how long I would have tortured myself trying to come up with a fantasy name if that didn't happen to just be right there staring me in the face. Sometimes, just surrounding yourself with the things that you love can inspire you and ignite your personal muse in ways that you never thought possible. And at a moment's notice. But...clutter and disarray can end up influencing you in another way. A negative way. And you want to avoid as much of that distraction and chaos as possible when it comes to anything that you're trying to do creatively. Now...I completely understand that some of you writers have other responsibilities that take a priority sometimes when it comes to your stories. And that's totally fine. Some of you guys have jobs that might tire you out or have an effect on your mood. Some of you have families, kids, pets, shows on Netflix that you want to binge before the internet spoils the ending for you! Hehehe! I get it. There have been times when I was having a good time with my family or have had my little cousins spend the night and I still felt like..."I wish I could be writing right now." Maybe that's just me. Hehehe, after 20 plus years, I'm a bit of an addict! But noise and distraction is just as much of a creativity killer as anything. Don't try to write in front of the TV screen. Even the commercials are designed by highly trained professionals who get paid a LOT of money to steal your attention. Don't try to write with your cell phone next to you, buzzing every time you get a text or a news message. Don't write with Facebook or Twitter opened in another tab if you have alerts on. The noise pollution is also a major factor when it comes to your work environment. You need to find a way to get some time to yourself, and let your passion flow while your responsibilities rest for a short while. That's not easy. And I don't know if I can give you guys any really good advice on that part of the process, because it's different for everybody. What I would advise, from my limited insight on your situation, is this... Find a balance. Priorities come first. Always. Always take care of the most important parts of your life, and THEN find time to write. I think you'll enjoy it more if you do it that way. So have a decent sit down dinner, watch your favorite TV show, take the dog for a walk, give the kids a bath and put them to bed for the night, spend time with your significant other...whatever. But...then just let the world know that you're going to go to your room, you're going to write or be working on something that's important to you...and unless it's an emergency, you'd prefer to not be disturbed. Even if it's just for an hour or two...take it. You've done your duty for the day, you've been responsible, the house is at rest...now take some time for yourself. You might only be able to get a little bit at a time, but whatever private time you're able to squeeze out of your day...be selfish with it. I don't think it's too much to ask for an hour to just do something for yourself. One hour. The rest of the world and work and the kids and the pets and the entertainment industry can HAVE the other 23 hours! Hehehe, just keep one for yourself. Every day. Just something to say, "Hey, I was there for everybody else, and I got everything done. Now leave me alone. For one hour. Let me get my release for the day and I'll be back tomorrow. Promise." I used to have a really bad habit of always trying to do everything for everyone else, and the insomnia didn't help, because I would keep giving and giving and giving until I had nothing left for myself, and then I go to sleep. My room's a mess, my body's fatigued, and everybody else got what they wanted...and all I got was more 'tired'. But I wasn't balancing things out like I should have. So now, I clean, I call my friends up, I take breaks to get out of the house or drop in to the chatroom every now and then. Spend quality time with the people I love and care about, you know? And then...(Even though, for me it's easier because I do it in the middle of the night) I go to my room. I shut my door. No noise. No disruptions. No doorbell, no phone calls, nothing. It's just me and my thoughts, in an environment of peace and quiet, surrounded by the very things that ignited my passion to write in the first place. It's beautiful! That's my safe space. Hehehe! That's my personal paradise. Anyway, it's something that I think you guys should try some time. It actually made me feel more 'free' when it came to my writing to be existing in a more inviting environment. If you have a number of other people in your living space...try writing when they're asleep or at work, or just busy with something of their own. If you're the kind of person that takes a bunch of notes, and is constantly turning pages in a notebook or searching for scraps? Do what I did. I went out to a local store and bough a dry erase board. It cost me like three bucks and came with its own markers. Write the notes you need right then and there on the dry erase board, and when you're done, wipe it clean, and you have another blank slate for the next batch. If you live in a busy city or have noise going on in your household grab your headphones...go to Youtube...and look up 'ambient music'. There are plenty of instrumental collections that you can listen to that are not distracting at all, and you can listen to them at full volume and block everything else out without being disturbed. And you can even find them in different categories like 'dark horror ambient', 'fantasy ambient', 'rain storm ambient', etc. Find ways to isolate yourself from everything else for an hour or two a day, and let your creative mind do what it does best. K? As always, I hope this helps you guys a little bit. I had to learn the hard way that work environment was as important as it is. Maybe this will give you all a bit of a head start. Seezya soon! And happy writing!
  9. Considering the fact that almost all of my stories involve teenage characters, a great deal of my readers (perhaps more than half) are teenagers themselves. So...if any of you guys are reading this right now...hehehe, don't take any offense over anything that I say here in this article! It's not like it's anything that I wouldn't have said to you in an email or the chatroom at this point anyway. I'm just placing it here as a disclaimer so you don't get all pouty on me. Besides, I've got your back on this. Promise. For any writers here who are working with teenage characters in their fiction, whether they be main characters or side characters, I want you to take a moment...and think back to when you, yourself, were a teenager. Anywhere between the ages of 13 and 19...doesn't matter. (Hell, if you've been privvy to that multitude of 'Karen' videos online, you'll see that most people haven't even matured THAT far!) But, seriously...take a moment and think about it. I'm not being rhetorical here. Hehehe, really think about it. Think about the first time you really had your first crush. The first time you tried smoking a cigarette. The first time you looked a dirty magazine. Hehehe, be honest. How old were you? What was your thought process like back then? Remember missing curfew? Or breaking that lamp or that window in the house after being warned not to play ball in the living room? Or that time you broke your arm falling out of a tree you had no business climbing? Do you? I'm assuming that everybody reading this is either a teenager now or was at one time. Am I right? Taking that into account, it's safe to say that we've all made our mistakes growing up. Some of them reckless. When I think back on some of the stuff I did, I'm surprised that I even survived half of it! Hahaha! But, here I am. Hindsight is always 20/20...but ONLY hindsight is 20/20. And I think that's something to remember when writing teenage characters in your fiction. Teenagers are NOT stupid! Hehehe! Ok? Let's just put that out there before we even get started. If you've got a teen in your house that's playing dumb or pretending to be too innocent to know what's going on around them...LOL, then you are dealing with a dangerous animal! Those are the ones that you really need to keep an eye on! I've spent many years talking to teenage boys and girls in emails, and one of the first things that I learned is that they know more and are more self aware than many people give them credit for. Because, at the end of the day, what is a teenager? They're adults without experience. Cocky? Yeah. Sarcastic? Sure. Naive? Most definitely! But to write them off as stupid is a mistake. And if you go into your fiction with that kind of outlook...it's not going to come off as genuine at all. In fact, it may be more insulting than anything else. One thing you always want to avoid as a writer is the act of insulting your readers. People can tell. I, personally, think that teenagers get a bad rap. Hehehe, I always joke around about how some of the greatest stories ever told just seem to 'skip' the main character's teen years altogether. Like...WTF happened there? Even in the Bible, it's like Jesus was a beautiful baby! Then he gets to be JUST about 12 years old...starts his ministry...and then he's suddenly in his 30's, he's got his shit together and everything is fine! Wait wait wait!!! What happened between the ages of 12 and 33??? ::Footage not found:: Superman? Beautiful baby, goes to school, JUST about high school age...then, ZOOM!!! Daily Planet reporter job! People have got to notice this kind of trope in stories in general, right? It happens all the time. I don't think Anakin Skywalker even made it to twelve! The point is, I think that there are a lot of stories that really have a blindspot when it comes to writing teen characters. That part of their heroes' lives are overlooked completely, and I think that can be the most intense and most transformative period in the life of any protagonist in your story. Why skip it? Teens are seen as irrational, reckless, less intelligent, problematic, and immature. But why? They're not all a monolithic group of trouble-making asexual brats with nothing better to do than to throw eggs on Halloween and shoplift candy from the local store. They understand logic, friendship, love, fairness, sex, social interactions, anger, violence...you won't find anyone who runs through the entire gamut of emotions faster than your average teenager. So why not use that to your advantage when creating three dimensional teen characters? You can't look at teenagers through the lens of someone in their mid twenties or older. The world doesn't affect you the same way now as it did when you were learning the ins and outs of it for the very first time. It just doesn't. They're learning. They mess up and make mistakes, rush in too quickly when they shouldn't, hesitate for too long when they shouldn't, and can sometimes be easily overwhelmed...but that doesn't mean that they're stupid or helpless. Or just some wasted character that you can push to the side as though they can't participate in the 'adult' story you're trying to tell. Don't do that. Just...don't. Hehehe! If anything, I think that makes for an extremely compelling story! The same way a married couple experiences living in a haunted house for the first time, or a space traveler meets an extraterrestial, or someone gets whisked away into a fantasy world on the other side of time and space. It's a new experience. And you get to be a part of building that world for them. Except it's a world that you already know and have experienced for yourself. Keep that in mind when you're writing. Because, while there are more honest representations of teenagers in stories like "Stranger Things" or "Stand By Me", the teen stereotype isn't all that different from using a racial or sexist stereotype in a lot of ways. Then again, I kind of grew up in the John Hughes era. And that was one of those times when teens were finally being taken a bit more seriously. Hehehe, yes, my friends and I used to curse. We used to swipe a warm beer or two when we could find one. Tried to look cool smoking cigarettes. Tried to peek in the girls locker room. We even did things as evil as...GASP...masturbate! Oh Lord! ::Faints:: But I truly think that a lot of our most defining moments and potent memories come from that particular period in our lives, and that's what I write about. I can still remember my first loves as though it was just yesterday. I can still see their faces, and feel that racing heartbeat that used to have me tripping all over my feet all day. I can remember my first kiss. My first time driving a car by myself. My first time moving into a college dorm. My first time getting a job and having my own money. And I wasn't a pro in any sense of the word, but that was a part of my journey. How can that NOT make for an incredible and engaging story, if only for nostalgia's sake? Not only that, but it's a challenge to think back to a time when I didn't have all the things that I do now. No internet, no real money, no real privacy, no independence...not even a way to just walk out to my car and drive somewhere if I wanted to. Stuff that I'm sure that I take for granted now, until I remember having to be clever enough to work my way around it whenever an opportunity presented itself. Still, when I'm writing teenage characters, I definitely take account of the fact that they are fully aware of what's going on around with them...even if they're not quite sure how to deal with it, or potentially navigate their way around it. You have to go back to those days in your own life, and be honest with your portrayal of young people in your stories. You have to be self aware enough to look at your past mistakes without judgement, and recreate the excitement of not being a little kid anymore...but wanting so badly to be an adult ahead of your time. Teen characters can't be treated the same way as adult characters, especially in this day and age when they have a wealth of inappropriate knowledge at their fingertips twenty four hours a day with whatever handheld device they might be in possession of at the time. I can remember times when I was writing stories, and I actually had to jump in and defend some of these poor fictional kids from the venom and vitriol being spit at them from some of the readers. Like, "HEY!!! Jesus Christ! Give the kid a break!" Give them a chance to figure things out as a part of their story arc. None of this is real. Please don't curse at me and tell me how these teens are so STUPID that you can't stand to read about them anymore. It's like...what the fuck are you talking about? It's a free story online...relax. Put yourself in their shoes. You weren't always the way you are now. You had to go through a period of learning through trial and error just like the rest of us. So chill out. The thing about teen characters isn't about being super smart and knowing everything and having a bunch of resources working for you whenever you need them to. The teen experience is about 'discovery'. That's why I find the stories so interesting. They have common sense, and deep emotions, and (for the most part) good intentions. Explore that with your writing. They're not immune to humiliation or a fear of rejection. They make mistakes, sure...but those mistakes mold them into the adults they are sure to become in the future. We've all had heartbreak and emotional growing pains that made us stronger in the end. That's the beauty of teen characters. You get to present the nostalgia of the past mistakes to a mass of your readers...and still turn things around to have your characters learn from them in a positive way. It's meant to be a good thing, whether some of your readers realize it or not. Maybe they have some hang ups from the past that they don't want to deal with just yet. Hehehe, but let that be their therapist's problem. Not yours. K? Of course, as always...no matter what you write, you can't expect to 'win' one hundred percent of the time. You just...you can't. You will always have people who will tell you, "This kid is way too dumb, too naive, and childish. No teen would ever think this way. It's too unrealistic." And in the very next comment, you have people telling you, "This kid is way too mature and too experienced to act like this. He sounds like he's 30 years old. No teen would ever think this way. It's too unrealistic." And that's fine. Read the comment, see if they made any valid points, one way or the other, and go back to writing your story your own way. It's not their story. It's YOUR story. Draw from your own teenage years growing up, and stay true to the story that you were looking to tell. You know who you were back then. Maybe they led a whole different life somewhere else, and they look back on their teen years in a different way. But, hey...they've got the same tools at their disposal that you do now. Any time that they want to sit down and write, edit, and promote, their own story...they're more than welcome to it. They could have gotten started with the time it took to tell you what you were doing wrong. Hehehe! So let them have a go at it. I'm sure there will be an audience for their version too. Variety is the spice of life after all. Anyway, the idea behind writing teen characters is to simply understand what a majority of them are. Inexperienced. Not innocent. Not unaware. And certainly not stupid. Yes...they know about the porn you watch online. Yes, they know you sent them over to a friend's house for some private time. Yes, they know about the bag of weed that you hid at the top of the bedroom closet. We were all youngsters too at one time...and we know exactly how we were back then. Hehehe, probably worse than anything that we can peg on teenagers today. When you're writing them into your stories...be respectful of that. Be understanding. Let them know that you 'get it', and advise them with messages that will inspire responsible behavior, if you can. Because, believe me...they ARE reading! Trust me on this. Coming from the hyperactive Generation X era, I can remember being talked down to and insulted by my grandparents' generation. And it sucked. Don't be that kind of writer. For every Millennial right now, quick to scream "Ok, Boomer" to my parent's generation...hehehe, don't worry. You'll get your turn too. Because the post 9/11, post Covid-19, kids that are entering Junior High right now...they'll be giving you the same weird looks by the time they reach college. So prepare for it. It'll be your turn next. And the circle of life continues...so don't go getting grumpy before your time. K? Bridge the gap, and try to reminice and understand your own youth for what it was. A training experiment, and a boot camp for you becoming the adult that you are today. Be proud of that journey! You'll find some of your craziest and most exciting stories in that little gap of life that many stories conveniently 'skip over' when they don't want to talk about it. What are we pretending to be so innocent about, anyway? I don't know about you guys, but my teen years were not so 'Disney'! LOL! (Hehehe, me and MY friends at 12...) Food for thought, if any of you were planning to add teen characters to your story, or write a teen based story by itself. Hope it helps! And I'l seezya soon with more! Cool? Love you lots!
  10. As many of you guys already know (Those who have been around for a number of years, or possibly from the very beginning) I was both an actor and a boy model back when I was in my tweens and teens. It was what I wanted to do. I had a passion for it. But the fantasy of it and the business side of that whole industry are two completely different things! So buyer, beware! if that's what you want to get into, I wish you the best...but it's not what many of you might think it is. So you really have to want it! You know? That being said...when I write these stories online, hoping that you guys will really enjoy them....I have an 'actor's' mindset going the entire time that I'm writing. I can't help it, it's just something that I do when I'm writing. Maybe you guys have a few quirks of your own...and that's awesome! These are mine. And this article is going to be another one of those major secrets that I give away to all of you so you can decode and figure out exactly how it is that I do what i do...and have done for over 20 years now! So, at long last...let me answer the big question that has been on a lot of people's minds for years... COMSIE...what the fuck is with the literary theatrics all the time??? "Hehehe!"....that's where it all started for me. Finding my personal voice, and a certain vibe for my stories. Have you ever been to your local shopping mall on a weekend? Seen teens hanging out and having fun together? Listen to them joke around with one another. Everything isn't a big "HAHAHA!!!" type of funny. But they're not silent, either. They're having FUN, you know? But it's not like every single remark is 'ha ha' funny and causing them to fall out of their chair. There's a middle ground. Just a pleasant moment of shared enjoyment. A boyish giggle or two. So...how do I incorporate that into my stories? And my answer was to mimic the sound of a casual giggle as best as I could. Thus..."Hehehe!" This may sound weird to you guys now...but I had to really FIGHT to have them accept this expression as a part of my stories! Readers simply couldn't embrace it in those first few years of me writing. But I stood my ground and kept it going, and now it's simply a natural part of everything that I write. Like...people 'get it' now, and they don't complain. in fact, many of them have adopted it themselves, and I see it in other stories or even in my emails these days. It's not like I 'invented' it or anything...but by sticking with it, it became a norm. And now that part of my literary voice can be heard the way that it was meant to be heard. So, you'll get no complaints from me! Is that where the specific 'Comicality' theatrics end? No. And I am fully aware that for a select group of people...they get really distracted and pissed off by the way that I write sometimes...but, ummm...tough! Hehehe! This is my 'actor's' voice when I write, and I want the story to read a certain way when an audience is diving into it for the first tine. My 'word theatrics' present the vision and flavor that I want my stories to have. Love it or hate it...this is my writer's voice. And I had to fight really hard and swim upstream to get it to be accepted and embraced as an effective way of writing an emotional and engaging narrative without having the 'experts' pick it apart on style and outdated rules of fiction alone. I wanted to build my own style...and I'm happy to say that it ended up working out for me. Flaws and all. One thing that absolutely bothers me? Honestly. Is reading subtitles in a movie. And I LOVE foreign films and stuff...but the text comes up on the screen...and I just read it as...'text'. Like, I can't feel the actor's emotion. The tone of voice, the creative choices he/she made to deliver that line. The little pauses in between. Soooo much of that intricate nuance gets lost when I'm just reading their words on the bottom of the screen. Does that make sense? When I write, I try to keep those pauses, that nuance, those performances, in the story. I want people to feel it. I guess that you could say that it's my way of 'acting' through the written words on the screen. I want people to feel it like I feel it. And not just read the words on the screen, as is. I don't expect everybody to understand it. The capitol letters, the quotes, the bold print, the italics...but I treat my writing the same way that I would a performance. Or an audition for an on stage production. This is how I convey an added touch of emotion in my stories that other might not. When I have someone who is nervous or scared, I might add extended pauses in their dialogue with, "...umm..." those three little dots can imply a hesitation and can give readers a sense of tension and have them physically lean further forward towards the screen to see what happens next. SPIT IT OUT!!! Hehehe! We've all been there before, right? As a writer, isn't it your mission to recreate that moment for your audience? I use capital letters for emphasis in the descriptions and in explanations of the main character's feelings, mostly. What is he thinking? What is he worried about? More often than not, I'm using capitol letters to create a sense of desperation or heartache. It's almost like the protagonist is weaponizing the capitals to protect himself. So, when you see me using capitals for emphasis, it's usually a defensive measure, or something to express something that he simply can't believe is real...such as young love, loving him back. Hehehe, I should NOT be giving away all my secrets like this. Now...when I use italics in my stories, that's usually more emotionally engaging. More times than not, I use italics to give readers a feeling of 'yearning', 'craving', or 'deep fantasy'. It's an emphasis on the more emotional sides of my main characters. Just someone that you want sooooo bad ('Sooooo' being another one of my theatrics! Hehehe!) that you can hardly contain yourself. So, if capital letters have a more defensive and aggressive feel to them, the italics are more like emotionally vulnerable, helpless, love stricken, expressions of emotion. Now, both sides can be interchangeable, but that's how I usually view them as I'm writing. And I don't indulge in these tricks as much as I used to, but they are still a part of my 'writer's voice', and most people can pick my stories out of a line up because of the quirks and little tweaks that I've learned over time. Way it goes, I suppose! So, if my protagonist is having an inner dialogue? I could write it like this... "Every time he laughs, every time he even smiles at me, I feel my stomach begin to shiver and shake with these nervous tremors that threaten to, literally, make me sick. Sick, I tell you! And all I want to do is get my so-called peace of mind back by having the goddamned guts to tell him how much I like him. Love him. Need him in my life. But I can't. I don't know how. So I'm just left here, spinning in confusion. It's pure torture." And that's perfectly ok. Functional, conveys emotion, makes its point, and progresses that part of the story forward. It does everything that I need it to do. There's no real reason to think that it needs any extra flair or anything. And yet...if it were me, I'd probably take that same inner dialogue and write it as... "Every time he laughs, every time he even smiles at me...I feel my stomach begin to shiver and shake with these nervous tremors that threaten to, literally, make me sick. SICK, I tell you! And all I want to do is get my so-called 'peace of mind' back by having the goddamned guts to tell him how much I like him. Love him. NEED him in my life. But...I can't. I don't know how. So I'm just left here...spinning in confusion. It's pure torture." There's not a HUGE difference, but it feels more closely connected to me as a person. A little emphasis here, a little desperation there...little breaks and pauses as my main character tries to gather his thoughts. It's more than just the way I would write down for you guys to read. It's the way I would verbally say it to you if we were sitting in the same room, having an intimate conversation. I decided a long time ago that I wanted my stories to have that kind of 'feel' to them. And yes, I guess you could write them off as a bunch of unnecessary theatrics in my prose, but it's a part of my hobby that I truly enjoy. It makes me feel closer to the story I'm telling, and will hopefully make you guys feel closer to the stories you're reading. Maybe it'll bring the actor out of all of us. Hehehe! Trust me, I have spent years and years getting flak for some of the things that I do to write my stories! Hahaha, oh MAN! You have no idea! But once the 'traditionally established' folks get used to my writing (Dragged in, kicking and screaming), most of them realize that I'm not such a terrible writer after all. And for some, it actually ends up being somewhat endearing. The whole point of this article is...find your voice, and STICK with it. I know that there are rules and regulations and writing mechanics that everybody is pressured to adhere to at all costs...but this is YOUR world, right? What is it that you guys really want to do? What do you really want to say? Who can tell you that you're 'wrong' for incorporating something that's personal to your particular voice in your own story? I'm not saying that you should completely abandon the idea of story structure, or try to get people to spell the same word the wrong way when you know better. Hehehe! Just feel comfortable when you're writing. Let the rest of the world catch up to what YOU'RE doing instead of always trying to do the opposite. If you have a different take on how you 'say' things, or how you plot out you story...then stand by it. And keep pushing forward. Let everybody else whine and complain and eventually end up copying what you were doing in the first place. K? Always remember...this is your rodeo. Your science project for the fair. Be unique with it, and enjoy pouring a piece of your unique ability every word of it. Always. As always, I hope this helps you guys out by giving you a little food for thought. Happy writing! And let's see if you can make some more of that magic happen!
  11. I want to start this article by addressing the elephant in the room first. There are a number of authors who want to write what they want to write and simply do not care whether people want to read it or not. I'm not here to change your mind. If that's how you approach writing, that's fine. You do you. The purpose of this article is give people who are interested more insight as to the audience they are posting their stories in front of. A lot of factors play out in how much a story gets read and writing something that appeals to a wider audience merely gives you more possible eyeballs to read your story. Some Survey Results Still reading? Great! I think most of us probably fall in the middle here between not caring at all and wanting more opportunity. We want people to read our stuff, but we want to tell our story our way. Back in the spring, we did a site survey and had over 600 people reply. This is a pretty sizable response, and it really ran a large range of readers. I'm going to share the results of three of the questions in particular. Authors following the Writer's Circle club may recognize my recent work on Genres. This was instigated by feedback from the survey. One more note on the survey results before we begin. This is a straight up survey, not a controlled statistical sample. This means that the results you see reflect the thinking of those people who were surveyed and may or may not represent the site as a whole. We are going to act as if it does though, as these are the people who took the time and effort to fill out the survey, meaning they cared enough to do it (and more likewise more likely to read and react to Stories content). Since I have had Masters level statistical courses, I felt compelled to point this out so as to not get smacked by others who likewise understand the magic of numbers. This is the breakdown of what the survey responders say they like to read, genre-wise: As you can see, our readers self-report a fairly balanced view on what they read. Interestingly enough, this and the questions I asked authors highlighted a few shortcomings on how I asked questions on the survey and how we actually use data here at Gay Authors. The author portion of the survey weighed interest on a 1 to 5 scale for each genre from a writing standpoint. But the reader scale was a yes/no on each. That means I wasn't able to do anything directly as I didn't have apples to apples to compare. For example, over 450 people said they read romance... but that could be "I'll read it if there was nothing else to read" all the way to "I'll stop sleep and anything else to read a good romance story". It's hard to do anything with that other than say, this is what people say they do or don't read. I'll get into what we're working on to address this in a bit after we go over the next parts. Next up, sex. As it shouldn't surprise anyone paying attention: sex sells. An overwhelming majority of readers will read a sex scene if you put it in front of them. Fortunately, when I wrote the survey, I didn't completely miss the boat. I also asked, how much sexual content do you prefer in your stories. Again: sex sells. As you can see from the survey results, of the people that answered this question, people prefer a decent level of sexual content in their stories. It should be noted that site rules says level 5 erotica text porn level sex in stories isn't actually allowed on site. The safest conclusion from the survey is that you are not scaring people away from your story if you include sexual content, and that there is a group that really enjoys it. Again, this is not a statistical sample and thus we can only apply this conclusion to the people who answered and guess, but not know, that it would apply similarly to those who did not take the time to answer the survey. So what to do? IF you are interested in keeping up with the latest information on writing tips and what is getting read on Gay Authors: Make sure you are following the Writing World Blog so you get notified when we post stuff! Go to your Notification settings and make sure that "Newsletter" email is checked. Go to your profile (click your avatar image on the upper right and then click "edit profile" on upper right side of page) and then make sure your Author and Genre News are both set to "Yes" and that you select at least one Genre on the list of Genres. If you like everything, select "everything" from the list. We are currently emailing a weekly Genre News update and a monthly Author one. If you want to stay in touch with what's going on, sign up! What else are we doing? We are working on some changes to the story archive software that will allow us to more tightly categorize story genres. This will allow people interested in writing or reading in the growing micro-genre niches to do so. The way the system is designed, authors will be able to stick to the more generic genres as well. More details will be posted as we get closer to release. We are also developing a couple of administrative tools to allow us to more easily analyze the data the system is naturally collecting. For example, we collect time-based read data on every story in the system. It's generic insomuch as we can only tell if it guest or member reading. The tool we are working on will be able to tell us how many reads are occurring per genre and eventually per tag. There is where "Writing Where the Audience Is" comes into play. If the report is showing werewolf stories are popular right now, maybe it is time to dip your toes in the water and try one. Or maybe you see that popularity and decide now is the time to try posting that Were-Tiger story you've been secretly working on. Or maybe you want to see which way people are going so you take the other fork in the road and avoid the crowd. You can do any of that or none of it. We'll be working to give you the option. You could also try mashing together two trending genres. This is how many of these micro-genres have formed. Romance was popular. Werewolves are popular. Suddenly, you have Paranormal Romances / Shifter as a sub-genre. We might see Horror and Western both getting hits so you decide to write a Weird West story. Zombies at the OK Corral. This data could work for anything. Or take one genre that's popular, take one that isn't and create your own space with one foot in popular stuff and one foot in a new frontier. There is nothing wrong with using data to fit in with the popular crowd or avoid them so you have your own swimming spot. What is the Gay Authors motivation in this? We want eyeballs on site reading. If you come for the popular and stay for the niche stuff, that's fine by us. Or if you come for some of the unique content and try out some of the other things, that works too. So long as you're hanging out here, that's our interest. 😉
  12. When trying to put the idea together of this particular article in my head, I had to be careful to steer clear of the whole idea and philosophy of 'determinism' and 'free will', hehehe...which is an entire novel's worth of intellectual discussion that would probably ehaust all of us before I even BEGIN to scratch the surface of the point that I want to make here in terms of our skills as writers, and crafting a story of our very own. Simultaneously using one side of the argument while giving the illusion of the other. Basically...the Cliff's Notes version deals with the idea of whether or not we truly have the blessing of 'free will' in our lives, or simply the illusion of free will through social dogma and an uncanny sense of optimism. Hehehe! And, just reading what you've read so far...you may be wondering how the hell 'Comsie' is going to somehow weave this into a lesson about writing online fiction! Well, be patient! I'm getting to that! And, for many of you writers out there who may be getting mediocre or somewhat lackluster responses to your work...the following lessons may actually help you to create a more engaging story for your readers to absorb and invest themselves into along the way. The big question this time around, folks? Who's in charge here? Trust me...it matters. See...when you're writing a story, you are actually taking on the divine role of a creator. From beginning to end. You already know what's going to happen, and you've planned out all of the events in advance. Your main characters don't have any say in how things turn out, because it's your personal magic that's pushing this master game plan forward and guiding things the way that you want them to go. You're the one in control. But it's your duty as an author to simply operate behind the scenes to hide your influence and allow your audience to become so involved in the trials and tribulations of your characters that you remain somewhat 'invisible' when it comes to being the architect of every event you carry them through until the story is over. Does that make sense? The illusion of giving your characters free will and a choice over what's going to happen next is key when it comes to writing an engaging story. But...not everybody really thinks of a 'story' in those terms. And that's where some authors can find themselves falling into a state of subtle limbo that doesn't feel wrong...but can end up draining all of the interest out of your story in the long run. Sometimes, even in the short run. Let me explain... There is one, sure fire, way to completely bore your readers with you're writing. You may not realize it, and even the readers won't realize it right away...but here it is. You ready? Do NOT let your story drag your protagonist along it's journey from beginning to end! Just...don't do it! It can become mind-numbing to a reader. No matter the premise, or the plot, or the concept...always remember the 'pro' in your 'protagonist'. He/She is in charge. Establish that early on, and stick with it. It will help soooo much if you manage to keep an eye on this sort of this thing while you're writing. The one thing that can bring a story down from its true potential is having your main character, the sole focus of your amazing tale of drama/romance/adventure...being led around by a faceless, disembodied, storyline. Dragging them from one even to another without the main character's involvement in what's actually going on. Now, I don't want anyone to take any offense to me saying that, as there is a delicate balance that can be worked in to maintain some sort of mystery and tension, while still keeping your protagonist the highlight of your project. However...I've seen that balance ruined many many times in the past. Not just in other writers' work, but also in my own. So I'm leaving this little landmine as a warning for you guys to avoid in the future. Hmmmm...how to better explain this... When you create a main character for your particular story...you want your readers to sincerely believe that they have some say in how this particular story is going to turn out in the end. Of course...you're the author...the architect...hehehe, and what your readers believe or don't believe ultimately have no impact on the end of your story at all (Unless you want it too)...but that's not a part of the illusion, is it? The whole point is to make your audience feel as though your protagonist is actively fighting for the best possible outcome...whether they're able to achieve that in the end or not. You want your writing to put them, center stage, as often as humanly possible. This is one of those moments where I reveal one of my hidden little 'Comsie Secrets' when I'm writing, hehehe! If you look over a vast majority of my stories on the site, you'll see my writing constantly playing around with the exact balance that I'm talking about here. The idea that there's some outside force that's controlling the actions and reactions of the main character, where he feels helpless to escape it. A sense of fate. Things that were meant to be, or not meant to be, that are clearly out of his control...because the divine writer of his narrative is the one running the show outside of his consent. This can be clearly seen stories like, "My Only Escape", "Save Or Sacrifice", "On The Outside", and more. And by the time we get into stories like "Billy Chase", "Gone From Daylight", and "Savage Moon"...my methods of wobbling back and forth over that precious line become more clear. There's an idea that 'it's not my fault', and that there's something going on that's beyond my control. What did you expect me to do? Here's the gem in walking that line though. Your main characters become stronger and more interesting when they finally begin to question that particular 'formula' and begin to work against it. THAT makes for an exciting story! No matter what genre you happen to be writing in. Fighting against that 'fate' and growing to a point where you feel capable of challenging the design that was laid out for you without you having any say in it. Let's face it...the days of 'boy meets boy' are pretty much over and done with. Too simple. Too easy. Too predictable. Hehehe, it won't be considered a 'party foul' if you write a story like that from time to time for fun...but if you're looking to stand out, you'll need more. In all of the linked stories that I mentioned above...if you haven't read any of them yet, just jump in at any random point and check out a few pages when you get a chance. There are going to be times when I allow the story to pull the main characters into situations and present certain obstacles and dangers along the way...but I try hard to keep the story from controlling everything going on around it. No...that's what the protagonist is for. Your protagonist needs to be an active participant in what's going on here. Don't sideline him by giving the situations in his path drag him from one 'non-decision' to the next. It's hard to explain, but it makes for a really boring story in the long run. "Why did he do this?" Answer? "Because the story told him he had to." Well, after two or three instances of that being used as an excuse...that gets old. Really fast. Have your protagonist make conscious decisions about he wants to proceed to the next part of his journey. Don't leave him ten steps behind throughout the whole story and deprive your audience from ever feeling like he was in control of his own destiny from the very beginning. It's literary suicide. Most of my characters start out this way...feeling at the mercy of a greater plan that is, obviously, not conspiring in their favor. And that leads to angst, frustration, paranoia, fear, and some truly naive and awkward decisions on their part. BUT...that's where the fun part comes in! Because, most of my character arcs essentially come from those same characters questioning the design and deviating from the chosen path to explore something new. Something real. And this creates the feeling that your protagonist is actually the one in charge! It's something that your readers will appreciate and invest themselves in when diving into your story, full force. Nobody wants to read about things that are static and planned out and are 'supposed' to happen, no matter what. Be careful of stumbling into that pitfall as a writer. The most influential writers swim upstream. But it can be fun to goof around with the whole 'cliche fake out' tropes from time to time too. Hehehe! Anyway, always make sure that it's your protagonist that's pushing your story forward and not the other way around. Don't leave your hero to be led around by the dick while the story basically tells your readers, "I can do this, with or without him being a part of this." It diminishes the importance of your shining star. Give your main character something to do. Let him mold the story. Let his decisions have an impact. Otherwise...you've got a main character chasing butterflies for an entire narrative...and that can be a snooze fest. Just a little something that I've learned from experience over the years. And hope to get better at correcting in the years to come. I hope this helps! I'd love to hear if you have any thoughts on this down below! Take care! And I'll seezya soon!
  13. It can be a virtual No Man's Land sometimes when you're writing. A place where you may not be sure or feel quite confident about where your next 'peak' or your next 'valley' may come in terms of telling the story that you wanted to tell. And I feel like it's times like this when you really have your skills and instincts tested in a major way...all for the sake of keeping things moving smoothly. And more importantly...moving forward. For this article, I'd like to bring up the subject of getting lost in the middle of your story, how to recognize it as it's happening, and some possible ways that you maybe be able to get out of it once you get find your story stalling in a place where it shouldn't be. So let's find a way out of this sand trap, shall we? I can remember once doing a term paper on director James Cameron for school. I was such a huge fan that it was ridiculous. But he was making some of the biggest and most explosive movies of all time. "Aliens", "Terminator", "Terminator 2", "Titanic"...he was a total rock star to me. However, there was one little nitpick that I could always see in all of his movies. Nothing that really bothered me or anything, mind you. It was just something that I noticed. Once you notice it...you can't 'un-notice' it. When I watching "Terminator 2"...there's a second killer machine made out of liquid metal that is hot on the trail of our protagonists, creating tension and dread and this constant need to keep your eyes open for fear that he might be sneaking up on you. He was relentless in his pursuit, and it kept me on the edge of my seat every step of the way. Now...jump ahead about an hour in the movie to the beginning of the third act. The main characters are going to blow up an office building, the Terminator is shooting it out with the police, there's explosions and massive damage happening all over the place...and then...here comes Mr. Liquid Metal riding up on a police motorcycle to complicate things even further. And you know what one of the first things that crossed my mind was? "Oh YEAH! I forgot that he was in this movie too!" Hehehe, it's true. So what happened? The T-1000 hadn't really been in the movie at all for about forty to forty five minutes straight. It was a smooth transition to get back to the action that I came to see, sure...but I found myself getting invested in an entirely different aspect of the story that had absolutely nothing to do with the second Terminator in any way, shape, or form. So when he shows back up again, it almost feels like a shock to the system. And where did this giant separation from the main part of the plot happen? Right there in the middle of the story. Same thing happens with "Aliens", where the middle of the movie has no aliens involved at all. Even in "Titanic", I saw the iceberg and it was like, "Oh..right. This think is supposed to sink, isn't it? Now, luckily, James Cameron has the kind of finesse to pull of this particular trick with (seemingly) little effort in his crafting of a good story...but not everybody can do that. It can be fairly easy to find yourself lost in that storytelling wasteland when you're in the middle of your story. We get excited and anxious when we're getting started...because we have this whole treasure chest full of potential ahead of us, as well as the joy that comes from building up your characters and the world they inhabit and the overall theme and vibe of the story. It's fun! And then...at the end of your story, you get the thrill of knowing that it's almost over, that everything is coming full circle, and that you're prepared to give your readers that amazing payoff that they came for. Again, it's fun! But...there can be times when your exciting beginning is beginning to lose steam, and you're too far away from your big climax to expect to start working on it any time in the near future. And that can leave a lot of writers in limbo. Think of it like a long road trip with a bus load of children. You got them all riled up as they got on the bus and took their seats, they started making noise, conversations are flying back and forth...everybody's happy. And when you get close to your destination, that same fever hits them again. People get antsy and start wiggling and energized again. The middle of your writing project? This is the point when people start getting restless...they're running out of things to talk about...those seats get uncomfortable...and you start getting bombarded with, "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" Yeah, that's not always a fun place to be. Hehehe! Now, when I talk about getting lost in the middle, I'm talking about this from a writer's perspective. Not the readers. This is more about staying on task, maintaining focus, and keeping yourself motivated by pushing the story forward to the next meaningful event or eye-opening revelation. Don't stray too far out from your original goal and lose the road map you created to take you where you want to go. I've made that mistake a bunch of times, myself, and it can create problems in my writing that range from slow pacing, to confusing off ramps, to getting readers more involved in another story or set of characters that were never meant to take center stage in the first place. It's best to avoid those little glitches in the Matrix if you can help it. Easier said than done, but far from being as much of a pain in the ass as you may think. And the first step is being able to recognize a lull in your writing, or a disconnect between your main characters, before they get too far off the planned path. I think the key is blending your central act of the story with pieces of the earlier excitement...while adding hints and giving clues about the grand finale to follow. Not much...just a sprinkle here and there. Something to remind your audience why they started reading, and to reignite their interest in what's to come. This will keep the 'middle' of your story from coming off as boring or off topic. It will also inspire you to press on through this part of your project without giving up or going for long periods of time without an update or any significant inspiration for that part of your story. It's all about balance. You can tell when your story is dipping into the quagmire of uncertainty when you, as an author, fell some of your own excitement dying off when you sit down to continue writing. You can feel it when it becomes more difficult to figure out how you're going to connect your current events to the next big moment in your story. Just as I described it...it can feel like a wasteland. You know where you want to go, but how can you get there naturally and effectively without suddenly skipping over details or rushing through any important scenes that may come into play later. Don't do it. You may end up diminishing the impact that you want future events to have if you just try to leapfrog your way to the next part that you're excited to write about. Pay attention to these parts of your story. What's your hurry? Really take a moment and think about it. That's not to say that you should slow everything down, pacing wise, to ramble on about things that don't matter. I'm just saying that you should take the time to figure out what the important parts of your story are, and flesh them out in their entirety before skipping ahead to get to the next big fight, or the next sex scene, or the next big secret. When you feel yourself stuck in the 'valley' section of your story...take that time to really build up your characters' personalities. Add descriptions and depth to their motivations. This is an opportunity to dive deeper into the world that you've created, and give your story a few extra interesting layers. I think that's important in any story. But I also think that it's easy to go too far with that technique, and veer so far off course that your story has quite a long travel when it comes to getting back to your main point. And that's a major focus of writing any story, in any genre, no matter what. Stay...on...point! Remember that you are the one who is guiding your audiece on this journey. They're going to follow you wherever you take them on this long hike towards the ending you had planned. A wide detour can either cause them to lose interest, change their investment in your main characters, or simply forget what the main point of your story was completely. Neither one of those options are going to help you to strengthen your storytelling skills. They can only weaken them. How do you do that? First of all...teach yourself how to effectively fluctuate between your main plot and your subplots in your narrative. Subplots are your friends. But remember...they are SUBplots! Maybe you're telling an action/adventure story, but you have a romantic subplot. Maybe you have a romantic story, but with a highly dramatic subplot. Maybe you have a close friendship between your two main characters, but with a sudden sci-fi twist. Whatever it is that you're writing...find your main focus, and stick to it. Even when you're exploring other characters and their motivations for doing what they're doing. If you want to throw a romantic connection in your story? Awesome! Do it! But always be asking yourself...is this the main focus of the story? Does it plug in to the main plot somehow? More importantly, if I begin writing this out at length, will it overshadow the rest of the story and mislead my readers by sending them down a different path? If you can't easily answer these questions...then there's a chance that you're drifting of course. Explore a few other avenues if you like, and experiment with your characters for a while if you feel the need...but then make sure that you get yourself right back on task. Get back to the main highway and remember your game plan. I love playing with my own storylines and occasionally just having people talk and laugh and interact in ways that aren't a part of the main story...but I always try to make sure that I treat my main goal like a powerful 'magnet' that is constantly pulling me back to where I need to be. It keeps me from pouring too much energy into my story's subplots when I need to get back to the task at hand here. Does it always work? Hehehe, no! "New Kid In School"/"Kiss Of An Angel", and "Jesse-101", are perfect examples of that. But I've been working to get better at it. I really do put a lot of thought into my side characters and subplots, because I love to create a realistic, three dimensional, world for my protagonists to exist in and interact with. But sometimes...I get stuck in that exact same sand trap...and I find myself struggling to get back to my two main characters and what I really wanted to do with my story from the very beginning. And it's been a steep learning process to try to find a better balance along the way. But, like I said, it can be done. So...be sure to watch out for that 'middle story slump' when you feel yourself even a little uninspired to rush towards the next part of your story. It happens. Sometimes the excitement dims, the thrill dips between the origin and the finale, and we can find our creative juices feeling a bit sluggish between the two points. But don't sweat it. It's not a bad thing. And it's NOT writer's block. You can get that creative spark back by just concentrating on your goal for the end of your story, and coming up with a few more interesting sprinkles of conflict, doubt, danger, surprise, and joy...to get you there. It doesn't have to be anything major. Just enough to remind you and your readers of where your story began, and where it might be going if they just stick with it. K? Hehehe, every time I read back over one of these articles, I wonder if I'm doing or saying enough to get my point across. I've been doing this for so long now, that I'm sure that there's a lot I take for granted. It's like trying to teach a kid how to swim, ride a bike, or tie their shoes. I mean...do I even remember how *I* was taught to do it at this point? But I still hope that it helps a bit. If you guys have any questions, feel free to ask below! K? Take care! And happy writing! ((Hugz))
  14. Comicality

    Plotting

    Now, I know that there are people out there who hear me talking about planning and plotting out a story, and they might gloss over it and think that this is a simple part of the process. But it isn't. In fact, it's one of the most important parts of the writing process that there is, and it's something that we all need to really concentrate and focus on before we even begin writing all of the other elements of our story. It will tell you what you're most excited about writing, how to connect one event to another in a thoughtful and realistic way, and how to get rid of some of those scenes that you can probably toss out before you waste time even writing them out beyond a few notes. I wish that I could tell you how my brain works when it comes to expanding on an idea and putting all of the experiences together in a sequential order that will make sense and draw in your readers to follow your story all the way to the end. But the truth is, I don't really know how I do it. I just gather my thoughts, look at the blank screen and the keyboard, and it just makes a certain kind of sense to me. It would be like asking someone how they're able to play the piano, or ice skate, or dance. There really isn't a science to it, but you can develop instincts that will make things easier and easier over time if you keep practicing. As always, practice is everything. Putting a story plot together isn't always easy, but it's essential to know how everything is structured from beginning to end. So don't downplay its importance when you get started. For this article, we're talking about story plotting, and how to make it work for you in the most effective ways possible. You see...most people go into a story with a very vague idea of what they want to accomplish by the time they finish writing their story. Nothing wrong with that. I used to do that too when I first started out. But over time, I learned how to sharpen that focus and become more detailed in guiding my ideas in certain directions when writing a new project. Or even just a single chapter in a much larger series. I truly believe that it makes a difference in the overall presentation. Think about it like the difference between walking towards a specific tree in the middle of a wide open park...and wandering aimlessly through an entire forest of trees at random. It just helps to know where you are, where you're going, and what your goals are, ahead of time. Done right...you can use that as a literary compass to create an engaging experience for all of your readers, and really use your fiction to make a significant impact that will last long after the story ends. So...buckle up, folks! Let's talk about story plotting! On the site, I have a story called "Jesse-101: Online Celebrity" that I want to use as my example for this particular exercise. Now..."Jesse-101" isn't finished yet, so...to avoid spoilers for future chapters...I'm just going to throw in some ludicrous bullshit along the way to fill everything in and make it sound like a completed story, even though it isn't...YET. Hehehe! K? Now, for those of you who don't know, I once had a week long contest on the main Shack Forum (https://www.voy.com/15900/), because we love to play games over there! Hehehe! And I decided to test everybody's 'gaydar'! I posted videos of really cute boys doing vlogs and skits, etc...and I asked everybody watching whether or not they thought the boys were gay or straight. Just by watching their mannerisms, listening to their content, and getting a feel for who they were in a series of videos. I knew the answers ahead of time, of course...but I kept it a secret. Just to see what my readers would guess for themselves. Some were a little off, and some did better than they thought they would. Anyway, it was this exercise and these Youtube channels that led to the creation of "Jesse-101". It's a story about a teen boy that develops a huge crush on a big Youtube influencer, and discovers that he's not only openly gay, but that he only lives a quick bus ride away from him, and is definitely within reach, if only he could find the courage to go for it and take a chance at finding that dreamy boy that he randomly saw online. So...how do I plot this story out? I know what I want to happen, and I have an idea of how I'd love for things to play out, right? I get some ideas in my head, and I come up with some kind of basic idea of the story that I want to write. I'm creating a daydream scenario for my readers...and I want it to really touch on things that makes the whole fantasy feel real and enjoyable. So I begin taking notes. Nothing too specific...just notes. Where do I want to start? Where do I want it to end? And what am I trying to say? It's all about emotion. How would I feel in this particular situation? It's important to think about this stuff, because I'm trying to get my audience to feel the same way, right? And that means making a game plan that I can look at and actually SEE in order to complete my 'mission' of putting a good story together. There are people who don't need to type their plans out for their story...but I, personally, like to see the words on the screen. I like to take handwritten notes on paper. I want to have a visible document of what I had in mind when I was trapped in the moment and locked into the creative process. Even if I don't use half of those ideas in the actual story, I like having a representation of where my head was at during the creative process. So I suggest that you keep a 'junk file' somewhere in whatever word processor you use to write your stories. If you get an idea online, or a witty 'back and forth' moment of dialogue, or an idea or concept for a new story and you decide not to use it right away...open that junk file and save it for later. You'll be surprised at how many random and fleeting ideas just hit you out of nowhere...and have the potential to be seen as an absolute GENIUS choice for this story (or possibly another one, entirely) later on. So keep that junk file close and ready to go. Label you random thoughts, and save them to come back to another day. Or month. Or year. Hehehe! They matter! Trust me! This doesn't just mean a whole story, or a chapter. It can just be a sweet scene between two characters. I remember one moment that I thought up where I was like, "Wouldn't it be cute to have two boys make out while going through an automated car wash? Almost as if in desperation, because it was the only privacy they could get away from their parents and friends?" I wrote it down in my notebook, and didn't use for the story that I planned it out for, but got to add it to a different story later on, and it worked remarkably well. It went from a random thought to actually being a truly tender moment in one of my other stories that I didn't write until a long time later when I probably would have forgotten about it. And that's what 'plotting' is all about. Taking specific moments...emotionally impactful moments...and stringing them together between your main characters, in order, to tell a great story. I'm guessing the we all have a grasp on the 'three act' structure of writing a story (Beginning, middle, and end), but I'd ike to go a bit more in depth with that idea today. There's soooo much more to it than that when you really stop and think about it. There are a lot of moving parts in a single project, and while the three act rule still applies...I personally go further than that when I'm putting things together in my head. What you want to do is put many different events in their proper places and design them in a way that will work to highlight the emotions and situations in your story in the best way possible. Peaks and valleys, conflicts and rivals, surprises and plot twists. That's the secret to good plotting, in my opinion. Hmmm...now this is where I stumble around trying to explain things in words that'll make some sense as I think about them. So bear with me for a bit, k? I saw something in a writer's magazine many years ago, where the author actually used file cards to plot out their story. They were using pushpins on a board, but I gave it a try by just laying them out on the floor. Hehehe! I can honestly say that this method really helped me to think about plotting a story out in a very vivid and professional way. Basically...you get an idea for an event or a conversation that you want to take place in your story...you write it on a small file card. Just one idea. Then...when you get another idea that takes place at any other point in your story, you write it out on another card. now you've got two. You just keep going until all of your current ideas are now written on a collection of small file cards, each one separate from one another. Still following me? Ok, cool... Now, what you want to do is take those same cards, look through them, and put them in an order that makes some kind of logical sense in terms of your narrative. I can do this in my head now, but sometimes a visible, physical, representation of your thought process can be really helpful in developing those instincts that will come in so handy later on for those of you who decide to keep writing as long as you've got that creative bug under your skin. Hehehe! Especially if you're writing this story over multiple days or weeks. You don't want your brain to get all jumbled up and concerned with keeping it all in order. Give the note thing a try. It worked wonders for me. So...the question is...how can you take those engaging random events and put them into an order that won't feel awkward, boring, or confusing? Well, you do that by breaking your story down into its individual parts, and understanding what each one of those parts mean when it comes to storytelling. Having a knowledge and building up a gut feeling about the purpose and reason for each of the scenes that you've written down, will make plotting a whole lot easier than you may think. It's all about what the events mean, and what their purpose is when it comes to the art of storytelling. Think of it in measures of ten points, like this... - The Hook - The Inciting Incident - The Goal - The Plan - Obstacles And Challenges - The Build Up - The High Point - The Low Point - The Climax - The Future Now, this is a tried and true story structure that I usually use with my own work, and I often use these ten points to sort of contain and control my writing ideas, occasionally deviating from the script whenever my personal muse gives me the appropriate nudge. Hehehe! Again, I'm going to use the "Jesse-101" story to demonstrate my point here. But don't worry, I'm not giving away any spoilers about Tristan and Jesse here. Promise. So, let's say that I'm taking random notes on what I want to happen in this series. Write your notes down on your file cards and spread them out in front of you. They might look something like this... Now, I'm just sort of brainstorming at this point, but I'm trying to think of some major plot points here, twists and turns that might happen along the way, and a possible outcome. So now the question is...how do I begin putting these in order? They're there for you to play with. Rearrange them into some sort of system that works for you, and read through your story plot from beginning. And if you still feel like something feels a bit awkward about the main order of events, keep switching them around until you find something that you can be happy with. If you keep stumbling on one of your cards, and it doesn't feel like it really fits in anywhere, see if just getting rid of it will solve the problem. Sometimes I try to hod on to something that I think would really be cool...but no matter where I try to add it, it ends up coming of as clunky, or it distracts from the main plot and the characters. So I have to ask myself, if I just got rid of it altogether, will my writer 'flow' seem much smoother in its delivery? If the answer is yes...then it's gone. 'Junk file' for now, and maybe I'll update it and write it even better later on for something else. When putting events in order, think about the ten points above. You don't have to have all ten right away. Just try to see where the notes you have so far fit into your story. Ask yourself...what is the 'hook' for my story? That's the first part of the equation to figure out. For "Jesse-101", it was the fact a high school boy who's in the closet, was lucky enough to find another boy to be with and satisfy his need to find someone special to be with...only to have his heart broken later on as he discovers that he's been used and then tossed aside by the first person he trusted his heart to. Anyone reading the beginning of this story is going to immediately find themselves drawn in by the very idea of it. I'm starting off with an event that will immediately create an emotional understanding between my readers and the main character. So let's move that up to be my top card, and shuffle everything else around accordingly, like so... So where do I go from here? I've got four file cards left, but they don't really seem to 'connect' just yet. Again, I have to ask myself where these situations should land next in the story. The idea is for each event to have some sort of an end result due to the scenes before it, and an impact on the scenes to follow it. It should heighten the emotions being presented and increase the stakes. Looking at my last four cards...I can already tell that I've got a *LOT* more work to do. Why? Well look at them for yourselves... Here's why... - We've got 'Lori pushes Tristan to talk to the boy of his dreams'. Well...who is the boy of his dreams? Jesse? But we haven't even met Jesse yet. We don't know anything about him. It's safe to assume that he's cute, but nothing has happened yet to get the readers invested in him or his personality in anyway. Not only that, but that completely undercuts the pain of having heart broken if he can just go out and fall in love all over again with somebody else. So that wouldn't be the way to go. We can set that card aside for now. - Next, we have Tristan meeting Jesse for the first time and thinking that he's beautiful. Okaaaay...so? So what? He's at the mall on a Saturday. There are cute boys everywhere! What makes Jesse so special? This scene has no set up. It's right there with the second card. So let's put that one aside too. And if they fall in love right away and have a first date...that falls flat as well, because nothing was given to your audience to have them earn that special moment. Even if I'm writing a short story, I try to give some backstory to my characters and their interactions to make it seem like this moment has been a long time coming. Otherwise, it carries no weight. No stakes. So we can put that aside for now as well. - One card left. And that says Tristan comes out to his mom. Well...that was anti-climactic, don't ya think? If him telling his mother that he's gay was going to be that easy, with no real reward, or real consequences...then why even take the time to suggest that it would be a problem in the first place? I could have just had Tristan be out and proud from the very beginning and saved myself from wasting time even focusing on it. If there's not going to be a significant payoff to this reveal, then it's a distraction. Either build up to it, or toss it aside. You know? So...it looks like I've got a 'hook' for my story, and a handful of situations that don't really have any meaning or substance yet. I still want to keep them in the project, but let's work on a few things that we want to happen between these events to make them a little bit stronger. K? Don't get frustrated. This is how it starts. You've got to temper and fold that sword to make it sharp! It won't start out that way. Keep going! Let's say I think things out for a few minutes, examining what I've got so far, and I add another file card like this one... Ok! Now we're getting somewhere! So now I can introduce Lori into the beginning of the story, slip in some exposition about who our main character is, what he wants, and what happened between and his former jerk of a boyfriend. We get to see what their relationship is like by demonstrating it through their dialogue and sense of humor, as well as their real affection for one another. Also, we get a solid introduction to the story's love interest, and we get to see him in action as Tristan laughs along with his videos, blushes at his comments, and begins to obsess over the idea of taking the time to watch them all. Now we've got a few block pieces that actually 'fit' together without having to guess as to why they should care. The connection begins! What next? Do I want to jump forward to Lori finding out about how much Tristan likes this random boy on Youtube and then just have them drive out to the mall to seek him out? I could do that, sure. But I think I can make things a little more potent by extending that anxiety for a bit longer while taking my readers along for the ride. Maybe I let him sigh dreamily to himself for a while and then readdress some of his issues to explain he doesn't just run out there and tackle the poor boy in the mall. Maybe he thinks about the fact that he's in the closet still, or that Jesse is just too far out of his league. And keep the idea going that he's afraid of making the same mistake that he made with his first boyfriend when he went charging in blind without thinking about the heartbreak that could follow. These are all details that can add depth and emotion to your story as a whole. But...since we're just in the plotting stages right now, how about we add a moment like this one? Now we have our 'inciting incident'! This is what puts your story into motion. For anybody who wants to know, "What is this story actually about?" This is the time to show them. Put it right after the set up. Don't let it linger for too long, or it begins to get boring. This introduces elements of hope, excitement, confusion, and joy. You readers have something to work with and can start cheering your main character on as a definitive goal is brought to light. And this would be a good time to bring in one of the cards that you put aside, where Tristan's best friend, Lori, pushes him to go chasing after the boy of his dreams. We know who she is, we know who Tristan is, we know who Jesse is and why he would be so alluring to our main character. We have a goal in place, and we know why Tristan would be so hesitant that he would need encouragement to move forward. Is this starting to make sense now? I could have things move forward from there, but you guys know me and my need for teen angst! He's never been this much in love before, he's coming off of a heartbreak, he's not 'out' to anybody at school or at home, Jesse is famous and could find another boy at any moment...forcing him back to square one all over again. He's got a lot to worry about. And angst is a weapon that I wield like a battleaxe when I have to! Hehehe, so my personal choice would be to have Tristan panic and freak out and crawl back into his shell almost immediately. It's much easier to be infatuated someone when you don't have to worry about them ever finding out about it, meeting them in person, or having to actually find the courage to give them your heart while asking for theirs in return. So I might add a file card that says... Now I've got conflict involved. What's in my main character's way of finding true love right now? He's been given something to overcome. That's important. From there, you keep rearranging your ideas, finding the gaps and holes in between them that need to be explained, and seeing what you can add or take away to strengthen your most important moments so they really get to shine in the story's spotlight when you need them too. Keep adding notes, and before you know it...you'll have a whole story plotted out from start to finish. It should look something like this, with labels beside each scene to describe their meaning and purpose throughout the narrative as a whole. 00 Now, this is a bare bones plot of the "Jesse-101" series, as there is a lot of other stuff that happens, more characters, more big moments, etc....but this is something that I can use as a map so I don't find myself lost at sea with nowhere to go. Take notice of how every scene on the list is both a result of the actions preceding it, and a build up of the scene that's next to come. That's exactly what you want. It makes your story read as one cohesive piece, and not like a 'bunch of disjoint things that just happened'. I can add more notes along the way as I think of them, I can change them any time I want, and I still have the total freedom mold things the way I want to, even in a spontaneous moment of delight. You can make as many notes/cards as you want. Make thirty! Make one hundred, if you're feeling ambitious! But I think if you can come up with enough quality events to hit these ten major plot points in your writing, everything else is a pleasant bonus in the long run! Whew...that was a lot! Sorry for talking so much! Hehehe, but, as always...I hope this made sense. And I hope it helps. Cool? Have fun! And I'll seezya soon with more!
  15. Now this is something that I've always had a bit of a problem with, myself, when writing modern day characters in my stories. So if any of you guys have any ideas or hidden secrets about how to pull this off in multiple stories, or just from a variety of different characters in a single story....please feel free to add some of those tips in the replies below as I can always use more help in this area. And why not learn from my peers, some of the best there is, right? You see...and I've heard this from many of my readers as well... Many of my characters sound alike in their dialogue. Sure the situations change, and I can get away with giving their conversations a bit of a different tilt or flavor every now and then...but for the most part, I think that most of my characters really do sound alike when they're talking with one another. Because they're all individual parts of 'me', you know? It's something that I sort of struggle with from time to time, but I'm always trying to grow as a writer, and that means tackling all of the parts of my fiction that I see as problems, or potential blindspots, when I'm working. It's kind of a tough issue to tackle, because I pretty much write the way that I speak. Like...if I was sitting in a room with any one of you, and telling you that story face to face...that's would it would sound like. This is ME...talking to you and conveying a message with each and every word that I write. And that's exactly how I want it to sound. Natural. A bond between a writer and a reader where an understanding is reached and understood. I think that I've done a somewhat decent job at accomplishing that with a story for two. I'm so very proud of that. However...over time, I have written conversation after conversation, chapter after chapter, story after story...and I often worry that my main characters are all starting to sound the same, despite my massive efforts to give every story it's own feel, tone, and dialogue, of its own. I mean, I'm only one person, with one set of experiences in my own personal history...how can I possibly keep changing my speech patterns, my sense of humor, or the way that I speak in general for, yet another story on the list? It's not easy. Trust me. So...the topic for this article is about how to play with different dialogues and dialects to keep your characters separate from one another, and hopefully prevent them from all sounding like they're talking to themselves all the time instead of other people. Again, I have trouble with this myself. But I'm definitely willing to share what I've learned so far since I started, and maybe you can fill in some of the gaps on your own in the future. Since most of my stories take place during current (or at least 'modern') times...the practice of differentiating my characters through their speech has been quite a challenge for me. I wasn't really sure how to get around it or move past it as a writer. Especially since I write about teenagers. My best defense against the monotony of having every character sound the same was simply to tie their personal dialogues into the most obvious forms of their personality. Something that has been fairly effective for me over time, but...much like the dialogue itself...the personalities that I add into my fiction will eventually run out as well. The ones that I understand enough to write about with any sense of expertise or nuance, at least. So what happens then? I have characters that are very cynical, some that are selfish or angry, some that are shy and clumsy, some that are insecure and paranoid...and by matching their dialogue to those aspects of their personalities...I've been able to get readers to know who was speaking without me even having to say so in the text. Some of my characters are very energetic and somewhat childish...and I allow that to present itself in their dialogue. Other characters are very pessimistic or sarcastic, and I can do the same with their speech patterns when involved in a scene. And it was then that I realized that I wasn't getting the whole, 'all of your characters sound the same' comments that I was getting before. It gave me a few ideas, and I tried to go back and investigate things to find out why that was the case. My current conclusion? Subtle exaggeration. THAT was the missing piece of the puzzle! Now, mind you...this was many years ago...but as I was putting a ton of period pieces together for this new "GFD: Blood Bank" website that I was trying to build online, and began writing a variety of other stories that would all eventually weave themselves into the "Gone From Daylight" vampire series, all being from different eras throughout time...I started to play with the speech and interactions between my characters by trying to do a little research and hopefully capture the vibe of the era that I was writing about. The dialogue was meant to be a little exaggerated, but not by MUCH! I wanted it to sound natural, you know? Not like a cringe worthy presentation of something that sounded lame when you read it out loud. There's a balance to be maintained there. And you have to get a real 'feel' for it before you dive in head first and have your dialogue sounding like a late night B-movie on TV. But, as with all things, this is possible once you know what you're looking for and figure out what you're trying to do with it. This is a craftsman's work. Knowing your tools is the most important part of using them to work your magic. So, attempting to capture the vibe of the era that I was trying to write in, I feel like I picked up a few pointers in accomplishing what I was trying to do. When you really look deeper and figure out the language and how it has changed and evolved so much over time, you begin to see the differences in how we all relate to one another. That's why period pieces were so effective in teaching me what I needed to know in terms of switching up the language and rhythm of the dialogue that I was using when my characters spoke to one another. You have to be able to see it in action...and truly understand what makes the dialogue different. You have to have to be in the right head space when you're writing this stuff out. You've got to picture yourself there, and submit to the rules of that time period, that culture, those characters, and those circumstances. And I feel like entertainment, music and movies and literature, are the best ways to see this in action. For this particular, I want to use movies. Because I always do. Hehehe, what? It's the best audio/visual way that I have right now to demonstrate my point. Deal with it. When it comes to dialogue throughout the decades of cinema, where recreating a certain moment in time, there are differences that you can pick out and examine on your own to find out why it stands out, and how it affects the dialogue, and thus...the story itself. In the examples down below, I went through and tried to personally analyze the dialogue and figure out what the true 'essence' of it was. Like...I found the older dialogue from the film, "The Last Legion" to be almost poetic in its presentation. It's almost as if every word is crafted to impress the person you're talking to. Every line is delivered with so much depth. Epic...as if it were all being recorded for prosperity on stone tablets for later. Watching many other movies that takes place during this time period, there is a lot of dry wit, a lot of metaphor, a lot of hidden innuendo. Which is in line with what people were doing with language at the time. However, in the second example...taken from an old black and white detective perspective...the whole rhythm is different. It's more like a rapid fire witty banter type of communication. It's almost as if all of it was written to be comical or flirtatious...even when it isn't. Everyone has just the right words to say at just the right time. There's this clever back and forth that brings an energetic pace to even the most mundane of conversations. Which I think is cool as hell! Hehehe! Heavy on unspoken narration, there's a certain charm to it all that I can appreciate. Then we come to the third example from "Talk To Me", which takes place in the late 60's, early 70's. The dialogue here is much more laid back. There's a certain 'slide' to it that just feels natural and comfortable when you hear it. The slang is different, the vibe is different, the interaction is more affectionate here. It's empowering, and comes with its own sense of swagger and grace. And I love that too. Check out these three examples, and see if you can pick out your own clues to define what differentiates the three types of dialogue. Being able to recognize these differences will help you to apply the same sort of finesse to your own dialogue when it comes to whatever you writing. 000000 Recognizing the subtleties of language, slang, and era appropriate terms and references, helps to understand dialogue in a completely different fashion. It's something that I've had a lot of fun playing around with over the years, because it's an exaggerated display of how people speak differently in real life, and that helps me to translate that into my fiction. I've done a lot of experimenting with "GFD" series spinoffs, and there are more coming that you'll see by the time you read this. With a story like "Piece Of The Action", I was able to take on the character of a 'Capone' era group of Mafia gangsters. In "GFD: Children Of Sunset", I was able to use the dialect and expressions of characters that existed of the wild Westerns that I've seen in the past. "GFD: Disposal Of Flesh" is a story that takes place in the current day, but I wrote it to read like one of those old Humphrey Bogart type of film noir stories with the language that I used and the rhythm that I wrote it in. And "GFD: King's Order" that takes on an old 'knights of the round table' vibe the entire time. All of these experiments have been really eye opening to me, and I think it would be for you guys too if you gave it a try. There are also other stories like "GFD: Ammo Nation" with a current day (But still old school) British criminal flavor to it, and "GFD: Streets Run Red" with a more urban gangster feel to it. I have more stories that I've been working on, but that's where I kind of run into a few problems, here and there. I definitely want to finish "GFD: Daylight Squad", which has a bunch of kids in the 80's who find vampires living in their neighborhood...but since I'm an 80's kid myself...it's hard to have the dialogue sound 80's without sounding cheesy. Does that make sense? Like, I can write about something from the 50's, or from ancient Japan like "GFD: Blade Of Shadows", or a dark serial killer story from the 70's like "GFD: Bloodstained Duet"...but when it comes closer to the current day, I find it harder to get my characters to really sound different from one another. I don't know why...it's just difficult. I remember 80's slang, I know 90's culture...but it feels like 'cringe' for me to try to put it into a story. It feels forced. Maybe that's just me. Hehehe, but the key is to be subtle with the language and the references to avoid that problem. You don't want to be stereotypical...but you still want to exaggerate certain aspects of conversation to capture the feel, mood, and tone, of the era. In these last three examples...pay attention to the hidden flavors involved in creating the dialogue here. How are they talking to one another? Whether it be from 60's gangster speak, 90's inner city speak, or from the old West...pay attention to the words, the slang, the rhythm of their speech, and the way it's presented in each scene. They have different appeals to them, but they're not overdone. You hardly notice the dialogue differences at all when compared to how you talk to your own friends and family at all. Not if you're not looking for it. Take some time, and really study this. You'd be surprised how much insight you can gain into writing dialogue by experimenting with more exaggerated expressions of speech, and then teaching yourself to use those instincts to skillfully create engaging character dialogue on a much finer and nuanced level without having to write a period piece or shine a spotlight on character differences. It can be done. And who better to do it than you? Right? 000000 Anyway, this article is centered around the more 'amplified' ways of writing dialogue, but the point is to get you all to notice how speech can define character. And through this overemphasized series of examples, I hope that you can use that lesson to your advantage. Having your characters sound alike when they're speaking to one another isn't necessarily a bad thing. It just means that you're really connected to them and to the story itself, where you may not even realize that you're doing it. But if you can break away from the 'sameness' of having your character dialogue come off as predictable or repetitive...then that would be awesome. And it will make us all better writers in the long run. Like I said, this is something that I have problems with myself, and I'm always looking for ways to break the mold and possibly evolve beyond everything that I've done online so far. It's like I have the voices speaking aloud in my head, and I want to capture that in my writing if at all possible. That's all for today! Thanks for reading! And I hope this helps you when you're writing your next big project! I'm always in the corner for creative minds sharing themselves with the world! So go for it! And make sure to give me a wave when you hit the top! K? Hehehe!
  16. Comicality

    Time Jumps

    Time Jumps I think if I had a time machine, and went back about ten to fifteen years to meet my older self, I kind of wonder whether either one of us would really recognize one another at all. It’s a weird idea, but I don’t think we would. I certainly don’t think we’d get along. LOL! That was still the undeniable ‘work in progress’ part of me, and me now? I probably wouldn’t come off as being much fun at all. That would be crazy. The thing is, I know that a LOT has happened in my life since then, but nothing that I would ever think that I could put into a cohesive story that other people could read and make any really sense out of. It wouldn’t have any sort of real linear pattern or entertaining path because, just like everybody else, I was just winging this whole ‘life’ thing and trying to get it as right as I could possibly manage. So, if I was trying to craft the story around just those years alone, and wanted to make them interesting and easy to follow, I might leave out a lot of really good times and great events and experiences...but ones that don’t line up in a way that makes for good for fiction. Or...I could sort of have an extended preamble for everything that happens beforehand, and then pick up the story from here and now, where I’m paying more attention and life is a bit more focused than it was way back then. And the best way to do that in fiction? Time jump. Sometimes, it’s best to take your time and try to figure out where the focus of your plot is going to be, and close it off to focus on what’s most important for that particular narrative. Something to concentrate on. Like...let’s say the "Star Wars" movies. There is a lot of time and tons of major events that happens between "A New Hope", "The Empire Strikes Back", and "Return Of The Jedi". So much so that the famous opening crawl became a standard to explain it all. We’re talking about skipping over years worth struggle and triumph and betrayal and defeat...it almost seems as if the series shouldn’t make any sense at all by today’s standards. Hell the entire "Rogue One" movie was based on just one event that was alluded in that thing! Nowadays...you miss one episode of your favorite Netflix series and you might find yourself being totally lost, while your mom’s favorite daytime soap opera can go on for decades without her really much at all if she goes two or three weeks without keeping up with it. Hehehe, it all depends on the time jump and how it relates to the content. With "Star Wars"...the time jump may last for years and years, but that one opening scroll tells you what happened in between the time you left your heroes behind and are now expected to pick up where they are now. And you know...you really didn’t need to see all of the stuff as far as the main story goes. I mean, it didn’t have to be "Lord Of The Rings". It’s concentrated around a small group of protagonists, and their adventures together. Many of the events do not only really NEED to be shown for the story to work, but some of the crawls actually tell parts of the saga that might actually detract from the rest of the story. These are from the original trilogy. Read through the scrolls, and pay attention to all that’s going on here... 0000 Can you even IMAGINE how long those movies would be if you had to ‘show and not tell’ through all of those events. Look at how much happened before Luke Skywalker even shows up in the first movie? You don’t have time for each of them to have their own backstories, go on their own adventures, and accomplish their own goals, before they even meet one another. That would have a severely damaging effect on your pacing and character building along the way. Would it be interesting to see? Maybe. But how much screen time would it take to show the rebellion getting into trouble, having to hide out on an ice planet, explore the area, and build a base there? And even if you went for playing the long game...how much interest would your readers have in it? Where is everybody? What happened with Darth Vader? Is Han Solo there? Come on, let’s get back to the meat of the story already. Sometimes, if done right...time jumps can solve that problem. It allows you tighten things up a bit and get them to work a little better, in my opinion. When I decided to continue on with the "Shelter" series about the zombie apocalypse (https://imagine-magazine.org/store/comicality/), I really wanted to bring a sense of humanity to each and every individual character that was a part of the main story. But, in order to do that, I’d have to go back and use a heavy dose of flashbacks, or an unbearable amount of long and drawn out exposition that would ultimately drag the entire series down to a crawl. So my personal solution was to go back just a little bit, and create solo stories for each of the main characters to be presented on their own. To show what they’ve been through during the initial breakdown of society in general as the infection first began...and then "Shelter" (my main series) picks up a few weeks to a month later. Meaning that all of the spinoff stories pretty much have their own resolutions and character arcs as they fight to survive in their own way...and then…? Time jump! Now, there was obviously a bunch of stuff that happens between the end of their individual stories and the beginning of their presence at the shelter and their future struggles that they’ve got ahead of them...but they don’t really matter much. Not as much as the main story. You don’t want to spend time writing distractions. If you want to deliver some add information or fill in a couple of blanks that would ultimately support the story as a whole, then so be it. But only if it’s necessary, and only if it’s going to have sort of impact on the plot or on the character themselves. Otherwise, use the time jump to your advantage and simply allude to the fact that time has passed, and it wasn’t a complete snore fest. Hehehe! You can do that, you know? Just do it in small doses. So what is the science of creating an effective time jump in your story? It’s all about how long the jump is, and how much you need to happen within that amount of time. For example...let’s say that you’re building a post apocalyptic world for your story. Maybe the bomb dropped, maybe the aliens attacked, maybe the demons came up through the cracks in the ground and began devouring everything in sight. Whatever. Now you’ve got your protagonist wandering through a world that has been completely obliterated, with very few survivors, and a heavy growth of vegetation has covered the entire landscape. Well, if that’s what you’re going for...you can’t just pick up six months after the inciting incident took place. The whole world and civilization itself can seem to be pretty fragile at times, but I’d hat to think that the whole thing could be transformed into a barren wasteland in just a couple of months. Hehehe, give us a little more credit than THAT! So, if you’re going for a short jump forward in time, the events that you skipped over should match that in some way. If a nuclear bomb went off while your main character was locked in a bunker...they’re not going to just wake up a few weeks later and go walking around in the radioactive fallout. Not unless you want to tell a very quick and very tragic short story. Those events don’t match up with the time jump. You’re going to be down in that bunker for a long LONG time, buddy! So get comfortable! However, at the same time...you don’t want to jump too far ahead either unless you really need to. Examples would be like having a young Conan the Barbarian grow up to be a full grown warrior, or have a young Bruce Wayne suddenly com swooping down years later as Batman. As long as such a significant amount of passing time is deemed necessary. Don’t have ten years pass by and your protagonist comes back to the story in the same space and pretty much as the same character as they were before the time jump happened in the first place. If you’re going to skip over all of that time, there should be some changes made. Some growth. Or perhaps a hardening fall from grace. Just have it match up with your earlier depictions of your character in enough ways where it’s easy to see that they’re the same person at their core...but the span of time has definitely separated their early version of themselves from their current version. Always keep in mind that the time jump and the current events or current environment has changed quite a bit since you saw it last. K? Time jumps can be a helpful skill to have in your author’s utility belt, just do your best to figure out how it’ll best work out for the story that you’re trying to tell. Too short of a jump, and you’ll find yourself limited with a lot of the changes that you may want to make in your story. Too long a jump, and it’ll seem like nothing happened over the last five, ten, or fifteen years at all. Which will make your audience wonder why you felt the need to throw in a time jump at all. Both sides can be equally destructive if you’re not careful. So, like...be careful, then. Hehehe! Keep these things in mind...and you can’t go wrong. I truly hope that this helps you guys out with your writing process, and becomes a natural part of your personal magic. Cool? Have fun! And I’ll seezya soon with more! Best wishes!
  17. Comicality

    See It

    See It It can be a really difficult concept to grasp for a vast majority of people, you know? Especially those who don't find themselves driven by a certain creative passion. I mean, I used to think..."Well, yeah. Of course there are going to be a few people who don't understand the idea behind it, and there's no way for me to effectively explain it to them in a way where they can truly absorb the concept in the same way that I can." But after years and years of looking for kindred spirits online and offline...it became clear that most people have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about half the time when it comes to my writing or why it means so much to me. And this goes from my closest friends, to my family, to my own mother. When I talk about writing and how deeply it runs inside of me and how much I wish I could do it every second of every day...they really don't get it. This used to really baffle me at first. Sometimes, it would even frustrate me to the point of being really ANGRY that they didn't seem to want to understand what I was telling them and made a deliberate effort to keep it that way. It was like they discarded or trivialized one of the most important parts of my personality, my heart, my mind, my life...and didn't seem to feel any remorse about it. How can this be? You know? What is so complicated about what it is that I'm trying to tell you right now? But...the truth is... It IS rather complicated. To them it is at least. And what was once such a frustrating burden that made me feel isolated and disenchanted with the whole process...became a truly liberating feeling that I wasn't really paying attention to before. And if you can see I for yourselves, and truly tap into it, you will be able to raise your storytelling abilities beyond anything that you ever thought was possible before. But it takes a shift in your thinking to make that happen, and a sincere appreciation for a skill that was never meant to be explained or taught to other people. That being said... Let me take a shot at explaining this and teaching it to other people! Hehehe! See? We're making progress already! Somewhere early on in the "Gone From Daylight" series, I shared a true story of something that my art teacher once told me at a very young age. Being a huge fan of cartoons and comic books and my head full of all of these stories that I wanted to tell...I used to rally get upset and mentally punish myself for not being able to draw things and have them look the way that I wanted them to look. She could see the bitterness on my face and she would tell me to relax. Mostly because I was trying too hard and getting upset to the point where discouragement was beginning to settle in. It's at this point where a lot of people give up on something that they might end up being really good at if they can just hang in there and stick with it. And I was reaching that point at lightning speed. And I'd crumple up my paper, rip it in half, or scribble stuff out to the point of almost tearing a hole in the page. Hehehe, I was a passionate little brat. Don't hold it against me. And there was a day when I just came right out and asked her if she could just teach me how to draw. I mean, she's a teacher, right? That's her job. And even after all these years, I remember what she told me. She said, "Nobody can teach you how to draw. But I can teach you how to see." Now, I think I was in the fifth or sixth grade at the time, so that took a lot more explanation and working with me on her part, but I eventually got a hint of what she meant...and everything else began to slowly but surely fall into place after that. Not all at once, of course...but I was able to make enough progress, day after day, to keep pushing forward to see if I could get even better instead of just aggravating myself for not getting it perfect on the first try. That still sticks with me to this very day. You have to know your talents, your advantages, and the tools at your disposal. You have to know them better than anybody else out there. I'm not talking about memorizing certain rules or writing formulas or tips and tricks of the trade. You have to find, recognize, and believe in your ability to do what you do best. Seek it out. Every memory you have, every emotion you've ever felt, every interaction that you've ever had with other people (both good and bad), is something that can be mixed in with the core elements of who you are as a person. And you have no idea how brightly that shines when you find a way to pour that heart and soul into your writing in a naturally fluid and captivating manner. Hmmm...I feel like I'm losing my focus here... You know how you can walk around in your house in the dark with hardly any trouble at all? It's easier with the lights on, but you know where the couch is. You know how far the coffee table sticks out, where the light switch is in the kitchen, or how to feel around for your alarm clock even when you're half asleep. You don't have to really 'guess' at what you're doing. There's an inner sense within you that can allow you to see it without even seeing it. When you sit down at your keyboard with an idea in your head...your writing isn't all that different. You know, in your heart of hearts, exactly what it is that you have to do. Take a moment and think about it. 'See' it. I know people online who have been infinitely helpful to me online, because they can look at a computer code and figure it out as if it was easy as reading a children's book. People who can draw a million times better than I ever could when they're just absentmindedly scribbling on a piece of scrap paper to pass the time. They can play the piano, or the guitar, or match the colors of an outfit, or cook a gourmet meal, or look at a car engine and see any flaws or problems with it in a matter of seconds. If those people had to explain to me what they do and how they do it...it would be a difficult task to pull off. It's just something that they know how to do. It comes as second nature to them. How do you translate something that comes so casually to you into words that somebody else can actually understand and apply with any level of skill to their own projects, even with years and years of training? And even then they might not be able to reach a level of being unique or standing out as one of the greats. It's something to think about. But if writing is your passion...then recognizing the almost intangible nature of creating your own stories out of thin air is a way to find and sharpen your greatest instincts. Even if you never realized that you had them with you the whole time. Hehehe, why am I suddenly imagining Dorothy in "The Wizard Of Oz" clicking her heels three times to get back home? Take a look at the two videos below. This is a very very young Justin Bieber displaying a natural talent for playing the drums and keeping a steady beat. A LOT of people really cannot do this...but in the first video, he's two years old. TWO! And in the second video, he's only nine! You can't say that he's had years of instruction or formal training to be able to pull this off, because not even old enough to make that claim. BUT...he can look at a surface, get a beat in his head, and when it comes to pulling it off...he can just 'see' it. Everything is laid out right in front of him, and his brain just processes the act of manifesting that sound and creating that rhythm by allowing himself to full engage with whatever it is that he has to work with in that particular moment. It's not really what I would call a thought process...it's more like being able to identify the colors in a rainbow. You see them. You know what they are. And whether you can explain them someone else or not, you can automatically translate into something more concrete for other people to pick up on. And it only gets better with time. Just look at this for a moment... 00 Now, what you should notice right away is the fact this isn't just some rehearsed routine with rules and guidance and limitations. Somehow...what's happening here is that he is actually able to see the limitless 'colors' in his pallet when it comes to building a beat, and he's able to recreate them in a different form. One that we can hear and enjoy. There's something inside of him that he knows how to bring it to the surface for the rest of us to experience in a way similar to the way he experiences it. You can't ask him how he did that or get him to really teach you much more than the basics...but if you sat down and practiced your ass off at those basics, you might be able to see it too. Not the rules of drumming, not the rhythmic cadence needed, or how to mimic someone else's solo...but there's a barrier that you can eventually break through and understand whatever it was that Justin Bieber was able to understand as a two year old. Writing is no different, in my opinion. But you have to be able to see it. You have to be able to feel it. In your mind, there are millions of conversations, movie quotes, special moments, deep thoughts, song lyrics...ask yourself what they meant to you and why? But don't just concentrate on the translation of someone else's vision...focus on how it made you feel, and think about how you would translate that emotion into words of your very own. It takes some work and some soul searching...and there may be days when the appropriate words won't come to you right away...but don't take shortcuts. And don't feel discouraged if you have to struggle with finding a way to say what you're trying so hard to say. Visualize it. See the aura surrounding your expression and cross that bridge into making it concrete so other people can feel it too. The more you work at it, the clearer that vision will become. You will find ways to tap into a part of the creative process that many authors simply can't. Naturally, I have to go back and edit and fix up my word mechanics and check my story continuity and all of that...but that's not where the power of my story is going to come from. I'm always trying to make sure that my ideas are executed as effectively as possible...but being able to 'see' the story is the core of the story itself. And the emotional wallop is the most important part in my eyes. The rest I can fix in post. Hehehe! I have had a bunch of people tell me that they couldn't understand why I can't toss chapters out faster than I often do. They look at it like, "How hard can it possibly be to type out 3000 to 3500 words a few times a week?" And it can be really hard to get them to understand that I'm not just typing...I'm WRITING. There's a huge difference. And if they can't figure out what that difference is...I really don't know how to explain it to them. It will just have to remain my own little personal mystery until they figure out how to apply the practice to something that they're personally passionate about. It's the only way that it'll ever make sense. That's it for now! But if this made some kind of sense, and stimulated some writer's growth for you guys, then I'm glad! Feel free to add your two cents down below if you have anything to add or just want to share your own experience! It's always good to hear from a variety of perspectives, after all! Take care! Stay beautiful! And I leave you with a late teen Justin Bieber as he evolved even further by being able to see and translate his art for the masses. Some passions just become a vital part of who you are over time. So never give up! And look for my article on 'Writer Experience' a bit further down the road. You'd be surprised what's possible when you reach the higher levels!
  18. Wreckage/Redemption I, honestly, can’t help but to love a story about character redemption! We all do to some degree, don’t we? There’s just something about it that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Considering that we all have fears and insecurities, flaws and weaknesses...it’s extremely easy to relate and empathize with characters who find that special moment in time when they’re able to overcome the odds and find the courage to grow and evolve and navigate their way beyond what’s been holding them back all this time. Especially if it’s an underdog. I mean, it’s a seriously fun part of the whole hero’s journey, isn’t it? We all love to see that in the stories we allow to take a special place in our hearts, and we all secretly wish we could find those special moments in our own lives that would allow us to achieve the same level of rebirth. Who wouldn’t, right? And yet, at the same time…I definitely have my darker side. Hehehe! I mean, anybody who’s ever read some of my “Gone From Daylight” spinoffs (https://gayauthors.org/stories/browse/world/gone-from-daylight/) or my ebook exclusives like the horror themed “Darkness Waits” or the first two books of “The Boys Of Widow Lake” (https://imagine-magazine.org/store/comicality/) already knows that my mind can go to some really dark places sometimes as well! In an entertaining way, of course. Hehehe...ahem! So I also have quite the affection for stories of someone being totally wrecked as a human being. Something that I’m sure happens a lot more than any of us would like to believe, and could possibly happen to any one of us at any time. I mean, it just makes for a compelling story...seeing someone completely fall apart to the point where it’s just like, “Fuck the world! The rules don’t matter anymore!” It’s one of those ‘stare into the abyss’ situations, and I’m always intrigued by tales of people being pushed over the edge beyond the point of no return. So what is it about these types of stories that makes them so engaging for readers, how do we create the allure for them, and why is it so difficult to combine the two themes together when it comes to building a project around both of them at once? That’s what we’re going to tackle today. So grab some popcorn and your drink of choice...and let’s get into it. The thing about writing a good ‘wreckage’ story is that you want your audience to actually relate to the main character and find some sort of mirror between your protagonist and themselves that will allow them to fill in the gaps and find some level of understanding that they can follow along with, and maybe even respect on some level. This is key when it comes to a good wreckage story. You have to take someone doing some very BAD things to people...and somehow paint them as the hero of this story simultaneously. Well, maybe the word ‘protagonist’ is a better term to use here. This may sound like a difficult task, but to be honest, it’s actually pretty easy. Hehehe! I mean, I’ve always been a die hard optimist, and I do have a lot of faith in humanity...but a lot of people suck. Seriously. And don’t tell me that it hasn’t crossed your mind on a weekly, if not daily, basis! Have you ever watched a compilation of those frustrating ‘Karen’ videos on Youtube videos, and thought to yourself, “This bitch needs to get punched in her fucking mouth and dragged out of this store by her hair?” Like...how do adults get away with acting like this in a civil society. You can call me wrong for saying it out loud, but I won’t take it back. FUCK those people! Hehehe! But...would I be the ‘good guy’ if I were to haul off and throw this loudmouth brat through a plate glass store window? Probably not. But I’m willing to bet that people would applaud me if I did it anyway. People have limits. Everybody knows it. And the entitled pieces of trash who get in people faces without expecting any consequences to follow their outrageous behavior...a lot of people would cheer to see them finally learn a lesson about how to treat other people. If you’re writing a wreckage story...that’s the exact emotion and feeling of harsh justice that you need to tap into. Something that’s needed. Something that feels deserved. Even if the actions of your protagonist are irrational and possibly even criminal...your readers will be intrigued and cheer them on anyway. That’s your ‘in’. Think about what really aggravates and disgusts you about certain people in general...and translate that into conflicts and stressful situations that will get your audience to side with the ‘villain’ of the story. It’s like watching someone getting bitten by an angry dog after they’ve been poking it with a sharp stick for an hour, just to cause it harm and hear it holler. When that guy gets a bloody bite taken out of him...it’s like, “GOOD! That’s what you get, asshole!” The idea of instant karma is a powerful tool when it comes to stories like this. I think a couple of great examples of an awesome, well written, wreckage story...would be Michael Douglas’ “Falling Down” and Kevin Bacon’s “Death Sentence”. Watch both of those movies! Amazing! And again...they’re doing some really bad things, but you can’t say that (on some level, maybe on many levels) it wasn’t justified. You actually understand why they’re doing what they’re doing...bad guy or not. And something about that taps into a part of you that makes you root for them the entire time. It’s crazy. 000 With these movies you get to bear witness to the breakdown of someone who has, basically, been leveraged out of their sanity in a lot of ways. It’s almost like watching a road rage situation unfold, where people could have just left them alone and gone on with the rest of their day. It’s a dark ideology for sure, but it isn’t one that readers can’t understand once you’ve gotten them engaged in the thick of it. Accomplishing this just comes from really going into detail about the ever present pressure on your main character and the people he or she cares about. And how that pressure seems to be swelling to the point where it almost becomes unbearable for your protagonist to deal with. I truly believe that there’s a trigger within each and every single one of us that can be flipped when we’re pushed beyond our limits to contain the fury that comes from being pushed and pressed against the wall one time too many. But if you’re going to make this a major part of your story...you’re going to need to take some time to explain, in detail, why it got to that point. Otherwise, your protagonist looks like some kind of an unhinged psychopath. And that’s fine, if it’s the vibe that you’re looking for...but if not, you get the readers on your side by getting them to understand why their questionable actions could be considered an act of ‘justice’. On this side of the equation...’justice’ is your focus. K? That’s your bonding agent, right there. Now, when you swing the pendulum back the other way, and decide to tell a story of triumph and redemption...the opposite is true. In this case, it the ’INJUSTICE’ that needs to be the focus of your project, and how unfair your protagonist is being treated. It may sound backwards to some of you, but it really isn’t. By using injustice and struggle and pain as the main tools in your fiction, you tilt the path that they’re on upward, making it an uphill battle...something that seems insurmountable. A task so monumental that your main character has force their way through to the top and win despite all of the obstacles that are working so hard against them. The big the obstacles, the bigger the wins. The obstacles can be homophobia, domestic abuse, being exploited at work, sexual harassment, nuclear fall out, poverty...something that isn’t easy for your main character to ever hope to beat unless they can find strength within themselves that they never even knew was there before. This is where the injustices included in their situation connects your characters to your audience and creates that same bond that you’re looking for. A few great movies to check out as examples for this one (Out of many) would be “Colin In Black And White” and “Unbreakable”. It’s a great feeling to see someone fighting against the whole world, and to keep fighting until the world itself begins to struggle to hold its power, and is eventually forced to yield. 000 One thing that you may notice is that these examples all share something in common. They have a heavy ‘Man Vs Society’ feel to them. Which, in my opinion, is the best way to tell both a wreckage and a redemption story. I feel as though it is a much more dramatic way to go. How do you fight the whole world? When it just keeps pounding you down over and over and over again? That’s not to say that you can’t apply the same ideas to a much smaller arena when writing fiction like this and writ something just as dramatic. You can narrow the conflict to a single group of friends, a family feud, an office full of cubicles, or just two or three people. I just think the whole society thing is a bit more grandiose, so the stakes feel bigger. That’s just me, though. Hehehe! The last thing that I want to talk about is the idea that you can have both a wreckage and redemption, or a redemption and wreckage, theme in a single story. However, if I had to give a tiny bit of advice...I would say that you should change your theme from one side to the other...and then leave it there. Don’t start off as a redemption, have it spiral down into the abyss, and then try to redeem your main character again afterwards. The reverse is true, starting low, surfacing up to the light, and then going dark again. I’m sure that it can be done, and I was trying to think of an example or two that I might be able to use...but I couldn’t. I think it’s kind of a tricky thing to pull off in fiction. If you guys have any ideas, let me know. The thing is, you can start off with a noble character and have them fall to the dark side...but when you try to bring them back, it can be done...but you’ve already demonized a big part of that character’s redemption. Even when you think about Darth Vader, it’s like...hehehe, well... See what I mean? Takes on a bit of a different feel when you spend any time thinking about it. And, the other way...if you start out dark, then go to redemption route...then stay there. If the protagonist falls a second time, then the theme behind the story is ‘he failed’ in a lot of ways. And if that’s how it ends...”He tried to go straight, but had to fall back into his worst habits in order to get things done”...then it’s almost like you reward the behavior. And it saps all of the light and triumph out of the short while that your main character struggling to do the right thing. So be careful if any of you guys try mixing the two extremes. It can make for a destructive concoction if you’re not careful. Anyway, I hope this helps you guys out! And remember that there are always exceptions to every rule. So if you think you’ve got the answer and can work things out on your own, by all means, go for it! I’d love to learn, myself. Especially since I’ve experimented with it a few times in the “Savage Moon” storyline, but I tread carefully between having my protagonist travel too far on the wild side so I can still retrieve him when I need him to come back to his rational mind. Hehehe! So, we’ll see how that works out in time. Take care! Love you all! And stay beautiful, k? Seezya soon!
  19. Character Empathy As a 'self proclaimed' writer...I've found that there is no stronger, no more engaging, tool in your arsenal than character empathy when it comes to truly crafting an immersive experience when it comes to your readers' involvement in your story. This is something that a lot of writer's believe they can 'tell' their audience, and they'll obviously fall in line and agree with the author, because how you can not feel bad for people (fictional as they may be) going through such a rough time. But I think there's a lot more to it than that. There's a bigger difference between sympathy and empathy than most people can really recognize until you directly ask them to define the difference. One example always comes to mind when I think of this subtle/but not-so-subtle space between the two... I can remember driving downtown one day, and there was a church at one of my stops. And someone was getting married, and the family was there, and they were all happy and smiling and wishing them well as they were walking towards their limo to start their new life together as husband and wife. And the sympathetic part of me was like, "Awwww...that's so cute! Good for you! Whoever they are, I wish them all the best that life has to offer!" Hehehe, I'm a big softie at heart, but you guys knew that already. That's my sympathetic emotions rising to the surface and sort of putting me in their particular head space at that moment. It's awesome. Flash forward a few years...and one of my very best friends EVER was getting married. He asked me to stand with him. We've known each other since we were about thirteen or fourteen years old, and still talk often to this day. I fell sooooo hard for him in high school, and I can guarantee you that parts of our long lasting relation are threaded into the stories on this site in more ways than I could ever hope to count. Hehehe! But, even though he was straight, and I knew that I'd never get my very first dream boy like I had always wished I would...it filled my heart to the point of bursting to know that he was happy. And I balled like a baby! LOL! I really did! That was 'empathy'. I'm using both sympathy and empathy in a positive way, because I think a lot of people often look at those words as feeling 'bad' about tragic events, and it's not always about that. To put it simply...sympathy is feeling for something that's happening outside of you, and empathy is about feeling something that is inspired inside of you. To feel good or bad for something that someone else is going through is a special and lovable trait to have. Always keep that, and hold on to it for as long as you can. But...to actually be sucked IN to the situation in a way where you feel a symbiotic bond with a character's plight and truly relate to what is going on, whether they've shared the same experience or not? That's a whole other level, indeed. And it can be reached once you know what you're looking for, and build a game plan around that goal. So, let's talk about character empathy today folks! It comes with a few handy tricks that you might want to use for later. Especially if you're writing romance or erotica themed stories. Sex is just sex, no matter how amazing you might be at writing it, no matter how graphic or how metaphorical you are with the details. But if you can create an emotional space around your characters and sync yourself up with your fictional lovers and your real life readers...you'll create gold. Every time. Promise! I've found that...for a lot of people...feeling bad for someone else can be a very deep emotional involvement...but it's also temporary. Maybe I've gotten old and a bit jaded about it all...but I can remember the "We Are The World" video was the most important thing in the world. People are starving in Africa. We need to help. And then I remember AIDS being the big thing. Then breast cancer. Then the war on drugs. Then 9/11. Then Hurricane Katrina. Then the Haiti earthquake. But, let's be honest...when was the last time any of these issues led the news highlights? Do we really think that these problems have magically gone away? Cyber bullying? Teen suicide? Matthew Shepard? George Floyd? The #MeToo movement? Not 'popular' anymore? How long will it be until everybody forgets about Covid-19 and goes out for a crowded beach party? That's not a judgement on anyone who was there to give time and effort and money to those causes, and God bless those who did so! Honestly. I only use that as an example because...deep down...we're all grown up children. Caring about other people only lasts so long until it becomes all about 'me' again. It's a noble gesture, but I feel like hardly anything becomes a passion until it affects us directly. Agree or disagree, but that's truly how I feel. And I'd be a hypocrite if I tried to remove myself from that equation. Don't worry...it doesn't make any of us bad people. But it's something to take notice of when it comes to figuring out the balance between sympathy and empathy. To write characters and storylines that will ultimately get your audience to truly be involved in your narrative...you can't just tell a good story from the outside. You have to connect. It has to be about THEM, and not just the characters themselves. I don't want to insult any of my readers in any way, shape, or form...but the brutal reality of gaining a captivated audience comes from making your project somewhat of a selfish experience. (Ugh! I feel so dirty saying it like that!) It's a part of the art and the craft that you have at your fingertips. Readers who feel as though they are participating and living through the story that you've laid out in front of them will be the most loyal and most helpful (and occasionally, the most critical...but in a good way) readers that you will ever have. Don't ever be afraid to include them in ways that will compel them to form a symbiotic bond with your characters. Even if they haven't been through the same experiences in their lives, the emotions will still snatch them up, regardless...and truly force them into investing all the emotion they have into every word that you type out on that screen. When I was writing "My Only Escape" about severe childhood abuse, many of the comments that I got from the first few chapters on the site or the library or in my emails drifted between, "Oh God! That's EXACTLY what it feels like! How did you know?" and "Oh God! This is to much! I can't read this anymore!" But both are the greatest compliments that I ever could have hoped for. Because it touched the nerves that I wanted it to touch. I wanted to tell my story and have people really gt a sense for what it was really like to live that life. Not just as a bystander feeling for sorry for some poor kid who was living this way (Which could have also been successful in the long run), but as an immersive and visceral experience that really puts you in the mindset of the protagonist and SHOWS them what a life like that would really be like. This creates more than just sympathy. This is where empathy comes from. Knowledge of self leads to knowledge of others. Period. If you can bring your audience into that space...they'll understand things on a whole other level, and they'll come looking for more until the story has been told. Let me use this as my first example... Like I said, I don't want you guys to think that character empathy has to be all about tragedy and pain...and that's why I wanted to keep things light in the beginning of this article. But, since pain is a much more 'recognizable' emotion for many people...I'm going to flip the script and head in that direction to hammer home my point. Now...I've never been to war. I can't even imagine it, to be honest. I've had friends go overseas, and some of them came back changed forever. But they all came home. So, I can easily sympathize with all of the stress and harsh situations that they had to deal with. Even for people that I don't know and have never met. I salute every last one of you for being involved in whatever mess you were enlisted for. However...watch this scene from Sylvester Stallone's movie "First Blood". And if you've ever had any doubts about him as an actual actor… I think this is one of the finest performances that he's ever given in his entire career. It still brings tears to my eyes, to this day. Because there's something there that I relate to and truly understand. A soldier, coming back from war...disrespected and hunted. A true hero who's just trying to find his way back to a normal life again, and having people look down on him without having any IDEA what he had to go through to even be alive in this moment. It's so heartbreaking that it's worthy of tears. And begs the question... What would YOU do if you were in this position? Let me say that one of the most brilliant choices made in this scene is simply having John's commanding officer stand off to the side in complete silence and not say a single word. It could have easily been a 'back and forth' dialogue between the two where you have one character trying to get the other one to calm down and return to suppressing those feelings long enough to disarm him and walk him out of that place alive. But I feel as though that would have really robbed us of the humanity and the connection that we needed as an audience to really feel immersed in that situation. He's able to give a heartbreaking monologue that draws us in and creates empathy for his situation. Remember...'sympathy' comes from outside...'empathy' comes from inside. That's the difference. In the four or five minutes that it takes him to tell that story...uninterrupted...we aren't just listening to him. We BECOME him. And that makes for a much more powerful experience. I'm sure that we all have stories to tell, regrets, problems, and parts of ourselves from the past or even in the present, that we wish we could scream out loud to the rest of the world. We want to scream and cry and bare our souls for someone who's really willing to just sit there and listen...but we don't. We feel like a burden, or a maniac, or like we'll be made fun of, or have our problems minimized by people who we could never epect to understand. But you watch the scene above...and you see someone who is finally able to bleed all of that emotional poison out of their system for, what might be, the first time ever...and it becomes a cathartic sigh of relief for us all. Yes, we sympathize...but on a more 'selfish' level...he's speaking for us. He makes ME feel better! And that's what tips the scales from a great story towards it being an unforgettable moment in our lives. Master that skill with your writing? And you are bound to create classics that will stick with people of all ages long after you're gone. And isn't that the goal of every creative mind in some way? To create something that will outlive the creator? It is for me. I don't want to leave a trophy behind. I'd rather leave a footprint. The entire time that I was writing the story, "My Only Escape" (https://gayauthors.org/story/comicality/myonlyescape)...I felt like I was learning more and more about how to truly manifest a series of emotions that not only spoke to my readers, but could actually drag them, kicking and screaming, into the reality of it all. Pretty much the same way that I was, growing up. There was a scene that I vividly remember actually happening to me, where I was thrown out of the house in my sock feet in the rain, and my father refused to let me back in the house. No shoes, soaking wet...and I stayed out there in the freezing cold for a long time. Until I finally got the courage to walk a few blocks, puddles and all, to have my friend take me in for a while. But where the cruelty of that could be easily observed and understood by the people reading...what I really wanted to emphasize was the utter shame that I felt, having to make that choice. That was a chapter that took me a long time to write, because even putting myself back in that space again...it hurt. I could have skipped it...but what good would that have done me, or anybody else for that matter? It was a part of the story that needed to be there. Because, whether or not the members of my audience have ever lived through abuse...shame is something that I think we all have a shared of understanding of. And in an emotionally charged story like that, that's the kind of empathy that you would want your audience to bond with. So why not, right? Put it out there. Dig deep and bring as much honesty to your work as you're comfortable with...and then, maybe a little bit more. Alright, one more example, and then I'll stop yapping. Promise! This is a scene from the movie, "Schindler's List"...and it's another one of those specific choices in a movie that I feel was a stroke of absolute genius. Taking place during the Holocaust...this scene is jam packed with chaos and hysteria and blood and murder on an unfathomable level. Soooo many lives lost, and brutally unflinching in its depiction of the horror that those people had to go through during that time. And our protagonist (Played by Liam Neeson) is looking down on this main street with all of this going on...and the movie is shot entirely on black and white film...but there is a little girl who's wearing a red jacket. It's such a powerful moment, and it makes a huge statement about what is really going on here. That ONE flare of color draws your eye to her, and it works to give her a sense of humanity. Without that that particular attention to detail, she might just blend in with the rest of the horrific pandemonium going on all around her. The kind of violence that we, as an audience, are now becoming accustomed to and nearly desensitized to the point where we become numb to it all. But this is different. This singles someone out as being special, and we're reminded that all of these people are special. At least to somebody! Right? They're not cattle. It's not like pulling weeds out of a garden. It brings a sense of empathy rushing up at you in a really visceral way. Sure, you have sympathy for everybody involved, but human emotion can be overwhelmed at a certain point...and it's like our brains attempt to protect us by blocking it out or at least dampening its affect on us. But when you see the red coat in this black and white world...you can't help but to be drawn to it, and recognize this little girl's importance. You want to help. To protect. And now you're involved. Again...in an honorable, but somewhat selfish, kind of way. It's not an insult. It's a human trait that we all eperience from time to time. Anyway, that's my talk about character empathy and how to make that a part of your stories. It's hard to pull off sometimes, and even harder to explain with any sort of expertise, believe me...but examine your own projects and see if you can tell the difference between making your readers feel bad for a fictional character...and making them feel bad, in general, because there's no separation between them and the character, thanks to your storytelling finesse. There's a difference. And a balance. As with everything else, this all comes with hard work and practice. So the more you write, the easier it'll be for you to achieve the level of empathy the you're looking for. K? Bring your readers into your world, and keep them captivated by making their concern for your main characters a selfish pursuit. Hehehe, it's not a bad word. Selfish can work wonders when it comes to holding a reader's attention hostage for a little while. Use it to your advantage! God, I sound so manipulative right now! LOL! Let me go before I say too much! Happy writing! And I'll seezya soon!
  20. The Hero Protagonist When writing a story...there needs to be a main focus. Naturally, there can be many characters and many different events and situations surrounding that character, but I truly believe that it's important to keep things primarily concentrated on the thoughts and actions of a single protagonist in your narrative, in order to keep things tight and interesting without wandering off into La La Land. Your protagonist should be the first thing that you think about when you begin writing a story, or even start planning a story. This is your anchor. It's your number one actor on stage who gets more time in the spotlight than the rest of his or her supporting cast. And that means that this character needs to be a stand out performer. Nobody is coming to read about a secondary or tertiary character, hoping to find some kind of enjoyment in your passion project. Who is your number one 'voice' in the story that you're trying to tell? Figure that out, and assign a massive amount of the plot's heavy lifting to him or her in order to create a 'home base' for your readers to hold on to. Not only will this literary anchor keep your story from sliding off the rails and losing track of what you originally intended...but you'll be able to better use any other outside characters and their personal stories enhance that of your protagonist. Allow them to act as extra hands to work and squeeze and define your ideas when it comes to molding and shaping your main character into whatever entity you want them to be by the end of your story. That's where the magic lies. That's where you will find your greatest success in your writing, and where you'll find the strongest connections with your audience, because that is exactly what readers are looking for...and nobody else can do it the way that you're going to do it. You are a creative architect that exists outside of the realm of possibility when it comes to other writers. Use that to your advantage. Make your main character an undeniable 'hero' in your tale. Give them growth, struggle, triumph, and tragedy. This is what will keep people fixated on the story itself. It's the rope that you attach to their ankles and keep them following your main character until the very end of their journey. How do we accomplish that? Let's talk about it! I'd love to hear your thoughts, instead of the demonic voices in my head all the time! LOL! The 'hero' protagonist is the subject today! Let's sit in a semi-circle and get ready for story time, shall we? The thing about a 'hero'...is that they can be viewed from multiple perspectives, by a variety of people, each one looking at them through a different filter that is most familiar to their own point of view. You really can't expect to please everybody...but you can greatly maximize your appeal to your fanbase by attaching your protagonist's goals and motivations to emotional bonds that actually apply to all of us. Telling a personal story is golden, and I applaud that effort to be very specific and personal in your artistic expression. I think we all need a few of those stories from time to time. But if you're looking to speak to wider audience? The key is to tap into emotions that I dare to say are a bit more vague, and easily digested in mixed company. This is something that is easier said than done...but it CAN be pulled off! And if that's what you're feeling...and its the story you want to tell...then go for it. You might get some love for it...you might get some hate for it...but stick to your guns and do what you feel yo need to do. (Look for the article, "Against The Grain" soon for more on this!) The thing about heroes...they're about more than themselves. They are representing something bigger than themselves. Or, even better..."A hero doesn't just stand for something bigger than themselves...just something other than themselves." You don't have to be writing action or fantasy or even romance to prove this point. No matter what genre you're involved in...you create heroes by simply focusing on one main character, having your readers bond with them, and then tossing them in the meat grinder to have them come out all shiny and new on the other side! Hehehe! Trust me...if God was watching and decided to punish me for all of the hardships, heartbreaks, and devastating levels of unwarranted abuse that I've put them through over the years? I'd be speeding my way to Hell in a pink Cadillac right now! Hahaha! But...truth be told...suffering builds character. And that is the blueprint that I've been using in all of my stories from the very beginning. You may remember hearing me say that I've always used a variety of tough life lessons in order to give my main characters the kind of story arc that I want them to have from beginning to end. Experiences...you know? The journey needs to be present in my narrative in order for the proper lessons to be taught and for the story to make sense. None of us just wake up with all the answers to life's problems. We have to 'walk the path' for ourselves. Trying to avoid it only keeps us from the self reflection and blossoming wisdom needed to deal with more difficult problems further down the line. You can't just skip and jump from chapter one in a book to chapter seven and expect to know what's going on, right? I treat my writing the same way. And I often go back and make mention of the many crazy situations that my characters have been through in order to bring them to that exact point in time. I use it as a point of reference. Another plus when it comes to planning a story out WAY ahead of time instead of just 'winging' it! It makes a difference. Believe me. What turns your protagonist into a hero can only be built from his or her experiences as the story progresses from beginning to end. You can't just 'tell' your readers what's going on and why they should care. We've been through this before. Show...don't tell. It's like the difference between showing people pics on your Facebook of your trip to the beach, and them actually having them JOIN you on the beach! It's not the same thing! Even if the journey is hindered by obstacles and rocky roads...take your readers along with you. Don't cheat them out of the experience. Bring them in. I can't stress that enough when it comes to your writing. They can't feel what you feel unless you give them the opportunity to feel it for themselves. So don't be stingy with the details. And don't rush past the 'side story' stuff that you think is junk that's holding you back from the parts of the story that you want to get to further on in the story. It makes for flat characters and dismissive plot points that won't have any real impact without the proper context needed to make them stand out the way I'm assuming you would want them to. Hero protagonists aren't about being awesome people with a pure heart. I mean, I'd personally love to see where a charming and understanding and beautiful person came from and what made them that way, as opposed to just having them appear in a story, like, "Hi! I'm a good person! Can't you tell?" That immediately puts me on defense. Hehehe! Because that's exactly what a psychopath would say. Instead...take your protagonist, the one in the spotlight, and take the time needed to build them up through their good deeds and their need to help the characters around them by being strong role models for whatever thoughts and beliefs you may hold to make them the hero of this story. Take a few moments and think about what moments in your life made you who are today. Not just the happy moments...but the others too. Maybe a heartbreak or two. Maybe the first boy that you fell in love with in Junior High School, or the loss of a parent, grandparent, or guardian. The times you got into serious trouble, that time your best friend moved out of town, that job that you never got, that college that sent you a rejection letter...whatever it is...focus on it for a minute or two. And think about what it did to alter your path from that very moment until now. Capture that moment. Hold it. OWN it. And think about how it made you who you are today. For better or worse. That's the hero journey. Going beyond what you know and what's expected of you, to chase something bigger. Sometimes you succeed...sometimes you fail...but it's the journey and the motivation that makes your main character a hero. Even when it HURTS! This is something that you can weave into your stories and give them increased depth and meaning by connecting your readers' thoughts and emotions to the thoughts and emotions of your protagonist. And you can achieve this humane and sympathetic bond by putting your main characters through the most heartless pitfalls that you can think of! Hehehe! Sad, but true! But you know what? That intense and insane amount of pain and suffering that you attach to your main characters...it ends up being the shiny object that most readers gravitate to the most. Sometimes, misery, insecurity, imperfection, and struggle and strife, become the best tools at your disposal. The building blocks of an entity that is worthy of being admired and protected, simultaneously. The struggle is everything when it comes to having your audience choose and cheer for your protagonist as they would a hero... The thing is...we're all heroes of our own life stories. We always have been. I believe that it's an integral part of who we are as human beings, to seek truth and to feel as though we're all doing the right thing and fighting the good fight. Even through hard times and adversity...we carry on. Creating that in the characters that you write about has the same affect on the people reading your work. That's something that you need to understand and keep close to your heart while you're putting your project together. There is true literary 'magic' in this ideology alone. So don't let it slip past you. No amount of flashy drama, well written sex scenes, or flowery language, can take the place of a sincere connection between your audience and your characters. They should laugh when your characters laugh. They should cry when your characters cry. Use those chosen moments and details to not only inform your readers of the journey...but to include them as an active PART of it. This is where your fiction is going to find its greatest strength, because this is where the real heart and determination of your characters lie. It's not just in the obstacles facing them, or the problems that they're being forced to deal with...but in how they HANDLE those challenges as they grow and evolve from their experiences. This should be your main focus. We all have random hardships that blindside us from time to time, and there's nothing that we can do about that. But what separates us from everyone else in the same position or something similar...is how we take those situations and persevere, using our personal experiences and past mistakes to deal with it. Something that we all do in our own unique way, no matter what. Tap into that energy source, and use it to electrify your story in ways that will appeal to your audience in ways that they weren't even expecting. Trust me...you have the voice inside of you. USE IT! Who you are is a product of your past experiences, and your passions and dreams for your future. Bring that to your art, and let us all share in it with you. The struggles and disappointments and heartbreaks that you've had in your past? As bad as they may have seemed at the time...they built the person that you are today. Your friends, your relationships with your family members, the jobs you worked to pay the bills, the toys you might still have on the top shelf of a closet somewhere in your house….hehehe...they're a part of you. And a part of every life that you touch with your fiction. So take notice of it, recognize those golden moments, and own them...to fully understand what its like to be the hero of your own story. Remember...a hero's journey is originally about what has chosen your protagonist...but it's what your hero chooses from that point on that makes all the difference. An active motivation. Create compelling actions where difficult decisions need to be made, where stakes are clearly identified, and your hero is forced to navigate his or her way through it with as much skill and wisdom that they have at their disposal in order to make it safely to the other side of whatever obstacle course you've put in place to test them...and make them really earn the title of a hero. Cool? That's all for today. I hope this made some sense to you all, and that it helps you to write characters and build stories that you can be proud of in the future. Or, perhaps, to further appreciate stories that you've written in the past...simply by looking back and thinking, "I definitely had an internal instinct about this kinda thing WAY before Comsie said anything!" Hehehe! I love it! Good! Keep it up! The world won't ever reach a point where good stories aren't needed! LOL! Take care! And I'll seezya soon with more! I'll give away every 'secret' that I have, as long as it means the art of great gay fiction continues. Go! And do it better than I did! ((Hugs)) Laters!
  21. Comicality

    Catering

    Catering Ok...let me start this entire article off with three simple words when it comes to catering to your audience. K? DON’T...DO...IT!!! Please don’t. The temptation is going to be there, and you may even get a lot of praise and admiration for trying it out...but at the end of the day, the ONE thing that is going to separate you from a billion other writers online is going to be your personal voice. Your thoughts, your feelings, you sense of humor, your drama...you have a chance to tell your story, here. So tell it. Catering is only going to drop you into the ‘crabs in a bucket’ category, and you’ll never be able to effectively stand out as a writer trying to follow the popular crowd or mimicking what’s ‘hot’ in the storytelling racket right now. Today, we talk about ‘catering’, and why it’s just a bad idea, overall if you want to treat this seriously...even if it’s only a passionate hobby of yours. Now, if you happen to be thinking from the other side of the brain...there’s going to be this business model mantra constantly playing in the back of your mind that’s going to be telling you that you need to ‘give the people what they want’. Hehehe, I hear that voice all the time. And it can be really persistent to the point of annoyance sometimes, but I sort of listen to what it has to tell me, and usually just tune it out until it starts getting in tune with what I’m excited about working on. There’s got to be a compromise, you know? How can I just go out there and give the people what they want, when I don’t even KNOW what they want? Hell, there are many times when even they don’t know what they want. It’s like those days when you have the munchies for some kind of snack, but can’t find out what you have a taste for. You just know that you want something, and you don’t have it. That would make anybody miserable. But you’ve got to keep something in mind... ...If you’ve been true to yourself with your writing and the stories you had to tell...then what they really want...is YOU! They want you doing what you do, to the best of your ability, and giving it all the heart and energy that it deserves. That’s how they found you online, isn’t it? So why take over all of your ‘control’ and ruin what made it awesome? There will be a lot of times when people will do everything short of throwing a full blown tantrum, trying to convince you that they just want you to write what THEY want you to write...but that is a trap. Because what they think they want is an illusion, and they will bitch and moan and complain with every sentence that you commit to your story, only to quickly get bored with it and move on to someone else’s story without warning. The experience simply isn’t fun when they’re manipulating the outcome and know what’s going to happen every step of the way. No...that’s not your job as a writer. You write your own story, and if it’s not good enough for them, there’s plenty of other stories that might be more to their tastes. Let them go find it. I don’t want you to think that everybody who has ideas about your story is doing so with any sort of malicious intent, or that they’re trying to take over. Some do, but I’m willing to bet that a vast majority just enjoy what you do and want to read more. Just don’t allow yourself to be bullied into being a tool for somebody else’s story. You’re not just a conduit for them to channel their fantasies through. They can write a story online and post it just like you did. Don’t make it your mission to speak for them just because they’re looking for something that’s tailor made for their own satisfaction. Not only will you need get it completely right where it’ll read exactly the way they’re hoping it will, but you’ll be alienating an entire audience full of people who might be looking for something different. Remember...your readers are here for you. Ok? The stories should be an extension of you as a person. The should be able to feel your personal DNA in everything that you write, and in the way you create characters and plot out a story. Take pride in that. It’s important. There were a few writing contests in the past, here on GayAuthors as well as a couple of other sites, that I joined so I could support the sites and participate in what they were trying to do. The problem was...everybody reading at that time kind of knew who ‘Comicality’ was for the most part, and I was sort of trying to hide myself and my writing style so the story could take center stage. I didn’t want anybody voting for me just because I was Comicality. I wanted them to vote for the best story. Unfortunately, many readers figured out that it was me, regardless. Even without my name attached. But it was because my voice is woven into everything that I do. And that comes from being genuine. I sacrifice a bit of that when it comes to trying to write someone else’s story instead of one that I feel really in tune with. And if you want your work to stand out and end up being something special, both to yourself and to your readers...then you need to hold on to that. Enhance it. And don’t let anyone persuade you to do anything different, no matter how loud they scream. Keep your mind focused on the game plan and stick to what your heart is telling you. Beware the ‘idea guys’. Writing a story from beginning to end takes a lot of character building, dialogue, plot choices, connected events, and many many moving parts to pull off. It’s hard work! Trust me, I hear ya! Hehehe! You have to pour a lot of emotion and brain power into pulling off such a magnificent feat. And while there are a ton of readers that have a lot of ideas, some of them really AWESOME ideas, in fact...they’re just that. Ideas. A spark for a single scene or two that they’d love to see in your story. They might be in a constant state of, “Oh man, wouldn’t it be cool if…?” But if that’s not a part of your story, or not what you planned on...keep this in mind... ...What happens when that one scene or two is finished, once you write it into your story? Does it fit? Is it consistent with your characters’ attitudes and the experiences that they’ve been through so far? Coming up with a cool idea here and there is the easy part. But what are you going to do if you decide to ‘give the people what they want’ and find yourself painted into a corner with no idea of how to resolve that particular problem or continue on with your story as planned? It sucks being stuck. Even more so when you’re stuck trying to resolve a problem that you didn’t originally plan to add to your narrative to begin with. Like I said...it’s a trap. Avoid it at all costs, and concentrate on your own ideas until things play out the way you originally planned. Most readers with ideas or predictions really are being cool, and they have no intentions of taking control of your story. They’re just fans with great imaginations of their own. Every last one of those people are a blessing. But then...there are the other kind. And you’re going to have to have to brace yourself when dealing with them, and eventually realize that their threats aren’t really threats at all. Easier said than done at first, but it becomes easier with time. If they’re not your actual employer, contracting you for a particular job that you agreed to and signed your name to...then stay true to yourself and keep writing what you’re writing. There are some people out there who will HATE it! LOL! But it actually becomes funny after a while. So who cares? They will use tactics to psychologically bully you, but those people are all the same. Nothing changes. Recognize the signs. They’ll criticize your choices in ways that may come off as unnecessarily rude at first, but you can just let them know that you have plans for how you want your story to go, and you’re working on it. It’s a simple as that. Next, they’ll get angry and try to pressure you into doing things their way. They may even threaten to rage quit because you won’t give them what they want. “I’m not gonna read your story anymore!” Or “This is stupid! Your main character is an idiot!” Or “PLEASE add this to the story, otherwise you’ll just be ruining everything!” Stay focused. Don’t cater to them. You know how you want your story to go, right? If they don’t like it, that’s ok. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t read their messages to see if they make any valid points or are giving any constructive criticisms that might help your story elevate itself to something better...but chances are, anybody that uses that kind of language to approach you and your creative efforts doesn’t have ‘helping you out’ on their to do list. Anybody with constructive criticism will respect your creative choices, and make suggestions..not DEMANDS. If these two actions don’t work at first, their next tactic is to make their frustrations public. A tactic that is used to shame or humiliate you into surrendering to their barked orders, and to hopefully get other people on their side to gang up on you. And it can be both intimidating and hurtful at times...but, as I always ask... ...Is this YOUR story? Or THEIR story? The people with a few grand ideas aren’t putting in all the hard work and effort that you are into working your magic. They’re not staying up late at night, avoiding family and friends for silence and solitude, creating three dimensional characters, formulating a plot, connecting all of these events and writing dialogue. They’ve got three or four sentences worth of ideas and want you to do the rest. Hehehe...you trust yourself. Writing takes courage. So make choices and be decisive in your plans when it comes to the story you set out to bring to life for your readers’ enjoyment. Don’t sacrifice that for anything. At the end of the day, writing (or art in general, really) isn’t meant to be controlled. It’s merely meant to be shared. It’s yours. It’s a part of your heart that you chose to expose for the benefit of anyone and everyone who happens to come across it. If you were putting together an art gallery...it’s a collection of everything that you had to offer. There isn’t someone standing over your shoulder telling you how to paint. You weren’t worried about what’s popular or what’s trending right now. Don’t ever feel like you have to be a conduit for other people. You’re a conduit for whatever divine inspiration that you happen to be feeling at that particular moment, on that particular day, to channel whatever feelings you’re feeling. That’s it. The people who love you what you do, will ALWAYS be happy with what you put out. Because it came from you. And that makes it golden. Every single time. The people who get upset and want more, or something different, or something more relatable to their own experience….can either appreciate what you give them, or go elsewhere. It’s the internet. They’ll be ok. Hehehe! Why bully you when they have access to the same equipment and have the same amount of hours in the day as everybody else? If they’re so knowledgeable about what it takes to write the perfect online story...then why aren’t they writing it? I’d, personally, applaud them if they did! Go for it. And go do it better than I did. Nothing wrong with that. When I first found Nifty online, I started reading stories three or four at a time. Hehehe! I couldn’t get enough! But there were some that I thought were promising and I wish that they had gone another way. I wish they had ‘this’ in it...or more of ‘that’ in it. And when I got tired of wishing that somebody else could just write a story that I could really get into...I started writing my own. And the rest is history. I think everybody should give it a try. See what it’s like, and put some of those awesome ideas in your head to good use. You might just be the next big thing out there. As for me, though? I know what I love to write, and I’ve found my home in terms of writing what I want to write. Make sure that you do the same as you keep growing with every project you put out. K? Never stop striving to hit that next level. And never let someone anchor you back to Earth in order to cater to what they want. Sometimes, you just have to let that be their problem. Anyway, I hope this helps to give some perspective on the whole idea. Trust your instincts. Even when you feel like you’re the only one. Trust me...somebody out there really needs to hear EXACTLY what it is that you have to say from your heart. Don’t deprive them of that. Take care! And I’ll seeza soon!
  22. Story Endings “A part of the journey...is the end.” - Tony Stark As I’ve been working more and more on finally bringing some of my longest running stories to their grand finale at last, I can say that I’ve actually been pretty proud of taking my time and pretty much taking my time and making sure that it was done right. Or, at least the way that I had originally imagined it from the very beginning, without having to really compromise in terms of how all of the events got wrapped up. Naturally, there had to be some flexibility involved, seeing as times have changed since I first started some of these tales, and my writing abilities have also grown and evolved from what they once were. Going back to fix old mistakes and inconsistencies has been a daunting and tiresome task at times...but so totally worth it, in my opinion. I look forward to updating a lot of my older works to fit them in with the new stuff that I’m doing now. I’m expecting to have a lot of fun with that. However, while I can honestly say that there’s no better feeling in the world to an author to actually finish off a story, stand back and look at it, and see your completed work in a way that allows you to say, “Wow! I did it! I actually did it!”...there’s also a part of the process that almost doesn’t want to say goodbye to the characters that you gave birth to and raised from a little spark of an idea to the point where you can trust them enough to just let them move on and take things from there. Hehehe! I always feel it, myself. I’ve spent soooo much time with them, watching them laugh, and cry, get angry, and struggle through the awful problems that I put them through during their journey from the beginning of the story to the end. But...when it’s time...it’s time. Period. The worst things that I think a writer can do to a really good story is drag it out well beyond its welcome. It taints the genius of it by burning yourself out or allowing it to fade away as it gets stale and loses that magic that made it so special to begin with. That should be avoided at all costs, if you can help it. So let’s talk story endings today! What they mean, how to handle them, and how to send off your favorite characters with a satisfying wave and a smile to their biggest fans. The first, and most important, part of writing a decent story ending is simply tying up all of your loose ends! The exception being for those of you who are looking to continue the story with future tales or chapters later on. Otherwise, it comes off as kind of rude. Now, I’ve been guilty of doing this a few times myself in the past, mostly because I opened a can of worms in an earlier chapter that I had forgotten about by the time I had gotten to the end. Hehehe, it happens. Believe me. But I’ve learned to keep a much closer eye on such things since then. Watch for that. If you think your audience won’t notice...you’d be wrong. Put in that extra work, and make sure that you address all of the questions that you posed to your readers, all of your characters’ motivations, all of your issues and conflicts...gather them all up and make sure that you sufficiently deal with them all. Write them down if you have to. I, personally, go back and read through my entire story from the first word to the end of the final chapter (taking notes) before I sit down and work on wrapping it all out, so I don’t forget anything. I really like for my stories to come full circle in most of my work, so that everything reads as a completed work of art once it’s done. Being able to do that leads me to the next helpful tip in writing a successful finale. And that is...use ‘call backs’ to earlier chapters. Use them sparingly, but it’s always been fun for me to remind my readers that they’ve actually been on quite a journey this whole time, and all of those events, those conversations, those intimate moments between the protagonist and his love interest, have led up to this moment. They were all necessary. Lessons that needed to be learned in order for things to fall into place. So I might make a call back to something that happened waaaay back in the first chapter, or some major event that changed the whole course of the story at some point, and how they got through it. This is a technique that I often use throughout a bunch of different chapters along the way, in order to show the effects of everything that happened and giving my readers an idea as to why all of those moments were needed in order to climb up to the next step. The reason that I feel this helps the ending out by giving it a bit of extra significance is because...even if it has been an ongoing project for months or even years at that point, it still solidifies the entire story as a single cohesive experience. That’s something else that I learned from reading comic books as a kid. You’ve built an entire history here with what you’ve written. A history that you can share, and your readers can look at it like, “Oh yeah! I remember that!” Hehehe, of course, they can’t remember that, because it never happened. But in terms of writing fiction...it feels that way, just the same. That touch of story nostalgia can act as the glue that keeps everything together if you use it to your advantage. The next tip? And, hopefully, you began thinking about this at the very beginning of your project so that all of your events could somehow build up to it...but things change over time, so you may have a different outlook on things by this point. And that is...figure out whether this is going to be a happy ending, or a not so happy ending. Now, it can sometimes be cliché to have a gay fiction story end in misery and/or heartbreak...but these things do happen. And not every story has a ‘happily ever after’ when it’s finished. It’s your creation, so you get to decide how you want to handle the ending in your own way. I definitely like to wrap most of my own stories with a somewhat happy ending, or at least have them end on a ‘bittersweet’ note...but all of them won’t end that way. And I’m prepared for that, but it is what it is. I’ve found that happy endings often last longer in the hearts and minds of my audience, as they’re usually rooting for the main characters and want to feel as though all of the time and emotion that they invested in them was justified. However, sometimes you just don’t want your story to have that glittery fantasy ending that people might be hoping for. A tragic ending isn’t a bad thing. If anything, it enhances all of the good moments that come before it. (Word to the wise...have some good moments come before it! Hehehe, don’t depress your readers. Allow them to have something to appreciate and treasure in your story. Every storm has a few breaks in its severity.) Truth be told, sometimes heroes lose. Sometimes life isn’t fair, some relationships end in heartbreak, sometimes...lives are lost. It’s a part of life. And if that is your intention with your story, then stick to it, and tell it the best way that you can. I find that it’s easier for your audience to take when the pain involved with a dark or unhappy ending to your story is presented with a reflection of the good times and hope that was present in their lives before the bomb was dropped on them and screwed everything up. To create a sense of fondness for the love that was shared and the romantic giggles, nervousness, and cherished moments where only hope and magic existed throughout the earlier chapters of the story. You know...the GOOD stuff! The fun parts of being in love. So, if I’m writing a sad ending, I sort of take a ‘look at what we’ve been through together’ approach to the idea. Like...at least we had a good time while the good times lasted. You know? I think it softens the blow of an unhappy ending, without diminishing the impact of the sucker punch that is sure to be experienced by your entire audience when things don’t go the way they were expecting it to. I suggest trying to write an unhappy ending some time. It’s a challenge that I think will expand your skills and your instincts as a writer. Give it a shot. It’s an entirely different experience from the whole ‘happily ever after’ vibe. And the more your writing evolves, the more room you have to experiment with a ton of different options when it comes to finishing off your projects. Another tip? Please...have the end of your story become a culmination of everything that came before it. I mean...MATCH it up with how your story started out! Ugh! I was watching a movie not long ago, and I was totally into the premise of it and where it was going. I was invested, enjoying myself, intrigued by the mystery of it all...and then they totally didn’t stick the landing on the end of it! It was like...they didn’t even try, you know? The last twenty or thirty minutes of the movie got really weird and existential and it completely lost the feel of the story that they sold me on in the beginning. WTF??? I was more than disappointed. I was actually kinda pissed, to be honest. Imagine if someone was like, “Knock, knock!” “Who’s there?” “The theories of time travel and physical consciousness are flawed at best and need further evaluation.” Ummmm….WHAT???? What the fuck does that have to do with the beginning of the joke? Is it a joke? Did you present this as a possibility from the start? Does this ending make sense? Does this have anything at ALL to what you’ve been showing me for the last hour or more? How does this finish the story or fix anything? I was so outdone. The director like...I don’t know. It’s like he started drinking whiskey at the beginning of the movie, and by the time it came to the end he was too lopsided and drunk to make sense anymore. That’s not to say that you guys can’t be artistic and use symbolism and metaphor to make some big reveal that you feel will have real depth and meaning according to your personal definition of such a thing...but the ending didn’t ‘connect’ to anything that came before it. There were no hints or clues towards that revelation provided beforehand. None. It just came out of nowhere, and it didn’t make any sense at all. Which was upsetting, because the first two acts had gotten my attention and I was all involved now. And then you just toss me some bullshit to say, “Here. This is what it was all along. Now the movie’s over. Peace out!” Grrrrr! If you’re going to craft an effective ending for your story, I think every writer should start doing that from the very first chapter. And you craft it with the story you’re telling. Even if there’s some big plot twist or something that you want to throw in there along the way, or some kind of trick to subvert expectations...you need to build up to that in earlier chapters. You can be secretive about it, sneaking around with hidden mysteries, secrets, lines of dialogue...but make it a part of the whole story. Think of it like a math problem where your teacher wants you to show your work. Don’t just body slam your audience with a quick audience with no build up or clue that this could even be a possibility. I feel like that’s a cop out. Nobody should be reading the end to your story or series and think to themselves, “What the hell was that about?” You know? Connect your ending to the rest of the narrative. Try to avoid screeching into a 180* turn at the last moment, because that comes off as a massive stumbling block, and it’ll take a lot of your readers question whether or not the rest of the story will now mean what they built it up in their heads to mean. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be free to take chances...but if you’re going to pull something like that off, it had better connect to something that happened previously in the story. Otherwise, you negate the entire purpose of the story itself. I mean, why read the previous stuff at all if you’re just going to completely flip everything on its head at the very last minute and make the first two acts of your story irrelevant? That’s not fair to your readers. I feel like endings should have a definitive ‘cause and effect’ appeal to them. This is what brought us here to this conclusion, this is what we’ve been building up to, and this is why things happened the way they did. Without that, it feels like you’re adding the end of one story to the foundation of an entirely different story. Which feels disjointed and weird. So I’d recommend avoiding that unless you’ve got some brilliant plan to snatch the rug out from under your readers’ feet without leaving them bewildered and angry. Hehehe, and if you can figure out that particular magic trick with your writing, please share with the rest of the class! Because we’d all love to know! Me included! My last tip? Set your ending where you truly feel that it needs to be. Don’t cut it too short, and don’t drag it on for too long. There’s a balance in between, and your instincts will tell you where that balance exists if you put your faith in it and listen to what it’s saying to you. If you’re wrapping up the climax of your story, the height of the whole story, and now you feel like you’re just in a big hurry to cut it off just so you can be done with it and put it behind you? There’s a chance that your story is going to ultimately feel incomplete to your audience. Don’t just figure, “The best part is over! Now get me out of here!” You can take some extra time and settle into a satisfying ending that will be pleasing to everyone who has enjoyed the journey so far. Think of it like a parachute. Jumping out of the plane is the exciting part, sure...but you need to deploy the parachute while you’re still up high enough to safely slow down and drift down to the ground below. You don’t want to just SLAM down in the dirt and break all of your bones by coming in too hot, do you? Hehehe! Also...know when you’ve told the story that you wanted to tell. Whether it be a short story or an extended series, there’s a point where the goal has either been reached or it hasn’t been reached. It’s important to know the difference. If you have gotten past your big climactic event, then focus on showing the impact that it has had on your characters and your story as a whole. Then let it wind down naturally. Don’t keep things going when you don’t have to. It should feel like a decline in the story’s expression. Like...right after an orgasm. You’re calming down, catching your breath, feeling good...but the main event is over...until the next event begins. Hehehe, so don’t fall into a “Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King” movie type of ending, where it’s like, “Jesus...there’s MORE?!?!” It’ll make your readers restless. And the longer you drag your ending out, the more you take away from the impact of your climax. So find your balance, listen to your instincts, and give your literary opus the grand finale that it deserves. Anyway, I get a real sense of joy and relief from now being able to finish stories that I’ve been working on for years and years now. Time to make room for the new class. And believe me, I’ve got PLENTY more ideas coming that I hope will be in the same caliber as the stories that I’ve told before. But those stories have now been told, and it’s time to let them rest, once and for all. It’s a good feeling. One that I’m sure you can all relate to. I hope this helps you guys out with your writing process! And before I go, I wanted to share this one particular Creepypasta story that I listened to online, which I truly had one of the most satisfying endings that I’ve experienced in a long long time! I know that it’s long...but it’s definitely worth listening too. So if you listen to audiobooks at the gym, or when you’re walking, or just cleaning up around the house or driving back and forth to work, give this story a listen. It’s not really a horror story as much as a thriller, but I highly recommend you listen to it all from beginning to end. Now THAT’S an ending to be proud of! You’ll like it. Guaranteed. Seezya soon! Take care! Love always!
  23. Venting Machine It'll happen at some point. Don't try to dodge it, duck it, or outrun it. You can be the nicest, most docile, most hard-working person on planet Earth...you can back out of conflicts, you can work yourself to the point of utter exhaustion trying to avoid an argument or attempt to keep the peace...but that sinister beast is going to creep up, raise its head, and find you every single time. It happens. It's never a matter of 'if'...but 'when'. And all you can do is try to find healthy ways to deal with it when it comes knocking. Hehehe! Because it WILL come knocking! Trust me! But hey, we've all got creative minds here! And as writers, I believe that we have the most potent, most explosive, and most effective, forms of expression when it comes to letting that savage BEAST out of its cage! Because some people don't appreciate fucking ANYTHING! People who can't even be bothered to hit a 'like' button or give decent feedback, but still feel entitled to your talents whenever they feel like it instead of developing any talents of their own to give back. It's not right, and it's not fair, and it can make you sooooo fucking angry sometimes! ARRRGGGHHHH!!! But...don't let it get to you when you can guide that energy into creating something that you're truly passionate about instead. Use it to make you stronger. Anger weighs you down like you wouldn't believe. It burns and it rages and can ultimately cause you to destroy yourself from within if you don't learn to deal with it properly and find ways to get your sanity back. It's not a strike against you to get angry. Let's be honest...when you're an artist, no matter what your field of expertise might be...you can be a bit sensitive about the projects that you pour your entire heart into. I believe it happens to all of us at one time or another. We're all fully exposed for the world to see, and there are going to be a high percentage of readers who don't understand that. But...if you really feel like you need an immediate outlet for the feelings inside in order to keep yourself from reaching a boiling point, and are willing to put your true emotions on display without feeling as though you're being judged or looked down upon...you can channel that energy into your work and really create a visceral experience for your readers that they will definitely be able to relate to and engage with in a way that will keep them GLUED to the screen lie never before as you get that weight off of your shoulders and finally find some peace of mind simultaneous. It can be a win/win situation. You can really use that inner fury to generate emotions that you simply can't do with fictional characters and plot points alone. Something that I've learned from being pushed to the very edge of my sanity over the years myself is that it feels so much better to get rid of it. There are so many people who don't have a goddamn thing to say to me unless they're complaining about something. Not happy birthday, not Merry Christmas, not, "I heard you were sick...I hope you feel better." Nothing. And that's cool. Whatever. I'm just a faceless entity on the internet. But don't come rudely knocking when you want a new chapter of something and act like I owe it to you! Are you kidding me? Now *YOU* fucking want something, so decide to speak up??? If you want to be a silent observer, then stay silent! Fuck off! Suddenly you want me to entertain you for free just because you asked me to pop up like a genie every time you rub the lamp? No. That's not how this works. You have no 'emotional currency' with me at all. I get busy, tired, shy, and lazy, too sometimes. Go bother somebody else for your free shit before you shoot any rude comments my way. I have an infinite amount of love for people who stick with me, support me and the site and participate every once in a while. I LOVE it when they get excited! But some try to be online bullies and I really couldn't care less. I'm seriously baffled by the nerve of some of these people, I really am. Because I would never do that to another human being. Not ever. Like...what do these people see when they look at themselves in the mirror every morning? Really. It's so damn pathetic. It really is. Let me stop before I start ranting on this subject...hehehe... The more honest you are with your writing, even when it makes you feel exposed or embarrassed...the more your audience is likely to vibe with everything that you have to say. It's a part of the process. One that I think every writer should embrace and fuel with their major frustrations in life. Whether it's heartbreak, humor, or in this case...raw anger and loathing. Just remember...being able to 'vent' your wrath in a story, that comes with a few upsides and downsides as well. Hehehe, as with everything else...this has to be used with a certain level of finesse. And finesse only comes with practice. So consider this an exercise, and give yourselves time to get good at it before you just start vomiting up paragraphs of hatred all over the place. K? Remember...you're still writing an actual STORY here! Don't get too lost in an unstable tirade if you can help it. It feels good to get it out of your system...but readers can tell. Hehehe! (And if you figure out how...can you maybe give me some tips too? Because I could definitely use some. Hehehe! I've ventured off into some very dark places many times myself, and had to pull myself back together.) For anybody who hasn't been on this site for any length of time...I'll be totally honest with you and address the elephant in the room. ::Giggles:: I have a temper! A BAD one, at that! It's one of those things that I inherited from my father that I wish I could have gotten rid of years ago. No such luck. So I have definitely had my fair share of nuclear meltdowns online when someone really pissed me off. And that comes mostly from me doing everything that I could to AVOID the conflict, walk away, talk in private as opposed to making it public, going silent and letting it go, and...if they just keep pushing...I'll just let them know to knock it the fuck off and leave me alone before I make them regret it. Beyond that? I've given you every warning in the book, and you wanted to keep going...so you just get what you get at that point. Too late to play the victim now. Because I gave you a hundred chances to back the fuck away from me and stop. Now...you just get demolished! Period. So take pride in knowing that you EARNED the tears that are sure to follow. At least...that's how I used to be. Hehehe! Believe it or not, I've matured a lot since then. And I now know when people are just deliberately trying to push my buttons and pull triggers in order to get a reaction, or when they just feel entitled to my full, undivided, attention whenever they feel like it without giving anything back in return. It doesn't affect me anymore. Like....at all. It's weird, hehehe! I've had friendships dissolve, falling outs with family members, had my heart broken more times than I can count, and have been criticized and insulted in the worst ways imaginable, over the years. But I am nowhere near as angry as I used to be. And a lot of that came with me being able to channel that energy into my stories and finally dealing with parts of those conflicts that I had with myself in the past. I can go back to those stories right now if I want, and I can see my brain working to stitch up the parts of my spirit that I once thought were all damaged beyond repair. And that pain, that anger, was transformed into something positive that I could actually use to entertain and inspire others instead of swallowing it down and holding onto it. It was like having a sack full of bricks sitting in the pit of my stomach...and I finally got rid of them. They don't hurt nearly as much they did before. And I think that's the biggest benefit of allowing yourself to be open enough to tackle those furious parts of yourself, and thread them into your story so that you can explore and expand your knowledge on those feelings in an unrestricted manner and really vent in a way that might be more healthy than you ever could have fathomed. It's just fiction at the end of the day, right? Just feel the fury...and start writing. What's on your mind? What are you holding it back for? Let it go. BLEED for your art! It makes for the best creations ever! ::The Emperor's Voice:: “Let the hatred flow through you, Anakin! Gooood! Goooood!” Hehehe! I've even found that I begin suffering with moment's of writer's block while trying to get through one story or another, simply because I had something really fucking with me mentally in ways that I couldn't let go of, because I was so ANGRY!!! How can I possibly be expected to write something 'romantic' or 'cute' when all I want to do is punch a hole in the whole world??? And...over time...the answer revealed itself to me. 'Write what's in your heart right now, Comsie. And don't compromise for anyone'. Take that frustration and that pain...and feed it into your stories. You've only got one life to share your voice with other people, and that's it. So use it! I won't lie...there's nothing more theraputec than being free to do that. This is your contribution to the world. Make it count. Try it out some time if you find yourself in that particular frame of mind. Let loose once in a while. Give your civil tongue a rest and shout your personal bullshit out to the rest of the world when you feel you've had enough of holding it all in for the sake of somebody else's attitude. Fuck that. It feels good to get highlight it. Write it out, and let people know how you feel about the absolute horror that they constantly put you through when you're just trying to live a normal life like everybody else! DO IT! Why not? And if they feel offended by it...GOOD! Now you know how I feel, asshole! See? Isn't that much healthier than chopping your spouse up into little pieces and burying them in the woods, or shooting up your local Walmart? I certainly hope so. Hehehe! I was working at a record store when I first began really writing a lot of new stories for the Shack. It expanded my sense of expression of everything that I was writing before that. Life experience and all that. But...music and movies is what I really know best when it comes to giving you guys a more interactive feel when it comes to me trying to explain how I found out the many ways that I do what I'm able to do with my stories. So I'll start there. I can't lie...there was a time in the beginning when the whole 'Comicality' persona had completely overwhelmed me to the point of not being able to function in my normal life anymore. That seems like an ice age ago now, and the whole internet has changed since then...but I was dealing with heavy bouts of anxiety and paranoia and panic attacks on a daily basis. And on the other side? Severe hatred and judgment and criticism and online threats. I JUST wanted to write stories and be left alone! I did everything that I could to muster up the courage to keep going, but the amount of utter disgust and pressure and then the unbelievable praise and expectation to keep up a certain standard at all times...it was too much for me to deal with at the time. How am I going to top what I've already done with my stories? How can I not disappoint my readers? Will I ever be good enough? Am I safe? Will people out me to the whole world? Am I as sick and perverted as they make me out to be for my attractions? I wrote the story, "Untouchable", and you suddenly turn your backs on me? I'm controversial now? Now you hate me? That's fucked up! Did you even bother to read it? Fuck you TOO!!! 25 People talking to me all at once in a chatroom get mad at me for missing a message? I'm not a fucking celebrity! I'm a normal person! "You must *HATE* me, Comsie, because you won't give a total online stranger your home phone number and address and where you work and allow me to come visit you in person!!! And now I'm gonna HURT myself!!!" What do I do? There was a time when the harassment was constant. And it was a lot for me to deal with while just trying to live a normal life. I was just a fucking abused kid who had gown up and was JUST finally finding a way to heal himself for the very first time ever...and now I'm responsible for hundreds of other people who are willing to carve me up like a Thanksgiving Turkey the SECOND I make a mistake? I didn't know if I was loved or hated and those feelings could turn on a dime, any day of the week. I remember being so ANGRY during that time, and I had to channel that into my stories in order to keep from going completely crazy. But those writing sessions ended up being a really cool therapy session for me. Because that anger had to go somewhere...and it was such a relief to not have to hold onto it any more. My inner turmoil at that time? The anger, the 'celebrity' treatment, the idea that I needed to top "New Kid In School" or the "A Class By Himself" series, the hate mail and sick, bullying comments that I got over "Untouchable" from people that I once considered my friends...? It broke me down in a lot of ways. It really did. And I was trying to keep smiling through it all so I could still do all of the good things that I set out to do for those that really needed and appreciated the effort. I think this Eminem and Marilyn Manson remix reflected my emotions during this time PERFECTLY...and this was during a time when I was close to having a total mental breakdown from being a 'personality' online. I just...wasn't ready. You know? It was too much, too fast for me. And I really had a lot of problems trying to deal with it all at once like that. I was a very different person back then, but I think I had to go through that hell to find my way home again. If that makes any sense. But it was the variety of lessons that I learned during that time that allowed me understand the value of channeling my deepest, darkest, and most vulnerable, emotions into what I was writing. I think that anger is really easy to translate into words, as it doesn't care about subtlety or pulling punches once it gains momentum. And I've probably pounded my fingers against my keyboard enough times to be truly baffled that it even works anymore! Hehehe! But...as always...let me give some examples of my older work where some of my 'fictional anger' was clearly on display for everybody to see! You know...because...'honesty'! I think the first example that comes to mind for me was what I wrote in "My Only Escape" chapter 13. (https://gayauthors.org/story/comicality/myonlyescape/13), where I was literally working my ass off to put new chapters out and run the site, and keep up with the forums, and post to Nifty, and just...UGH!!! If only you guys knew how HARD it is to do this shit sometimes! It would blow your mind! Well, I was writing this story as well as many others, and I had some hardcore critics that just kept looking for something to nitpick or bitch about, no matter WHAT I did! I was really putting forth a champion effort with every chapter that I was putting out. I was working soooooo hard. Like..."Come on! Can you at least give me some credit for the emotionally draining work that I put in?" But...haters gotta hate. You know? And I really got so fucking SICK of the backhanded comments that I couldn't hold them in anymore. So I exploded and wrote my truest feelings into the story, which does play in to the ideas I had for an ending to the entire series, but this particular chapter was unexpected. Enough is enough, you know? I stopped arguing with these critics one on one, and I unleashed it all in one go, where the main character, 'Zack', was being hounded and disrespected and crushed by his writing teacher. Even though he was doing his best despite what was going on in his real life. It was a moment where I felt that I had to just let it all out and get a lot of that bullshit off of my chest. Again...anger weighs you down. And I was so fucking SICK of dealing with these people. So yeah...I used one of their favorite stories to spill my anger and disdain for what they were doing to me. And I hope they got the message. Because they pissed me the fuck off...and that's not easy to do. LOL! Another big change for me as an author concerning this topic actually came from Book Six of the ebook favorite, "The Secret Life Of Billy Chase" series! (https://imagine-magazine.org/store/comicality/) This became one of the most controversial and divisive chapters in the entire "Billy Chase" saga. And, I'll be honest...I was updating on weekly basis at the time, writing Book Five...and all people did was complain. Too much sex, not enough sex, Billy's so STUPID, the 'secrets' are pissing me off...everybody had an opinion on how much they just HATED Billy Chase! But a majority of people just forgot that he was supposed to be a TEENAGER, you know? He doesn't know everything, he makes mistakes, he has selfish tendencies, he's vulnerable to lust and carnal pleasures...but people kept complaining about how fucking STUPID he was for a sweet kid who was just trying to live his life and figure things out the best way he knew how on his own. You know? But I reached a point where I was like, "OK!!! You fuckers want Billy to be a total asshole? Then let's do it! Let's go for it!" And my entire plan for Book Six changed from what it was originally supposed to be. Instead, I gave the readers what they thought they wanted from the story that I was trying to tell. Let's just say that a vast majority of them ended up NOT liking the 'Billy' that they told me they wanted me to write. In fact, every week there was a huge discussion on the Comicality Library every week where people were super angry and rage quitting over what was going on at the time. "Ohhhh...the story sucks now, huh? Boo hoo! Maybe you should just let me write things MY way and stop bitching all the time about how you want it done YOUR way all the time." If you have a story to tell? Then tell it. Stop trying to force other people to do it for you. You've got a blank screen, an idea, and a keyboard, just like the rest of us. So do your OWN dirty work. Ya know? Stop stressing out the creators who are trying to provide some literary fireworks for you guys, and maybe take thirty seconds once a month to say THANK YOU instead of feeling like your emotional tingles aren't coming from the extremely hard work of creative people who are trying to entertain you while hoping to get a pinch of validation every now and then. If you think this shit is so easy? Then why don't YOU do it? See what it's like. Maybe then, you'll get it. For those of you who were around the Shack Out Back at the time...you may remember that I actually 'quit' for a while some years ago. I made a public announcement, and tried to finish up whatever stories that I could...I had a countdown clock and everything. I seriously felt used and corrupted beyond anything that I thought would ever be possible from just being online, and I didn't know what to do with the emotions that I was dealing with at the time. Confused. Angry. Depressed. I felt like the site and my interactions with everybody online...was doing more harm than good. I know that most of you won't remember this, but I really did leave the 'Comicality' mantle for a couple of months, where I just didn't communicate with anybody at all. No stories. no chatroom. No emails. Nothing. One night, I just realized how much my online 'Comicality' personality was draining me and making me weak inside with no payback. So I just....'quit'. I know that it came without warning, but I couldn't take any more. I was holding the anger and the sadness inside instead of pouring it into my stories where those feelings belonged. I just wanted my life back, you know? Like...why am I doing this to myself? It's not like half of them care. And I felt like I was hurting people that did care by not giving them more than I was able to give. I had a teen boy actually cut himself because I couldn't meet him in person in Chicago. People who were heartbroken because I didn't answer their email fast enough. People who just...wanted more from me than I was willing to give for the sake of my own security and safety, you know? And that took me to a really dark place, because it was like being beaten by my father all over again. I'm not good enough. I suck. I'm no 'hero'. I screw up, daily! I just...I can't be what they need me to be. I can't call you on the phone every day, I can't be some 18 year old blond surfer, I can't buy you fancy things to make you happy. I just...I CAN'T! And that sentiment found itself into a lot of my stories as well. It was like a tight knot in the center of my stomach. And I lived with it every single day as it kept getting tighter. It was killing me inside. When I left the Shack...no other song captures my honest feelings about that whole situation better than Fort Minor's, "Slip Out The Back". I mean....it just expresses soooo much of what I was feeling at that time. I wanted to keep going, but I kept getting hurt. I wanted to help other people, but I felt like I was hurting them instead. And I couldn't live with that. So I needed to vent my feelings into my stories in order to make sense of it all. Ugh...just listening to this song again, especially the third verse and chorus...it makes me a bit emotional, even now. It's like...you have so many people depending on you, and you don't know how to NOT fail, you know? I mean..."Slip out the back, and at the worst, you'll see that nobody cares" is already a defining statement. But the rest of the lyrics just...wow. Yeah. That's what it felt like. Hehehe, don't worry...we're almost done for this week! I know this is super long, but I'm going somewhere with all this, and then I'll return you to your regularly scheduled program. The whole point of posting these songs here like this while talking about writing methods this time around is because...the artists that made these songs were really FEELING something when they made them. There was a venting process that they simply didn't want to hold back any longer, and they unleashed those emotions in a way that comes off as unrestricted and unapologetic. It was the fuel to their fire, and I could feel every last bit of their frustration when I listened to them. And, when I heard them for the very first time, myself...I felt a certain kinship with every lyric and the way it was delivered. And even though some of these songs that I keep on a personal playlist that I can now listen to and tap into that deep part of my feelings came after the situation that I went through...they still mean the same to me. I still get chills. And something about them gave me silent ‘permission' to channel my own emotions into my work the same way that they did. There are things that I can talk about now that I couldn't talk about before. My fictional version of self therapy saved me a TON of money from not having to go in for the real thing. Hehehe! And that's not endorsement to avoid professional help if anyone reading this feels that they should pursue it. Mental health is important, and should be handled by the professionals. But if you want to begin by simply finding an outlet where you can be honest about anything and everything that might be bothering you, or corrupting you from the inside...sometimes writing it down can be a gateway towards getting better. It forces you to organize your thoughts and actually define what is causing you so much pain and anguish. It makes you come up with a clear vision of what's hurting you...as opposed to imagining some kind of invisible monster and saying ‘life sucks'. Well, why? When did it happen? What caused it? Etc. Take some time to explore yourself when you're angry, and find the culprit. Then explain. Show your work. Hehehe, like a math problem. Again, like I said...there's a responsibility that comes with this form of expression. Both to others and to yourself. If you want to fictionalize something tragic or painful in your life...then fictionalize it. If you had a break up with your current partner, and you write about someone with his look, and build, and name, and you put the whole situation out there where anybody reading can easily figure out who you're talking about? Well, that's not self therapy. And it's not fiction. It's an attack. Basically a declaration of war that will more likely than not end up making your situation much much worse than it was before. So...hehehe, don't. Just...don't. It's going to be tempting, I know. But try not to slander another person, or overpower them with your perspective of what went down in the first place. I think, in a lot of ways, that's an abuse of the power we wield as writers. It can be a slippery slope, and fiction should be more about your emotional expression than simply airing your dirty laundry for everybody else to see. It's a fine line, but one you can walk with perfect balance if your intentions are pure. Even when you're angry. Don't aim at ‘targets'. Captivate readers. There's a difference. Leave enough room for them to relate to your feelings while comparing it to the things they've been through. Stories work better that way, in my opinion. Alrighty, I'm done. Hehehe! That felt like a rant in itself, didn't it? But for those who didn't know where some of these pieces of my past stories came from (and possibly future pieces as well), so that you can possibly begin building a guide for a few emotional releases of your own in whatever it is that you may decide to write next. Cool? It can be a really useful and relieving tool for both you and your readers! And the personal growth that you experience in the long run is unfathomable. I speak from experience. Nowadays...I think I appreciate the complaints, the criticism, the supposed ‘triggers', the public humiliation. Because I'm free from a lot of the baggage that I was carrying with me when I first started. I've been called every name in the book now. The well's run dry. And I'm still here. It's not my fault that some people are perpetually miserable, and it's not my responsibility to make them feel better with the next chapter of a story of their choosing. Hehehe, I've been around for 25 years now, you guys. Those tricks are soooo stale now. A shrug of the shoulders, a roll of my eyes, and I'm right back on task where I need to be. There was a time when I forgot who was in control here. But I remember now. And they can deal with it...or not. Not my problem anymore. It never was. And I don't miss those emotional tantrums of mine. Such a waste of time. This song from Jill Scott? Every single lyric speaks to how I treat the whole situation now! Hehehe, and the inner misery of the people who caused it! LOL! It feels so good! You have no idea! MWAH!!! I hope this helps you guys out when it comes to your writing! I know it reads like I'm just talking about me me me, but honestly...it's about finding an important link between rough times and the artists experiencing them. It's not something that can be taught. It can only be noticed, and then developed by creating a process of your own to weave it into your work when you sit down behind this keyboard. There's got to be something within you that you want to get off of your chest. Something angry, something sad, some regret...weed it out, and try building a story around it. Something honest that will help you deal with it and, eventually...let it go. Take care! And I'll seezya next time!
  24. Genre Fatigue ::Giggles:: Really? Are people out there trying to make that a 'thing' again? It doesn't exist, you know? No, seriously...it's a business based illusion. Its not real. The idea that you cant write and release an awesome story because the 'idea' has been done to death and nobody wants to see it anymore…? Its all bullshit. Don't ever buy into that brainwashed mode of thinking about the stuff that you write. Your story is your own. Period. If there are 150 fantasy novels being released this Summer...so what? Make yours original, and there's a chance that you might surpass every last one of them. You just concentrate on telling the most potent and most exciting fantasy novel that you can. I mean...what…? What if you want to write a zombie story, or a romantic comedy, or a spy thriller? Who's to say that people have had enough of that kind of thing? Who's the judge of that sort of thing? I can guarantee you that its none of YOUR readers, if that happens to be the genre that you happen to love and feel the most comfortable with. There will be some stubborn folks out there who will dismiss your hard work just by looking at the genre alone, because they've seen it a bunch of times before in other writers fiction (And possibly done poorly), and they want to avoid your project like it's poison ivy or something because of their previous experiences with it. But you cant allow that to discourage you. Not if you really believe in what it is that you're writing. Building up writing confidence is soooo important in this game of being noticed and appreciated for your efforts! If you think you have something new and unique to offer, no matter WHAT genre you write in...then DO IT!!! I can't stress that enough! I know that a lot of people will tell you the same, and it may even be a conversation that you have with yourself from time to time...but let me speak up and tell you, definitely, that you really need to do it. Write what you feel, and do it the way YOU want to do it. If you're writing from the heart, then that means that you are going to have a slightly different take on a tried and true genre of writing? Go for it! There have been so many interpretations and variations on every kind of character, conflict, and story, that has ever been written for the sake of prosperity...that there simply can't be any reason why your own perspective shouldn't be included as a part of that human connection. No way! You've been given a voice. Use it. When you think about it...Christianity is the probably the BIGGEST widespread religion on the entire planet...and even THEY can't agree on any one way to believe or worship with anything. Christian, Evangelical, Baptist, Mormon, Catholic, Episcopalian...interpretations differ from person to person, and therefore...from group to group. So how can there be any 'fatigue' involved in any genre of storytelling? You go looking for what appeals to you on a personal level. And your readers will always remain loyal to whatever it is that you have to say with your work, no matter what. So please...PLEASE...don't fall for the smoke and mirrors trap of thinking that people will ever get bored with the stuff that you write and the way that you write it. Its a trick. And while I always encourage writers to broaden their perspectives and try writing in different genres from time to time...you don't have to leave your particular niche of writing in order to feel relevant or to chase the attention of the fanbase that you've gathered over time. You're not following them, ok? They're following you. Just do what you do, give it your all, and (popular genre be damned)...and you will succeed. Let's talk about the idea of genre fatigue today! Because its something that keeps popping up, time and time again...and I'm being serious when I say that it doesn't exist outside of what some big book publisher or movie studio can suck out of it while trying to make money. An awesome story is an awesome story...period. How do people not understand that? Now, I understand that the whole super hero movie genre thing is making billions and billions of dollars right now at the cinema. And there are people who keep saying that its all going to end and come crashing day 'any DAY now'! But...why would you wish for that to happen? Seriously. When I was a kid, comic books were everything! And the people who didn't like comic books...just didn't buy comic books. Done and done. WTF is the problem with them being popular? I grew up during the video game revolution, with mainstream rap music, with Stallone/Schwarzenegger action movies, with 'Magic: The Gathering' cards...and if you personally didnt like it...then fine. Why does it bother you so much that OTHER people like it? It seems so silly to me. I write gay teen erotica online. Thats my niche. That's what I'm most comfortable with. That is where I excel and where my fanbase comes looking for me. Is that supposed to get tiresome and repetitive to the point where nobody wants to read my stories anymore? Or at least have a sense of curiosity when it comes to how this 'new' story is going to be different from all the ones they've read before? Doubtful. Really...I highly doubt that this scenario will ever play out. Mind you, it is basically 'not-so-softcore' porn, and that will always have an audience no matter what. Hehehe! And Im well aware of that fact. But there's no fatigue involved for most of my diehard fans when I comes to the new or the continuing stories that I write online. Even the folks who holler and scream that it is...they are always right back here to complain about the next chapter within 48 hours of it being posted on the site. So….what happened to the fatigue? What happened to all of the stories being the same and having the same characters and the same plot? I thought they were tired of that stuff? Am I right? The system counts the number of views, you know? If there's a fatigue or some sort of limit set for any genre of writing, movie making, music, or any other creative endeavor...then chances are that I'm not going to live long enough to see it. Check out this short video, celebrating 75 YEARS of Superman! Comic books, TV shows, video games, movies….and you tell me if you wouldn't go out and see another Superman movie right NOW if they came out with one! Hehehe! That iconic music alone got me all emotional! Yeah...it's easy to forget, sometimes, that some of these characters and franchises have survive years and years and YEARS of changes and updates, successes and failures, fans and haters. But the KEY is to touch on something that is consistent and relatable to everybody watching and reading your work, and you keep soldiering on. Being able to plug in to this universal thread that is a part of all of us. If you can do that...then your story lives on, and can last for years and years, while still having a deep impact on whatever generation you might be able to talk to through your narrative. My personal expertise is young love. And whether my readers tap into that through their current experiences as teenagers, or through a strong sense of nostalgia as older readers...the feeling remains the same. And it NEVER gets old. It never gets stale. Not if you treat your stories the way they were meant to be treated. One genre of storytelling, whether it be erotica, horror, action, or science fiction...has a limitless variety of stories that can be told within it. New characters, new adventures, new motivations, new questions with new answers. No matter what you write...you're working with a blank canvas. Don't ever let somebody use broad strokes to classify your ideas and try to put you in a certain box or category. That's a mistake. You're a writer! The world is yours to create as you see fit. You can have a TON of different narratives existing in the same space, or within the same genre, without even breaking a sweat. And anyone who says otherwise? They simply haven't been open minded enough to have seen it done yet. Prove them wrong. Because every stroke of genius has been weighed down by the comments of people who said that it cant be done. I say, AWESOME! That means Ill be the first! Hehehe! There was a time when I never ever EVER thought that the comic books that I enjoyed as a kid would ever be made into movies that all crossover with one another! That was unfathomable to me! WTF??? But here we are...and its possible! And now they can deliver nearly THIRTY movies and TV shows to you in a row, with people still stomping their feet and hoping theyll fail, or that fatigue will set in and they'll just go away. But they DON'T go away. Is nearly fifteen years of quality material not enough? Psh...ok. Maybe you're not getting it. Hehehe! It's not up to you. It never was. Comics are where I discovered how to write stories and develop characters and crossover storylines...so maybe I'm messed up in the head too. But hey…I've been around for 25 years now. So what do I know? ::Shrugs:: Hehehe, we live in a time where there have been long running franchises that have lasted our entire lives. Why would they suddenly tire themselves out for no reason? Because this guy or that lady said they suck and don't want to be a part of the fandom? K. No sweat. More enjoyment for me. Good luck on finding something that makes you happy, instead of telling me why everything sucks all the time. What do YOU like? Have you ever asked them that? Where your personal creative touch as a writer comes into play is in your view of the situations and the characters involved. You want to write about love? Well...how many people over the countless centuries have written about love??? Forbidden love, jealousy, betrayal, romance, sacrifice? Was there ever a time where you thought you'd be the first? No, of course not. But where there have been a mind-blowing number of stories written about love since the beginning of time...your story still belongs there as one of those perspectives on the idea. This is what you have to understand before you let that weird 'crabs in a barrel' idea take a hold of you and intimidate you into thinking that you cant truly create something special from pouring your heart into a story or genre that seems saturated or over-hyped at the time. There's no fatigue on love stories. No fatigue on action. No fatigue on erotica. So why would your particular genre of choice be expected to be wearing itself out when the only reason it was so popular in the first place is because have gotten so EXCITED about looking for it online? They want to read more. And if you are confident in your abilities as a writer, then you can provide them with the goods that they've been screaming for while the 'posers' are out there are constantly trying to chase the next big thing. Hehehe, build a fortress and let it stand strong, you know? Fatigue? Psh! Do people have any idea how many stories and characters have continued on and on over decades and decades, touching and including one generation after another? Its not a 'surface appreciation' of a single part or a chapter. Its the idea and the theme and the deeper engagement that keeps people coming back for more and more. It doesn't matter if it was one movie, or a trilogy, or 25 movies! That's not what makes it work! And folks who are looking for box office numbers don't seem to be able to understand that for some reason. There's no big secret when it comes to having your stories having a sense of extended longevity during the run of your story, no matter how long it takes for them to read it all the way to the end. A huge part of that comes from getting your audience to be truly invested the main character and the other characters surrounding him or her on their journey. Even when telling a short story, Ive had readers tell me that they want more or that they hope I continue on beyond the point where I stopped. This is a good thing. That is the story beyond the story, and it creates a craving in your readers to peeking in and seeing what those characters are up to now, long after that particular story is finished and done with. What are they doing? What are they up to? Where do things go on from here? The world that you've built for your readers, as seen through the eyes of your protagonist, has become engaging enough for them to invest a piece of themselves into, where...even if it never continues...there's a tug on their heartstrings that will forever be searching for more from the story that you've written and the world that you've built around them. To accomplish that...ensures a long and successful shelflife for anything that you've shared online as a writer. Not only that, but it leaves the door open if you ever decide that there's more of a story to tell later on. It may not seem like it at the time, but you are the author of actual mythology with the stories you write. Take that in and absorb it for a moment. To this day...we are still well aware of the myths of old. Beliefs from a long forgotten era. Books that are thousands of years old, The Bible, The Greek Gods, American folk tales, Buddhist texts...they're still around. Did they 'fizzle out? Does any good story? Bottom line...write what you have in your heart, even if you have people grunting like, "UGH! Another vampire story!" Or "UGH! Another K-Pop Fanfic!" Whatever. Hehehe, do what you want to do, make it your own, and carve out your own space in the vast ocean of online mythology that we're all building each and every single day. Why hold it back? You may be the next big thing! If you have one of those idea that could possibly revolutionize the entire genre and flip it over on its head? Then SWEET!!! Do that! But if you just want to add your own take to something that's already well established in that genre of writing, hey...go for it. You're MORE than welcome to scratch out a place for yourself among the greats! You never know...you might be the stand out champion of it all. For me, personally...I always try to do something new with whatever genre I happen to be tackling at the time. Im constantly trying to find ways to bring something new to the table. But that's on a personal, writer to reader, basis. It has nothing to do with genre. Like I said...there are always an infinite amount of ideas that become possible once you get settled into a certain spot and decide to spread out. Now, I have gotten a lot of flak over the years for writing a vampire story for the Shack, especially during that whole "Twilight" phase of vampire lore...but I stuck with it, no matter what. And when the vampire genre was considered played out and overdone..."Gone From Daylight" still remained. There are sooooo many spinoffs and alternate stories surrounding that main story, that it would be difficult to keep up with them all! But that's exactly what I mean with this article...the genre never gets old or suffers from any sort of fatigue. No more than the typical 'boy meets boy' romance stories that I've written. But a change in the theme, the tone, the circumstances, the characters motivations, their history...the whole mood changes from story to story, and they will always come off as brand new and appealing to readers as long as I stay true to the ideas and the dedication that I had to the many many stories that came before them. Hehehe, anybody thinking that I could ever possibly run out of "GFD" themed stories and characters has obviously never read the stories on the "GFD: Worlds" section of the site! LOL! Yeah, they could very well go on forever. So if you're waiting for it to die off...don't hold your collective breaths! And now that my unasked for, amateur, advice is done (along with my shameless self promotion tag), I leave you all to hopefully use some of these tips to truly get into your readers bloodstream and live long and prosper throughout the rest of your writing endeavours! Remember, it's not just the story. Its not the characters. Its not your skill with words, metaphors, or symbolism. Its being able to discover and 'touch' those fundamental emotions and world views that exist within all of us. The flaws, the conflicts, the love, the anger, the sorrow. Strike those touchstones, and the masses will understand you on a level that you may not even understand yourself. Give it a shot! See what happens! Seezya soon with more! Take care! And happy writing!
  25. Comicality

    Heartbreak

    Heartbreak It hurts. If any of you guys have been through it, and I'm assuming that you all have at one time or another, same as me...you know just how much pain it can cause when it comes to experiencing a really painful heartbreak. I think the most damaging part behind the psychology of heartbreak itself is the fact that you have to willingly lower your defenses to truly love or be loved by anybody else. You have to break open. There's no way to truly enjoy and embrace love, while still keeping enough of your guard up to remain 'safe'...just in case you end up getting hurt. And that is, I believe, what is at the very core of writing about heartbreak. It's the foolishness behind leaving yourself so vulnerable to such a devastating attack, mixed with the utter betrayal of it all once it's over. And if you can re-submerge yourself into that feeling, even if only for a little while...and translate it into words that truly explain what it is, where it came from, and where you're afraid it might lead in the future...then you will be able to snatch the breath away from every last person who might be reading, and carry them back to that very same place with a sense of understanding, all while giving them something that they can truly identify with. Like I said...most of us have all been through it before. So today, we're talking about heartbreak. And even though this is your story that you'll be writing, and you control the over all outcome of what happens or doesn't happen in the end...don't expect to be any less vulnerable when you go back to channel some of those feelings into your story, experiencing them all over again as if for the first time. It can be a bit painful, I know...but when I'm writing, I still feel as though I'm doing so within a place of safety. It doesn't make it any less emotionally draining for me...but it's kind of like jumping over rooftops in a "Matrix" simulation for me at this point. I might miss a step or fall or crash through a window...but it's not all the way 'real'. I'll be ok. A few moments of self torture for my art is worth it. LOL! Omigod, how pretentious does that sound right now? Basically, the impact of adding a truly horrendous heartbreak into your work goes back to an earlier article that I wrote here for the 'Writing Tips' section of GayAuthors called, "Kill The Dog". To sum it up, it talks about really evoking the deepest of emotions in your readers when it comes to sadness and sympathy. And when writing heartbreak into your story, the same two basic rules apply. It comes down to the feelings of justice and injustice. It's not natural for us to really want to see our favorite characters hurt and heartbroken...but the weight of the heartbreak depends on their actions and what caused it to happen in the first place. For example, your audience might feel extremely bad if their boyfriend cheats on them for no apparent reason and leaves them a sobbing mess in the wake of it. But...if your protagonist was the one doing the cheating in the relationship, and it ends up costing them their boyfriend when he finds out...well, that sucks...but you kind of reap what you sow in that scenario. Do you see the difference in the impact there? Justice and injustice. Playing with the emotions that exist on either side of that fence can have very different effects in your storytelling, depending on what angle you approach them from. And I've tried to write my true feelings of heartbreak from as many angles as I possibly could so far. But there are always other avenues to explore on that front. And with this article, I'd like to go more in depth into how I look at heartbreak in fiction, and how to get as much emotion out of it as your story will allow. Full confession here... I wrote a story called "Save Or Sacrifice" (Completed) about a really bad heartbreak that I was dealing with at that time. I was sort of coming out of it when I began, but basically I had really strong feelings for someone who was gay, and I had a very close friend who was also gay, and all three of us got together to have fun for a weekend. And...basically, the two of them paired up and I was sort of booted out of the whole situation. I had known them both separately for months and poured all of my energy and my humor and my personality and my caring into both of them. Then they meet for the first time, click right away, and all of that heart was wasted. Poof. Gone. This was absolutely soul destroying to me at the time, and my heart felt like it had been completely obliterated in a single evening. To the point where I just left them to be together and went home alone in the middle of the night, in the snow. Heh...you should have seen me. I was soooo pathetic and hurt! LOL! Shivering on a late night subway train while fighting the urge to cry my eyes out. The only thing that was missing was an abused puppy and Sarah MacLachlan's "Angel" playing in the background. I mean, I can look back at it now and kind of smirk at the memory, but at the time...it felt like my whole world was coming to an end. And it had been a long long time since I hated myself that much for not being good enough. You know? But time passes...wounds heal...and when I finally got tired of feeling like shit all day and all night long for weeks on end...I channeled that pain into a story, and spilled it all out (in a fictional way) while the hurt was still fresh. Looking back at it now, I'd like to think of "Save Or Sacrifice" as a stepping stone for me as a writer. I was focused on trying to express an unfathomably bad heartbreak into words that my readers could somehow understand and possibly relate to. That part was really important to me. However, something else that I didn't want to do was demonize any of the people involved if I could help it. So instead of attacking the narrative like some kind of 'frothing at the mouth' savage...I used it as an opportunity to tackle the situation from all three sides, and create something a bit more sympathetic and somewhat emotionally 'educational' in terms of the characters involved. And that's when I began to look at the concept of writing heartbreak from three different perspectives. Something that evolved over time and a method that I still use to this day. Trust me, I've had my heart broken many more times since then, and it never gets any easier to take. But I don't want a shield from it. I don't want to build a callous and block out or numb myself from the amazing feelings that love, or even just a strong infatuation, can bring with it. But for those times when I made the wrong choices, screwed something up, or just got kicked to the side for somebody else, I often think about writing those feelings in three different manners. The exterior approach, the interior approach, and the F.Y.I. (also known as...the 'Fuck You Initiative'! Hehehe!) Let's begin with Exhibit A...the 'exterior heartbreak'. This is often used when the heartbreak is a betrayal of trust, or some sort of problem that is actually caused by someone other than the protagonist himself. This taps into the 'injustice' part of the equation, and therefore makes for a really heavy emotional part of your story. This is something that you would use for a character that you really want your readers to sympathize with. They were doing their best to do everything right, be romantic, or fun, or beautiful...and in the end, the other person just doesn't feel the same way. Whether it's unrequited love, a nasty break up, or something that simply faded away without any real explanation...this is the kind of heartbreak that your main character has to take like a sucker punch to the stomach. And it's coming from someone else, so there's really nothing else for him to do but bear the brunt of it all and wait for the pain to go away. I find this method to be really useful when the story you're writing is actually about the heartbreak itself. If that's the major focus of the project, this perspective works very well. It all depends on how you approach it in the long run. But it has a very, "What did I do to make you not like me anymore?" vibe to it. Like, how could you do this to me? And why? The second method is an interior heartache. I find this kind of perspective to be very useful when you have a character that is expressing feelings of regret, but it can be used in a variety of different ways. The interior heartache is when your protagonist swallows all of the pain and it begins to eat him alive from the inside. Instead of concentrating on someone else breaking his heart, this method is more of a sad and sullen, 'curl up in a ball and die', kind of feeling. Heh...I've been there too. Believe me. It's a method of explaining the ugliness, self doubt, and weakness, within. When your main character takes the blame for everything falling apart the way it did, whether he's really responsible or not. This is probably one of the methods that I use most often in my own writing, seeing as I'm most familiar with the feeling. This is a good way to get the emotions flowing for certain scenes, and even extended parts of your story...but I wouldn't advise using it for an entire story. Not like the exterior heartbreak maneuver. Heartbreak hurts, yes. And there are a lot of painful tears involved in struggling through it. But when you internalize that pain in your story and let it drag on for too long...there comes a point where the story begins to suffer from it. You want the pain to take center stage and have it be significant enough to get your readers to be invested and empathize with your protagonist...but you don't want your story to be downright depressing to read. I think the interior heartache method is most effective when used in short bursts here and there. Some inner monologues, some rainy days, a few tears...but don't lay it on TOO thick or you could end up losing some of your audience. At least with the exterior heartbreak, they have somebody that they can look at and find some level of emotional 'balance' and still side with your main character. There's an external enemy there, even if he didn't really do anything wrong. But with interior heartache...it's all doom and gloom, and that gets to be really heavy after a while. So be careful with how you add that to your story. Now...the F.Y.I. is a much angrier approach to the heartbreak scenario, and one that is best used for characters or former love interests that you plan to sideline or use as a motivating factor to get your protagonist to overcome the heartbreak and find something better. This is how you get your readers engaged in a way where they are cheering for your main character and push the pain aside. It's the hero's tale that many of us all wish we had whenever it came to having our hearts broken in two by someone we had deep feelings for. Tell me that you haven't thought about it! Hehehe! Somebody treats your heart like garbage, and you find yourself a perfect ten, who truly adores you for everything that you are. And even though you got hurt in the process of growing up, it's the other guy who ended up missing out. Enjoy your karma, you heartless son of a bitch! This is a method that is best used at the beginning, or at least early on in your story, in my opinion. And out of the three, this is the one that I would use most sparingly. Even if it feels fun to punish the proverbial bad guy by being the one to come out on top, you don't want to keep doing it too harshly or too often, or you end up demonizing your main character. Remember, the idea is to have your readers to cheer for your main character. And that's kind of hard to do when you turn them into a total dick. You don't want them to inflict the kind of pain on other people that was once inflicted on him, otherwise it kind of defeats the purpose of putting in the work needed to get your readers to empathize with him in the first place. When used correctly...this kind of heartbreak in your story can really push a much bigger story forward, and can be inspiring to a lot of people who have been deeply hurt before in the past. This doesn't necessarily free you up from actually addressing the heartache that your main character originally went through to get to that point, as I think it makes for a better story if you don't skip over that part of their growth and story arc...but if you've got any lingering bitterness over a past heartbreak and want to get rid of it? I say, have fun with this one. Hehehe! Anyway, when it comes to writing heartbreak into your fiction, take some time to really go back and remember what it was like to have someone do that to you in your past. Don't be scared of it...really feel it. It might hurt for a little bit, bring up some bad memories, and may even bring up a few old tears that you didn't know you had left concerning whatever happened there...but once you get yourself in the moment, take all of that emotion and all of that pain...and put it on the screen. It really does feel good in the long run. It might even help you to get the kind of closure that you were looking for. Just remember that some methods of expressing heartache hit your readers differently than others. Some should be placed at different parts in your story. And some have to be used sparingly, depending on how much of a focus they're going to have in your writing. Play around with the balance a little bit until you find something that you're comfortable with, and use it to your advantage. I've been doing this for a long time now, and I'm still learning. So don't expect everything to come to you overnight. But give it your all, each and every time you start a new story...and that skill, and those instincts, will evolve all on their own. Cool? I hope this helps! And for all of us who have had our hearts carelessly tossed into a meat grinder in the past...let's all share a group hug! (((HUGZ))) Love you all! And I'll seezya soon!
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Our Privacy Policy can be found here: Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..