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  1. Exposition Round III - Are we back for one more round, hehehe! Yes, folks! I believe that we are! When it comes to exposition, that is an entire book in itself. Learning what it is, how to use it, when to use it...when it’s too little, when it’s too much...it would be an absolutely exhausting effort to try to fill you guys in on all of it at the same time. And that’s just with the limited amount of experience that I have had with it, personally, over the years...most of it being stuff I learned through a LOT of haphazard trial and error. So I just tired to tackle the subject from a completely different angle in multiple parts whenever I got my head screwed on right and felt confident that I’d be able to make some sense out of the whole thing for anyone who was looking for a fw eta tidbits of knowledge here and there. Everything else has to be learned by just embarrassing yourself enough times to get it right. Hehehe! But we’re all creative people here...so we already know that it’s the best way to go more times than not. So make a few sandwiches, grab your particular drink of choice...maybe bring some porn along with you, as long as you’re willing to share, hehehe! And let’s get back to the ins and outs of the art of using exposition and how it can help or hurt your story, depending on how you decide to use it. Cool? If you haven’t read my previous two articles on exposition, you can find Part One at https://gayauthors.org/blogs/entry/17506-exposition/ (Dealing with what exposition really is, and what is needed and not needed for the sake of brevity and pacing) and Part Two at https://gayauthors.org/blogs/entry/18119-exposition-round-2/ (Which deals more with being able to deliver information through visuals and detail instead of just speech alone). So check those out for some of the other parts of the process that I’ve spoken about in the past. They both, basically, deal with the art of being able to say what you need to say...without saying it. On many occasions, this can be accomplished gracefully, and your story can really benefit from it. But, the question we’re tackling for Round Three is...what happens when you’re not really given much of a choice in trying to navigate your way around just coming right out and saying what you have to say so the story doesn’t stall and your attempts to avoid it become awkward and weird. I mean...sometimes it happens, you know? Prepare for it. And when it comes time to ‘tell’ over ‘show’...you want to make sure that you’ve already figured out an effective way of doing so. I have struggled with this in the past myself, and it can sometimes lead to long periods of frustrated stares at this blasted blank screen, hoping that some sort of random stroke of genius will somehow fall in my lap and free me from the temporary block. I get stuck between lacking the clever answers I was hoping for and the desire to simply cheat and skip over it so I can get back to the ‘important’ stuff...hehehe, but it is important. It isn’t going to work one hundred percent of the time...but the lack of a challenge will lead you down the road to laziness, every single time. So never give up trying. That being said...there are going to be times in your writing where the simple approach to the problem is the best one. Some important details can’t be delivered to your readers in subtle and nearly invisible ways without you having to slow everything down considerably and taking an unnecessary scenic route that might ultimately bore and frustrate your readers. Sometimes...just plain ol’ exposition is best. What you need to think about most is which forms of exposition are stronger, and which ones are weaker, in terms of delivering the same amount of information in your fiction. That’s not to say that they won’t work...it just means that you, as a writer, should always look for the strongest ways possible to get the job done. For example... How many movies have you seen in the past where a certain piece of information has to be delivered to the protagonist of the story...and they just happen to be in a bar, or a restaurant, or a convenience store...and the info just so happens to be playing on the news on a TV in the background? And they run up and tell the bartender, “Hey! Turn this up!” And the bartender actually does it, first of all (Hehehe! “Sure, random stranger!”), and everybody around them gets quiet so he or she can hear the news broadcast clearly? Not to mention that they turn up the volume at the exact moment that the newscaster repeats the news that needs to be given? Or someone calls them on the phone, like, “Are you watching the news?”...and they turn it on just in time to get all the details without interruption? Does that happen in real life? I don’t know...maybe. But I’d think it was unlikely. Now...you can easily deliver information to your audience in this manner, but I’d like to think that this is one of the ‘weaker’ ways of doing so. There’s really nothing wrong with it, per se...but I’m willing to bet that you guys already knew what I was talking about from one hundred movies you’ve seen and stories you’ve read a million times before...and that makes it cliché in a way that you might want to avoid. I’m thinking that you don’t want that. Why is it weaker? Because it feels as though it’s a story contrivance that comes out of nowhere. Very fortunate for the protagonist, but not to anyone reading. Therefore...not to anyone writing it either. If it were me, I would use the whole news broadcast thing as a last resort...but I would still use it if I thought it served the purpose that I needed it to serve. Because it really is a quick and easy way to give the main character (and thus, the audience) the information that they need to have for the story to move forward. And that’s why this form of exposition is used so much. Because it’s very useful. I hope that doesn’t sound like a conflicting flurry of advice in this article. Just keep in mind...this isn’t about good and bad uses of exposition. It’s more about stronger versus ‘not so strong’. K? As many of you guys already know, I am a hopeless insomniac, and always have been since I was a little boy. So much so that my mom just kind of gave up on trying to force m to go to bed at ‘bedtime’, and just tried to stay with me until I fell asleep naturally. Hehehe, even then, my brain was buzzing with so many ideas that I couldn’t quiet my thoughts long enough to relax. SO...I grew up watching a lot of old black and white movies and TV shows on television, and they always stuck with me. And if there was ever a long road trip that w had to take somewhere, my parents used to play these old cassette tapes in car to sort of keep me captivated by the stories and all the entire time. I still have some of those old cassettes! I would listen to the original “War Of The Worlds”, and “The Witching Hour”, and more. And one that I always had a specific fondness for were episodes of “The Shadow”! God, I know som of those old tapes by heart! Hehehe! The thing about these ‘story tapes’ is that they were played on the radio, in a time where there wasn’t a television in every household. No pictures. No stage. Nothing. Just the words you heard, a few sound effects, and a couple samples of music added here and there. Everything else? It’s ALL exposition! Every word! The rest was left up to your imagination. Back then, they didn’t really have much of a choice. But the overall effect is absolutely brilliant. I want you guys to listen to the audio of this particular episode of “The Shadow” for a few minutes. You can listen to the whole thing if you like, and find huge block of episodes on Youtube if you find you have a taste for it like I do...but I’m sure that just listening to the first five to ten minutes or so will give you more than enough context to understand the idea that I’m talking about. Check it out... The beginning of the broadcast is just the opening to introduce you to the protagonist, theme music and all. That’s exposition. This is the info you need to know in order to follow the main character on whatever adventures he plans to take you on. But listen after that. It’s just words and a few sound effects...filling in everything you need to know. Who is The Shadow? Who is he with? Where are they? Snow? Werewolf? What’s a werewolf? How long has this been going on? All of this is being given to you with words alone, in an interesting and entertaining way, without showing you a single picture. With a radio broadcast like this, way back then, you wouldn’t have the luxury of the kind of subtlety and visuals that you would have with a TV or a movie screen...but you wouldn’t have the inner monologue and narration of a full length novel either. This lies somewhere in between. Everything has to be spoken aloud in order for the rest of the story to make sense. It’s practically narration...but without the narration. Does that make sense? This is one of the reasons that I’ve always felt that one on one dialogue has always been one of the strongest methods of delivering information in your narrative, as opposed to any number of other methods that might be effective...but simply don’t deliver the same ‘punch’, you know? I guess it really depends on what kind of story you’re writing, which methods you decide to use. For example, if you’re writing a mystery from a detective’s point of view...finding clues, photographs, reading news articles, etc...might be the way to go. But if you’re writing about two college Sophomores flirting with one another at a party...I’d think having them talk and trading some witty (or perhaps some nervous) dialogue would fit better when it comes to finding out who these characters are and what their background is. I’ve been writing a gay teen story that takes place during a zombie apocalypse (How’s THAT for a way to start a paragraph! LMAO!!!) called, “Shelter” (https://gayauthors.org/story/comicality/shelter/) where the teen survivors are walled in and protected by the military in a high school that was made out to be a fortress for refugees from the outbreak...but teens are the main protagonists of the story. And something that I’ve found it difficult to do is to deliver the proper amount of information to them without them constantly having to ‘overhear’ conversations from the officers or doctors or civilians all the time. Once or twice, is fine. But seeing as it’s a serious situation and everything is being sort of kept as a secret, I really haven’t found many ways for them to figure out what’s going on without them just ‘happening’ to be hiding out in the right place at the right time. It’s what I’ve got to work with right now, but I’m constantly struggling to find other ways for them to be in the loop without having to hear everything second hand. Maybe it’s just me, but after a few times of using that trick, I feel as though it’s beginning to weaken the narrative a little bit. I’d rather find a few different sources of exposition if possible. Still….it works, and it’s effective...but I want to be as strong a writer as I can be. And drifting over to that ‘lazy’ off ramp is OH so tempting sometimes! Hehehe! Just something to think about when you’re writing. You can use exposition quickly to get your point across without having to strain yourself too much to find clever ways around...as I said before...sometimes, simplicity is best. But use it sparingly, and try to strengthen your presentation if you can. Having your protagonist looking for information and just hearing it on the news can be a bit weak. If they need to look up a specific sort of demonic possession and they Google it and it’s like, the third result on the page? Weak. Trying to find someone who can’t be found, and suddenly running into their ex-boyfriend on the street with their name and address in their phone all cued up for you? Weak. I truly believe that informative dialogue is the way to go, and that’s exactly what I learned from listening to old cassette tapes of classic radio shows in the car as a kid. So grab your influences wherever you can, and take the best parts to heart. In my story, “Gone From Daylight”, I was lucky enough to take the whole ‘fish out of water’ approach to the situation, where everyone around him was a vampire and he wasn’t. So I was able to effectively use dialogue with his companions in order to teach my protagonist (and thus the readers, remember?) how this world works and what the rules are. That takes your readers on a journey with your main character, as opposed to just following breadcrumbs from whatever knowledge you decide to drop in front of them from a journal entry or an overheard conversation. It keeps your main character driving the story forward, as opposed to simply being a passenger or a witness to what is going on around them. Also...if you go that route...please don’t reduce your protagonist to a ‘parrot’. That’s not good either. Meaning, you’ve got everybody else doing the talking, and your main character just says, “Why?” And then they dump the info on him and he says, “How?” And they dump some more info on him….rinse and repeat. Always, always, ALWAYS, have your protagonist driving the plot forward! It’s awesome to have him absorb a lot of information and use it to get the rules in order...but don’t let him drift out of the spotlight. K? Even the strongest bit of exposition can weaken your main character if your readers don’t feel like he’s directly involved anymore. Alrighty! That’s it for tonight! I hope this helps you guys out while you’re writing your next big masterpiece! We’re all just on brilliant opus away from a legacy we can be proud of, right? Hehehe! So go out there and grab the trophy! Love you lots, one and all! Take care! And stay beautiful!
  2. Read The Room When it comes to a writer having their own voice in their fiction, it sort of becomes a signature for fans of their work. It’s easily recognized, not just by the words being used or the particular flow of their storytelling ability...but sometimes it can be through the content alone. Writer’s bring a deeper part of themselves to the table. Their memories, their sense of humor, their feel for drama...both their attributes and their occasional flaws. It can be as easy to pick out of a line up as the vocal sounds of a singer or a band when you hear them. And sometimes...you don’t have to hear their voices at all. For example, I’ve heard a LOT of people play the harmonica in their music...but I KNOW when I hear Stevie Wonder play the harmonica. It’s unmistakable. I’ve heard a lot of people play the piano, but there’s something about the way that Elton John plays it that just hits different. It can’t be imitated or reproduced...there’s just a part of him that is so evident in every key. Listen for yourself. Stevie Wonder and Elton John. If you’re familiar with either one of these artists...just listen. Neither one of them says a word...but you know it’s them. You just do. 000 That being said...the point is...we write what we write, and we’re good at it. Again, being comfortable with your art is a big part of being able to manipulate, take chances, and make educated and skillful choices as to what you can do with whatever you create. Readers can tell on a subliminal level when you’re at ease with your craft. It’s a good thing. A GREAT thing! However... (Hehehe, you knew that there was a ‘but’ coming, didn’t you?) Despite getting a great deal of enjoyment out of your craft, your themes, your thoughts, your cast of characters...as an artist (and to a certain degree, an entertainer)...you have to be able to ‘read the room’. It’s an important part of writing fiction that I think some people overlook from time to time, and it doesn’t often end up with the best of results. I posted an article on niche writing not long ago, and I definitely encourage authors to make that a fun and pleasant part of the whole writing experience...but when it comes to writing anything in what you would call ‘mixed company’...knowing your audience is going to play a major part on whether or not your audience is going to truly enjoy your writing, or immediately get turned off and click away from it. And that is really bad, especially if it’s a first time reader. Chances are they’re going to judge you on that one piece of work and not come back to check out anything else of yours, expecting more of what they didn’t like about their very first experience with your writing in the first place. This means that you’re alienating your audience right off the bat, and your connection...that much needed reader/writer symbiotic relationship, is instantly broken. Once that happens, it is very VERY hard to get them to give you another shot. So always make sure that you’re putting your best foot forward. And that means developing a sense for who your audience is and what they came looking for. I understand...it’s very easy to find your writer’s voice and pursue it with some varying degrees of success, and even build up a decent sized fanbase because of it, to the point where you sort of get enveloped in that personal bubble of, “This is what I like. This is what I write. And people will love it no matter what.” But, let me tell you...nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to certain circles. Believe me, I know. At the risk of sounding insulting...that’s ego talking. There’s a huge difference between reaching out to readers, and having readers reach out to you. This is something that you need to keep in mind, no matter how much of a genius you may be at putting words together. K? Sometimes, you have to take your signature voice and practiced methods out of the equation and examine the landscape that you’re working in before rushing in blind. Because not everybody wants to hear what I have to say. I have to be prepared for that. More on this in the “Touch The Nerve” article, coming soon! When I first got the idea to write my own stories like, “New Kid In School” (https://gayauthors.org/story/comicality/newkidinschool), “A Class By Himself” (https://gayauthors.org/story/comicality/aclassbyhimself), and others...I decided that I wanted to post my stuff on the Nifty Archive. Now, I had been reading the stories posted there for quite some time before ever trying to do my own thing, and it was pretty much the only game in town for stories like mine, so I pretty much got the gist of what was going on there and decided to give it a shot. Boy meets boy, both are cute, find a reason to get them along with each other, and then have them bang like a couple of jack rabbits. Done and done. If you read a lot of my earlier work, you’ll be able to see that pattern playing out in almost every post that I put out there up until about “On The Outside”, I believe. Was I just super horny and sexually frustrated when I wrote them? Hehehe, of COURSE I was! But that wasn’t the only reason that I structured my stories in that way. I was a fan of the site, I had been reading a lot of other offerings from a lot of other writers, and I took a lot of mental notes on what kind of stories existed in that space, what was constantly being posted, and what was most popular with Nifty readers. So when it came to my first shaky tries at writing my own additions to the archive, I made sure to keep that in mind. I wanted something that would stand out, be extremely hot, but still have some heart and actual story to it. Basically, I wanted to have my writer’s voice to be heard in its truest form...but I also wanted to be aware of my audience at that time and what they might be looking for. When I started, a vast majority of Nifty’s stories was comprised of jack off stories and quick chance encounters. There are a lot of stories that I write now that would NEVER had garnered much attention way back in 1998! You guys should thank the stars for places like GayAuthors that we have now! Hehehe! ((Hugz)) Thanks Myr and crew! My stories on Nifty back then would have been too much story, too long between graphically described sex scenes, too much dialogue and teen angst...I don’t think many people would have had the patience to skip ahead to the ‘good parts’. Of course, the landscape has changed dramatically since then, and writing full stories with believable characters who aren’t always stripping down naked and screwing each other every chapter is much more common. But it wasn’t when I started. The reason that I was able to gain the love and support that I did at that time was...I was able to read the room. I was aware of my audience. I got to write what I wanted to write from my heart, but didn’t mind coating it with a little bit of fictional ‘candy’ to raise a few eyebrows here and there. That little bit of sexy homework could have been the difference between having a ‘Comicality’ and not having a ‘Comicality’. So trust me when I say that knowing your audience is ESSENTIAL to how your story is received by the people you’re sharing it with. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not at all saying that you should pander to anybody for the right to be liked or appreciated. No. That’s not necessary. I’m telling you that being aware of the kind of readers that your work is being presented to before you even begin to type those words out on the screen is going to give you an advantage by the time it’s finished and released to the public. Themes matter. Amount of sex matters. Depictions of sex matters. Language and vocabulary matters. The ages of your characters matter. Genre matters. All of these guiding lights come into play when it comes to sharing your projects with whatever group you happen to be in league with at that time. If you’re writing for a younger preteen audience...you can’t submit something graphically or overtly sexual. If you’re on a site for modern love and romance stories, submitting something that edges more on being a grotesque horror, blood and gore, story isn’t going to play well with a majority of your audience. If people are looking for something adhering to a certain theme or a subject, you cant just barge in with something completely off topic. And so forth and so on. I mean, those are extremes...but there are subtle differences to be noted as well. Take that little bit of extra time to look at the other writers’ offerings around you, and see if your particular voice fits into the layout of what everybody else is doing. Like I said...take ego out of it. Take a moment to see if you can adjust and adapt your own abilities and instincts to still maintain your beloved and recognizable style to what this particular site/contest/anthology/publication is asking for. It’s not a difficult task at all. Not for any experienced writer. You’re a writer! Figure it out! I do it all the time! The difficulty comes from authors who are too shielded or defensive of their personal voice to notice that the idea of, “I’m just gonna write whatever I want” isn’t always the way to go. It might make you stand out...but not always in a good way if readers can’t draw a connection between what you’ve written and what the task at hand was. Make sense? Versatility is the key. Sometimes what you want to write doesn’t quite ‘fit’ into what everyone else is doing. And while it’s cool to be different and original, there are still guidelines that you have to set for yourself and use your voice to tell the story that’s being asked for. Something that is structured to blend in with the current environment that you’re trying to be a part of. There’s a big difference between having an original take on a common idea, and just forcing your ideas upon a group that is looking for something else entirely. You’ve got to teach yourselves how to change things up every now and then, if for no other reason than to keep from being labeled a ‘one trick pony’ in terms of your content. Really take some time and think about where you are and who your readers are going to be. It’s not a trivial part of being an author, it’s a part of being a part of a community. No one is asking you to compromise your voice for the sake of a ‘herd mentality’. If anything, it’s a chance to flash your skills and bring your own unique flavor to the table when it comes to creating a new presence where you didn’t have one before. Always an awesome experience! True story...when I wrote the first chapter of “Waiting Outside The Lines” years ago (https://gayauthors.org/story/comicality/waitingoutsidethelines) it was for a writing contest that I was asked to be a part of online! And...if I may take an ego moment, hehehe...I WON that writing contest, and turned it into a series! One that is coming to an end soon, but I’m very proud of it. Anyway, guidelines gave me three cute celebrity boys to get together and basically just told me to build a story around it. And that’s exactly what I did. That’s the story that you can read right now to this day. Now...there was a second contest that I was also added into...and that one was a little bit out of my depth for that one. Hehehe, but the guy who was running the contest told me to ‘figure it out’. Now this one involved Chandler Riggs, Chris and Liam Hemsworth, and some sex toys, etc. Now that’s not the kind of stuff that I usually write, but hey...hey! Challenged accepted, you know? I wish I could show it to you guys, but I honestly don’t have a copy of it anymore due to a computer crash. But if any of you guys can find it, I’d LOVE to read it again myself! I think I surprised myself. Hehehe! How did I deal with the more hardcore presentation of it all? I had Chandler get sick with a nasty flu, and while he was in bed, he was watching the Hemsworth brothers on TV, I think...and the whole thing pretty much takes place as a horny teenage boy’s fever dream. Sex toys and all. Proving that a little ingenuity can get your particular voice heard and still have it blend in with the assignment that you’ve been tasked to work with. Seriously, I don’t remember the name of that one! But if one of you guys has a copy, PLEASE send it to me! Hehehe! I’d love to go back and look at it again some day! ::Giggles:: It doesn’t take a whole lot of research to read the room, folks! Figure out what the vibe is, and do what you can to match it. Just do it in your own way. MAKE it yours, and show the world what you’re made of. Cool? I hope this keeps your brain bubbling over with new ideas and inspires you guys to keep pursuing your art! We always need new stories in the world! Whether it be on a laptop screen on painted on the walls of an ancient cave...we’re all storytellers at heart. So buckle up, and show us your best! Take care! And I’ll seezya soon!
  3. Comicality


    Simplicity You know...as much as I really love to be challenged by the stories that I read or the movies that I watch...sometimes I can ‘feel’ the extra effort put in to make a story more than what it needed to be. And I realize that sounds a bit weird coming from me, when I’m constantly trying to inspire writers to dig deeper and fully flesh out their characters with more details that can truly captivate an audience with depth and layers...so I’m well aware of the pseudo hypocrisy of switching over to talking about ‘simplicity’ in your writing. But I also think that it’s important to recognize when the idea of a ‘less is more’ approach is the best choice for a writer to make with their fiction. Everything doesn’t have to be an intricate web of metaphors and hidden meanings. There are times when working to complicate a simple message can end up hurting your writing more than it helps. Now, don’t get me wrong...if you have a more complex story to tell, where reader interpretation and literary nuance is core to the kind of story that you’re trying to tell, then by all means...go for it. And pursue your ideas in the way that you feel is needed for it to have the kind of impact that you want it to have. But it takes a true writer’s instinct to know when the excess isn’t wanted or necessary. And that has to be developed over time. Trust me, I’m still learning about this kind of thing myself, so it’s not something that happens overnight. But stick with it. It can help more than you know. One of the things that used to bother and frustrate me most about some of my favorite movie franchises was this big push to keep creating sequels and adding all of these extra plot points and deeper meanings to characters and plots that were actually much more potent in their delivery without it. You know what I mean? A few examples that come to mind start with “Halloween”. Michael Myers was a serial killer. He wore a mask, and he grabbed a butcher knife one night, and he started killing people. To me, the fact that he didn’t really have any rhyme or reason for doing what he did was the most terrifying aspect of his character. It wasn’t done in anger, or for revenge, or because of a messed up childhood, or some sort of psychological defect really...he just decided one day to snap and start sinking his knife into the flesh of whoever he found alone. Think about that for a second. How horrifying is that??? Something about the simplicity in his motives and his actions is what made him one of the greatest slasher villains of all time. The fact that you didn’t have to be guilty of anything or a bad person...you were just there. What other reason does he need? But...Hollywood’s gotta Hollywood. So more sequels were made, and they kept trying to add more to depth to his character. Family links, and some kind of supernatural senses, and then there was that whole thing with the ‘cult’...I mean, it kind of ruined the scary idea of pure evil for evil’s sake in my opinion as time went on. The simplicity of him as a character was compromised by trying to attach a legacy of unnecessary motivations and extra history behind him doing what he does. Why? It’s like...leave him alone. Why complicate him? It detracts from the story in a lot of ways and dillutes the impact. And this has been done in many movies, over and over again. You can’t ‘fake’ depth of character. Sometimes they’re better off being a mystery, and just remaining a simple entity in your story while you spend your time and energy developing the characters that you’ve added to the story in order to deal with the threat that you’ve put in their way. One of the greatest examples that I could use to demonstrate this point would be Ridley Scott’s, “Alien”, and the James Cameron sequel, “Aliens”! PERFECTION! I don’t know how or why this franchise went so far off track after those two movies...but I feel like it came from writers and creators trying to make the alien more than anything it was ever meant to be. It’s a creature. It kills, it eats, it reproduces, and it makes more aliens. That’s what made it so scary. So effective. So memorable. And the movies focused on the people who were there to deal with it, and ultimately survive the problem. However, in future movies, the writers were trying to attach emotions to the alien, dig deeper into the motivations, go back into their origins and their history...but, honestly...at the end of the day, do you really care? Does anybody? We don’t need to know where the alien came from or why it does what it does. It’s trying to kill the main characters, and the main characters are trying to kill it first. It’s a simple conflict and a simple story...but that’s what people came to see. If you’re a talented enough author to maybe add some wisdom or philosophy in there on the side somewhere, then awesome. Otherwise...leave it alone. You know? The point of this article is just my way to guide you guys towards finding your focus, and keeping your simple characters simple. There have been so many times when I’ve seen characters and plot lines ‘overworked’ to the point where the natural feel and main interest that made the story so cool gets lost in the background. And that’s, obviously, never a good thing! Hehehe! The first question that you need to ask yourself is...what is this story about? That has to be the North on your compass. This is what will guide you through the planning process and discover where you want to aim your spotlight when you begin writing. If you’re writing something like “A Nightmare On Elm Street”...what did people come to see? Now, the problem with this is...they came to see Freddy and the glove with knives on his fingers. But what a lot of writers try to do is expand and give more depth to Freddy’s character and his motivations, while still trying to create a main character to fight in opposition to his murderous exploits. This creates a conflict. If you’re putting too much thought into your protagonist, then Freddy’s story fades into the background and your main draw becomes nearly irrelevant to the plot. But...if you focus solely on Freddy and his origins and motivations for him doing what he does...then your protagonist ends up being just another faceless cookie cutter teenager who might as well get slashed and hacked up with the other nameless characters. Why not? And if you try to balance both characters out in a way for them share the spotlight...you just end up with two mediocre characters instead of one. What made the first movie so frightening was the fact that it focused on the main characters trying to figure out and fight back against a common threat. Freddy was a mystery. A danger hiding in the dark. He’s coming to kill us, we don’t know why, but we have to try to survive. Very simple. The story has flares and flourishes sprinkled throughout to complete the narrative and have everything make some sort of sense in the long run, but it’s the simplicity that allows the audience to focus once the uncomplicated part of the puzzle is out of the way. This is where you can use your individual writing talents to build up a bond with your main characters and your readers. Now you have room to make the audience care about the people who are facing this major disaster, so losing them becomes a bit more intense and a bit more memorable. Watch some of your favorite movies and the sequels that followed them. What’s different? Can you feel it? Can you sense it? “The Predator” kills people like animals for sport, and then he keeps their skull as a trophy. Done. Why did that simple twist on Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” become so complicated and weird over the years? When did “The Terminator” get so twisted up in paradoxes and future weirdness? Sometimes...simplicity and focus is the best route to take with your fiction. Being able to realize that, whether it be for the story as a whole or just for certain scenes (More on ‘Spotlights’ in a future article), is a key part of being a great writer. I think it can easily determine the flow and impact of any story as long as it’s done with confidence and a sense of what is most important and most constructive to the story you’re trying to tell. Shave off the excess and choose a side. Is this about the main characters, or is it about the threat that they’re facing? Nobody is really watching “Ghostbusters” and wondering, “But why are they attacking? How did they die? Why do they look like monsters? What is their motivation?” That’s not the point. The point is our main cast of characters. Make them your focus, get everyone connected to them and the challenges they’re facing instead. The ghosts are just ghosts. Allow them to exist with a level of simplicity that doesn’t draw attention away from the main focus of everything that you were trying to do with the story. Otherwise, you end up with a conflict that takes away the potency of the mission to captivate your readers and hold them still. You know what I mean? Every writer has a different way of achieving their specific sense of balance in their work...and it’s up to you to find your own. Try a few projects out where you attempt to play with the formula a little bit and find your own comfort zone. And remember that simplicity doesn’t mean deliberately leaving out important details or trying to downplay certain aspects of your story for the sake of just one character or plot point. It’s just a matter of fine tuning your instincts to think, “Maybe it’s best that I make this the most important part of my story, and I can leave a few things up to the imagination.” If that makes sense. Hehehe, I wasn’t quite sure how to verbalize that idea, but hopefully you guys get the gist of it. Think of it the way you would watching a disaster movie. “Titanic”, “Deep Impact”, “2012”, “The Day After”…whatever. The point is, ‘Oh no! The world is coming to an end for us!’ That’s the star of the show, but it’s kept simple. The premise is set up, the inevitable destruction has been introduced...now take that spotlight and build your characters up. Too much focus on the impending fire and brimstone can’t completely take over the story without sacrificing the importance of the relatable characters that your readers are supposed to sympathize with. You can explain it, even in great detail if you feel the need to, but remember that your characters dealing with the showstopper is what should be really important here. Keep your focus there, and let the story unfold on its own. Again...sometimes ‘less is more’. Build up your key players...and keep the rest simple. Complicated details make for complicated stories. And they’re generally less ‘fun’ for a wide audience. Cool? I hope this helps! Just keep it as a tiny nugget of knowledge in the back of your minds for later. You never know when you might need it later on. That’s it for this little go ‘round! I’ll seezya next time with more! Happy writing! And stay beautiful!
  4. Story Foundations The same way that you could build the tallest skyscraper in town...you can craft the most powerful story ever written in foundation...and they will both potentially come crashing down to the ground if they’ve been built on a weak foundation. Right? I mean, these aren’t a box of Legos that we’re playing with here. People with certain levels of expertise have to be called in to look at the plans, designers, engineers...without a firm foundation, you’re basically going to be spending a huge amount of time working on setting up a house of cards that will ultimate get blown over the second a strong wind comes through to test the foundations that you never made strong enough to begin with. So you definitely need to put these things in place before you get started. It’s a skill that can only be developed with planning and practice...so the sooner you get started on developing those instincts, the sooner they’ll come to you naturally when you pretty much start writing anything. It’ll happen all on its own in time, just give it a chance. Make it a part of your writing discipline, and then refine it over time. That gets to be the fun part. So, when I say 'foundations’...what exactly am I talking about here? I think of writing foundations as a loose template to work with when we’re all trying to organize and personalize our thoughts to create something new...and yet still feels familiar to our readers. Remember, that connection to our audience is super important. It’s our job to intertwine logic and emotion in an entertaining way that can translate them into words that are passionate and compelling for them to interact with. This means being able to recognize and study the basic building blocks of storytelling and making them your own. Let’s dive in! Foundations are built on a ton of tried and true methods that have been a staple of fiction for centuries. One that we all know. The hero’s journey, the climax, the tragedy of betrayal, the obsession of love...man vs man, man vs the world, man vs self...etc. We all have some sense of how your typical story is structured or how certain character types act and react in the stories that we’ve all enjoyed throughout our entire lives, right? Sure the stories exist with different characters, different timelines, different genres, as they are written by a variety of different authors...but there are core elements that you can use as dependable guidelines to make anything that you want to write possible without ever getting lost or sliding off track. Some people might consider these foundations to be 'tropes’ or 'cliches’, but I’ve always thought that it was important to examine and understand the traditional rules in order to effectively break them later on. With a few efforts under your belt, you will still be able to build upon these story foundations to create a strong base for your fiction while still changing and altering everything around it to make something uniquely your own. Know your arsenal, and then do all you can to expand on it. Never stop being a 'student’ when it comes to your craft. There is no way to know it all, and even the stuff you do know tends to change over time and present new elements that you never even knew were there before. So get those basics drilled into your brain so you can pretty much build you creative process around it on autopilot, and use the rest of your energy and effort on customizing every project to fit your style and personality. Be comfortable with what you’re writing. People can tell when you aren’t. Creating characters have foundations just like every other part of your story. Know the character types as they appear in their many different forms in other stories. The beautiful stranger, the reluctant warrior, the wise old sage, the sacrificial lamb, the court jester or clown….they show up in many many stories, time and time again. So teach yourself how to recognize them when they appear, and then study the way that they are used to carry the story forward. In ways that are new...but still familiar. Do you get it? There’s a base, a strong foundation, that you can use to firmly plant yourself into the story...but you still have more than enough room to play with the specifics of the well known formula to create something of your very own. You can reach a point where you begin to combine and subtract certain elements of your foundations to make something unique. But your first task should be getting those foundations in order so you’ve got a stable tower to stand on. How do we manage that? It begins with reading as much as we possibly can. That’s how. Saturate yourself with other writers’ work. Different authors and methods and genres of fiction. They will all read differently, but see if you can begin to pick out certain patterns that exist through all of them. Those are the basic foundations that I’m talking about. Seek them out, think about how they work to keep the story contained and paced in a way that feels focused and familiar...and then think about how you might be able to do something a little bit different with the act of building on top of those foundations in ways that other writers might not have thought about yet. Both with story plot and with your characters. I hope that makes sense... Let me see how I can better explain this... Imagine your fiction as though it was a song. K? Over the years, you’ve heard a countless number of songs, and they’ve all been pretty different in their sound and particular flavor, right? The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Led Zepplin, Billy Joel, Lil’ Wayne, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendricks, Bob Marley...they all have a unique vibe and a style to them, right? They probably don’t have any songs that really sound similar to one another...but that doesn’t mean that they don’t follow a particular formula when they’re presented to a wide audience. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t a definite blueprint in play when it comes to putting their music together. There’s an intro...a first verse...a bridge...a chorus...and then on to the second verse. Then there’s a change up in the song at some point the leads to a 'climax’ of sorts for the third verse and then the end of the song. This is the typical song formula. Once you learn to look for it, I can guarantee you that you can hear that foundation in 90% of the music that you listen to, no matter what the genre is or what era in history it was made. That’s a clear expression of the 'rules’ when it comes to making a song. Whether it’s Black Sabbath, Otis Redding, or Frank Sinatra...if you listen for it...you’ll hear it. That’s the template. However...these are rules that can be broken to make something that sounds totally different from what you might be expecting. Take these two songs below. Now both artists, Queen and R Kelly, have made plenty of songs that actually fit into the template of your typical song...but when I listen to these, they don’t fit any conventional rules at all when it comes to making music. They were genius enough to figure out how to crack the code and make something that had never really been done before for an audience that wasn’t prepared to hear it. "Bohemian Rhapsody" is easily one of the most original songs ever written. The change ups and the vocals are absolutely stunning, and it shatters all forms of a formula when it came to putting it together. It is the pure definition of a rock opera. And R Kelly’s "Exit" just...it amazes me that he was able to craft that song on a weird '3-beat’ instead of the usual '4-beat’ like most songs. I mean, it almost sounds like it shouldn’t make sense or have any kind of rhythm to it at all for an artist to follow with their vocals...but he pulls it off flawlessly. Again, the formula has been completely broken and made anew. This is what is possible when you know where your foundations are and then find creative ways to alter the overall chemistry of the usual cocktail to make it your own. 00 Now, the secret is how to apply this to your writing...which is easier than it sounds. When you have enough practice, it becomes second nature. I think that every writer should be curious about what they’re capable of when their putting a project together. Explore. Take risks. Face challenges. Use your words, your metaphors, and your adventurous mindset, to find those root standards in storytelling and mold them into something that represents your particular mood and flavor at that time. Constantly be asking yourselves what you can do to break the formula. Use foreshadowing and flashbacks, use positive characters and negative ones...combine situations and obstacles that will either compliment or contrast one another. Take an off road approach with a plot twist, or add in a straight character where your audience is expecting a gay one. Have a 'coming out’ scene with an understanding parent go horribly wrong. You can go with something subtle like a rejection from a first date, to something as major as having one of your main characters get sick or even die off. I don’t know...it’s your story. You’re completely free to do with it whatever you want, but if you want four acts instead of the typical three...do it. If you want your story to end without a definitive ending...leaving it open without closure...hey, it’s your world. Do it. Who’s to say that wasn’t the perfect to go with it. Want to have a big time jump and continue where your story goes on from there...and then go back and tell the readers what they missed in an extended flashback? Give it a shot. Basically...learn the usual formula, inside and out...and then look for all of the ways that you can break it and change things up with your own little twists and turns. The foundation is your anchor, everything else is flare and glitter and gold. The key is to find a way to keep your beautiful extras from crashing down to the ground before your masterpiece is finished. It’s important to have those major locks in place so you have something to play around with. That’s all. Anyway, that’s my discussion on story foundations. I definitely have a few of them, both plot wise and character wise, that I stick to whenever I’m writing one of my own stories. I definitely stray from time to time and try something new so I can blaze a few different trails that I’ve never really explored before...but I know where my core is. I know how to stick to my outline and keep my story within a certain amount of boundaries as a completed project, and then spread my wings and stretch out into new territory with everything that I do. I, personally, feel more comfortable knowing that I have a home to go back to when I feel myself getting a bit too far from my original ideas. And that home exists in my training on how to write stories in the first place. I have to concentrate, and realize that there is a way that this whole 'writing thing’ is supposed to be done. Hehehe, and then...I break as many rules as I can without getting sent to detention for it. What can I say? I’m devious like that! As always, I hope this gives you another way to look at your own writing from a new angle, and that these articles will help you see new ways to approach your writing process, or possibly pay more attention to you being able to do what you do. Understanding why you do these things opens your mind up to soooo many other options! Trust me, you have no idea. A moment of introspection and self awareness can fuel the next few months or even years of new stories once you figure out their significance as a part of the art. K? Take care! Happy writing! And I’ll seezya soon! Love you lots!
  5. Comicality


    Insanity The classic saying is that insanity is the act of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. And yes, I’m sure that’s a part of it. But I truly believe that there’s a lot more to concept than that. And I have to admit that I really do enjoy writing insanity in many different ways for my characters because it’s so fascinating to me to explore the mindset of someone who has become completely detached from reality. Detached to the point where reality and truth can no longer penetrate...because the madness has become ore comfortable and more easily embraced than reality ever could. When you really think about it...it’s really not all that difficult to suddenly find yourself losing your anchor to the rest of the world and not being able to find your way back because you’ve lost your reason to search for a way back. So why would you? It begs the question...how would you know that you were insane if you were insane? And what do you do if you were forced to settle back into the world that you’ve left behind? Writing that into a story can be a maddening exercise in itself, but it brings up a lot of issues that you might find difficult to face or deal with when you tackle them head on. At least it is for me. But I enjoy the curious journey. Hehehe, which might be my own touch of insanity when I really stop and think about it. The goal is to find ways of bringing that same madness to your audience, and making them question who they are and what they’re willing to believe to help them sleep at night. Because it’s a phobia in itself wondering whether or not you’re capable of losing your mind and being helpless to do anything to stop it. Such a topic for your story could be mysterious, comedic, or downright terrifying...all depending on how it is written and how you treat it. So, let’s discuss insanity in our fiction this week, shall we? Just in case any of you guys decide that you want to try writing something like this for yourselves. Before I get started, please understand that I’m not taking the issue of mental illness lightly, or that any of the terms I use now (or have in the past) to explain the writing aspect of this topic is meant to be derogatory or insulting to anyone dealing with it in their own lives. Either on their own or through friends and loved ones. This article is simply my interpretation of ideas and how they can be used in a story, based on my limited knowledge of what it’s like to live with these afflictions. So, if I offend anyone, I apologize in advance. And feel free to drop me an email or leave a comment below to straighten me out if you feel the need. K? That being said, I’ve written a number of stories where a variety of mental illnesses have plagued the main character, and since I almost always write in the first person, I attempt to really try to convey a certain sense of sanity in their insanity. If that makes sense. Because I really do think that a lot of people who some would consider ‘crazy’ actually think that they’re crazy. I don’t believe it. I don’t think they’re crazy at all. We all have mental processes that we use to make sense of the world by looking at it through our own personal lens. We have daily habits that seem completely normal to us and therefore need no explanation to anyone else. But after talking to a great number of people in emails or in the chatroom...things that I might find strange about them, as well as the things that they find strange about me...aren’t really all that strange at all. It’s just a widely different perspective. One of the first times that I began taking notice of this was when I really started becoming comfortable with the idea of wearing my heart on my sleeve and opening myself up to talk about my earlier life with the story, “My Only Escape”. (https://gayauthors.org/story/comicality/myonlyescape) Which I never really thought of as a mental illness before then, but...is it, though? It does work to use a sense of fear and trauma to affect my outlook on the world as well as my behavior. It was a part of me. It’s still a part of me, even now that the series is completed and I’ve chosen to put it behind me. But talking to people back and forth during my journey from beginning to end, I began to realize that a lot of my thoughts and actions and my approach to my characters in fiction were completely baffling to a great number of people who were reading it. ‘Why does he do that? Why doesn’t he just get help? Why won’t he come out to his friends? Why won’t he ask his love interest out on a date?’ These all sound completely sane and rational to THEM, sure. And I get it. I really do. But I couldn’t get them to see what I was living through at the time to make them understand that none of those things were an option for me. None of them. And yet, as the comments kept coming in more and more, I was forced to ask myself...”Wait...am I the crazy one here???” Now, this isn’t mental illness or trauma in a severe form, nor is it as potent as it is for some people...but I think it gave me a slightly better understanding of the idea that the world looks different to people who aren’t like me. It doesn’t see the same dangers, or have the same worries, or carry the same triggers, as someone else who has a completely different life from the one that I lived growing up. So we may connect on a few different levels, here and there...but there are certain parts of our life experience that keep us from being able to communicate on the same level. The more I began to explore that with “My Only Escape”, the more I began to do the same with other stories of mine as well. And I think it helped me to dig just a little bit deeper into the story so that I could better translate my state of mind to my audience, and eventually get us all on the same page. Just like I said...it was all done in an attempt to communicate. What good does it do me to share my story if my readers are looking at my shots as if they’re all ‘off target’. You know? So, off I went to experiment more and attempt to bring my message to a wider audience and get them to understand my point of view. Naturally, they’re going to interpret it in an infinite number of ways and that’s not a bad thing. As long as they’re on board and making sense out of what it is that I’m writing...then I have a better chance of inspiring intrigue instead of confusion. I tried to get to the heart of all of my characters and explain why they were so hesitant to try their hand at love again, or why they felt the cute boy showing them attention was so far out of their league, or why the rich boy wouldn’t want anything to do with them. These people aren’t crazy...they’ve just restructured their perspectives to fit and feed whatever it is that they’re looking for at that particular moment, and avoiding what makes them uncomfortable. And when you have characters that are that emotionally involved...how do you convince them that you’re not the crazy one? They’ve found a safe place and a method of living their lives that soothes them and makes them feel whole...and you’re going to come around and challenge that safety and comfort with something that ‘you’ think would be better for them? Hehehe, good luck! Now then...take this same principal into some of my other stories like “Gone From Daylight” or “Savage Moon”. Or pretty much any of the sci fi/horror stories that I’ve written here on the GayAuthors website. I always make sure to introduce everyone to the main characters of stories like these where there can be a certain sense of understanding when it comes to their behavior in a lot of situations. Behavior that, to most...sounds like madness. But I don’t want it to read that way. Do you get what I’m saying? I want to pull my readers in and handcuff them to their train of thought, to their past experiences, to the troubles they’ve been through and the obstacles awaiting them further down the road. I want to add a sense of ‘sanity to their insanity’. A vast majority of people don’t just do things just to do things. There’s a reason for them being the way they are. It might be a messed up reason that you can’t wrap your brain around or ever really hope to understand...but a reason, nonetheless. Imagine if you could truly bring your readers into the mind of characters that you’ve spawned for your story...who under any other circumstances would be seen as totally insane. Thanos, Darth Vader, Robert De Niro in “Taxi Driver”, Magneto from “X-Men”...and get them to accept that there’s a part of their madness that they not only understand...but can relate to. I’ve had readers actually STOP reading “Savage Moon” because that is exactly what I set out to do with that story. And then took things even further with a vampire/serial killer story called “GFD: Bloodstained Duet” (https://gayauthors.org/story/comicality/gfd-bloodstained-duet/), where I take people into one of the darkest minds that I’ve ever created for this spinoff series! Hehehe, as well as the last story in the “Darkness Waits” ebook (https://imagine-magazine.org/store/comicality/), which is sure to be very disturbing as well. These portrayals are over exaggerated, of course, but I feel like that’s the most fascinating part of it all while writing. Because I’ve spoken to people from all over the globe and all ages from all walks of life...but there’s something about the threat of possible insanity on our parts that causes us to cringe and fidget with discomfort. It’s one of the scariest things out there...thinking that we might have something in common with those that we’d probably avoid if we saw them in the street. The people who make us question whether or not we’re the crazy ones...and it’s merely the majority perspective of the rest of society that brings us any sense of stability at all. If you’ve never seen the movie, “In The Mouth Of Madness”, before...check it out, as it displays this idea in the coolest way imaginable! Basically...the key to writing about insanity or mental illness...especially if you’re doing so from a first person point of view...is to NOT write about insanity or mental illness. Because the world doesn’t look all that strange to them. Even if the thought process comes off as disjointed, unrealistic, or downright twisted...that’s just what WE see...looking in from th outside of it. I’ve always written that frame of mind as being as sane and as rational as any other...and we’re the ones who don’t get it because we’re looking at reality through a different lens. Make sense? I gained this perspective from having deep conversations with people over the years, and I never once felt like any one of them were delusional or out of sync with reality. If anything, I would guess that it was those of us (yes, me included) who are fully functional and seem totally stable to most who need the most help. It could just be that we are the insane who don’t know that they’re insane. In which case...what would there be to go back to? Why seek help if we don’t need? Right? Ummm...right? Anyway, if any of your writers out there are looking to take a walk down a dark path and write about a character, or multiple characters, that might be having an episode or dealing with some sort of mental or emotional disability, and chose to write about an unstable or perhaps even potentially dangerous character...this would be my advice. Do some research if you need to, talk to people who might know about these things better than you do, and always remember to approach the issue with respect. That’s a must. If you can’t deliver your own experience, at least try to have some level of understanding about it. K? I hope this helps! Enjoy your writing, folks! And if any of you have anything to add about mental illness or your experience with seeing how it’s portrayed in fiction, please feel free to comment down below! K? Take care! Stay beautiful! And I’ll seezya soon!
  6. Reader Rejection It will happen. Don’t try to run or hide from it, as it is as inevitable as the story itself. Hehehe! But it’s ok. Prepare for it, embrace it, and never ever let it get you down. As writers...we write. It’s what we do. It comes from the heart and it forces us, in many cases, to expose the most vulnerable parts of ourselves to any random stranger that comes along wanting a peek at who we really are on a very deep level. I wish that I could find a way to show readers how taxing and emotionally draining it can be to sit here at this keyboard and write just ONE chapter for them to, hopefully, enjoy. And the worst part is...the only thing that can be more disheartening in failing to achieve any kind of entertaining value in some people’s lives...is actually succeeding to do so. Let me explain it this way... Imagine growing up, your mom or dad or guardian (whatever situation you may have been in at that time) would cook dinner or make breakfast for you each and every single day. And you LOVE it! Omigod...this is soooo good! And even though every meal is made with the same amount of love and care and attention...how many times do you really consider that part of the process anymore? How many times do you give your wives or husbands a hug or a kiss on the cheek to say, “Thank you! You did it again!” and make them feel good about it? We’re all human, and we’re creatures of habit. We get used to things pretty quickly, and it makes us complacent. In other words...it’s easy to spoil us. And a constant string of fun and engaging stories is a lot like oxygen...we take it for granted until we have to go for a few minutes without it. Hehehe! And if you’re an author that is working super hard to put out your best work as fast and as often as you can, that complacency from your audience can be...well...hurtful. At least, that’s been my experience over the years. I, personally, tend to internalize these things...and it makes me wonder what it is that I’m doing wrong. I would end up trying to work harder or faster or go searching for ways to connect to my readers in a better way to keep them from leaving me behind. I have learned from years of experience that this is a mistake. Don’t do it. If you’re worried about this kind of thing to the point where you allow it to infect your writing process with a pesky virus that is extremely difficult to get rid of once you’ve got it...let me talk to you guys for a few minutes here and maybe help you recognize this kind of behavior for what it is. Once you understand it a little bit better, it might have a less devastating effect on your output and the quality that you’ve been trying to maintain from the very beginning. I hope it raises a bit of awareness and reminds you of why you started writing your stories in the first place. K? It was Eminem that said, “So skip to the loo while I do what I do best! You ain’t even impressed no more! You’re used to it!” And it’s true. Eminem can absolutely MURDER a rap verse at speeds that would blow your mind! But at this point...you hear somebody say, “Eminem killed it!” And it’s like...”Well, yeah. Of course he did. He’s Eminem.” Which is an honor in itself...but can those folks still truly say that they’re still able to really appreciate what he’s doing with words alone? It’s kind of like those few times when my family members from small town Georgia came to Chicago for the very first time, having never been to a city that big and full of that many people before. They were so SHOCKED that a place like that could exist anywhere except in the movies. Hehehe! And all of those things that I had grown so accustomed to and had usually taken for granted were suddenly highlighted in a major way. It got me excited too. But seriously, to someone who’s never heard Eminem just spazz out for about five minutes...this is mind-blowing. To everyone else, it’s treated with all the hype of a regular traffic accident on a Tuesday. Listen to this. Seriously, dude? WTF? By the way, in the last 30 seconds of this video...Eminem actually broke the Guiness Book world record for the speed and number of rhymes. Did you know that? A lot of folks don’t. The whole point is...if you put out a consistent amount of quality work on a regular basis, whether it be on one story, or with a variety of different stories...you audience will eventually become numb to it. And this is going to be a test for you as an artist, because it is going to sometimes feel as if you’ve reached your peak, or that you’ve fallen into a slump. Neither one of these things are true. If anything, it’s a compliment...to have brought so many sunshine days and rainbows to your audience that they eventually go unnoticed. Or perhaps even criticized for not bringing them the same ‘high’ that they got when they started reading your work in the first place. It’s something that can’t be done, but unfortunately becomes expected over time. Not marveled at or fully appreciated...just ‘expected’. It can be a hard hit to take sometimes, especially when your passions and emotions are constantly on display. There will be an urge to push yourself even harder and add a bunch of junk scenarios into your projects that probably don’t belong there, just to create enough of a spark to get them to seem somewhat excited again. I will admit to doing that myself in the past, and you know what? It didn’t do anything to strengthen my story at all. In certain chapters, it actually worked against me and diluted the story as a whole, forcing me to go searching for ways to get it back to what I wanted it to be from the very beginning. You have to be able to see these things for what they are, and somehow weave that into something positive instead of negative. Now...naturally there are always going to be readers who want everything for free, feel entitled to your hard work without ever giving anything back, and just want to stress you out until you’re heading to an early grave...at which point they’ll just move on and find somebody else to bully into doing the same. But one of the major parts of being an effective writer comes from focus, and this is one of those times when your focus needs to be more on what it’s doing for you instead of what it’s doing for others. Get your head in the game and keep your eyes on the prize. Write your story without validation. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t listen to your fanbase, I’m saying that it’s important to understand when their comments (or lack thereof) is more about what they want instead of what you need to make this the best story that you can. The story you started with, and satisfying the ambition you had for it before you began to doubt yourself. Just keep writing. The idea of reader rejection might just all be in your head, the same way that your subpar performance might be in theirs. Stories are all about ‘connection’. Writer to reader and back again. To folks who don’t write or create stuff like this...they may not really understand what it takes to produce quality work over and over and over again. Hehehe, congratulations...you’ve become Mom’s dinner! They just expect it to be hot and ready whenever they want it, and they expect it to be your best work. Not once or twice...not five times or ten...but EVERY single time! No excuses! And God forbid you fall short of those expectations every now and then. Oh man...people you haven’t heard from in years will suddenly come crawling out of the woodworks to tell you how awful it was! Hahaha! Like, WHAT??? Where the hell have YOU been for the past several years??? Sounds weird, but it happens. And as hard as it is for some folks to deal with the lackluster reactions or the criticism backlash...you have to just stay focused on the original game plan. Easier said than done, I know...but take a few moments to really cherish the work that you’ve put out so far. I, personally, save a lot of emails that really hit a soft spot for me. Just from readers who can really understand and relate to the material that I write online or have found some peace of mind through a few of my stories. When I’m feeling down or insecure about my own abilities, I go back and look at those emails and it’s like chicken noodle soup for the soul, ya know? I think everybody needs a little positive encouragement every now and then. Why not? It’s not just an ‘ego’ thing. It’s just a return on your investment when you pour heart out at somebody’s feet, hoping that they’ll actually care and let you know it. You work hard on your art, don’t you? Doesn’t it feel good to be recognized for it every once in a while? Don’t feel selfish about that. They’re getting free entertainment, life lessons, distractions from real life, and repeated orgasms, at NO cost other than an occasional comment, email, or click of a ‘Like’ button. You’re not in a slump...they’ve just come to a point where they expect excellence from you without having to put forth any effort to get it. Again...it’s kind of a compliment...but not, at the same time. It’s the pure definition of being both a gift and a curse. One of the first and best examples of this idea is how people react to Marvel movies these days. Now, I may be heavily biased because these characters and storylines and comic books are what taught me how to write in the first place. Ever since I was old enough to read, comic books were always my number one form of escapism. They were my whole life back then. And now, being able to see these characters and stories on the big screen...it’s like my every dream came true! And I love every single one of the properties that they’ve put out. Like ALL of them! I never get enough! Give me more so I can overdose on the awesomeness! Hehehe! But, like I said...I’m biased. So maybe it’s just me. But even though some movies are better than others, I haven’t been one of those ‘hyperbolic haters’ who act like, “This is the WORST movie I’ve ever seen in my LIFE!!!” Hehehe, really? You’ve lived a pretty privileged life then...because I can point you in the direction of some flicks that never should have been made at all. But that’s the whole point! After billion dollar successes, four or five spots on the highest grossing movies in cinematic history, Oscar worthy actors, top notch directors, great writers, big budget special effects...it’s still not enough. It won’t EVER be enough. Do you realize that with the movies, the TV shows, the Disney+ shows, the animated series, the Netflix extensions, etc...people have gotten nearly FIFTY offerings from Marvel alone? FIFTY!!! That’s insane! It would take any one of you an entire prison sentence for armed robbery to watch them all in a row. 😮 And yet...there are always going to be those people who are looking for them to slip on an invisible banana peel or something and fall from grace. (I can’t, for the life of me, understand why...but they do.) I wrote in one of my stories that it’s easier to say how much you hate something then explain why you love it. And I stand by that. People train themselves to find something wrong in everything the see, hear, read, experience. Liking something is almost seen as a weakness when you openly admit it. Why? We should be cherishing every second of life that makes us smile or uplifts us. But, I guess that’s not cool. So...there will be times when you will be criticized. And times when people really love your story, but can’t even be dragged, kicking and screaming, to say so. They just read it and horde all the good feelings for themselves. Hehehe, whatever. So be it. You know? But that’s not because of your output, your speed with new chapters, or the quality of your writing. If you leave this article knowing ONE thing...know that. Ok? Detach yourself from that mindset and keep writing. Don’t toss extra stuff into your story for the sake of sensationalism. Don’t cut anything out to rush through your story. Don’t get buried under the pressure to perform if you just don’t feel like performing that day. This is your work. Your story. Your soul on display. And there will be a million distractions that will be constantly pulling you away from the story that’s in your heart. Don’t let this be one of them. Sometimes you have to surrender to the fact that what you do will never ever be enough. After a few successes, your work will become Mom’s dinner. Still loved and enjoyed by many, sure. But to say that it’ll be underappreciated at some point would be a huge understatement. “You ain’t even impressed no more! You’re used to it!” It will happen...and this will be a test for you in terms of keeping your passion alive all on your own and keep going. It can feel a bit lonely and unstable at first, but realize this mindset for what it is and try your best to work through it. It may be the deciding factor in whether you’re a really good writer, or a really GREAT writer! I know a lot of folks don’t talk about this kind of thing, but seeing as it has affected me and my own performance a few times over the years...I wanted to share it with everybody. Because it really does affect your work, whether you want to admit it or not. Getting criticism for anything that is less than the astronomical standard that you created for yourself, and then feeling ignored or taken for granted at the same time, can really weigh heavily on your psyche. And it makes it harder for you to remain in touch with your natural instincts and take risks or challenges where they would do your story the most good. There’s nothing out there that can shield you from this part of the process. It’s kind of a ‘work hazard’ when it comes to sharing yourself with the public. Just remember that it’s not your readers’ fault, nor are they trying to make you feel bad. Nor is it always a matter of you losing your gift when it comes to writing. There’s just a disconnect (often temporary) between their expectations and your search for reward or approval. This is why I work so hard to get people to talk to each other and openly express when they like something that somebody else wrote, and to keep in mind how long and how often ‘Mom’s dinner’ has been keeping them going strong. That tiny bit of communication can mean the world to a creator of well written fiction...which only ends up to them being able to write more goodies for the people who crave it so much. So if you love it...say you love it. Otherwise, when the fanbase disappears...the author disappears shortly after. So let’s work to lean on one another, shall we? Hehehe, it’ll only make us both infinitely happy in the long run. Focus on your story and not the reactions. And occasionally remind yourself of your successes when you feel like you’re not doing enough. Or like people are just waiting for you to slip on that damned digital banana peel just ONCE so they can use that as an excuse to tear down everything that came before it. Nope! You’re doing just fine. And if your next story isn’t as epic as the one you wrote yesterday...there’s always tomorrow. Or next week. Or next month. Just focus on being the best writer you can be at all times, and your audience will continue to come back to see what you have to say. Don’t ever sacrifice your voice for the sake of insecurity. You can’t write an impactful story like that. I certainly can’t. I hope this helps to keep your spirits uplifted when it comes to writing. The articles I post aren’t all about method and mechanics. Being a writer is more than that. And these are the types of mental gymnastics that you’ve got to learn and figure out how to nail the landing so you can get back to doing what you do best. Hehehe, whether they’re used to it or not. Be their oxygen. Maybe taken for granted, but just as essential for them to breathe whether they appreciate it or not. K? You’ll do just fine! I’ve got faith in you! Hehehe! Just remember...no matter what, it’ll NEVER be enough. They just want more. And that’s a good thing, right? Remember...Marvel...FIFTY offerings!!! After a decade and a half of solid work...so many characters and intersecting plot lines and engaging themes...the utter audacity of eagerly searching for reasons to expect the impossible or angrily complain just boggles my mind. Fifty offerings, people! FIFTY!!! Who does that? Who CAN do that??? LOL!!! When the critics come knocking...you let them know that they can gain access to your sense of well being and your overworked mind when they can do it better! Period. Happy writing, you guys!
  7. Comicality

    The Feel

    The ‘Feel’ There are a number of techniques that any author can use to create a story, build it up from scratch, and gain control over how that story reads. There are ways to ‘guide’ your audience into having them read it the way that you wrote it, and that comes with a ton of practice. But the more you learn about the art of actually doing it, the more effective your stories become in terms of delivering an experience that you can be proud of, and will stick with your audience long after it’s over. However, the ‘advanced class’ version of that craft comes from understanding how to take your story and gain some control over how it feels...not just how it reads. You may be asking yourself what the difference is...and that’s what I’m going to try my best to talk about today. Because there really is a difference. And the moment you pull on that thread and start figuring out how it works, you might fight yourselves extremely eager to start playing around with the idea! So let’s get into it. How a story reads is a measure of how involved people are in what you wrote and how you wrote it. Can you deliver the information needed for them to feel as though they’re right there in the middle of the action and can follow the action, the dialogue, the emotional involvement, etcetera. You are creating whatever it is that they came to read...and it’s almost like those glow in the dark lights in a movie theater, guiding your audience in a certain direction without having them trip or stumble along the way. It’s an important part of the process, making sure that everyone reading can be a spectator to the surrounding area, the characters, the dialogue, and the story as a whole without getting confused or mixed up and having to waste time readjusting so that they can re-immerse themselves in the plot. That’s the beauty of taking the reigns and controlling how a story reads. So...how is this different from how a story feels? Now, that’s the difficult part to explain. That’s why this is the advanced class, hehehe, but I’ll do my very best to make sense out of it. What really ‘sticks’ with people after they’ve finished your well written project from beginning to end goes way beyond mere comprehension of the material and the info delivered to them. Even if it’s done in a really lovely and almost poetic way...there’s an unspoken ‘X-factor’ in the stories that you read and enjoy both on and offline. I’ll be honest with you guys, a lot of readers (Maybe even a huge majority) will end up being connected to a mediocre story that truly inspired them or tugged at their heart strings than they will a professionally written piece that is mind-blowingly perfect with its prose and use of metaphor and symbolism. I definitely try my hardest to put out the very best work that I can every time I release a new story or chapter, but I doubt that I could keep a straight face and claim that my own work is anywhere close to being perfect. However, what I’ve learned and taken to heart over the years is that what people remember most about the stories they read is how those tales made them feel. Mistakes and all. And that’s definitely that you want to concentrate on and a skill that you want to master while still having a respect for the story structure and written mechanics needed to be an effective storyteller. It’s best to have both working for you...but it’s the intangible craft of creating a ‘feeling’ that is really going to end up being the thing that your story is ultimately remembered for. Your audience will end up becoming more attached to the emotions that your story brought out of them than they will to the story itself. Like...how many times have you heard people recommend a really good story to you in the vaguest of terms? How many lines can they really quote, or even paraphrase correctly, from your work? How many times do they even get the actual title of the story wrong, considering they remember the story title at all? Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that any of your hard work has gone to waste or that it wasn’t an important part of making it a memorable tale that’s worthy of recommendation. It most definitely is. But when readers have finished going through what you wrote, and your story becomes of their ‘past tense’...it’s the overall feeling that’s going to remain. Vague, inexplicable, general...but powerful just the same. No matter what it is that you’re writing...you can’t ignore the ‘feel’ of what it is that you’re using to tell your tale. That’s where a major part of your own personal magic lies. Learn to recognize it, and try to play with different aspects of it to see how your readers react. It will truly help you build an instinct around the one part of your story that might end up being the most influential part of the story that you’re trying to tell. This comes from how you word your text, and the pacing that you use to do so. You can take the exact same fictional situations and characters and create an entirely different feel for your story, depending on how it’s delivered and what you were feeling at the time that you wrote it. When I look back at some of my stories now, I can easily tell when I was totally heartbroken, when I was just happy with life, when I was seriously pissed off, or when I was starved for sexual affection! Hehehe! And if you guys read through my past work, I’m sure you can pick those scenes out as well. But the point is...the way those stories read...the ‘feel’ is right there on display for everybody to see. And the more I got used to taking chances and wearing my heart on my sleeve, the more comfortable I got with expressing my true feelings in a variety of different ways. The blessing that comes with that is the fact that you begin to pay attention to what makes those feelings more visible to your audience, and you begin to learn how to manipulate your words, your rhythm, and your writer’s voice, to bring these emotions into the spotlight whenever you need them. That’s the key. Finding the magic. The differences are so very subtle sometimes, but if you know what to look for, you can teach yourself to draw emotions from some words, scenes, and characters, more than others. You can just...sense it. You know? Does that make sense? It’s something that you can learn, but can’t be taught. The only way that I could think of to give you guys an example comes from music this time around. Maybe it’ll help you to pick up on some of what I’m talking about here. This is the song, “I Will Always Love You”, originally by Dolly Parton. Now, this is a very well known song to most people, but pay close attention to the ‘feel’ of it as you listen to it. What emotions, memories, dreams, inspirations, does it touch upon when you listen to it? I know that it’s a bit difficult to tap into an explanation with words alone, but stick with me here. Hopefully, you’ll get it by the time this article is over with. When I listen to the original version of this song, it seems very pure. Very simple. But it comes with an almost heartbreaking tone in its delivery. Can you hear it? With this version of the song, it almost feels like it’s told from a victim’s point of view. It’s like...this isn’t working out, and you’re leaving me...and there’s nothing that I can really do about that other than tell you that I don’t want to get in the way, and I’ll always love you, no matter what. It’s an amazing song once you really absorb what she’s doing here, and I love it. If you need to listen to it again, go ahead. Really let it sink in. Hear the lyrics. Embrace the sad undertones of a relationship that has fallen apart and it’s simply time to bring closure to it all. You know? At least...that’s how it made me feel, listening to it. Alright...now we jump ahead about 20 or 25 years...and we have Whitney Houston’s remake of this classic. BUT...again...pay attention to how it affects your emotions when you listen to it. It’s the exact same song, with the exact same lyrics...but the ‘feeling’ it gives me is almost the exact opposite of the original. This one feels more empowering. She’s not playing the victim role here, it sounds more like she’s the one leaving, and telling her significant other, “I’m out of here. But, just know, I’ll always love you.” Listen to this version and see if you get the same feeling... The feel comes from subtle changes in inflection and power and pauses...but I can sense the difference. It’s all in the delivery. It sounds like this song is coming from a different ‘place’. And when you’re writing, you can do the same thing with your words alone. This is why I do my best writing when I tackle a story according to my current mood, because it’s almost like I can’t ‘hide’ it from my readers. I often write my biggest fights and my arguments when I’m angry. I write my sex scenes when I’m feeling passionate. I write my flirtatious dialogue and my cute moments when I’ve got my romantic juices flowing. Those feelings translate into your creative efforts whether you want them to or not. So discover what generates certain emotions within you, and use those tools to the best of your ability. Don’t try to write something happy and joyful when you’re totally heartbroken in real life. Hehehe, if you’re really open with your emotions in your work...people will easily be able to tell the difference. Instead of using words that sound triumphant and sweet, you may end up writing with a vocabulary that comes off as jealous, stale, or pessimistic. It won’t feel like it at the time, but think about what lens you’re looking at life in general through at that particular moment in time. The words will be serviceable, and they’ll convey the right kind of information that you need to get your point across...but the danger is that your ‘feel’ may be off in the long run. It may not sound authentic. It might come off as being forced. And you can’t just tell people how to feel in a certain scene. They have to discover that for themselves, you can only act as a guide. Whatever emotion you’re trying to convey has to be accessible, but not shoved into their hands. That’s not how writing works. Jump ahead another 20 to 25 years...we have this version of the exact same song that was made by Chase Holfelder. Same song, same lyrics, same theme. But just listen to this version! Music can be composed in ‘major’ keys (which usually brightens things up) or in ‘minor’ keys (Which takes them to a darker, moodier, place). This time, the same song is performed in ‘minor’...and the feel is MUCH more sinister in its delivery. Instead of the melancholy Dolly Parton version, or the proactive Whitney Houston version...this one sounds almost as if it’s taking on a stalkerish or possibly suicidal feel. Again, it’s all in the delivery. Check it out, and see what you get from this remake. This change is not so subtle, but the haunting tone of it stands out as a glaring example of how the ‘feel’ of your story can truly change the whole flavor of your writing, your characters, and your audience’s view of whatever it is that you’re doing with your story. It all depends on where your writing is coming from, and what kind of vibe you want it to have when you’re writing it. How do you accomplish that? Well, unfortunately the answer to that changes from author to author. You really have to find out what each mood means to you, and what words and expressions you use to showcase those feelings. I can only tell you what to look for and how to recognize it when you see it. The rest is going to have to be a personal endeavor that you all take on for yourselves, experimenting and exploring how the words at your disposal can provide the appropriate impact that you want your story to have. But, whatever you come up with, don’t ignore this part of the writing process. I think every writer needs to look at their work and actually ‘see’ themselves in it, and what they were feeling at that particular moment. It’s a snapshot. A text based photograph that you can use to capture the moment. Find those snapshots and understand them for what they are. Then, learn ways to bend and fold and manipulate them in ways that can create those special feelings for your readers as well. That’s what people remember more than anything else when it comes to your story. You already feel something...all you have to do is translate it in a way that will help others feel it with you. Join you in your joy, in your pain, in your sadness, or your rage. Look at your own work. How do you speak when you’re angry? How does your pacing change when you’re sad? How much do you smile at your keyboard when you’re feeling goofy? Find that in your work and learn how to replicate it for the scenes when you need that same energy. K? I hope this helps! Take care, you guys! And I’ll seezya soon with more! ((Hugz all around))
  8. Character Casting One thing that I remember most about trying my hand at the acting business was that I went into every meeting and audition thinking that I was going to nail the role. Hehehe, I was a kid, so why not? Right? I was going to go in there, whether I got the script ahead of time so I could learn my lines by heart, or if I just went in cold. How hard could it be? So I’d feel all optimistic about my chances, and I’d make sure that I was prepared to give it my absolute best shot, and I would already be imagining myself on the big screen and riding around in limousines and whatever youngster fantasies I could come up with at that time. I’d go in, read my lines, get recorded and hand in my info so they could get in touch with me...and then I’d go home and wait. Occasionally, I’d get a call back or two to come in again or was invited to do some extra work, which was promising, but obviously I didn’t make it to the big leagues. It’s not like it crushed my spirits or anything...it was just nowhere near being as easy and simple as I thought it would be. I had to be older to realize the reasons for that, and over time that was a dream of mine that tapered off to pursue something that I had a bit more control with. Why mention this? Because when you’re writing a story...even though it doesn’t involve actual actors, visuals, music, or anything technical...casting your characters for your story should take just as much of an important role in creating your vision through the fiction you’re putting out there for your audience to read. In my opinion...it may be one of the most important parts of the process...right up there with plot and dialogue. And in some parts, even more so. Your characters are what can carry or crash a story in its entirety, and if you’re not careful, even a great piece of fiction can wither away to almost nothing if your cast can’t bring all of your hard to work in a fun, intriguing, and convincing way. So let’s talk about casting the characters in your stories, and what all writers should probably take into consideration before they even get started. K? I think your characters should ‘move you’ when you write about them. When you think about them. In fact, you (as well as your readers) should be thinking about them outside of writing or reading the story at all. To me, personally...it’s a HUGE compliment to hear someone say that they can’t stop thinking about one of my stories as they try to go on throughout the rest of their day as normal. That makes my day, every single time! And it doesn’t always have to be the main protagonist or the love interest either. It counts for side characters, parents, teachers, or even if one of your characters has a pet that they connect with in a special way, too. But how does someone create a character out of thin air and have them fit a fictional character in a story that never happened in a world that doesn’t exist. I mean, that can’t be easy, right? Well, when I first began writing my own stories...all of my characters were pretty strongly connected to my closest friends growing up. Boys that I’ve had crushes on, situations that I had experienced myself, jokes that we used to share. However, as I kept going and creating bigger stories and more involving twists and turns in the narrative...I began to branch out a little bit more. I might add a few personality traits from people that I was working with, or people from school that I didn’t know all that well...but ‘this is what I imagine they would be like outside of our college classes or the dorm’, etc. So I started out the way a lot of creative minds start out, by sort of mimicking the influences surrounding me and trying to grab a deeper understanding of them. After that, I began combining ‘this person’ with ‘that person’, or ‘this sense of humor’ with ‘that kind of with and charm’...and eventually it all gets swirled up into a giant melting pot in my mind where I can mix up pretty much anything up that I want when I need it. It’s like having a big witches cauldron where you add a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, create a few of your own ideas, add bits and pieces of myself...voila! I can be creating characters that would be perfect for my story and start putting them together in a way that fits the fiction. Notice how I started with who they are instead of just what they look like? That comes next. I think that creating a look for your character should say something about their outlook, their attitude, their interaction with the rest of the world, and the way the rest of the world interacts with them. Take a moment to describe their look when you’re writing, and make sure to keep it consistent with who they are as a person. There’s a lot of room that you can use to play around with this aspect of adding details to your story. For example...if you have a character who’s an introvert and insecure about his looks...how would you portray that with their look and attitude without just saying it out loud in the writing? Maybe they dress in ways that openly displays that insecurity to the rest of the world. Maybe they’re extremely shy and quiet, and sort of stand in a corner by themselves most of the time without saying much to anybody else. Or...maybe their wardrobe consists of wearing all black, with ark make up on their eyes, and their dyed hair flopped down over their faces. Anything to silently deliver the standoffish message of ‘leave me alone’. Can you tell your story with an average kid with blue jeans and a solid white t-shirt? Sure, of course you can. But...if you were making a movie, and you wanted to have this person come off as an antisocial or isolated character...which one do you think would better demonstrate that on screen? Think about what you would do if you were actually casting your own story. This is what I’m talking about. If your casting doesn’t match your character, your story may not end up having the kind of feel that you’re expecting. A total narcissist character maybe wearing the best of name brand clothes and shoes, an abstract artist might wear something a bit more eccentric or colorful, and someone more flamboyant or camp might be dressed flashy with wrist bracelets and rainbow socks. You don’t have to be openly stereotypical, hehehe...so don’t over do it! But imagine a look for your character that reveals something about them. Let your readers visualize them for themselves, all while keeping those visuals as close to your own as you can when you’re writing. For example...one of the things that I did, early on, was make my character ‘Justin’ in “Gone From Daylight” extremely beautiful, with blond hair and penetrating light blue eyes. Now, that makes sense in some aspects of the story...but not in all of them. Seeing as he was so badly bullied in school and at home...it’s kind of like...why? How does he not have friends? How has no one approached him for a date or a party or something? I’m not saying that I regret the decisions that I made in the beginning, but looking back, I wish that I could have maybe enhanced or expressed some more of his flaws so his character arc could be explained a bit more. Now, when it came to the story, “Savage Moon”, I was able to internalize and dive a bit deeper into the thoughts of a teenage boy who doesn’t feel like he belongs, doesn’t fit in, has trouble at home…and his later choices can remain in tune with who he is as a character, and yet still match up with who he was in the very beginning. That was a better ‘casting’ choice for me when I look back at it now. Designing your characters physical appeal speaks just as much to their character as their back and forth with other people in the story does. A metal head might wear a faded ‘fuck you’ t-shirt and ripped jeans. A detective might wear a suit and tie to work every day. Cheap suit? Expensive suit? A high school jock might wear a Letterman jacket and a polished pair of white sneakers, while a little neighborhood kid without much money might be wearing some hand-me-down clothes from his older siblings. Think about whether they have blond hair or brunette. Maybe a redhead. Maybe it’s dyed a different color it has colorful streaks in it here and there. Is it short and worn with a preppy style, or does it hang a bit lower? Is it shaved on the sides? Maybe it’s shaved completely? Do any of your characters have a ‘rebellious’ tattoo on their arms or anywhere else? Are they dressed for the weather? Are they walking around with a t-shirt or a light jacket during a snowstorm or in the rain without an umbrella. You’re be surprised how much these little details can say about your characters without saying anything at all. And that’s the goal, isn’t it? To show, not tell? Sometimes the character just isn’t right for the part. It’s not what you’re looking for. And in order to know what you ARE looking for...you’re going to have to figure that out ahead of time. These are some of the things that you should have in your mind when you’re writing your story. Take notes if you have to and you think it’s necessary...but envision it in your mind. The next time you go out in public and think about what you would normally assume from the people around you. It doesn’t mean that you’d be right, because you can’t really judge a book by its cover...but at first glance...what kind of vibes are the people in your current area giving you? If you see a kid with thin rimmed glasses and a button down shirt, and he’s holding a few science books in his arms...what does it make you think of? If you see a guy sitting on a sidewalk shaking a cup full of change, or a couple of high school kids trying to get someone to buy them alcohol from the local store, or see a guy with a briefcase and talking into a cell phone...what info is that giving you? And what happens if you’re totally wrong about that assumption? Hehehe! There’s room for you as an author to play with that as well. You can be deceptive when it comes to the assumptions you project in your work, which is always fun. You can also use these casting choices to show growth. Like...maybe the boy that started off being shy and introverted find himself a boyfriend...and over time, he begins to dress differently, talk differently, carry himself with more confidence and swagger. These are all tools that you can use in your character casting choices to bring out certain aspects of their personality and their evolution without having to drone on about it with exposition, which will very quickly begin to drag your storytelling down to a snail’s pace. Avoid that at all costs. It doesn’t take much to describe a certain style or appearance of a character in their introduction to your fiction. Just a few sentences. Quick, focused, and concise. So ‘cast’ your characters for the roles that you plan to put them into, and make sure that they fit. If they’re unnaturally gorgeous...then their surroundings and the world they inhabit should reflect. In “New Kid In School” or “Kiss Of An Angel”...Ariel is extremely cute, but he’s painfully shy, socially awkward, and a bit of a klutz. Hehehe, so his world reflects that. In “Jesse-101”, he’s a Youtube celebrity, and when he goes to the mall, his world reflect that. In “A Class By Himself”, Chris is a rich kid and one of the elites among his peers...same deal. Casting is important. Get it right, if you can. And think about it enough to where they feel real to your readers...which of course depends on how real they feel to you. Already, that’s all I’ve got for today. I’m hoping you guys get the idea. I get a bit ‘wordless’ sometimes too when it comes to explaining how I see stories the way I do...but I’m willing to bet that most of you who have been writing stories of your own already know how. And if not, keep practicing, and you certainly will. Trust me. Take care! Love you lots! And I’ll seezya soon!
  9. Off The Rails Alright...this is for our authors out there who have a whole lot of talent...talent for DAYS...but, as we all know...life sometimes gets in the way. Trust me, I know. Sometimes we get busy. Sometimes we get sick. Sometimes...every day is not a happy, happy, day and we need time to heal, grieve, or recharge. It happens. Hell, sometimes we just catch a hint of the 24 hour ‘slacker flu’ and want to play couch potato every now and then. Hehehe, I’ve definitely done it myself on a number of occasion, and why waste my breath apologizing for it? It’s GOOD to unplug every now and then and stop staring at a screen for so many consecutive hours in a row. If any of you guys need a break, then take a break. It’s cool! It’s not like fireballs are going to drop out of the sky and destroy all of humanity if you decide to walk off the job every now and then to keep yourselves sane! (Ummm...unless your job is to keep fireballs from dropping out of the sky and destroying all of humanity! In which case...yeah, we kinda need you to stay put!) A decent break, even an extended hiatus, is needed every now and then. You can’t write your way through fatigue. You just can’t. A lot of people simply don’t understand how mentally and emotionally draining it can be to write a well crafted story. Even PHYSICALLY exhausting, sitting in the same chair, often with bad posture, trying to pour your heart into the lives of fictional people with the hopes that anybody out there will care when you’re finished. And, you know what? Sometimes they won’t. And even if they do, they probably won’t say anything where you can see it. So what’s the point, right? When that kind of thinking starts to invade your mind...it gets easier and easier to find excuses to not write anything at all. Instead of feeling like you’re sharing something special with a thankful audience and possibly working towards some sort of reward for your efforts...you begin to think about how much work you’re going to have to put in. You start thinking about nasty comments, or being ignored completely, or how you’ve got better things to do with your time...and, like most humans would, you take the road of least resistance...and you end up putting it off until later. When is ‘later’? It starts off as a few hours. Then a few days. Then a few weeks. Then a few months. And before you even realize what had happened to the drive you had towards the story that you were once so eager to write and share with the rest of the world...you end up tossing it in a random corner of your mind to get cold and moldy without ever going back to it again. And you know what? That’s a shame. It really is. I speak from experience when I say that I have countless stories that I wish I had pushed myself to continue and finish while the ‘iron was still hot’, as they say. And I’ve made plans to continue those stories and really working hard to get them to blossom in the way that I had originally intended...but it will never be as spontaneous and inspired as a project like it was when I first shot off like a rocket and tackled it head on. So many missed opportunities. And even now...I’ve got so much going on in my real life and with the stuff that I’m doing online, I highly doubt that I’d have the time to really make those stories what they could have been years ago. I doubt that I’d have the courage to take the same chances, or make the same literary choices that I would have back then. BUT...I’m not leaving any of my stories unfinished if I can help it. And I am attacking them with a fury that I’ve never had before. It feels pretty good to honest. Here’s the thing... When I first started writing, I was crossing my fingers in the hopes of maybe getting a few replies here and there. Just something to say, “Hey! I put myself out there, I did my best, and some folks really liked it!” Obviously, the responses that I began to get from that one story began to overwhelm me within the first few days. And as I wrote more chapters, and then other stories as well...they just kept coming. I was baffled by this, but I had sooooo many ideas that I wanted to turn into stories of their own, that I was filling up whole notebooks with stuff that I had in my head. But what really got to me was when I started answering all of the emails that I was getting at the time. Some of them were so young, you know? Boys just like me when I was their age...just wishing that I had stories like the ones I had seen on Nifty or had written myself. I mean, the responses weren’t just, “Omigod! That was so hot!” Many of them were more like, “Thank you! I wish I had a boyfriend like that!” They were from people telling me about how they grew up, some of them my age, many younger, some older...and things grew from there. Even though I was treating the earliest stories on my site as donations of slightly ‘elaborate porn’, there was a growing majority of people who saw it as much more than that. I began to talk to them through email, made some life long friends, and I began to realize that I wasn’t just creating jack off material online. Teens were reading my stuff and coming out to their friends and parents, some found boyfriends, some older readers found companions online, some were passing the stories on to others so they could enjoy them as well and maybe benefit from them as well. And that truly meant a lot to me. You have no idea. Basically, what I’m saying with this article is...get back on track, you guys! If you’ve given up on your writing...ask yourself if you still have any gas left in the tank. You know? I totally understand if you’re not really the writer type. I understand if it’s less than a hobby for you, and you just had a phase that has passed and you’re done with it. And some of you reading this may have no desire to ever write (Or share your writing) with anybody, ever. That’s cool, and it’s totally up to you. But I’ve learned, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that somebody out there in the world is in desperate need to hear EXACTLY what it is that you have to say! Nobody else is going to reach them the way that you can. Whatever stories and hidden treasures that you’ve got in your head and have been hiding away from the rest of us or procrastinating and claiming that you’ll just do it tomorrow...that message could change somebody’s life. It really can. Sounds wild, doesn’t it? But it’s the truth. Hear me out...it’s the TRUTH! What’s the issue? Ask yourself the question and be honest with the answer. If you’re not a writer, that’s fine. But if you really DO want to write, and just don’t? Then why not? Why not? Look at me...hehehe...why NOT??? What are you waiting for? Are you waiting for life to stop and give you a chance to breathe? It won’t. No matter what you do or how hard you work to finish whatever it is that’s keeping you from writing a new chapter, or just a few new pages...life will always be there waiting on you. The Earth won’t stop spinning. Are you busy at work? Work will always be there. Don’t feel like it? Writer’s block? No new ideas? I mean...you know that sounds like a lame excuse, right? Let’s be honest. You’ve had the same stale ideas in your head for how long now? And you won’t type them out. What’s stopping you? Me, personally...I realize that I happen to be a hopeless insomniac, and I wouldn’t expect that from anyone else. People need sleep. They need to relax sometimes. We all do. But it doesn’t mean that I have any more hours in the day than you guys do. Even when I had a full time job, writing was a discipline that I indulged in. Never too busy, never too tired. I might not be able to FINISH something that I was working on, but only because I was literally falling asleep on the ‘zzzzzz’ button and had to go to bed. ::Giggles:: And that’s what it boils down to. Discipline. If you find your passion lying dormant within you from lack of use or inspiration, then ask yourself why. What made you want to write in the first place? It’s ok if you decide that it’s not for you. No problem with that. But for those of us who really WANT to write and keep strengthening the habit we have to avoid doing so...what are we doing? What’s going on here? Seriously. So...if this is sort of where you find yourself, and want to make an attempt to get back into writing again but are unsure why you feel stuck or uninspired...try to keep these three steps in mind to maybe get yourself back in gear. Nothing major, but you might be surprised how quickly and effectively these soft pushes can get you to start up all over again. K? Number one is very simple...read your notes! If you have any, that is. Me, personally, I always have notes that I have easy access to whenever I need them. Plans that I had in mind for the story when I started, where I left off, where I was going with my ideas...character names, plot points, eye and hair color, physical attributes, etc. Not only does it act as an instant refresher of the story itself, but it often reminds me of what got me so eager and excited to write the story in the first place. It works to put me back in the same frame of mind. Now, I know that many of you guys have stories that you might have started a number of years ago, and it seems like it’s been way too long for you to pick them back up now. And it can be disheartening to fall between the cracks of continuing that story and looking at all the hard work you put into it when you started. But just...read through it again. There was a spark of something that caused you to sit down at your keyboard and start writing it in the first place, right? Well...what was it? Find the spark. The fuel is the easy part. Reconnect with whatever it was that you had to say back then, and use that to get those rusty wheels turning again. Number two? Finish up with all of your other activities! ALL of them! What do I mean when I say that? I’m telling you to relax and remind you that this is your show. You can write or not write whenever you feel like it. But when you pick a night to sit down and make it happen...get all of your distractions out of the way. You want to watch a movie or binge a TV series? Do it. Feel like playing a video game? Do it. It’ll be ok. Go walk the dog, put the kids to bed, spend quality time with your boyfriend, go grocery shopping, cook dinner...whatever it is that you have to do that day...go do it. Have FUN doing it! Even if it’s just watching videos on Youtube or engaging in a healthy stalking of your friends on Facebook...indulge in it and take some time to enjoy it. You see...the thing is...when you try to force yourself to write, your brain goes into this really annoying mode where it comes up with a thousand excuses as to why you shouldn’t be writing right now! Haven’t you noticed it yet? You try to sit down, and all of a sudden it’s like...’Well, as soon as I take out the trash...’ or ‘I should really wash the dishes first’ or ‘I need a cup of coffee to get in the mood’. Spoiler alert...all of that is bullshit. Hehehe! But it’s ok. It really is. Live your life. Have fun, relax, get yourself into a happy place where you don’t feel pressured or intimidated by the task at hand. Get all of your distractions out of the way so when you sit down to start writing...you can feel good about it. You know? You had a pleasant day all to yourself, did everything that you wanted to do...and now you have time to write. It doesn’t have to be a whole lot. Write a little bit. See where you left off...and then continue from there. It doesn’t have to be 100 pages worth of hard work. Just think of the next logical progression in your story, and then finish off a single thought. It might be a few pages, it might be a few paragraphs, it might only be a couple of sentences...but take your story to the next step by completing a single thought that will lead towards the next impactful scene of your story. You’ll be surprised how quickly that can get those creative juices flowing freely again and re-ignite that passion for a story that you thought you were better off giving up on. And the third tip? DON’T beat yourself up over how long it’s been since you’ve written your last chapter! Speaking from personal experience...I doubt that there’s anything more intimidating than the realization that it has been sooooo very long since you’ve written anything on that particular story, or anything at all in some cases. I know that it’s going to rattle around in the back of your brain for a while, but you’ve just got to do what you can to silence that voice so you can create something awesome. I mean...I get it. People won’t even remember where you left off, and you don’t know if you’re the same person now that you were when you started. And I know that you dread having to hear all of the ‘It’s about TIME!’ comments when you share it with your readers! Hehehe! But find a place in your mind and in your heart where none of that matters...and get back to work by isolating yourself in that space so you can concentrate and think clearly for whatever amount of time it takes for you to get back to business. K? Easier said than done...but keep going. It works. Trust me, I know! Anyway...follow those three tips, and stop putting your talent off for tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow! Each one of us has a story to tell the world, and the world will be missing something if we don’t do our part and share the light that we’ve all got within us. Don’t you want people to know your story? It costs you nothing. But it might be someone else’s saving grace in the grand scheme of things. So why not let your voice be heard? Right? As I’ve always said in the past...somebody out there needs to read the exact story that YOU have to tell! Nobody else...but you specifically. And you’re gonna deprive them of that to watch TV? Hehehe, you suck for that. Just saying... I hope this helps you guys to get those engines revved up and you all start writing again! We all have hard times, we all get busy, we all get tired...but our art and our creativity will outlive us all. We owe it to everybody reading to share a piece of ourselves with them. That’s how I feel about it, anyway. Best of luck! And happy writing! Stop reading this and go write something, dammit!!! LOL!
  10. The Slow Burn One of the elements of a really good story that we’ve discussed before on this board had to deal with ‘pacing’. Now, while it seems like such a thing should feel natural and almost effortless to some writers...it’s actually not that way for everybody. In fact, it’s a very delicate balance that I feel should be recognized and respected when it comes to putting a story together in a way that could be considered ‘effective’ when it comes to getting your message and your emotions across to your audience. Too many moving parts can come off as being chaotic and confusing, while too few can come off as directionless and downright boring. For most of the stuff that I put out, I try to balance the two extremes out in a way that will draw readers in and give them a full experience...while still providing enough entertainment to keep them interested and invested in what’s going on. BUT...there are times that I definitely want to slow things down and take my time to build a story that will have more depth and character building than anything that I could write in a ‘confined space’. Things like sex, romance, humor, or direct conflict, are present, sure...but they don’t take center stage until later on in the story. At least not in the way that I imagine it. Now...why would a writer ever want to slow down their pacing when they’re obviously trying to grab the attention of their audience and hold onto it for as long as possible? And if such a thing is possible? How do we pull that off? That’s what we’re talking about today! Feel free to add any thoughts or feelings of your own on this topic, as I’m always looking to learn as much as I look forward to teaching. So...what is a ‘slow burn’, exactly? It’s the craft of telling a story that is heavily focused on the characters involved in the plot, but doesn’t necessarily push for story advancement or major events until the readers are fully immersed in the proper mindset. It might seem like nothing major is happening, but the idea is to give your audience the promise that everything that they’re reading and learning about is all a part of the master plan, and will have some deeper meaning later on. It’s a gradual rise towards something great, if only they’re patient enough to stick with it. I’ve incorporated this technique into quite a few of my stories, and I’ve learned to hone my instincts to leave just enough breadcrumbs along the trail to inspire the kind of patience that I need for the story to work. Nothing major or too flashy...but interesting. That’s where the magic lies. The advantage of writing a slow burn story is that it gives you almost limitless room to explore the ‘space’ of your story and the characters that populate it. There are going to be times when you might feel as though you need to force your way towards that big moment that you think your readers are looking for, and I definitely think that you shouldn’t allow your story to stall in some state of limbo where nothing I happening at all...but if you really have more to say before anything ‘big’ happens...take your time and let it happen naturally. Give yourself some room. Working on a project with a slow burn approach give you time to do some world building (If applicable), or to really give everyone a deeper understanding for your protagonist and the people surrounding them. Ask yourself, what’s the backstory? What’s the motivation? If there are obstacles waiting for your main character on the horizon...what are they? And why do they affect your characters the way it does? Let’s get the whole story from you. I realize that every little tiny bit of information isn’t necessary to tell a story if it isn’t needed...but if you’ve got parts of your story, your character’s history, the relationship that they have with their friends, or their siblings, or their parents...don’t be afraid to add those elements into the mix and explore them at length before rushing to get that first kiss or sexual experience out of the way. Get to know your own characters, and allow your readers to get a chance to know them as well as you do. Sometimes, this can be essential in making a good story GREAT! The idea is to always keep a sense of momentum building in every chapter, even when your main character and your love interest aren’t making out or getting naked for ‘sexy time’. Know where your story is headed, but relax a bit and take some time to weave your protagonist’s mind set into the expectations of your audience. Make it your goal to learn at least ONE new thing about one of your spotlight characters per chapter. Remember when we talked about story arcs? Keep that in mind when you’re doing this. It can be a direct action, a bold piece of dialogue, or even just a series of inner thoughts that shows a change and a progression in your character that you can later use to your advantage. So, when those big moments DO happen in your story...they’ll have increased meaning and purpose to everyone invested in your narrative, because your audience will have gone on that journey with the characters that you’ve taken so much time and such care to build up from scratch. And nothing makes your story more memorable than having your readers be actively involved with your characters’ growth. Trust me. What you need to do as a writer is make sure that you stay focused on the plot that you have planned out from the very beginning. The last thing you want to do is start wandering aimlessly where your readers get lost as to whether this story has a point of not. Concentrate and stay on track! A slow burn is not an abandonment of story structure or an excuse to throw your instincts about story pacing out the window. Please don’t take this article as a license to do that. It isn’t. It’s merely a call to slow down when putting your story together to see things from more than just a few angles. It’s meant to give you room to ‘explore’ as a writer, and create a rich and satisfying experience for the crowd that might actually really like diving deeper into the hearts and minds of the people you’ve written about. The more they connect to your characters...the more they care about them. And the higher the stakes are when it comes to them possibly getting hurt or rejected by the boy of heir dreams. Those stakes will keep readers glued to every word, and it will help to create the kind of momentum that I was talking about. Whether your protagonist needs love, or needs courage, or needs to get over past mistakes and hardships, or simply need protecting...you readers will provide that energy for you when they’re moving from page to page. It’s difficult to explain, but not really all that hard to do. Think about the times you spent hanging out with some of the best friends that you’ve ever had. Sometimes...it’s just a good time for the sake of having a good time, right? Some laughs, some deeper thoughts being shared, a couple of memories exchanged, whatever. But even though you’re not expecting that particular time spent together to be leading towards anything magnificent...it doesn’t lose its significance. You’re building a true connection, a foundation, and a history between characters. This is all a part of the ‘show, don’t tell’ process of writing. What may seem slow and mundane to some is actually a strengthening exercise for your story to take. If your protagonist’s best friend happens to be a bit of a hot head...this is your opportunity to display that through a more involving interaction. Maybe you have that character come close to losing their temper over a simple slip of the tongue or a misunderstood joke. Or, maybe they’re having fun and begin talking about how they both got into a heated brawl on the playground with a couple of punks when they were younger. If it’s some expansive world building that you want to do? This is the time to explore that as well. Is this world heavily ruled by a militaristic regime? Is it a fantasy world full of monsters and magic? Does it take place in the current day, or in the future? Or maybe many decades in the past? A slow burn progression in a story is an opportunity to flesh out the details of the reality your characters have been given to work with. You can get a feel for the lingo and the gestures that are used. You can show your readers the kind of advantages or dangers that they might have during this time or in this particular place. You don’t want to explain everything and cause it to be an info dump that will ultimately overwhelm and possibly confuse your readers. What you want to do is make everything feel three dimensional and ‘real’ by giving the characters, the plot, and the world in which they exist, the feeling that this is simply the way things are and have always been. I believe that it helps to create a certain level of familiarity with the illusion that you’re trying to paint with your fiction. It’s like...whenever I talk to an old friend or a family member that I haven’t seen in ages...my brain has to create a ‘story’ that links the two of us together. I remember old parties that we went to, or sleepovers that we had, or laughs that we shared over the years...and I have a wealth of inside knowledge into who this person is and why we have the relationship that we do. That ‘story’ is what bonds us together. If I had total amnesia and didn’t remember the little things about this person at all, or vice versa...would we still be close? Without that history of random events and knowledge of so-called mundane moments, what would there be left to bond over? The idea of using the slow burn method is to fill in those gaps with something more personal. More emotionally engaging. Sometimes, more often than you would think, I see authors simply using their characters or the scenery around them to simply carry the plot forward without really involving them in the story in any significant way. You read on, and if you were to ask yourself, “Why is this character in the story?”...chances are the answer is, “They’re here to deliver this particular piece of information to my protagonist.” Well...ok. Straightforward, and right to the point. But once the information has been delivered, what else is there for them to do? They either fade into the background, or simply vanish altogether. And they’re simply not needed anymore. Which begs the question... ...Were they ever really needed in the first place? Now, I’m not saying that it’s totally wrong to use certain characters in this fashion, but when you have enough space to explore their necessity in a story, and make them a memorable, three dimensional, part of the narrative...you can create a need for them that goes beyond the ‘one’ thing that they were meant to do. If that makes sense. Otherwise, they come off as that random guy in the red shirt on an episode of ‘Star Trek’. What is their purpose? Their purpose is to die and demonstrate the threat that the characters we care about most will have to face between their last breath and the roll of the end credits. As opposed to series like ‘The Walking Dead’, where even the most beloved and well loved characters may end up not coming home by the end of the show. Using a slow burn to fill everything out and give it some color and meaning can occasionally be a better way to go than using your characters to just move the plot forward from point A, to point B, to point C, with no real involvement beyond that. We all have people in our lives who basically exist in the background as far as our goals and motivations are concerned. I don’t mean for that to sound as bad as it does, but it’s true. Acquaintances, co-workers, people we see in the hallway on our way to class, or that one guy that we always see at the coffee shop or on the bus or train on the way to work. We may turn a blind eye to them as an actual human being...but the truth is, those people have thoughts, passions, wants, and needs, just like the rest of us. The next time you’re out and about...look around you with that in mind. Take a moment to actually see them, and think about who they might be beyond being an ‘extra’ in your personal movie from day to day. A slow burn approach to a story can make the world around you so much more interesting than you might give it credit for...once you get everyone to pay attention. I hope this helps, folks! Happy writing, and I’ll seezya soon! We’ve got so much more to talk about! Hehehe!
  11. Comicality


    Wordless There are many times, while I sit here at this keyboard and stare blankly off into space when I’m trying to find just the right words to express the emotions that I’m feeling in my heart at that moment...the words I need to finish the next sentence or two of the story or chapter that I’m working on at that moment...and words only seem to get in the way. It can be a really aggravating head space to be in when you’re trying to get something finished. It, actually, feels a lot like writer’s block...but after dealing with it for so long, I’ve personally discovered that this isn’t always the case. You know? It’s not writer’s block, because the ideas are THERE! They’re right there on the tip of my tongue (or my fingers, as the case may be)...but I can’t seem to capture them for some reason. They’re all fuzzy and out of focus. Hehehe, it’s like trying to “Karate Kid” catch a fly with chopsticks sometimes. But sometimes...the feelings are simply ‘wordless’. And it takes an entirely different approach and a completely different vocabulary to really fill in those literary pockets when descriptive words are simply the wrong tool for the job. As writers, I totally understand that this is something that comes off as completely insane and ridiculous, seeing as words are the only tool that we really have at our disposal when it comes to conveying any kind of emotion or information to our audience...but hear me out. Because it’s something that I had to learn over the years to navigate around that intimidating block that has wasted countless hours of my time trying to find words that, as far as I know...don’t exist. At least not in any way that could reach the kind of depths of emotion that I was hoping to reach with my next trailblazing project. Hehehe! What can I say? Words can be so unsatisfactory sometimes. But, you know what? I think more people understand that concept than you may realize. And when it comes to the trap of trying to swim through these quagmire pits of desperation and despair, hehehe...sometimes it’s better to lean into it than try to duck and dodge your way around it. You just have to realize it for what it is so that you can switch your game plan up and find an effective way to deal with it. Being wordless in your writing is simply addressing the fact that there are certain parts of our existence that have yet to be explained. Translated. And maybe they were never meant to be. You jut know it when you feel it. And I really do try to incorporate that idea into as many of my stories as I possibly can. Even though I mostly write about teenagers experiencing their very first experience with love, where they’re expected to be lost and wandering through the dilemma with no previous experience and no real guide as to how to handle what they’re dealing with...there’s always a core element to all of my characters that I hope, whether spoken aloud or not, will somehow translate to my fans and they’ll be able to tap in and understand why they do the things they do. How do I do that? I take those blank stare moments of mine...and I talk about them through the character. That’s how. It’s open. It’s honest. And it lets my readers know that I’m not just trying to take a shortcut to keep from stressing my brain out to the point of exhaustion in order to entertain. Hehehe! Like...no! I really don’t know how to convey this message surging through me right now. Please understand...everything can’t be spoken or written down. Sometimes, the ‘shortcut’ would be in using a substitute for the sake of a few sentences. I, personally, think that would be more disappointing than anything else I’ve done with my work so far. As to, what I think, is a perfect display of this concept is the work of cosmic horror king, HP Lovecraft, who’s writings of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, came to light very early on in the 20th century. One thing that always intrigued me about his writing was his ability to take these ‘spaces’ in his writing, these little pockets of wordlessness, and use them to his advantage. If you read his work, it’s like he’s trying to describe the most horrific, most frightening, creatures that have ever been seen by the eyes of human kind. Something that would cause nightmares and paralyzing terror to anyone who would dare to gaze upon it. But...how can you deliver that kind of fear to a mass of people with their own fears and weaknesses, and are strangers to your work? How can you bring this mentally painted picture to a wide community of strangers who have never experienced such a thing before in their lives? His technique is really unique, and it’s something that helped me with own work...even when it came to overwhelming feelings of young love. Lovecraft leans into the whole wordless concept in ways that give his stories a certain feel that other stories don’t have. Which is probably why his influence is still so prevalent in the stories and movies of that genre today, over a century later. The whole ‘language’ is different. These are one of the things that I study when it comes to trying to challenge my own abilities. But he finds real power in the vague descriptions that he gives you. Words like indescribable, unknown, nightmarish, nameless, etc. The idea that he COULD describe it for you...but if he did, you would go mad with terror. Now, to break it down in a mechanical way...there are many details that are left to the imagination and aren’t really ‘described’ at all. But it truly draws you in. And that’s the genius of it all. His work is amazing. This is a motion comic with someone reading the words of HP Lovecraft as they were originally written. Listen to this...and see if you can hear how much he actually describes, and how much he doesn’t. What happens here with a storytelling ability like this...is you encourage your readers to use their imagination and become more of a ‘participant’ in your project instead of a passive observer. Their thoughts, emotions, their memories, their deepest feelings, their fears and insecurities...they are now a part of the story itself. You’ve now put them into the situation and made them a part of what’s going on. That makes your story special above all others. They have enough space to mold and rearrange and make the story their own. This is an essential part of maintaining reader loyalty. You’re not just telling your own story...you’re telling this story for everybody reading. And they will automatically modify the characters to their own personal dream cast without you doing much of anything at all. It’s not a manipulation. It’s a gift that allows your audience to really place themselves in your main character’s shoes and experience everything that they’re dealing with through their eyes. Sometimes, you can say more with silence than you can with words. And what you don’t show, often highlights the things that you do. So don’t be afraid to use that as a tool to involve your audience. If you’re writing a story and you are pulling your hair out trying to find the right words to fill out the scene and get your point across...step back for a moment and take a breath. K? If you CAN find the right words, then by all means, go for it! Wow us all with your ability to say what other writers only wish they could say. There’s honor in that. So a salute, and major respect, to all of you guys that can pull that off. But if you ever feel that the emotion is running away and trying to escape the words that you’re trying to use to describe it? Maybe it’s not worth chasing. Does that make sense? If you feel like the concept is wordless...then say it’s wordless. Focus on it. Use it to make your point. There are MANY people out there who have severe difficulty trying to express their feelings to another person, especially if it’s face to face. The very fact that you have enough insight and self awareness to write a story at all has already put you light years past a vast majority of people out there. I mean what I say when I say that what we do as authors is NOT easy. We may be passionate and dedicated to the art of trying, but to think that it’s even remotely as easy as typing out a high school book report...that’s just bonkers. You’re attempting to translate the most intangible parts of our humanity into words that people can read and understand from every corner of the globe. That’s nothing to scoff at. And if you run out of word...it’s because they weren’t invented yet. Hehehe! I’ve written a few million words myself over the years, and I still run out from time to time. So….I get it. I think the key is to simply embrace that wordlessness in your writing, and use it to your advantage. I mean...what are you feeling, trying to come up with the right words to explain the surge of anxiety and weirdness that your main character is going through? Take that, and try to see it through their eyes instead. What kind of confusion are they going through trying to do what you’re doing while you’re writing their story? Lean into it. It’s indescribable. Unknown. Unfamiliar. Alien. Talk about how difficult it is to put it into words, and use that as your way of...ummm...putting it into words. Hehehe! See how that works? Sometimes you can’t just fill in a true emotional expression with some sort of accessible ‘buzz word’ that people can easily recognize and pretend to relate to, simply because they understand what it means. I’m not saying that it can’t get the job done...but I feel like it can sometimes be a cheap way of doing it. Find ways to use the unspoken parts of love, joy, sadness, fear, or hatred, to your benefit. Know when it’s best to let the emotion speak for itself when given in context to the rest of the story. Cool? Anyway, I hope this makes some sense, you guys! Questions are always welcome down below, but...the whole article is about how certain parts of my writing process are kind of inexplicable, so...hehehe, hopefully this will be enough for now. Take care! And I’ll seezya with more soon! There are sooooo many parts of the writing game that I wat to share with you all! I hope I live long enough to share them all! Go out there! And do it better than I did! ((Hugz)) Later!
  12. 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!
  13. 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!
  14. 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!
  15. 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!
  16. 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!
  17. 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!
  18. 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. 😉
  19. 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!
  20. 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))
  21. 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!
  22. 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!
  23. Comicality


    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!
  24. 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!
  25. 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!
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