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Found 6 results

  1. The biggest trick that any writer can pull off when it comes to their finished product...is making it look like writing is easy. Hehehe, getting your readers to think that you just sat down at a keyboard with a cup of tea or coffee, and tapped into some level of genius to type something out from beginning to end. (Cue snickers and laughter from the writing community.) Obviously, this isn't true. Sure, it becomes easier through practice and discipline, and we get used to the habit of expressing our thoughts in this particular way...but there is nothing 'easy' about writing a story. Not at all. From conception, to creating characters, to plot devices, to dialogue...it takes a LOT of time and patience and skill to pull off a story from beginning to end. You have to juggle a series of different talents all at once, and once you're finished...you've got to edit it and start all over again to catch anything that you may have dropped along the way. Yeah, to say that it's easy to do is not only a mistake...it's an outright lie for many of us. Because of this pleasurable, self torturing, practice that we love so much...it can sometimes cause our most ambitious ideas to seem more intimidating than they have to be. At least that's been my experience so far. There are stories that I wanted to write years ago that still intimidate me to this day. Every time I consider sitting down and just getting it started, I almost get overwhelmed with anxiety about how I'm ever going to create that story, those characters, and actually get it right. I get intimidated by the time I'm going to have to put in. Intimidated by the emotion I'll have to pour in. Intimidated by whatever research I might have to do for the details. I feel the story idea looming over me to the point where I'm forced to back away from it, and like the procrastination savant that I am, hehehe...I put it off until later. And as we all know, 'later' often never comes. This week, I'd like to spend a few moments talking about writer confidence, and maybe clear up the smoke and mirrors aspect of possibly beating the intimidation when it strikes. For me, personally, it doesn't always take some massive new project to intimidate me into shying away from putting the work in. Sometimes, it might just be a particularly important chapter that I'm worried about getting right. Or a specific scene where a big secret is revealed, or a dramatic argument or major event has to come along to change the course of the rest of the story. As I mentioned in a past article, sometimes I know exactly what I want to say and how I want to say it...but there's a 'hesitation' involved anyway. For me, that's WORSE than writer's block! LOL! I can deal with writer's block. But fear or lack of motivation? Nothing makes me feel more helpless when it comes to my writing. Also, there are times when the intimidation isn't even creatively inspired. Sometimes I have to ask myself if I'm going to have the time and the focus to really dive into this new chapter/story the way I want to. What is my work schedule like? What are my friends and family up to? Will I be able to remove myself from the world for a week or two to get this as well polished as I want it to be? Some of you guys have kids or partners that need attention and quality time. Some of you have a busy few weeks of work ahead of you, and you know that's not going to leave you with a lot of energy to write when you come home. There are more factors that you can ever imagine that have to be shifted around in order to concentrate on the task at hand. And that can cause a writer to hesitate as well. It's nothing to feel bad about. It happens. And if you decide that this isn't the time for you to jump into that particular project...then so be it. However, you can't let these things destroy your writer confidence. See...being intimidated by a story, chapter, or important scene, in your project isn't going to be like an explosion at the base of a tower, causing it to crumble to the ground all at once. It's more like an aggressive army of termites. It erodes the foundation in secret. You start making little excuses for why you can't jump into it today. You start getting randomly distracted by things like getting your house cleaned, or a sudden Netflix binge. "I'll do it later" and "I'll get around to it when I have more time" become your mantras, and before you know it...it's six months later and you haven't so much as brought it up on your laptop once in all that time. Don't believe me? Look at your files right now? Do you have any lingering projects that you were going to 'get around to', and haven't? When was the last time you opened that file? It might be longer than you think. Hehehe! It usually is for me. So how can we fix this? I think the first step in starting this new project or getting a previous project back on course comes from asking yourself...'What am I so afraid of?' When I mention fear, I'm not talking about outright TERROR or anything! Hehehe, it's not that serious. But something is stopping you from sitting down and typing out the thoughts and emotions in your heart. What is it? What's bullying you out of tackling the next chapter? Find out what is giving you the most hesitation, and give it some thought. Loosen that knot. And be brutally honest with yourself. Maybe you don't like where the story is going. Maybe you're bored with it. Maybe some negative comments on the last story made you doubt your abilities as a writer. Maybe you have such high expectations for this next chapter that you worry you're not up to the task? Whatever it may be...find it, face it, and think about how you might be able to get around it. Diagnose the problem so you know what to fix. As long as you keep putting it off or making excuses, the actual issue that you might be trying to avoid is going to remain vague and unclear. In fact, you may deny that there is a problem at all. "I can't write tonight because...it's National Hot Dog Day! That's all." Hehehe, yeah, that's not a reason. The second step? Take a leap of faith. Find a few minutes of peace, open that file up...read what you've read so far, maybe doing a soft re-edit and making a few changes along the way, and then move right into the next sentence without hesitating. You just read what you wrote, your memory's been refreshed, you've got the file open, your fingertips are touching the keyboard...do it. Right then and there. Pick up where you left off and just start writing again as if it had only been a few hours since your last entry. If you're starting something brand new from scratch, and you're not sure how to begin...stare at that blank scene and think about ONE thing that you want your readers to know about your main character. And then create an opening scene that displays that one trait or attribute (or flaw). Put them right in the middle of it. Like, let's say that your protagonist is madly in love with some boy on the basketball team, right? Your first sentence... "I don't even really like basketball all that much. But I show up to the high school games for 'him'. Only for him." This is an opener that you can easily build off of. That little bit of text both gives answers and creates questions. The answers? This person is probably in high school. He's infatuated with someone on the team. He doesn't like sports. The questions? Who's speaking right now? Who is 'him'? Why is he so infatuated with him? You've immediately planted the seed, and you know have avenues to pursue your next few sentences. You can get into the thoughts and feelings of the main character, or you can describe the beauty and allure of the boy he's watching on the court. You end up writing a few more sentences to complete your thought...and that thought leads to a few more thoughts. You're already a few sentences deep into this new project, right? You might as well follow that path to the next logical idea. And when you complete that thought, you open the door to two or three more things that you might be able to add. Before you know it, you might be 1000 words into your project, with enough inspiration to keep moving forward. Sometimes, getting your brain to operate in that creative mode will create the momentum needed to get things started, and far enough along to actually enjoy yourself again instead of worrying about whatever problem you had getting started in the first place. Believe me, it works. But only with practice. I feel much more confident when I play around with my stories and sort of feel my way through it. I have to put things into motion, and that takes a push and a few extra nudges when I feel myself getting distracted again...but once I actually start writing and get my wheels turning again, the intimidation of taking that project head on ceases to be a problem. I think about what I'm feeling, and what I want a certain scene to accomplish, and I just keep feeling my way around until I feel good by what i see on the screen. That doesn't mean that everything I write is going to be flawless or error free. I don't even worry about that part. The emotion is what matters most. Capturing that moment, and bringing it to the people reading. Most of the time, I'll start a sentence without any idea as to how it'll end. The same way that I might have a spoken conversation with a friend. I don't plan what I'm going to say ahead of time, or what he/she will say after that, and how I'll respond. Stay in the moment. That's important. more times than not, the intimidation you feel is coming from this magnificent vision of what the final product is going to be. But you haven't built it yet. Don't start worrying about the dangers of life on Mars when you haven't even figured out how to get there yet. Hehehe, one brick at a time. I'll just start writing a sentence, let the emotion sort of swirl around in my head for a bit, and I may stop halfway to stare off into space for a second or two, trying to find that one magic word to add next...and then keep going. Don't worry about it being good enough. Worry about it being honest enough. Take one step, and then another, and then another. Learn to trust your instincts. The only way to do that is by putting your instincts to work for you. They're like any other muscle in the body. You have to give them a workout in order to strengthen them. Build them up, sentence by sentence, through little leaps of faith. With time and practice, it'll become second nature to you. Your confidence will grow, your instincts will become more involuntary...and then...there will be these truly magical moments when you truly feel in tune with what you're doing. You own it. You start typing and you feel as if you're in complete control of everything that you're doing, to the point where you might get in the zone and turn out half a chapter in one sitting. Let me tell you, that's the greatest feeling in the WORLD! There are nights when I feel like I'm playing this keyboard like a piano at the Philharmonic! And when I click that 'save' button...I'm truly proud of the work I put in, and get excited for the reaction I might get back from the readers. Now...mind you...I might come back the next day, look at it, and rip it to pieces again, because we're all our own worst critics. LOL! But at least I put the work in, and I got it done. That hesitation that I felt because I was intimidated by my own expectations of what I wanted the story or chapter to be didn't beat me. It didn't bully me out of my creative expression, and once I actually made the decision to get it started, it wasn't anywhere near as scary as difficult as I thought it would be. But it will be a leap of faith. Each and every time. That's not going to change, but you learn to deal with it. And before you know it...you'll have much more written than you ever though possible. As always, I hope this article helps any of you guys who might be struggling with a few 'I'll get to it later' issues as well. Whether it comes to you starting something new, getting back into something old, or even going back to edit and ultimately publish a story that's already finished...you can get it done. Just find your earliest opportunity to sit at your keyboard, and dive right in without waiting. You're all creative people, and you've spent a long time honing your craft. Have enough faith in your instincts to carry you once you make the effort to get started. Start writing, and let your instincts take the wheel from there. They won't fail you. Take care! And I'll seezya next weekend!
  2. Can you guys believe that this is the 47th writing article I've done already? LOL! I talk too much! Geez! Reaching that big 50th milestone in the next few weeks! Can't wait! Anyway, let's get into it, shall we? Whenever you read something, whether you actually realize it or not, you are speaking the words on the page/screen aloud in your head. Even while you're reading these words right now...there's a voice in your head narrating the text for you. Then again, there are some people who actually read out loud, and that's ok too. However, when you read something in your head, even though you don't have to use your lips or your tongue or control your breathing...the same rules apply. Somewhere in the back of your mind, you may find yourself doing these things anyway. And I'm willing to bet that a majority of your readers do too. When I talk about writer 'flow', I'm talking about the ease and comfort that people experience when reading the words that you wrote. This is an aside from content, plot, or character. It's different. Subtle. You have to make an effort to notice it and smooth things out if you want your project to be as awesome as it possibly can be. How do we do that? Well, that's what this weekend article is all about! So...let's talk about writer 'flow'! Have you ever read a story that you really LIKED, but kept stumbling over words every now and then...preventing you from loving it as much as you really wanted to? Sometimes its due to spelling errors, or maybe just awkward wording in a sentence, or sometimes there's a language barrier and certain phrases don't translate well. Whatever it is, it can cause that inner narrator to pause or get confused, and that can interrupt the flow of a story. See...there's a rhythm in writing that may seem natural to you guys as authors, but the truth is, it's a skill that you build over time with a ton of practice. If we go back and read our earlier works, we may be able to see the difference in our old rhythm and our new one. At least that's how it is for me. The word usage isn't as refined, the sentences aren't as well structured...I can always tell my older work from my newer stuff. I guarantee you that my readers can too. So, I think it's important to go back and pay attention to what we've done in the past and compare to what we do now. You may be surprised to see a pretty big evolution there. I really started noticing this when I began re-editing my stories for eBook releases. Some sentences needed to be rewritten to keep from sounding...'clumsy'. Sometimes I would add new material, reword certain scenes, or add a little finesse to the dialogue to make sure that the rhythm that I was looking for could be maintained throughout the project. The first rule of creating a flow for your stories? Keep it consistent. Let the tone and feel of your scene play itself through, and then if you decide to shift speeds, segue into it as smoothly as possible. Try to picture the colors changing, like a sunset. It doesn't go from high noon to midnight in a snap. There's a slow and steady transition from one to the other. A sunset. A sunrise. Give yourself enough space to move through your story with graceful curves instead of harsh angles. Hmmm...wait, is this making sense? Hehehe, let me try to put this into words that may seem a bit more 'user friendly'. There's nothing mystical or philosophical about writer flow. It's just a means of taking notice of what you're doing and how you're doing it. When you get a chance, read some of your writing out loud to yourself. Treat it like an actor's audition. Put your feeling and emotion into it. Look at the text on the screen, think about the character and the scene, and then read it out loud. If you have trouble with a word or two, or if it sounds awkward when read aloud...think about how you could change that sentence around to make it sound better and create the emotional vibe that you're going for. Sometimes, changing a single word or adding a few extra can create a whole new 'feel' for your story. I happen to be a bit obsessive about this kind of thing, myself. Hehehe, which is one of the reasons that I know that anyone who offered to be my editor would end up in a mental hospital by the time I got through nitpicking my own stuff to the point of madness. But stories are personal portraits of who I am. If I don't feel it, how can I expect my readers to feel it. So, occasionally I read through a sentence or line of dialogue, and I'll realize that it could be done a little bit better. For example, sometimes I'll say something like..."We stared at each other." Which is simple enough, but I might go back later and change it to..."We stared at one another." it's saying the same thing, but sometimes 'one another' sounds slightly more intimate in my mind. (Hehehe, I told you it was insanity!) I might change the word 'hug' to 'embrace', or the word 'beauty' to 'allure'. It all depends on how I'm reading the sentence and how it makes me feel. Always be aware of your emotions when you're reading your own work. You'll know when you've got the flow just right. Just keep at it. Now, if you find yourself reading out loud and you stumble over the way a sentence is worded...fix it. Try thinking about what you're trying to say with that particular sentence, then close your eyes and try to convey the same message 'naturally'. As if you were talking to a random person on the street. Treat the story as if it was some sort of high school or office gossip that you witnessed yesterday, and now you're telling somebody else about it. Don't think about the writing aspect of it. No mechanics, no structure...just say it like you would say it to a regular person. Let it come out smoothly. If you speak a different language, say it in your own language where you feel most at home, and let it roll out naturally. It's possible to overwork a sentence and over plan our dialogue when we're writing. Sometimes simplicity is the key. If you find yourself having to reread a sentence, if there's a clumsy jumble of words on the page, if you run out of breath or feel that there's an awkward pause that shouldn't be there...get rid of it. Smooth it out. Grab some mental sandpaper and wear it down until those rough edges are gone. Because if you stumble physically, you'll stumble the same way mentally. And so will your readers. As I've mentioned in previous articles, the length of your sentences create pacing. Make sure that the pacing matches the tone that you're looking for. Longer sentences slow things down. It gives your readers time to absorb more details, inhale all of the fragrances you've provided them, experience beauty and color. You can use this tactic to flesh out emotional events and deep conversations. Shorter sentences, however, speed things up. This makes the heart beat faster. It puts you in a different state of mind. Short sentences can be used to increase tension. To enhance the heated back and forth of an argument. To shuffle your readers through an intense action scene. Every time you use a period, it's like an editor's cut in a movie. Cut, cut, cut, cut...look over there, look over here now, back to you. But always remember to try to keep your flow consistent from one moment to the next. Don't throw your readers off with a weird mix of the two. Remember the sunset? If you start off with long sentences that are full of detail and flowery language...and then want the scene to change into something more aggressive or intense...start making your sentences shorter and shorter as you progress forward. Let it smoothly transform from one extreme to the other without it coming off as jolting or out of place. And vice versa for the opposite effect. Again, this is subtle when it comes to writing, but if you read enough stories and have practiced writing your own, you'll be able to 'feel' the difference once you start paying attention to it. Now...this isn't an exact science. Nothing artistic or creative ever is. That's what makes art beautiful. The freedom from rules and regulations, and the dreamlike ability to express yourself without boundaries. But I hope that bringing your attention to the idea of writer flow will help you to notice it a bit more when your writing your own story or reading somebody else's. That way, you can build your own methods of pulling this off and develop your own instincts on how to use it to be the best writer you can be. I feel that writing is both an art and a craft. The craft is being able to put words together and tell a good story. But the art is being able to transcend that craft and translate your emotions for your readers to feel it the way that you do. That only comes with dedication and practice. So keep at it! And I'll be cheering for you the whole way! Take care! And happy writing!
  3. Flashing back to some time around 2006 or so... I remember being really excited to join forces with another massively popular writer here on Gay Authors, and we were secretly trading emails back and forth, putting a story together so we could both bring our individual talents to the table and make something really special. The working title for the story was "Turn A Blind Eye", and the author was @DomLuka. If you haven't read any of Dom Luka's stories on the site, I highly recommend doing so. He's amazing! I still have some of the emails saved. Nobody knew about the potential team up, as it was meant to be a surprise, but I was a big fan. I looked forward to it. The idea was for each of us to take a character (Alex and Bryce), and write the story from two different points of view. My chapters would be from Bryce's POV, and Dom's would be from Alex's POV. Unfortunately, much to my regret, the story never came to be. We began working on it, but his schedule and mine were too hectic and unpredictable for us to really coordinate our efforts and make it happen. Life gets in the way, sometimes. Not to mention that we were both focused on continuing series of our own on our individual sites at the same time. So it was hard to pull off that particular magic trick, hehehe! But...Dom if you're still out there somewhere? Hehehe, I'm ready when you are, dude! This week, the topic is writer collaboration! How to jump into it, how to smoothly navigate your way through it, and how to combine your best instincts with the instincts of another author that you're eager to work with. I think that working with another writer can be a truly positive learning experience for both parties. Joining your passion with the passion of another author brings the best out of you sometimes. You begin to examine your similarities as well as your differences, and it gives you another perspective on the craft of putting a story together in general. Now, it's extremely difficult for me to collaborate with other writers these days, personally, because I'm constantly juggling a ton of chainsaws at once as far as my 'Comsie Work' is concerned, but I can tell you from experience that I really enjoyed participating in other writer projects when I got the opportunity to do so. It was FUN, learning other characters and storylines that weren't my own, and being able to put a bit of a personal spin on them. You should try it sometime, if for no other reason than you might enjoy the challenge. There was a vampire story that I began on the "GFD: Blood Bank" site called "Lost In Shadow", where I basically set up a cast of characters and a situation that had to be dealt with by writing the first chapter. Then I passed the second chapter off to another author, who was given total freedom to carry the story in any direction that he wanted. The third chapter was picked up by somebody else, and so forth and so on. This Round Robin story was a lot of fun to work on, but, of course...it's hard to keep something like that for any length of time. People have different writing habits, different works schedules, different family obligations...and then there's just plain writer's block lurking around the corner. Hehehe! But, for a while, I LOVED it! I'd love to start from scratch and finish "Lost In Shadow" off as an ebook someday. But that's another story for another time. If I had any tips for tackling a joint project with someone else, I'd narrow them down to the following four suggestions. Everything else, you'll just have to feel out and work through on your own. That's part of the fun, after all. Plan ahead! If you're going to collaborate with another writer, you are both going to have to come up with a game plan before you start writing. Full stop. Don't start a story without getting together in some way and discussing what you guys want to accomplish. When I say 'plan ahead', I don't mean...you plot out the whole idea and story on your own, and then contact the other author to see if he or she would be interested. Hehehe, that's not a true collaboration. The whole point is for you both to create something as a team. So, start with a blank screen, talk to one another, and start building the story together. Figure out a theme, come up with characters, bounce some ideas back and forth with each of you having a say in what you're constructing from the ground up. Not all writers (Or writing styles) are compatible with one another, so you'll have to find a way to mend the two disciplines in a way that inspires, challenges, and strengthens, you both. This is something that you might want to figure out before you put the hard work in. Think a few chapters ahead. Where are you going with this? How will you separate the chapters? What kind of 'events' do you want to happen along the way and which one of you is going to handle that? These are all things to think about before you get started. I know how easy it is to just say, "Yay! I want to write something with this person or that person!" And have no plan going into it. Take some time, get those details fleshed out a little bit and figure out how you're going to trade off your duties as you go along. Communicate! No, the conversation doesn't stop at the planning stages! Hehehe! The thing about writing your own stories without having to pass your pre-planned ideas or spontaneous instincts on to a partner, is the fact that you two (or however many people you're working with) can quickly end up getting in each other's way if you're not communicating. You may take the story in a direction that ends up completely ruining the ideas and creative goals of the other writer. And vice versa. One writer might paint the main characters into a corner, making it difficult for the next writer to get them out of it. You want to work with each other, not against each other. Being in constant contact is essential in making sure you guys are on the same page. If you have ideas, share them with your collaborator(s). If you want to do something big a few chapters down the road, and want to start building up those plot points earlier on? Let your partner know. Hell, they might even be able to help you set things up with their contributions as well. But you have to make sure you work that out ahead of time. If you decide, in chapter 3, that you want Jack and Harry to get married in chapter 10...and your writing partner decides that Harry gets torn to pieces by wild hyenas in chapter 7...hehehe, well, obviously you guys are going to have a major conflict there. So keep sharing your ideas with one another to make sure your individual contributions to the same story are compatible. Pay attention to continuity! This is important. Even if your writing styles are vastly different, you can still create the illusion that this is all the same story, written by the same talent. However, you've got to make sure that you're keeping the story straight in your head in terms of continuity. For me? The stories and characters that I've written over the years are always in my head and close to my heart. And even I get my OWN continuity mixed up from time to time! So you have to pay extra attention when it comes to the continuity of your partner's characters and plot points. Don't have someone's eyes change from blue to brown, or have a shy guy suddenly start beating up bullies at school. Obviously, if your collaborator has a character who's father passed away...and in your next chapter, you have him randomly show up to a family dinner...hehehe, that's going to create a serious 'WTF?' moment for everybody reading! So make sure that you know both your side of the story, as well as your partners', and keep things consistent. This should be easy if you're keeping up with tip #2 above. Don't 'bully' the story! Competition between creative minds is ok. It's natural. Consider literature a sport when you're writing. Put your best foot forward, and get your writing partner to do the same. BUT...don't bully your way through the storytelling. As a writer, you know that it can be a very personal and isolated practice to create a story. We get used to working alone. So, it's easy to fall into the habit of controlling everything that is being said and done in a story. You may have a vision of how you think things should go, and you want to almost force events to follow your ideas to a tee. Yeah...you have to ease up on that. If you want this to be a true collaboration, then you have to make room for another author's voice. Again, this goes back to the 'communication' rule. Talk. Think things out, share ideas, make compromises...give the other author just as much room as you would want them to give to you. If it was just going to be 'your' story, then why collaborate at all? Let your partner breathe. Let them work their own particular brand of magic, and look at it as a challenge to show readers what you've got in response. There's no better feeling than matching wits with another awesome writer, and leapfrogging over one another to bring your 'A' game to the same project. Appreciate the team effort, and the effort will appreciate you in return. Alright, that's it for this week! If you guys are ever looking for a unique experience and want to stretch your writing muscle a bit further than usual, try collaborating with another writer. It's a really great way to find things out about your own writing process as well as the habits of others. Give it a shot! Food for thought! Hope it helps! Seezya next week!
  4. Comicality

    Conflict

    Conflict... ″I love you!″ ″I love you more!″ ″Unh unh! I love YOU more!″ ″No way! I love you more than ANYTHING in this world! I love you to infinity!″ ″M′kay! You win! Kiss me!″ Mwah mwah mwah mwah...blechhh! Hehehe! Honestly, how long can a story like this go on before folks get the point and grow weary of the content? There are only so many ways to say ′I love you′. Only so many ways to hang out and have a good time. Only so many holes to fill in a sexual encounter. Hehehe! It may seem sweet from chapter to chapter to see your protagonist and his special love interest get all warm and cozy, whispering sweet nothings into one another′s ear every time they get together...but even for a HUGE romantic like myself, I can honestly say that it doesn't take long before that schtick gets old. Maybe not right away, but over time...you might need something more than just a lovey-dovey situation where one hot guy compliments another hot guy on how hot they are and they go off somewhere to have sex while the readers watch. You HAVE to change things up sometimes. It′s just one of the rules in the game when it comes to keeping people interested in your characters and the story that you′re trying to tell. There are plenty of emails in my inbox right now, begging..."PLEASE don't let anything bad happen to these two! EVER! Keep it happy! I can't handle any drama in this story!" And...well...sorry. Like...how would that be any fun to read? I don't get it. There's got to be SOME sort of conflict on the horizon to keep people coming back for the next chapter. I mean...right? You wouldn't want to read the same marshmallow sweetness for ten chapters in a row. What would be the point? I'm not trying to anger or depress anybody...but a life without any struggle just isn't realistic in my opinion. Let them have a few snags in their fairy tale ever now and then. What's wrong with that? Come on! It'll be fun! I promise! Hehehe! Not every story has to be an overly dramatic soap opera. Everything doesn′t have to have moments of shock and awe and plot twists that drops your reader′s jaw by the end of the chapter. But...people in real life are different. We have different tastes, different views on life, different beliefs, different interests. And even if all of those things were, somehow, made out to be compatible...we still have mood swings. We have good and bad days. We deal with problems and misfortunes. It′s realistic. Why not make that a part of your story? Not to exploit your characters for the sake of drama...but to enhance those moments and create momentum by showing your readers how they deal with those differences. Who would your characters be if they were under the pressure of a highly emotional situation? Who would they be if confronted and forced to defend themselves in a physical fight or an argument? How would they react to some serious temptation? How would they react to the loss of a loved one or a best friend? Conflict in a story not only spices up your story, but it fills in the little corners of your characters′ personalities in ways that wouldn′t be evident in an ′oh so perfect′ storyline where all they do is kiss and giggle all day long. SO...today, let′s talk about the concept of ′conflict′! And how to effectively use it to up the ante on your writing in a way that will keep people coming back for more. The first rule of conflict is...don't put too much emphasis on the rules of conflict. Hehehe! I know that sounds backward, considering the theme of this article, but it's true. Conflict doesn't always have to be a Batman/Joker kind of confrontation. Never feel like you have to go over the top with the friction you create between your main characters. It's not always necessary. Conflict is simply a difference of opinion. It can be as big as someone cheating on their boyfriend with their older brother...or it can be as simple as one boy is out of the closet as being gay, and the other one isn't. Maybe the 'conflict' takes the form of a long distance relationship. Maybe the love interest has had bad experiences with sex and affection and doesn't want to jump back into that arena without some sort of a guarantee that they won't be hurt again. Whatever their differences are...use them in your story. There doesn't always have to be a 'black and white' kind of fight when it comes to conflict. Your characters don't have to be mortal enemies. In fact, they may not be enemies at all. They simply have an issue, an obstacle, or a belief, that creates a disconnect between them. The conflict is created by how much you focus on that disconnect and the level of intensity you want to apply to it. I've found that mild conflicts are a bit less dramatic, but a lot more realistic. It takes practice to find a balance that you're comfortable with as a writer. Anyone reading my earlier stories can see how major events sort of take place in almost every chapter. It's almost like watching reality TV shows, where something spicy has to happen in order to keep the ratings up. But once I began to relax a bit more and find my stride, I allowed those dramatic events to spread themselves out a bit more. I felt more comfortable being subtle by introducing a conflict between characters and playing with the intensity a little bit at a time...until it's time for the main event, and then I can crank it all the way up and create moments of true hostility that readers saw coming and were just waiting for the other shoe to drop. The audience already knows where the disconnect is, and they know why it's there, but as the warm water heats up, the anticipation for this inevitable showdown between the two can come off as a lot more rewarding. I also believe that conflict works best when your readers can see the logic in both sides of the argument. That's an important part of the audience getting involved in the story. They're forced to ask themselves, "Well, if it were me...what would I do?" It's a lot fun to create a character that's just a pure evil antagonist to your perfect and well-meaning main character. It's entertaining to have a villain that people just love to hate. But, as the saying goes, every villain is the hero of their own story. I've known some people who are just...assholes. Let's be real. Those people exist. But I've also found that they aren't doing it just to be evil. There's a reason for it. There's an issue there, a thought process behind their actions, or some form of damage. And sometimes people are just il and water when they're in the same room together. So even when I have characters who pose a direct threat to my protagonist, I like to attempt to shine a light on who they are and what their motivations may be. Let your readers get a glimpse as to why they're doing the things they do, and maybe give your protagonist a few flawed moments when they're at fault as well. Maybe they'ree being paranoid, or jealous, or unfair, or just mean for the sake of being mean. Juggle back and forth between one flawed individual and the other so the conflict carries some nuance and complexity to their relationship. Nobody's perfect, but every unlikable character isn't a heartless psychopath either. Play around with that. Hehehe, Lord knows I have! And sometimes, the readers end up liking my villain even more than my protagonist! So...be careful. Sometimes it backfires! Anyway, that's my weekly babbling on conflict. Look at the characters in your story, and see if you can recognize the struggle in each of them. Conflict isn't just about right and wrong. Sometimes it's just about being 'different'. As always, I hope this helps! Have fun writing! And I'll see ya next weekend!
  5. Not long ago, I wrote a short article on the concept of ″Show, Don′t Tell″, and made sure to add that both sides of the equation are needed to tell a good story. When it comes to exposition, it is the skillful use of both show and tell in unison that can give your story a smooth and natural feel, while still giving the audience the tools it needs to fully understand what′s going on. Finding a way to finesse both sides takes a little practice, but once you nail it down, it will pretty much become automatic in your writing process. So that′s the topic for today! Let′s talk ′exposition′! Exposition is basically a way to fill your readers in on everything that′s going on with your story. Details like time, location, character details, what period the story takes place in, and more. Who are these characters? Where did they come from? What is their background? It′s fuel for the imagination, and it gets the writers and their readers on the same page as far as kicking things off and keeping them going from beginning to end. This is especially important if writing something from the supernatural or science fiction/fantasy genre, or in a story that takes place during some sort of past era or during a historical event. The world building aspect makes exposition super important so your readers can grab onto the rules of society and boundaries put in place for what they′re about to read. Now, exposition is a bit more ′tell′ than ′show′, but I′ve always thought that it was important to figure out how to find a decent balance between the two, regardless. Doing it out of balance can slow the entire flow of your story, and that′s not good. There are two ways of delivering exposition...narration (Or simply what you write about the characters and their situation) and dialogue (What the characters say out loud to one another). Without balance...giving an entire ′info dump′ of narration all at once can seem a little complicated and boring. While having a character deliver 100 years worth of backstory in one long winded speech can seem weird and unnecessary. It would be like randomly asking a stranger on the bus how they′re doing and having them tell you their life story without so much as taking a break to realize that you only wanted to hear, ″Fine. How are you?″ as a response. We want to give readers details, but we don′t want it to be a stumbling block in the story itself. Not easy, but possible. One thing that I′ve learned over time is that exposition goes a lot smoother when it′s spread out over time. Not only does it keep your audience from getting bored, but it actually makes future chapters more engaging as your audience finds out a little bit more information as they keep reading. Things get a little deeper, layers are added, characters become more developed. It builds momentum in your storytelling. Much better than explaining everything all at once in the first ten pages of your story and having everyone try to remember it all for later use. Many readers look at exposition and treat a lot of the info as, ″Is this going to be on the test?″ So trying to cram a ton of details into their brain all at once can be a bit of an overwhelming experience. Trim it down. Think about what′s most important for them to know right away, tell them what they need to know to get started, and then add more details along the way. I′ve always found that it works out better that way in terms of reader involvement. So, how do we choose between ′showing′ and ′telling′ when it comes to delivering the important information? And how do we trim it down in an efficient manner? When I first started writing stories on Nifty, I used to always make sure that I mentioned the fact that my main character was gay. I was still brand new to writing gay fiction, and I always felt it was necessary to make that distinction so my readers wouldn′t suddenly be caught off guard. That...was totally unnecessary. Hehehe! I was writing gay fiction on a gay website for gay readers. There was hardly any ′surprise′ involved when it came to the fact that my main character was a homosexual. So I don′t feel the need to add that detail anymore. That can be ′shown′ to anyone reading, simply by stating the fact that this is a boy who finds another boy attractive. The fact that he′s gay is demonstrated through his feelings and his actions, and the audience will immediately come to the conclusion of, ″Oh, so he′s gay. Got it. Moving on.″ Done. The information has been delivered, and I didn′t have to muddy up the waters by explaining to my readers what′s going on. They got the memo, now let′s keep going. You can ′tell′ your readers what they need to know without actually ′telling′ them at all. Use your prose to set up situations that will deliver the message you want them to receive. Like...you could begin a story like this: ′It was a particularly cold Winter night. I was huddled in a tent with three other soldiers, dreading the next battle against the Confederates that was sure to come just before dawn. I think about my dearest sister Eliza, back home...and I pray that her and the baby are alright.′ Now...in those first few sentences, you can cover a lot of ground in setting the stage for your audience. What has this small section suggested to us as readers? We know that it′s Winter time. We know that our main character is a soldier during a time of war. We know what side he′s fighting for and what side he′s fighting against. We know that he′s frightened and worried about going into battle. We know that a battle is quickly approaching. We know that has a sister, named Eliza, and that she has a baby back home, and he loves them both dearly. There we go. ALL of that information was given to your readers in the first three sentences of your story, and your audience is immediately engaged in what′s going on, and intrigued by what might happen next. You don′t have to explain the entire history of the Civil War, or talk about the horrors of combat, or mention that the soldier is straight or gay or anything like that. The audience has the foundation set for the story you′re trying to tell, and that′s all they need for right now. Later on, maybe you write a scene where the soldier wakes up the next morning, and while feeding on breakfast rations, your main character looks over and sees another soldier that he thinks is beautiful beyond words. (″Oh, so the main character is gay″) You can use that moment to mention that he′s been camping out with them for the past three months, you can give his infatuation a name and a description, you might hint at a few friendly moments between them that gives your audience a hint of their relationship...and then jump right back to the main plot of the story. Just give bits and pieces of information at a time when it′s useful, and keep your momentum going forward. Don′t stop for an info dump of details that aren′t directly relevant to that particular scene. The same goes for all stories. At the very beginning of ″Jesse-101″, I started off with a bit of narrative exposition to detail an event that led up to the exact point where the story begins. Something that I felt was necessary to set the stage. But after those first few paragraphs, the main character, Tristan, is simply talking to his best friend, Lori, in his bedroom. While the opening scene is mostly dialogue, I tried to use their back and forth conversation to deliver the exposition needed for the audience to get a clear picture of what was going on and dive right in with no further explanation. Just from their banter, you learn that Tristan is in high school, he′s only out to his best friends and no one else, that he and Lori share a history of friendship together, that Tristan sees himself as being a bit ′sissy-ish′ and doesn′t have much in common with other boys his age, that he′s dealing with a recent rejection...that one conversation delivers a TON of needed information to the readers about the story, but without just having me write the details down in a narrative with no human interaction or emotional involvement. The bonus to giving exposition through dialogue is that you not only get important details and story plot points out there, but you get a sense of your characters′ personalities as well. You kill two birds with one stone, and you flawlessly move from ′tell′ to ′show′ without your audience even being aware of it. See? It′s all magic! Hehehe! So...all in all, exposition is a part of writing a good story. It′s necessary. I know that there are critics who will pick it apart and try to make the ′E′ word something awful and lazy and worthy of dismissal, but it′s not. It is a necessary function when it comes to telling an effective tale and bringing people into the world that you′ve created. Don′t be afraid to give your readers a map to navigate through the situations that you′ve got planned for them, but don′t be afraid to have faith in their intelligence either. The actions and dialogue of your characters will infer and display the story details your readers need to know for them to understand what′s happening without you telling them directly. They′ll get it. ″Oh, this person is taking an insulin shot every morning before breakfast. He must be diabetic.″ Or, ″The main character is being woken up by his mom opening the shades and telling him to come down for breakfast. He must be a teenager.″ Or, ″This guy is wearing a skin-tight costume, and he′s perched on a rooftop looking down at the dark city landscape for criminals doing wrong. He must be some sort of hero or vigilante.″ Whatever. ′Tell′ in some parts. ′Show′ in other parts. And train yourself to know the difference, and what will be most effective in any given situation. Ok, I′ve babbled on for long enough! Stop reading this and get back to writing! The world needs more of your genius! Hmmm...I wonder if this whole article counts as exposition. Food for thought, I guess. Best of luck! And I hope this helps!
  6. Hello Everyone! I Love this site and the community that you have formed! I'm the editor of a gender queer E'zine, and have spoken with Myr, and the others that run this site for you. They have agreed to allow me to post this call for submissions here as an opportunity for those of you that write non-fiction. Our E'zine is part of a larger community site who's mission is to provide world-class education, and a place of safety for ALL those who do not fit into gender stereotypes. We are doing this as a service to our community. We too believe in developing and promoting gay writers. All authors who's writing is chosen for publication on our site will be encouraged to include active links to their work here. Submission details are below. Spectrum is a magazine dedicated to providing a place for gender queer individuals to speak out about information and issues that affect us all. The gender queer spectrum includes those who identify as Trans, Bi-gendered, Femme, Butch, boi, Androgynous, Agendered, and many other gender terms that are not well known yet. This is a place dedicated to honoring the full expression of gender that humanity is capable of. As a publication of ideas and perspectives, we offer a forum through which gender queer writers, scholars, and readers can use the internet to deeply explore themes of interest to our rich blend of identities. We trace our roots to our gender queer pioneers at places like Stonewall that existed all over the world. We welcome and encourage today's emerging queers as they discover their own gender identity and expression. Spectrum looks to spark discussion that is informed, and current while providing a much needed link to the history of the gender queer movement. Submissions We accept submissions of news, reviews, opinion, commentary, and nonfiction that has a gender queer subject/slant/impact and pertains to the following categories; ** News & Politics, Love & Sex, Media & Arts, Hero's & History, Gender Theory, Non-Traditional Families, Global Events. **Feel free to contact us before writing to gauge the usefulness of your story idea, but note that any and all manuscripts are submitted on speculation. We print the best and most appropriate material to meet the needs and expectations of our readers at the time. Your submission may not be accepted if we may have similar stories already, a backlog of features, or have already covered the topic in a recent issue. Don't be discouraged; your piece might be perfect for a future issue. We will keep it in our archives for just such a purpose. We are happy to work with new writers who are queer or have insights of interest to our readers. All individuals who's work is accepted will have a unique author profile which will include a bio and publication history. Word Count Due to the wide ranging subject matter we do not have a maximum word count. We are looking for concise event and review material as well as feature length articles. Minimum word count for reviews is 450. How To Submit Send submissions to Tribequeer@gmail.com: – Attach the story in RTF or DOC formats. – In the subject line put the SUBMISSION (in all caps), your name and word count. – In then body of the email, put your name, pen-name (if any), contact information, a short bio, two to three lines, as well as any credits or relevant websites you wish to plug. – The story should be double-spaced, in a readable font, and as you originally formatted it; paragraphs indented, italicized words in italics, etc. It is helpful to our editors if you follow standard manuscript guidelines (Though no story will be rejected for failure to follow them to the letter). Response Time Spectrum will respond to your submission as soon as possible; our policy is to have a response to all submissions within 1 month. Editorial Caveat Stories should be thoroughly proofread before submission. We do understand that minor mistakes will slip by and we will correct them before publication on the website. Minor grammatical changes may be made to the story; however, we will seek the author’s permission before publication. Publishing Rights We do not ask for first North American publishing rights to your work; whatever you send us can be submitted again to another publication. If you do send us a piece that has already been published or exhibited elsewhere, please include the name of the venue and the date of your publication/exhibit so that we can post the appropriate credits. However, we do ask that you not send us any simultaneous submissions.
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