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Found 24 results

  1. Adjectives... The simple act of using extra words to further describe the sights, sounds, and feels, of the picture that you're trying to paint for your audience. A single adjective can change the whole perspective of the current scene that your readers are engaged in at the moment. For example, let's say they walk into their bedroom and there's a body laying in their bed. Ok, so what does that mean? The truth is...it can mean a LOT of things. An adjective will set the tone for the entire moment that you're immersed in. Is it a 'sexy' body? Maybe it's a really hot guy, and he's been waiting for your main character to come home from work. That's going to paint a whole picture for everybody that's reading it. However...what if it's a 'dead' body? Oh my! Well, that's a whole different scenario now, isn't it? What if it's the sleeping body of a relative or a close friend? What if it's a 'strange' body that your protagonist doesn't recognize? And he's asleep while your main character tries to figure out who the hell he is. This can go an almost infinite number of ways, and the adjective is the key to opening the portal to the story that you're trying to tell. Further adjectives can add even more finesse to pictures in your head, and can entice your audience to lean in and want to investigate further. Just the right adjective at just the right time can turn a plain, informational, sentence into a work of art. So use them wisely. It matters. While writing, there will be many times when simplicity is best. But, whenever you can, try to avoid using words like 'things' and 'stuff' and 'a lot of people' and words that are functional...but extremely vague. I'm not saying that you have to stress yourselves out trying to come up with something overly poetic or witty, but try to keep from making this foggy, unclear, words a crutch to lean back on. Because when you go back and look at your work later, you might be shocked how many times you use them. Adjectives are unlimited...learn how to weave them into your narrative. Be descriptive. Let your readers see what you see, feel what you feel. It makes for a better reading experience. Now, professionally...I won't beat around the bush about this...you are going to run into some occasional backlash and criticism when it comes to adjectives in your writing. Hehehe, I don't know why, but it'll happen. So expect it. I've had writing classes where teachers don't want you to use an adjective that uses 'ly' at the end of it. (Quickly, Angrily, Happily, Shyly, Sadly) It is extremely frustrating for me to try to write like that! LOL! It can be done, sure. But it can be done the same way that I could probably walk around a shopping mall with two cinder blocks chained to my ankles. I could probably manage, but WHY? Leave me alone! Set me FREE, dammit! Hehehe! I think that adjectives of all kinds can be used effectively in your fiction, no matter what you're writing, you just have to find out how to do so without going overboard. And without having those adjectives end up being wasted or sounding empty. As with everything else that goes along with being a writer...it takes practice. Don't ever forget the discipline of practice. I can't stress that enough. It's like trying to build and maintain biceps and six pack abs with no exercise. It just doesn't work like that. So, today, I want to talk about adjectives. Some of the do's, some of the don'ts, and the difference between constructive adjectives as opposed to empty adjectives. Now...you may ask, "What is an 'empty adjective'?" To put it in layman's terms...it's an adjective that doesn't go anywhere or have anything to do with the issue at hand. It is completely disconnected from what it is that you might be trying to say. Now, I have been known to use these empty adjectives myself on occasion, simply because it feels comfortable to me while I'm writing, and I feel like it sounds good. But when I go back to do a final self edit, most of them always get cut from the finished project. They're just not needed. They come of as lame and inauthentic in the long run, and it can take points away from the overall feel and momentum of your story if you're not careful with when and where you decide to break the rules. One of the best examples that I can think of comes from a certain American politician that I won't name for the sake of keeping the peace. Hehehe! Let's call him...ummm...'Ronald'. This is the epitome of chronically using 'empty adjectives' that go absolutely nowhere and prove nothing at all. It's a conversational trick. It's a lie, wrapped in a lie, wrapped in a fake emotional attachment that doesn't exist. It is literally like nails on a chalkboard for me to try to even make sense out of it. It's like having to dig through a puddle of mud to try to find a point...and then, when you find it...it wasn't worth finding in the first place. It's maddening. Imagine if GayAuthors made a post that said, "Comicality's stories aren't really that good. But at least they get attention." And I went out of my way to post, "Well, the failing GayAuthors site doesn't know what it's talking about. And they're not doing big numbers anyway." Well...that has nothing to do with anything. It isn't an argument, it has no point, it doesn't even address the situation. It's just childish name calling, and when looking for a point...where is it? Was that my defense? If Charles Manson told me the sky was blue, and I talked about how he was an awful person for ten minutes...well, ok sure, but...is the sky blue, or isn't it? Where did you lose me? Hehehe! What were we talking about again? Adjectives are supposed to cling to the people, the objects, or the subjects that you're talking about. They're meant to add color and detail to what you're describing. Something that I've noticed more and more lately is that people will use random words because of their emotional connection to the words themselves...but that doesn't mean that they have any real 'meaning'. When used in context with the moment that you're creating for your characters, do your adjectives really connect to what you're talking about? If you wrote, "We had a very strong conversation." or "I looked in to it strongly."...well what does that mean? I know what the word 'strong' means, and I know the emotional connection to that single word...but how does that relate to what you're talking about? What is a strong conversation? Were you...wrestling with your shirts off when you said it? Were you shouting at each other? How does 'strong' and 'conversation' match up in any way? You can have two characters that are mad at one another, and they had a strongly worded conversation...sure. That makes sense. Because 'strong' is connected to the words. But you can't just toss random words out there and expect them to have any impact as an adjective. Saying something is horrible, or strong, or bad, mad, sad, rude...and you don't make them connect to an actual point or use them to demonstrate a flair for enhancing the picture you want to pain for your readers...then those are wasted adjectives. Learn how to spot them, and edit them out. Trust me, you won't miss them when they're gone. How do you connect your adjectives with focus in order to give them more than a temporary emotional bond with a floaty word that isn't anchored to anything? Think about it this way... Let's say that your protagonist is eating lunch in the food court at the mall, and a beautiful boy catches his eye from across the room. And the first thing he notices is hair. So, we're going to use 'hair' as our adjective anchor in this example. K? - He has hair. That's obvious. But we know there's something special about it, because it caught his eye. So let's enhance that picture a bit more. - He has longish hair. The word 'longish' is connected to our anchor, and now we've got a bit of a clearer picture of what our main character is staring at. - He has longish, blond, hair. Ok, a bit more description, but it's not floating away from our anchor. Both longish and blond are still connected to his 'hair'. Does he have 'strong' hair? No. That doesn't really make sense. Unless he's using it to pull a tractor trailer behind him or something. - He has longish, blond, curly, hair. - He has shiny, longish, dark blond, curly, hair. And so forth and so on. You can do that all day if you really wanted to (Don't overdo it though), but you have to make sure that you're staying focused on the very thing that you're trying to describe. That way, anyone can look at the three pics below and know exactly which boy I'm talking about in this particular scene... 000000 Don't mistake the meaning of a single random adjective with having meaning in the context of a sentence. We know what 'failing' means, and we know how that's supposed to make us feel...but what does it have to do with what you're talking about? Why even bother to add that? It's just another layer of mud that readers have to dig through to see if they missed something that made that particular description even remotely necessary. It's like saying, "My dream boy lit a 'heartbreaking' candle." Can candles be heartbroken? I know what heartbreak is, and I know the emotional response attached to the word heartbreak, but how am I supposed to connect that adjective to the candle? You can't just 'trick' people into feeling how you want them to feel by attacking their emotions with random words and hoping it'll bully them into seeing the situation a certain way. Describe and flesh out the moment. That's your job as an author. Appeal to their logic and sense of true understanding. The appropriate emotions will follow on their own once they understand the moment as a complete and detailed experience. Don't simply throw out words like sad, tragedy, and disaster, and expect your audience to automatically think, "Oh man, this is such a sad and tragic disaster..." That's not writing, that's hypnotism. Hehehe, not the same thing. And it easily breaks itself down and falls apart for anybody who is truly paying attention. Remember, adjectives aren't supposed to invoke emotion on their own. They're there to elevate the descriptions and the feelings of the scene itself. The emotion has to be earned through the writing itself, adjectives are just a writer's way of sprinkling a little bit of added sugar on top. Don't take shortcuts and try to force your readers to feel something that they have no reason to feel. Find your anchor, whatever you want to latch on to, and make sure that all of your descriptions are there to enrich that one vision...and nothing else. If you say something is big, and great, and strong, and powerful, and massive...cool. What's big, and great, and strong, and powerful, and massive? "My ice cream cone." Ok...you just lost me. Hehehe! NONE of those words are connected to an ice cream cone in any way shape or form. I know what they mean, but...what are you talking about? Thanks. You just wasted my valuable time. Sorry I asked. I hope this will help you guys learn to recognize these little missteps when you see them in your writing, or in other people's writing. In movies, in music, and anywhere else that you might want to see if the words are matching up to the meaning behind them. Or if they come off as being completely detached and wander off into some limbo that isn't connected to anything of value. Don't fake it, it will only come off as a distraction and it will give your descriptions less meaning and next to zero impact. I hope this helps with your writing moving forward. I know that we all do a lot of writing on autopilot sometimes, and it's relaxing and it's fun, but the way that you think about the words you use can help give your project a really nice shine, and your audience will appreciate that. Cool? Take care! And I hope to see you next time!
  2. Comicality

    Cliffhangers

    You know, there's a quote that says that jealousy in a loving relationship is a lot like salt in your food. Just enough can enrich and enhance flavor, but too much can bitter the taste. I think that, when it comes to putting cliffhangers in your stories, perhaps from chapter to chapter, or maybe even from completed novel to completed novel...the same rule applies. I mean, sure, you can write cliffhangers all day long if you really wanted to...but it can get tiresome in the long run. In fact, I think they would get to be pretty frustrating and predictable if you use them too often. And that would be a serious blow to your writing in general. Now, when I say 'cliffhangers', I'm not just talking about writing a compelling chapter that will make your readers curious and highly interested in what is going to happen next. I think we should all be doing that with every chapter that we write anyway. I'm talking about a big, shocking, 'dun dun dun', moment that rocks your readers and shakes the story up in one way or another. A major event, or a secret reveal, or a big plot element that comes out of nowhere and threatens your characters' stability and the balance of the story itself. There's a difference. The best way for me to describe the difference between the two would be for me to use "The Empire Strikes Back" as an example. The way that the movie ends...there are SO many loose ends that are just left up in the air. It's actually a really dark ending for, what was mainly thought of as a kid's movie. Nothing really gets resolved, the heroes are scattered and defeated, you don't really know what happened to Han Solo, Luke Skywalker loses a hand and finds out his father is one of the most evil men in the galaxy...it's almost kind of depressing when you really think about it. Hehehe! Now that is a definitive ending to that particular chapter of the story...but it leaves so many questions open that everybody watching immediately has a huge incentive to see what happens in the next movie. I guess you could call that a 'soft cliffhanger'. Enticing, but satisfying in its delivery of a clear 'ending' and a break in the overall storyline. Now...a 'hard cliffhanger'? That would be like if Luke is fighting Darth Vader, he loses his hand, and hears, "No...I am your father!" "Nooooo!!!!" Fade to black! Roll credits! Hehehe! Had the movie ended right there, it would have been a huge WTF moment for the audience! Intriguing, yes...but...ARRRGHHHH!!! You don't even get to see the end of the fight. Just, 'I am your father', cut to the credits, 'to be continued'! Oh yeah...spoiler alert. Hehehe! Well, let's be honest...if you don't know that from Star Wars, and the prequels, and the sequels, and the animated series, and decades of pop culture, by now...chances are you really don't care at this point. LOL! But, that's the difference. On occasion, a real surprise ending can be used to spice up your story and really throw your audience into a tailspin that they were never expecting to get caught up in. And when the comments come rolling in, you can take pride in knowing that you delivered the kind of sucker punch to the gut that you were trying for! Hehehe! But don't overdo it. When used correctly (and sparingly), a really good 'zinger' of a cliffhanger can enhance your story in many ways, and actually generate a much deeper interest from your audience when it comes to the next chapter. It creates excitement, inspires a craving for more, and can actually spawn a discussion between readers outside of the story itself. But you have to know when and where a cliffhanger will be the most effective, and which one to use to carry the story forward. You can only throw so many monkey wrenches into the gears before the whole system breaks down and ceases to work the way you want it to anymore. So you don't want to let those big surprises get stale and wear out their welcome. This time around, I'd like to talk about cliffhangers. And a few do's and don'ts when it comes to keeping your readers on edge, without desensitizing them to the impact that you were hoping your cliffhangers would have. I can remember when I was in elementary/junior high school, and this was in the 80's, so marketing toys to children was...shameless to the point of being absolutely obscene. Hehehe! But I was the target audience, so what did I know back then, right? Anyway, I remember after school cartoons, and the tons of action figures and sugary breakfast cereals that were being sold to us with every commercial break. Inspector Gadget, He-Man, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Thundercats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles...these were the cartoons that most kids would run home to see during the week after school. But out of all the cheesy, patronizing, commercials that I remember from that time...one series of advertisements sticks out to me. It was for this collection of action figures called the 'Sectaurs'! They were half-man, half-insect, warriors that were always fighting with each other for some reason. You know, the typical 'blah blah blah' good versus evil trope. Whatever, kid...just ask your parents to buy my shit! Right? But the interesting thing about the advertising campaign for these toys was that it was marketed as a serial story. A commercial would start, where the figures were involved in some sort of combat situation...something 'surprising' would happen...and then the commercial would end with a big cliffhanger that you had to come back to later in order to find out what happens next in this crucial part of the story. Now, understand, this was before TV shows had become like they are today. That wasn't necessarily a thing back then unless it was an actual daytime soap opera. Not really. It didn't matter if you watch the episodes of 'The A Team' or 'Family Ties' out of order. There were no spoilers involved if you missed an episode of 'The Smurfs' or 'Superfriends' on a Saturday morning. Every episode stood on its own, and was pretty much interchangeable with any other episode at the time. But here was a series of commercials that was building a linear story arc, developing characters, and hitting you with a cliffhanger every single episode...and all within the limited time span of thirty to thirty five seconds. You want to find out what happens next? Watch this same cartoon next week, and check out the next installment during the commercial break! At the time, I had never ever seen anything like that on TV. It was the coolest thing ever! It FORCED you to watch the commercials. Because, how else are you going to find out what happened to your heroes after the last ad? You couldn't miss a single addition to the story, or you'd be completely lost in the next one, as well as the conversations going on with your friends on the playground the next day! Hehehe, and the term 'spoiler' hadn't even been coined yet! So it was, like...a different world, I suppose. I'm so glad that I was able to find a bunch of these old ads on Youtube to demonstrate my point. This is a taste of what I'm talking about. The more I think about it, the more I realize how truly brilliant this marketing campaign was. Imagine watching cartoons as a kid, and having to wait for the next commercial break to get your REAL fix for the afternoon. Hehehe! (My apologies for the video and audio quality. But there was no HD anything back then either, so it's a miracle that anybody was able to upload these at all! Hehehe!) 0 0 Now, again...these advertisers were all attempting to tell a story, solve a problem, and create a new cliffhanger, in thirty seconds flat. That's ten seconds for each part of a three act chapter. Luckily, you guys have a lot more room to plot things out as writers. But you sort of get the idea, right? A good cliffhanger is all about questions and choices. What kind of threat does the current situation pose for your main character, and what are his or her options in terms of finding the best way out of it? This doesn't have to be a physical threat, where your protagonist is about to have his skull cracked open with a giant rock or eaten by a monstrous spider. It simply has to leave the story standing at a fork in the road, with the big decision of which path to take left over, consequences and all. Is your main character going to finally talk to his big crush for the first time? Is he going to finally speak up and come out to his parents, or his best friend? Is he going to put his key into the ignition of the car and try to drive home...even though he's been drinking heavily and knows that it's a risk to even try? When creating an effective cliffhanger, I feel that there has to be multiple outcomes available for the reader to ponder until the next chapter is available. What now? You've just been caught kissing another boy by your boyfriend! You've just challenged the school bully to a fist fight! Maybe you've had enough of the pain, and you're crying while holding a bottle of sleeping pills in your trembling hand! The question remains...what now? THAT'S where you cut the chapter off! Boom! And now, any reader who is invested in this character and this story...can't just turn away! Nooooo! Don't stop there! Where's the next chapter? I won't be able to sleep tonight if I don't know how this turns out. Cleverly placed throughout your project, these cliffhangers can create an intense escalation of events that will keep your readers locked in until the very end. Present a dire situation to your audience, maybe give a hint or two as to what choices are available to them...and then fade to black without a definitive answer. You want to know what happens next? Keep reading. Otherwise, it's just going to fester in the back of your mind until you decide to come back for the next scene. If this sounds manipulative...that's probably because it is. Extremely so. Hehehe! But one of your main tools as a writer when it comes to generating a flow and a continuous sense of momentum in your story...comes from mystery. And mystery comes from having the readers ask questions. Questions come from choices. If the main character takes Path A...what will that lead to? If he takes Path B...what would that lead to? I think the BEST cliffhangers contain elements of reward and consequence on all of the paths that can be taken, no matter which one your protagonist chooses. The main character can't win without sacrificing something important to them, and sometimes..it may seem like the main character can't win at all...but must make a choice regardless. If you can paint the picture of a serious dilemma in just the right spots of your story? Your audience will drive themselves crazy trying to figure out the next step, and they will come back, thirsty for more. Every time. However...you can't keep pulling the same rabbit out of a hat and expect it to have the same 'Wow' effect every chapter. The best thing about cliffhangers is that they're unpredictable. They pop up out of nowhere, and they raise the eyebrows of everybody reading, because they didn't see them coming. One good way to accomplish this in your story is to completely flip the tone of your chapter at the very last minute. If it's a romantic, happy, warm and fuzzy, chapter...have something shocking or maybe even tragic happen in the last few paragraphs. If it's sad, angry, or a chapter where there doesn't seem to be any hope at all of your main character getting access to the boy of his dreams...maybe he comes home and his dream boy is sitting on his front steps...wanting to talk. Instant exhilaration. I like to call this 'flipping the coin'. Immerse your readers in one emotion, and then suddenly drop them or pick them up to feel the exact opposite at the end of your chapter. And JUST as they're getting accustomed to the bait and switch...you cut them off, and you let them decide if they want to jump forward to see what happens next. The rapid emotional shift in tone, followed by that final period at the end of the last sentence in that chapter, will create the desired effect. Trust me. It's a dirty trick, but it works. Hehehe, don't judge me! I'm not being MEAN! This is what authors do! Use this technique to your advantage whenever you see fit. It won't turn you into a literary sadist, I promise. There is one thing that you DON'T want to do with a cliffhanger, however...and that's cheat your audience. You want to make good on your promise that, whether good results or bad results, the next chapter will be worth the wait and that it follows the precise set up that precedes it. The worst thing that you can do is try to somehow 'rewrite' the previous chapter to say something that it didn't say the first time around. Setting up a powerful cliffhanger takes planning. Events have to not only be set into motion ahead of time, but you need time to let those events breathe in the background for a chapter or two before you bring them back for that special 'gotchya' moment. If your main character was abandoned by his mother at birth, and you have plans for her to come knocking at his front door to introduce herself for the very first time...don't just have it happen out of the blue. You need to start setting up that moment waaaay before then, much earlier in the story, and then let it sort of fade into the background for a while so other elements in the story can take center stage for a few chapters. Then...knock knock...and BOOM! There's your cliffhanger! It has an impact far greater than just randomly having her show up for no reason. It feels fraudulent. Readers will think you just threw that in there for the sake of a gotchya moment...and you end up exposing the magic trick. Plan ahead. The worst thing you can do is finish a chapter, come up with a completely different idea further down the road, and find yourself trying to ret-con your way out of it. That's a cheat. And a big no-no. Hehehe! You have to remember that you have an audience that is truly invested in you as the narrator of this story, and they're putting their faith in you to tell the truth at all times when setting up a big cliffhanger like the ones you may have in mind. You don't want to ruin that trust if you can help it. It'll piss them off, big time. Here is a scene from one of my favorite Stephen King movies, "Misery", that depicts this idea perfectly... Sometimes, you have to remember how long it takes to write a complete story from beginning to end, and you don't want to disrupt the suspension of disbelief and take your readers out of your vision by making continuity errors like these. Your audience is reading closely. Much closer than you may think. So if you're editing things yourself or have an outside editor checking things out for you, try to catch anything that might be bordering on a cop out when it comes to cliffhangers. I think this is best avoided by not 'going back' when you start the following chapter. Don't start off by recreating the end of the last chapter and changing the details. That's walking on thin ice. If you want a cool cliffhanger, just cut the chapter off with your hero in the car, getting ready to go off of the cliff. Stop right there. And then start your next chapter by having 'Rocket Man' find a clever way to escape the car. That would be much more entertaining, in my opinion. And it will show the ingenuity of your protagonist, strengthening him as a character in the long run. Another example, don't have something big happen...and then start off the next chapter with your protagonist waking up in a cold sweat. "Oh, it was all a dream!" That weakens the impact of your cliffhanger, and your audience might not trust you the next time you toss some major drama their way. Stay away from that stuff. It's considered a cheat. And your readers won't be happy about being left in the dark for an extended amount of time, only to be fooled with some fictional sleight of hand. K? Anyway, that's my personal take on writing cliffhangers. The important points to remember are... Don't overdo it. A cliffhanger here and there is great. But too much ruins the flavor. Cliffhangers are based on suspense. And suspense is created by mystery, questions, and choices. Rewards and consequences. Readers should be asking themselves, "What now?" Pose that question, and bait them into the next chapter by promising them an answer. Don't try to change the details of the cliffhanger by going back to tell readers details that contradict or attempt to ret-con the previous chapter. You're better off cutting the chapter before the necessary ret-con takes place. Reader/Writer trust is important. Never take that for granted. I hope this helps you guys out when you consider adding any cliffhangers into your projects in the future. It's just a few things to think about, and interpret any way that you like. Take care! And I'll see ya on the next go round!
  3. Comicality

    Sub-plots

    One thing that I've discovered while writing my own stories over the years, is the 'lacking' presence of added depth when I only have one situation going on from beginning to end. Now, this may be just a personal preference of mine...but when I'm focused on two boys and one issue, the theme of the story itself feels really basic and seems to fall 'flat' to me sometimes. Like something is missing. Nothing major, really...but it's similar to a cook tasting their food and thinking, "Hmmmm...I need a little more salt. Or butter. Or garlic." Etc. I like to build a story that feels a bit more full when it comes to the plot that I put together. This is when I begin thinking of some of the other characters in the story, and what's going on around them as well. Seriously .What's going on with them? This is when I begin wondering about certain 'subplots', and how I can, maybe, weave them into the overall plot and include them into what's going on with the main characters. Now, if subplots seem distracting or unnecessary to you, then I won't tell you to force it into a project where they aren't needed. That's an instinct that you can choose to develop or not develop as you see fit. Sometimes a short story is just fine as a short story, and it doesn't need to be overworked with anything extra, bogging the story down. But, whenever I'm writing anything longer than a few chapters, I like to add a little more meat to the world that my narrative takes place in. It's just the way my brain works, I suppose. I often write in the first person perspective, so all of the story's major events are basically surrounding that one character and how he sees the world from his point of view. But when I introduce a love interest, or a best friend, or a parent, or a few co-workers...I'm always thinking about ways to flesh out those characters in ways that will keep them from just 'being there' as background for no apparent reason. Who are these people? What are their lives like? What are their motivations and why are they important to the plot? In my head, every single character that I use to populate my story has a fully fleshed out backstory of their very own. Something that gives their character a few added layers and explains who they are and what their purpose is. Even if they only show up briefly from time to time, and none of that backstory ever shows up in the story itself...it's right there in the back of my mind the entire time. And, if any of you read my article on 'Show, Don't Tell', then you'll remember that it's not enough to just tell the history of this character in passing in order to reveal their motivations and give them a meaningful personality. If they're in your story, give them something to do. If they have nothing to do...cut them out. You won't need them. I can't stress that enough. I know you might be attached to them in one way or another...but don't cradle useless characters in your project if you can avoid it. It will only drag you down in the long run. BUT...if you have people populating the world that you're trying to build, and they're pushing the plot forward, even if it's in a minor way...then their presence will have a purpose. And your story will be that much better for it. For this article, we're talking about 'subplots'. How to craft them, what they mean, and how to use them to enhance your writing to further flesh out your story and make it all that you intended it to be. So, question number one is simple...what is subplot? When writing your story, you have a main focus and a series of goals that you want your protagonist to accomplish. This is your plot. What is it that your main character wants to do? He wants to get his dream job in Hollywood. He wants to ask that beautiful stranger out on a date. He wants to come out of the closet to his friends. He wants to find the one weapon that will help him defeat the alien horde that is arriving within the next few days to take over the Earth. Whatever. This is what you should concentrate on the most when it comes to your writing. Figure out what the most important part of your story is, and use that as a guiding light to take you from beginning to end. Now...what is the subplot? Subplots take part just on the outside fringes of the story you're trying to tell. It's a third dimension to a two dimensional plot. There are going to be times when simplicity is the best way to go...but for longer stories or series, I think subplots really do help out a lot. And it's great for solving any 'pacing' issues that may pop up when your main story is moving from one major event to another. So keep that in mind. Take a moment and think about your own life. You have thoughts, dreams, and desires, right? You do things, you say things, you win, and you lose. But you're not alone in this world. If you have a close friend...how do these things affect them? How do they affect your parents? If you're gay, but in the closet...your new romance with the cutest boy on the block may be your main goal...but the struggles you may face with coming out to your other friends and family may play a part in you being fully happy. That's not the main focus of your story, but it definitely factors in to every situation that you're dealing with as a whole. Right? Maybe the 'best friend' character rejects the protagonist for his feelings, or for keeping his true feelings a secret. Maybe the parents aren't really 'gay friendly', and your main character is struggling with the fear of being kicked out of the house or simply disappointing them by being different. Now, these issues aren't meant to be a major distraction from the main plot, nor is it meant to overshadow it in any way. Instead, they are just giving your readers a different perspective of what's going on from an entirely different angle. Can you tell a short story with just a boy that wants to meet another boy and fall in love? Of course you can. And you don't have to stress yourself out too much, over complicating the story with extra details when you can just tell a simple story and be done with. But if you're writing an extended series, I personally think that it gets to be a little bit boring after a while, just dealing with the same main character's thoughts and his constant gushing over the love interest. How many ways can you come up with to say, "He's so beautiful and I love him!" before your readers get a little exhausted with it? (Guilty of this myself. So I'm not throwing stones. Trust me!) By introducing a strong and effective subplot into your story, not only does it spice things up a little bit, offering opportunities for a few surprises and added drama...but it can be used to give your readers a much needed break from the monotony of two people saying, "No, I love YOU more! Mwah mwah mwah!" That gets old pretty quick. It's fine for a short story, but for a longer series...you're going to need to thicken that gravy a little bit more to keep your audience locked in. To give an example, I'd like to start with the movie, "Titanic". Now, I'm sure that most of you reading this know about the tragedy of the Titanic, even if you haven't seen the movie. The ship hit an iceberg, sank to the bottom of the sea, lots of people died. (Sorry, spoiler alert! Hehehe!) However...the one thing that audiences know about the Titanic and what happened to most of the people on board...is not the plot of the movie. It's the subplot of the movie. What is taking center stage here is the romantic love story between a lower class boy who was able to sneak on board the ship thanks to a lucky gambling hand, and a very wealthy upper class woman who is unhappy with her life but doing all she can to basically sell her soul for the sake of living a better life. THAT is what the movie is all about, essentially. The subplot adds a sense of anxiety and dread, sure...and it makes for one hell of an action set piece near the end of the film, but it's not the main focus of the story. It is the third dimension that helps to support the main story and create tension and and a powerful impact to the story you're watching unfold before your very eyes. It 'thickens the gravy'. Here is the trailer... The whole point of a subplot is to enhance the main focus of the big picture. It gets other people in your story, or sometimes just the environment itself, involved in a way that will bring your narrative to a head, and give some sort of backstory, as well as some foreshadowing, simultaneously. When you're adding other people into the mix, things become slightly more complex when it comes to storytelling. You now have another person to deal with. Ok...so how are the current events affecting him or her through all of this? What are the stakes involved when it comes to them being a part of your main character's life? And what issues of their own do they have to deal with? It doesn't have to be a huge deal or something that's going to take over the whole story on its own...but I always feel that you should have something going on with this other character if they're going to be a part of your plot. Otherwise, they're just a mask for random exposition. A very thin one at that. People can tell when someone is just there to provide the reader with information to move the story forward and nothing else. You don't want to let the audience see your secrets. Not if you can help it. I've found that when I'm writing subplots for my stories, there should be a certain cohesive feel to them when it comes to the main plot. I like for things to come full circle in my work. So I may stray from the main focus to concentrate on some of the side characters for a chapter or two...but I always keep the main characters involved. Don't ever let them disappear from your story completely...or it's going to feel like a total off ramp from the road you started on. Don't stray too far from your original story. One problem that I've come across in some of my writing over the years is that my subplots sometimes get to be more popular than the main story. I had to work and practice to make both stories relevant to my readers, without letting either one fall so far into the background that it's no longer of interest to my audience. The best example of this is what happened with "New Kid In School", where the story of characters like Tyler and Ariel was the only thing that people were really looking for...making it hard to get back to Ryan and Randy, who were supposed to be the main draw. Subplots are all about figuring out who is going to take center stage and get the spotlight from chapter to chapter. Just remember that when one person is in the spotlight...the others are in the dark. Leave them in the dark for too long, and your readers will forget about them. One of the very FEW complaints that I've ever had about James Cameron's films, deals with this particular issue. And I love James Cameron's work with a passion. However, if you've ever seen "Terminator 2"...there are a few subplots about John Connor bonding with the cyborg, and Sarah trying to prevent an apocalyptic future from ever happening. Interesting and engaging subplots, indeed. But after about 40 minutes...the actual T-1000 terminator shows up again, and I was like..."Oh yeah! I forgot he was even in this movie! Yeah, they're being hunted, aren't they?" Now, why did I lose sight of the main plot of the movie? Because the subplot took center stage for so long that it put me into an entirely different frame of mind. And it takes some practice and discipline to find your own particular balance with this kind of writing, but you're going to want to figure out how keep your main plot and your subplot running alongside one another smoothly at the same time for future projects. It's one of those things that you'll need in your utility belt for later. I feel that the best way to do that is to have both of your plots run, equally, while you're writing, and make sure that they intertwine and connect in ways where each individual story boosts one another up to the next level with added depth and meaning. That's been my technique for years, and I always stick with what works. Down below are a few more trailers, where the subplots run as a parallel to the main story. You'll see, the major plot of your story can be very simple, straightforward, and to the point. It's simply a matter of detailing who your main characters are and what it is that they want to accomplish by the end of the tale. Subplots merely add a bit of finesse and enhance your characters' motivations by explaining why they're doing whatever it is that they're doing. In the first movie, "Saint Ralph", the goal of the main character is to rise up from being a troubled youth at a Catholic school, and training to run a marathon in hopes of winning it despite all of the people who are doubting him. Very simple, very easy to absorb. But the side story or subplot deals with the fact that his mother is very sick. And he needs a holy 'miracle' in order for her to get better. So the whole movie is not just about him training for the marathon and being ridiculed or discouraged by the people who say he can't do it. The real heart of the film comes from the 'WHY'. Why is he doing it? What are the stakes? What's his motivation? With that extra story running alongside the main plot, the audience gets much more invested in what's going on. Now you've got yourself a cheering section, because they know a bit more about what's going on here. In the second movie, "1408", we have a writer who goes from place to place searching for definitive proof of the paranormal activities that people claim to be witness too. A pursuit that has never produced any results for him...until now. And he's forced to question whether it's real or not. Now...how do you add an extra layer of meaning to a movie like this? With a subplot that introduces the question of 'why' he's doing this. It just so happens that he lost his daughter to an illness, and is skeptical about whether or not her spirit lives on or if she's in a better place. That adds a lot to the story. It increases the stakes, whether he's proven right or wrong. It gives the main plot a level of depth that it didn't have before. And that's what you're trying to accomplish when writing subplots of your own. Check out the trailers... 000 I've found that telling a variety of stories all at once, switching from spotlight to spotlight, but still having them all exist in the same literary 'space', can really keep your readers engaged and invested in whatever story it is that you're trying to express when it comes to writing a longer story. Readers are looking for things to interest and excite them when it comes to your project. You've allowed them to learn your main character first, then allowed them to get to know your love interest. That takes, maybe two chapters? Three? So now what? What will you add to keep their interest once you've got them hooked. You won't make another ten chapters with just that one pursuit being the only focus of your story. I wouldn't be able to do it either. There's got to be something more happening behind the scenes. I have a story called, "A Class By Himself", which is a tornado of different stories all going on at once. The main character and his mother, the main character and his love interest, the main character and a 'third party'...then there's bullying at school, and his friend from back home, and a love triangle, an internal struggle with his own sexuality, and his financial limitations...but they're all tied together in a way where all of this manic situations are all spinning in the same literary 'space'. If that makes sense. They are all a part of the protagonist's growth and his ability to overcome the obstacles in his way to finally reach the end of his story arc. (At least, I HOPE that's how readers will see it, after all those years of planning! Hehehe!) They are all leading somewhere. And that's exactly what I wanted. I know that it takes me forever to update 'this' story and 'that' story...but when people see the finished product, I really do hope that they'll see where all of the puzzle pieces fit together at some point. And how I've been building up to the grand finale gradually over time. Something to say, "Ohhhh...NOW I see why Comsie did that!" You know? Again, not easy...but far from difficult once you've gotten enough practice at writing stories of your own. You've always got to keep the past, the present, and the future, of your story in your mind at all times when you're writing. It makes for a better story. And your readers will thank you for it in the long run. K? I hope this tidbit of advise helps you guys out! And keep writing! You guys are the future of this shit! So make it count! Love you all! Now go out there, and do it better than I ever could! Comsie needs entertainment too! Hehehe!
  4. When I was growing up, I can distinctly remember LOVING the old school martial arts flicks that they used to show on Channel 66 in Chicago on Sundays! "Incredible Kung Fu Mission", "Five Deadly Venoms", "Drunken Master"! A good Shaw Brothers original? They never failed to excite me and have me locked in to the point where, by the time it was over, I'd be fighting my own pillows and trying to kick couch cushions across the room with my non-existent skills as a five or six year old Kung Fu warrior. Hehehe, sad but true. But...one thing that always stuck out to me in those old movies was the idea of the bad guys thinking they'd be able to effortlessly take down someone that they thought would have been an easy win. If you go back and watch those movies, it was always the people that most would have written off as being helpless or of lesser strength or ability that would TRULY fuck you up if you messed with them! Little kids, demure and quiet housewives, hardcore drunks, old men, the handicapped or the disabled, etcetera. You could be the most feared martial artist in town...but if you go into a tavern and have to face off against a blind, one armed, swordsman...? Just walk away! You're going to get your ass handed to you! End of discussion! Whatever advantage you thought you had over them...leave it at the door. It doesn't matter. They are just as much of a badass as you are, and probably even more so. You would be foolish to think otherwise. That kind of thing could get you sliced wide open! Hehehe! The point being, the attributes and power behind those characters has nothing to do with how they appear from a distance. They're good characters because you wrote them that way. As it should be. When it comes to creating stories, I really do believe that character diversity is important, but not just for the sake of appealing to a certain audience or trying to show your readers how 'open minded' you are. It's simply a representation of reality itself. At least in my mind. I grew up in Chicago, where there were many different races, cultures, religions, sexual preferences and identities, and financial classes. So, for me to write a story that didn't include and represent different kinds of people in my projects comes off as unnatural and unrealistic to me. Including a variety of different people isn't forced or something that I do just because, it's just how I view the particular character that I'm creating at that moment. I mean, every love interest or supporting character that I write can't be a slim, blond haired, teenage boy with bright blue eyes and a pretty smile. That's not a default setting for what the world considers as 'normal'. I think I would be bored to death if that was all that I was allowed to write about. That's not the world that I live in. But how can a writer explore a diverse cast of characters without being patronizing or having their intentions be (or seem) disingenuous in the long run? Hopefully, this discussion will help writers and readers alike understand the difference between being diverse and being condescending. Because there is a difference, and it can sometimes turn your readers off if you get the balance wrong. So let's talk character diversity, shall we? One of my very best friends actually took improv comedy classes at Chicago's 'Second City', where the crowd calls out certain characters, professions, or situations, and the actors on stage are supposed to create a spontaneous skit from their suggestions. Now...the thing about this practice is that it ends up getting the actors to settle into certain stereotypes when it comes to portraying the kinds of people that the audience suggests. Not in a malicious way...but in ways that people will recognize it for what it is supposed to be. If you ask improv actors to be a cowboy, they might widen their legs as if they've been riding a horse all day and talk with a Southern Texas accent. If you ask them to be a rapper, they might sag their pants and talk with a certain slang. Ask them to be a gay guy, and they might show you a limp wrist and speak with a lisp. Again...it's not meant to be hurtful or insulting, but it's a series of recognizable gestures that people associate with a certain characterization or situation. And a lot of times it works out just fine for the sake of humor in the moment. However, when you're writing fiction, people are going to be genuinely more invested in the characters that you create. And stereotypes can become easily offensive to them if those types are the only thing that you have to lean on as an author. Let's go into detail... Having a character in your story that is black, Asian, gay, Jewish, overweight, or a woman...understand that this is not a character trait. That's a character DESCRIPTION. It's a look. An outer shell. And it doesn't let you off the hook when it comes to actually creating a real character of depth and meaning beneath it. Don't just toss them into your story for 'diversity's sake'. Even if you attach a bunch of popular stereotypical speech and behavior traits to these characters. That shouldn't be the only thing that defines them in your story. In fact, if you were to change the color of their skin, their gender, or their sexual identity, it shouldn't have that much of a major impact on them as a character according to the plot at all. Unless, of course, their skin color, gender, or sexual identity, is the main focus of the story itself. If not...then why does it matter? Think about that while creating them. Let your characters be more than their outer appearance. The same goes for characters that are elderly, or teenagers, or heavily religious, or extremely wealthy. These are not the traits that define them and make them interesting and important in the eyes of your readers. It makes for a few extra details, but it's not enough to say, 'that's the gay kid', or 'that's the transvestite guy', or 'he's the foreign exchange student'. That is a very small part of who they are as a person, and you can't rely on that security blanket view to carry you through your story if you're not going to give that character anything else of significance to do or to build them up in a way that's important to the plot. In the first set of videos below, you'll see some very strong female characters in lead roles for their own movies. And yes, they existed before Wonder Woman came along. But this time, pay attention to what's not there. The extra emphasis. You don't have to deliberately emphasize the fact that they are women. We can clearly see that. I think that's where the friction comes from. You don't have to say, "Yeah, she's a woman...but she's a total badass!" What? BUT she's a total badass??? Do you see the issue here? It's like...you're praising this one woman because...women can't be badasses unless we tell you they are. Not unless we use it as some sort of a 'gimmick' or try to make it look so out of the ordinary. Ok, mistake number one. Don't do that. The fact that the main character is female (much like the old school Kung Fu movies that I mentioned above) doesn't mean that she should be underestimated or highly praised for being 'the pick of the litter' for kicking ass. It's just a part of her character. That's all there is to it. There's no need to justify it, explain or make excuses for it, or even acknowledge it, really. Don't let the current buzzwords from modern day 'rant pirates' trick you into thinking that strong females in movies and TV were never a thing before the current media blitzes of today. Ripley from "Alien" was a strong female character. Sarah Connor from "The Terminator" was a strong female character. Princess Leia in "Star Wars" was a strong female character. The ENTIRE horror movie genre was built on the one strong female character that escapes at the very end of the movie, including Jamie Lee Curtis in "Halloween" or Nancy in "A Nightmare On Elm Street". We've always had a treasure chest of strong female characters to see on screen or read about. From Cleopatra to Joan Of Ark to La Feme Nikita to Fury Road. Don't pretend that this is some new conspiracy that popped up in the last few years. It isn't. So what was the difference here? The difference was the fact that their strength wasn't based on the fact that they were women. It wasn't BECAUSE they were women, and it wasn't DESPITE the fact that they were women...it was because they were written as strong characters. They displayed their strength through their actions and their ability to deal with the obstacles presented to them. And if any one of those characters had been written as being male, or black, or Muslim, or Latino, or had been put in a sci fi make up chair for four hours a day to make them green with alligator scales every day before filming...the actual 'character' should still remain just as strong and as important to us regardless of the visuals. Even in gay fiction, being a woman isn't a character trait...it's a character description. Same rules apply. Some good examples of strong female characters that never once had to scream, "I'm a woman! Hear me roar!" in order to be respected and enjoyed as great characters in their own right. 0000 I realize that we live in an era where everybody thinks that diversity is some sort of a sinister plot or hidden agenda to push forward and change the world, and for some creators...it is. But, I think for the most part, the whole heavy handed handling of the concept by some is what gives people that perception. Why is having a gay character in your story so controversial? That's ridiculous. Gay people are everywhere. To suggest that it's weird or some kind of trick to brainwash the masses? It comes off as really tone deaf, and it can come off as more insulting than appreciative if you're just forcing them into your story and doing it for the wrong reasons. The term 'woke' was never intended to be a negative comment. But, more and more, I see it being weaponized and used to attack people and make accusations that are WAY out of bounds. Why? Being woke is the opposite of being asleep. That's it. There are gay people where you live. There are black people where you live. There are poor people where you live. There are transgender people where you live. What's so wrong with that? Your art is supposed to reflect reality, right? So reflect reality then. The people you went to school with, work with, shop with at the mall...feel free to write them into your story if that's what you want to do. And if not, then don't. But if you're trying to paint a realistic picture of the world...you can't do it with just one brush. Just saying. Now, I don't want anybody to think that this is some 'push' to force anybody to create characters that they don't want to create for the sake of diversity. If that's not the story that you're trying to tell, or you don't think you can build something genuine with characters that don't fit your narrative, then that's fine. Write what you want to write, what you know best, and be proud of it. That's what the whole writing process is about. I just imagine my own characters as being representations of the people that I grew up around. My best friends and my classmates and my co-workers. Some of them were Muslim, some were Jewish, some were heavy metal rockers with piercings and tattoos, some were hip hop kids with tilted caps and hoodies, and some of them were rich kids with fancy houses and sweet automobiles. Some were tall, some were short, some were younger than me, some were older than me, some were heavyset or husky, and some were bony and thin. It's all fine. The variety of people inhabiting my world gave me the chance to really appreciate people for who they are, and not just what I could use to put them into some kind of 'category' that probably wouldn't fit them anyway. You know? I'm so thankful for that. The world that I live in gets channeled into the stories that I write. It's honest. And I draw from some of the most incredible people and experiences that I've ever had in my life. And...spoiler alert...they don't all look alike. So...yeah. Either way, if you want to add a diverse cast to your current stories or anything in the future, the one thing to remember is that people are people. Point blank, period. Changing their sexuality or their gender or their skin color shouldn't really matter. Unless (again) it is the main focus of the story. If your story is about homophobic bullying, then there has to be a gay character, or someone who is assumed to be gay. If the story is about racism, then you should have a character of a different race or color. If the story is about bashing atheists, then religious beliefs obviously matter. But if it's just a character in your story that has a desire and a goal that is relative to all of us as a whole...love, friendship, opportunity, comfort...then the outer description or belief system shouldn't mean anything more to the reader than the clothes that they're wearing. "She wears a red hood, she's atheist, and she's a lesbian." Ok, that gives us some information about her...but unless that's what the story is about, specifically...then you're going to need more than that. Develop their character with emotions and motivations and a backstory the same way you would with any other. Otherwise, it kind of looks like you just threw that in for kicks. And...why? Stay focused on who your characters are, and not just what they are, unless it directly links into the plot somehow. 0000 So, the big question is...how can you express diversity in your stories but not make it look like you're forcing it or being exploitative. It's not an easy question. It can be difficult to look like you didn't just do that to fit into a specific niche, appeal to a particular audience, or to take advantage of a current trend. The only way around that...is to simply put it out of your head. Seriously. As I've said in many articles before...don't write with the expectation of how your readers will take it in mind. Write from your heart and write the truth. How they take it? You can put more thought into that when you're in the editing process. Or have beta readers let you know if anything that you've done with a character's portrayal comes off as being insensitive. That's something that you can do if you just want to be extra sure. There was only one time that I thoroughly double checked a character that I wrote for "Billy Chase", and that was a transgender character by the name of 'Dizzy'. Mostly because I wanted more emotional info on what it's like, and I wanted to get it from actual trans members from the site. But, outside of that one time, I've never really worried about overly judgemental about any particular group of people in my stories. (Although, I will admit to sometimes giving the high school a bad rap for being bullies when I know that they're not in real life. But maybe that's just me being cliche. Hehehe!) There's a subtle way to navigate around triggering your audience with the idea of diversity... ...However...no matter WHAT you do, there's always a chance of stepping on the landmine of having to deal with people this... Hehehe, sorry. It happens. There will always be people who have justified reasons to be upset...and some people who are just plain upset and spend their whole day looking for reasons to justify it. Way it goes, I suppose. But, like I said, it's all in how you present and develop the characters. I have a character in the vampire story, "Gone From Daylight", named Jenna. Very beautiful, very sweet, a little on the sensitive side, and pretty quiet for the most part. Before becoming a vampire, this girl with the long blond hair actually came from a very wealthy family on the other side of the country. However, when Jenna and main protagonist found themselves under attack, she jumps right in and it's discovered that she can easily brawl with the best of them! Even better than the protagonist himself. And this was a moment of shock and awe for fans of the story when that chapter was first posted, because they didn't see that coming at all. Not because, "Whoah, she's kicking a lot of ass to be a little rich blond girl!" But because her actions were a complete left turn from what they knew about her as a character. It's a departure from her personality, her quiet voice, her sensitive ways. That's the focus of the scene, and that's exactly what I needed it to be. If you concentrate on every character in your story depending on their individual personalities, advantages, flaws, etc...everything else falls into the background. I didn't want to make Jenna a damsel in distress. I never had any plans to make her a rich brat, or some vain popular girl that was worried about her looks all night long. She's a three-dimensional character that adds something to the rest of the ensemble cast. Everything else is inconsequential. Another example would be Tristan's best friends, Lori and Michelle, in the story "Jesse-101". Tristan is a gay boy in high school, and while he's not overly effeminate, it's just enough to keep him from having a lot of guy friends. He has more in commons with his best girls instead. But when I write those characters, and the dialogue that they share, I wanted it to be clearly obvious why they're the best of friends. I wanted it to feel as though there was some history there between them. But Lori's not just a 'girl' for the sake of saying, "See? Female character!" That wouldn't do anything for the story. And she would eventually fade into the background, just popping up every now and then to remind readers that she's supposed to have a purpose in all this. Instead, Lori is a huge motivating factor for Tristan. She can be strong when she needs to be, funny when she needs to be, a shoulder to cry own, or a dedicated protector, or an excited cheerleader, when she needs to be. They feed off of one another. Gay stories can have awesome female characters, and straight stories can have awesome gay characters. Any character with any particular attributes can be used in any story if you want to use them, just don't let the shallow stuff overwhelm your plot or fall into the background if you can help it. A few nudges, winks, and jokes, are fine...but have your readers love them for their personalities and contributions to the project...not just for their description. Show...don't tell. 0000 Anyway, I hope this will give everyone some food for thought. Whether you agree or disagree, at least a little nugget will remain in the back of your mind somewhere to think about at a later date. Hehehe! Everyone would love to see a piece of themselves in their favorite stories and think, "That could be me!" And that's where most of my most loyal readers come from. not everybody can be the sexiest boy in school. They're not the sports team all-star, or the slick talker, or that incredibly brave kid that came out of the closet when he was ten years old and has no problem asking boys out on a date for the first time. Sometimes, your readers were just the awkward shy kid who's still dealing with his feelings. Or the artsy kid with on good friend that lives next door. They want to be represented too. If everybody was a young Justin Bieber...then the world would just go looking for something else. So reflect the world the way it is, and have fun. And now...speaking of having fun...Why don't I end this off by doing exactly that! Have a few laughs with me for a while, and always remember not to overdo the messaging thing. Hehehe, we get it. Enjoy! I'll see you next time with more! 0000
  5. Comicality

    Revisions

    There are so many times when I look back at my older stories, or even just older chapters of stories that I started years ago that I'm currently working on...and there are SO many things that I wish I had changed or done differently. Details that I could have added, 'wordy' and repetitious sections that I wish I had edited out for the sake of brevity and a more potent race to the point, or mistakes that I should have corrected before putting it out there for people to read. Sometimes, I blame that urge to change things on my own insecurities and weirdness as a writer. Sometimes, I blame it on reader pressure to take the story a certain way or have certain things happen that I hadn't properly planned for. But more than anything, I think that all writers simply mature over time, with practice and experience and a growing audience. I mean, don't we all have projects that we wish we could go back to correct and improve upon now that we can look back on them from a more 'battle-scarred' perspective? It might just be a word here and a word there for many authors...but for some, myself included, I always have this craving to do an entire overhaul of the original story and smooth out the all of the rough edges with a package of harsh sandpaper sheets to give the story the polish and the pleasing look that I always wanted it to have. That doesn't mean that I'm not proud of the finished projects that I've done in the past. I just wish that I could have tackled those themes and characters with the kind of knowledge and expertise that I only could have developed through many years of extensive trial and error. (Mostly error. But it is what it is. Hehehe!) And yet, I always hold on to the originals, because they exist as examples of where I came from, and where I can go if I just keep growing and learning new tricks along the way. It takes time, patience, a LOT of hard work...and maybe a few battles with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, to get the stew flavored just right...but keep going! You can do it. Keep going back and examining some of your older work to see where you've improved, and where there may be opportunities for even more improvement. I feel that it's always a good exercise to keep your older works handy whenever you're trying to challenge yourself as a writer. To examine your own growth, as well as take your talent to the next level. Still...even though I save and respect the original versions of my earlier projects, the constant yearning to update them and really give them a new shiny gloss sticks with me. And if you've read my older stories, you may be surprised at the new 'remixed' versions that will be popping up this year. I actually had a lot of fun rewriting and expanding on some of those projects, making them a bit more advanced than what they were when I first put them out there. The first big projects being brand new versions of "If Only In My Dreams" and "A Stepbrother I Could Love", which I felt had SO much more to say in their narratives when I went back to read them again! I've been having a lot of fun with those. So keep an eye out for them soon if you haven't seen them yet. DON'T worry, though! Your favorite classics aren't going anywhere! Promise. I'm not going to pull a George Lucas on ya! Some people love the originals, and I appreciate them for what they are. I just want to take another stab at telling a more complete story and seeing where those projects might go, now that I'm a little bit older and wiser than I was back when it was all passion and hormones, and not much else. There are characters that I want to explore with some more depth. Plot holes that I want to fix up. Themes that I want to approach from a more adult point of view, even though I'm dealing with a teenage cast. It's a new experiment that I'm eager to tackle aggressively this year, and we'll see how it turns out. ::Fingers Crossed:: So, for this discussion...just in case any of you want to go back to some of your older projects and do a little maintenance of your own to get them read the way you always wanted them to read...let's talk revisions! Questions and comments are always welcome, of course! I think that, once you truly become connected to your personal form of creative expression...it begins to grow and change with you. Especially if it's over a long period of time. While I may still be pretty consistent in my thoughts, beliefs, sense of humor, and approach to life in general...I am not the same person that I was when I was a 23 year old, fully closeted, hobby writer. I don't think I could write any of those stories now. Not even if I tried. Nor would a 23 year old 'Comicality' be able to write the stories that I write now. We might as well be two completely different people. But that doesn't mean that there isn't a connection there within the text that was typed out on his screen and mine. The heart behind the stories is the same, but I feel as though I've learned how to finesse the craft of translating those intense feelings a little bit better than I did in the beginning. For example...the abundance of sex in every chapter has been mellowed out to make room for more romance. More drama. More dialogue. More intrigue. It's still erotic writing, but I found my own personal comfort zone where love and lust can sort of find this coexistent yin and yang relationship between my characters. The romance leads to graphically described sex, and the sex circles around to enhance the sweet and fuzzy romantic elements. They compliment one another, and that's exactly what I always wanted from a gay teen love story. It feels good to finally find a balance between the two sides, and still have both sides be fun and exciting for anyone who might be reading. I've also strayed away from words like 'cock' or 'cum' or 'asshole' or anything that might have a more sexually explicit context to it (unless that was the intention, of course), for other descriptions that I felt might give the story's prose a little more grace when describing a young sexual encounter. There's nothing wrong with using those words, but it doesn't fit a lot of the stories that I'm trying to tell from the main character's perspective. I can't feel comfortable anymore writing a story in 2021 about an incredibly bashful teenage virgin, and then add the words, "I sucked his hot cock until he came buckets of creamy hot semen into my open mouth!" without feeling like my more blatant word usage and the character's previous inner thoughts about infatuation and bashful silence don't exactly match up. You know what I mean? I hope that makes sense. My apologies for the brazen description, by the way. Hehehe! But, I think that proves my point. You won't find an article like THIS in your favorite writing magazine! Eat your heart out, 'Reader's Digest'! LMAO!!! Anyway, the point is, we all grow. We evolve as authors. And we may look back at some of our previous accomplishments...and feel the need to give them a proper 'remix' from time to time. Even if it was well received, celebrated by your audience, and loved by many. There's nothing wrong with wanting to improve on a story you love. Go for it! Breathe new life into it. I've grown to love doing it myself. Especially with the Ebooks that I've been putting out on Amazon... (Shameless plug...Comicality Ebook Section at https://imagine-magazine.org/store/comicality/ ) I actually rejoiced over the fact that I could go back to older stories and series of mine and correct a ton of mistakes, inconsistencies, and formatting flaws, that had been haunting me for years now. But, more than that, I got to add soooo much more detail, enriching the descriptions that I had written before, and add whole chapters of new material that was never there before. Which, I feel, makes huge differences in stories like "Gone From Daylight", "Savage Moon", and "The Secret Life Of Billy Chase", where I got the chance to look at the stories from a different perspective now that they're so much further along, and I can better articulate the ideas and emotions that I once took a shot at so long ago. It was a fun experience, and one that I think we can all learn from if we give it a try. I went over and ran through every line of dialogue, every description, and every plot point, as if I was writing it for the first time. Except this time...I was able to look back at those previous chapters from, what I feel, was an elevated position. I had more chapters written in advance, and it helps to know exactly what comes later on when filling in the blanks for earlier chapters. Times change, and you find yourself able to pull off a few tricks that you were incapable of before. As an example, let me show you guys a movie scene that is considered to be one of the most iconic battle scenes in cinematic history. The original showdown between Darth Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi from the original 'Star Wars' movie. Seriously, this was like...a major achievement for its time, and there are MANY 'Star Wars' fans who can't quote this scene, line for line, without skipping a beat! Even if you've seen it before, watch it again right now. Study it. What do you see here? Check it out... Now, that is one of those cinematic moments that will stay with fans of the saga forever. I don't think a lot of people realize that when 'Star Wars' first came out...there WAS no 'Star Wars'. Think about that for a second. The idea of a dark and menacing robot in a cape and a skilled samurai monk fighting with laser swords was like...what the FUCK is happening right now??? There was no previous blueprint for that kind of thing at the time! Sci-Fi hadn't really reached that kind of fantasy level yet in most places. So, this stood out as something intense and innovative and absolutely mind-blowing to watch for the first few hundred times! Hehehe! Then...jump ahead about 40 years, and 'Star Wars' has a whole new look and feel to it than it ever did back for us 80's kids. Now there is a blueprint for lightsaber fights, and prequels and sequels and animations and fan films...there was a foundation to build from and improve on. When going back to revise or touch up your older projects, I think you should look at them the same way. You don't always want to wreck or destroy the foundation that made your story what it was. The heart was there. Sometimes, your first presentation is your most honest presentation. Your most passionate presentation. It's not about trying to figure out what you did wrong. It's about enhancing what you did right. Finding a few opportunities that might have been in your blind spot before you learned how to recognize them for what they were. With practice, you become more sophisticated and more comfortable with your voice and your technique. You learn nuance and complexity, your vocabulary grows...and these are all tools that you can use to enhance the vibe of your fiction without taking anything away from what made it so special to you in the first place. That's where the real magic lies. But, as with everything else, this too takes patience and practice to get the balance just right. Down below is a fanmade re-imagining of that same Darth Vader/Obi Wan lightsaber duel. And it is absolutely friggin' AMAZING! Better than all nine films! Hehehe! Now, remember, we have the prequels and decades worth of 'Star Wars' lore now. We have special effects and hardcore choreography and a whole different perspective on how 'the force' works. Someone took a long time and put in a LOT of hard work on this...and it would be hard to make it any more perfect. Again, it's not meant to take anything away from the original battle. But it enhances it, adds layers, and displays a level of sophistication that wasn't possible when the original came out. Take a look at this new, updated version of the same scene above... Watching that, it should give you a prime example of what I mean when I say that you should be able to update and improve upon your own original work, without trying to recreate the spontaneity and the passion that made it honest and unique. Sure, you have more tools at your disposal, and a mindset that is better equipped to finesse certain parts of your earlier stories...but you never want to try to improve on the heart and simplicity that gave your original project that particular brand of magic the first time around. Preserve that innocent quality as much as you can. Don't look back at a younger 'you' with disdain or unfair judgement. Instead, look at how you could assist a younger you in bringing his/her vision to fruition in the best way possible if you could go back and advise them, face to face. More times than not, when I go back to revise or repair one of my older stories, it's usually because of inconsistencies or loopholes that I found or other readers have discovered after the story had already been released. One great example of this is in the story, "Gone From Daylight", where a group of the main characters meet on the rooftop of an abandoned building for a private discussion. However, one of those characters is in a wheelchair. And a few fans of the story asked, "Well, how did they get him all the way up to the roof?" And, honestly...when I originally wrote that scene, I definitely wanted that character to be there...but I hadn't even thought about that. In fact, I skipped over it altogether. Hehehe, oops! So when it came time to re-edit and rewrite everything for the ebook version, that issue was addressed directly, and I made an entire extended scene that wasn't there before, explaining how that was possible and was even able to have a bit of fun with it. Multiple characters were involved, details were added, and the touch up helped me to expand on the story in a way that made more sense, all while connecting the scene beforehand to the scene afterward on the roof. I felt it was a great improvement without really scrapping the scene entirely or taking that character out of it completely. The original heart and soul of that scene remains in tact, but I was able to go back and polish it up a bit so it reads better, and (hopefully) works to keep from taking readers out of the moment. I guess it's the Snyder cut! Another ebook that I put out, "GFD: Nightfall", I was originally happy with how it turned out on the site. However, as I was going through it all for the ebook version...I had this feeling that the ending was really 'anti-climactic'. So, I took some much needed extra time to put a MUCH better experience together in my head for the grand finale, added details, increased the tension, and really worked hard to make sure that the end of the book was bringing the kind of sparks and fireworks that a story like that needed to have to go out with a bang. So the conclusion was a much bigger production than what I had initially written, and now I believe it reads a lot better. You might be surprised how many ideas can pop up when you're re-editing your older stories. It's crazy. Other reasons to revise my own stories? Some of them I've been writing for many years, and the world has changed a lot since then. Certain pop culture references may not be valid anymore. Certain technologies have come and gone since then. There just has to be a way to keep the story cohesive, and make sure that chapter two or three can match up with chapter twenty or thirty and not have the differences be so blatantly obvious. I have a young cousin that I look after from time to time, and he wanted to watch "The Ring". (He likes horror movies too) And while I think he 'gets' the idea of a VHS tape playing a movie...the first time he saw the static on the TV...he was like, "What is that?" I mean, he barely sees the use for a physical DVD or BluRay disc anymore...so a VHS tape is a totally foreign concept to him. And I have some older stories that fall into that same category. I have a story where two boys meet while searching for movies at a video rental store, or at an arcade in the mall, or they work in a CD store...and sometimes you have to update your references to make your stories more contemporary. (Or make the decision to make the story a 'retro' tale and place the events back in a past era) Whatever your reason may be to look back at your past works as an author, and decide to give them a little gloss and a little grace that they didn't have before...I suggest that you use it as an exercise to dive into every now and again, just to help you learn how to spot missed opportunities or add flair and details to scenes that might have seemed awesome at the time, but could still be taken to the next level. That in no way means that your original work was bad or that anything was wrong with it, but as a writer, if you're doing things right, you're learning and growing with every new project that you put out there. You learn how to phrase things differently, how to get more comfortable with your dialogue, how to better express yourself. And this is a GOOD thing! A great thing! It's not just mechanics and formatting. Read what you wrote on an emotional level and concentrate on how you can add a little extra flavor to the parts that you think need it the most. Take a look back at who you were, and appreciate the journey that led you to where you are now. That being said, I'd like to leave you guys with this fun little video of a college Froshman watching an old video of his high school Froshman self, leaving himself a message for his 18th birthday in the future. Just remember, we all grow and change over time, and if you have any projects that you think could be just a LITTLE bit better...then go for it. Why not? You're the author. You've got all the magic in the world in the palm of your hands. So give it a shot! Remember...looking at your own work and seeing room for improvement is not a criticism...it's a challenge. Step up and let the audience see what you're made of. I hope this helps! Give your writing skills a bit of exercise, and have a blast, guys! Seezya soon!
  6. There are occasions, as all writers know, when you may find yourself walking off the path of creativity and inspiration...and you're staring directly at a brick wall. It happens. Some call it writer's block, some may doubt their skills as a writer, and sometimes...you're just plain tired. There's no way around it. It can be frustrating and it can be disheartening and it can end up tossing a lot of deadlines in the trash at the last minute, because you just can't rush that which will not be rushed. It's just that simple. However, this article isn't going to be about the dreaded writer's block, as I've written about that at length in the past. Instead, this is going to be about asking yourself the one simple question that may help you to get around the obstacle of writer's block altogether, and get right back to work on your masterpiece. And that question is... "How are you feeling?" Take a moment and think about it right now before reading any further. Just take a few seconds of emotional inventory, and think about what's going on with you at this very moment. Think about what's going on in your life, in your relationships, at your job or at your school...and now think about how that has affected you and how it makes you feel right now as you're reading this. You got it? Ok, get that emotion and hold onto it. It's open, it's honest, it takes some vulnerability, but whatever that feeling is, good or bad or anywhere in between...write THAT! Hehehe! Channel that feeling into words, and share your experience with your readers. Let it be 'real', both to you and to your audience. When I began writing stories online, I would often find myself getting caught up in making something new, or continuing something that people were asking for, or basically just pushing myself through whatever doubts or fears that I had with a particular project so I could get it done. And, after a while, it led me right to that damn brick wall. Time and time again. I kept asking myself why the ideas wouldn't just magically 'fall out of the sky' like they had been before. How do I top my last story? Am I getting repetitive? Will my readers like this one? It's so different from the others that I wrote before. But, over time, I learned to ask myself how I was feeling on that particular day, and that really worked wonders for me. To the point where I can write something each and every single day and never really run short on ideas or feel at the mercy of that kind of creative constipation. What I discovered...was that I was trying to align my emotions with the story and the scenes and the characters that I was working with...instead of the other way around. Basically, I was trying to push my true feelings aside just long enough to get my work done...forgetting that it was my 'feelings' that made my work enjoyable and meaningful to me in the first place. I mean, that was the whole point of me writing, wasn't it? To express myself? To pour my heart out on the page (Or the screen, as the case may be)? I've found that the moment you train yourself to let your heart guide you instead of trying to box it in to whatever limited space you need to get the next chapter of your story out, writer's block becomes MUCH less of a problem than it was before. That's not to say that it'll never happen again, hehehe, but at least you'll have some personal insight as to why it might be a problem for you at all. I eventually realized that what I was struggling through wasn't really a creative block. It's not that I didn't have anything to say, because I definitely did. I just couldn't say it with the particular story that I was working on. I couldn't channel my current emotions through the characters that I was working with. It simply didn't fit. Now, I know that people are always saying, "Jesus, Comsie! Why are you always working on so many stories at once? Why don't you just concentrate on finishing one or two at a time?" Here's my explanation...or as some may see it, my 'excuse'... I can definitely be a moody person more times than not. I'm not unstable, by any means, but I'm affected by the situations and the people around me. Sometimes in a positive way, sometimes in a negative way. And I can tell you...if you think for one moment that I want to drive to work in the pouring rain one morning, work a double shift, get flak from my boss over something petty, fight traffic on the way home, find nothing but some lousy leftovers in the fridge for dinner...tired, physically and emotionally drained, with a slight headache...and then I'm going to sit down and write a cheerful and happy scene between the characters in "New Kid In School"...you're crazy! Hehehe! Yeah, yeah...I know you've been waiting a long time for it, but my heart isn't going to be a part of that process at all. No way! I'm exhausted, soaking wet, and highly frustrated. And now I'm going to spend what little energy I have left to make a couple of fictional characters grin and giggle and have a good time? Hehehe, life isn't happy for me! Life SUCKS right now! Nobody can be upbeat and happy all the time. Not even with a screen name like 'Comicality'. However, once I sit down at this keyboard...if I have a character that is really going through a rough time, is feeling lost or wistful, or is hurting over something or someone who rejected them or let them down...I might jump into that story or that particular scene and spill everything that I'm feeling at the moment into that section of the story. If I had to drive in the rain that day, I might have it be a rainy and gloomy day in that chapter. If I'm feeling embarrassed or heartbroken, I might channel that energy into it as well. The emotion fits what I'm writing, and it delivers a certain punch that I don't feel is anywhere near as potent as it could be when I'm trying to force it out for the sake of finishing a chapter. The same goes from when I'm in a joyful mood too. I don't want to have an amazing day, get a raise at work, laugh until my belly hurts with an old friend, and maybe just randomly find a 20 dollar bill in one of my pants pockets that I forgot about...and then try to depress myself enough to write a scene of turmoil and abuse in "My Only Escape". That emotion doesn't match what I want to write either. And for me, personally...that's where my biggest battles in the past with writer's block were coming from. Usually, if I'm trying to write a story, and the ideas aren't coming to me naturally and freely...it's probably because I've got something else on my mind. And it's not going to just 'go away' for the sake of me wanting it to go away. So why not write about it? And that brings us back to the big question... "What are you feeling right now?" There's an easy exercise that you can use to sort of hone your skills when it comes to figuring out how your current emotional state is and how to translate that into words on the spot. I use this sometimes when I'm a little confused about what I'm feeling at the moment, and want to sort of untangle that psychological mess. Think of a very small, very focused, situation. It doesn't have to be anything big, or particularly meaningful. You don't even have to name your characters if you don't want to. Make it very short, and very simple. Like... "One boy is looking at another boy sitting across from him in history class." The idea should be something that you can explain in a single sentence, but don't worry...the situation and the characters aren't the point of the exercise. Hold on to that simple premise. Keep it handy. Now...try writing out a small narrative where you just talk about what's going on in that scene, and add your own personal touch to it. Don't think about it too much. Be spontaneous. Keep it short. Something you can write in ten minutes or less. Again, hold on to it for later. Then...the next time you have a really bad day, and you're feeling frustrated and angry...take that exact same 'one sentence' situation...and write that scene again. Don't try to write it the way you did the first time, just let yourself go, and let your emotions set up that same situation, but while you're in a different frame of mind. If you're feeling happy? Write it again. From scratch. If you're bored? Write it again. Approach it as if each time it's the first time that you've done it. Pay attention to the words you use, and the overall tone you set up. Even pay attention to the length of it. Maybe you write longer texts when you're in a good mood. Maybe you don't feel like writing much of anything when you're in a bad mood, and you cut it short. Take inventory of how your mood is changing the narrative of this short series of events and how it affects you as a writer, being able to 'bleed on the page' and get that emotional baggage off of your shoulders. Maybe you're feeling particularly horny that day, and all of a sudden this is one of the most attractive, most seductive, boys that has ever walked the planet. But...maybe you're just coming off of a particularly nasty break up, and you might write about how you don't ever want to fall in love again and how hopeless it is to even try. Whatever you're feeling in that moment, write it out. Nobody else has to see it but you if you don't want them to. This isn't something you have to do for an audience. Instead, do it for yourself. Learn to recognize what you're feeling at any given moment, and use that to your advantage instead of letting it cripple you in your attempts to finish whatever it is that you think you need to finish first. I write so much better when I'm getting things off of my chest. It's like, I get to free up enough room for me to go back to the story that I was having trouble with and approach it with a brand new outlook and a fresh burst of renewed energy. Some days I'm feeling cynical and sarcastic, other days I'm feeling all giddy and romantic, other days I'm feeling philosophical and contemplative, and then...sometimes I'm just feeling downright SILLY! Hehehe, but if you read certain stories or certain scenes from me, you can definitely see and feel where my head was at that moment. So give it a shot. It's an exercise that works for me, and maybe it'll work for you too. The bottom line is...being in touch with what you're feeling and making a habit out of expressing those feelings as they are, as opposed to trying to push them aside to tackle a completely different and contradictory tone in one of your stories...may help you to avoid writer's block in a major way. For me? I write stories and whole series for every single random mood that I might come home with on any particular day, so I always have something to channel my current feelings into. I like for the emotions to be raw. Honest. Writing a ton of different stories at once, you guys don't have to do all of that. Just think about that exercise above, or maybe keep a journal handy, or anything that you can use to sort of dump your current thoughts and emotions into and clean your palette so you can get back to your main project, and see if it helps. Your inner voice will always shine through when you're being honest with your craft. How many times have you been reading a cheerful story, and then you come to a chapter and it's like, "Whoah...well THAT certainly took a dark turn, didn't it?" It might have only been a few bad days in the author's life that led the story to veer off in that direction, but it shows. Always. Don't try to force fit your current mood into a scene where it doesn't belong if you can help it. Write something else. You've got something to vent or to rant about? Do it. Even if it's just for you and the fly on the wall. It can be a very therapeutic process, and it's an easy way for you to just step around that writer's block wall and take a short detour before getting back on the path you were on before. Cool? I certainly hope that this helps! Happy writing, you guys! And best of luck to you all!
  7. Comicality

    Pacing

    If I was in the back seat of a taxi (Or an Uber)...and the driver took a couple of suspicious left or right turns without asking me, or had a shortcut that I didn't quite recognize...my first question would be, "Hey, where the hell are you taking me? What's happening here?" If the driver was racing down the streets at breakneck speeds, or if they were slowing around as if I had all damn day to get where I wanted to go...I would be thrown off, and probably pretty frustrated. When it comes to pacing out your stories...your readers are in that same position. They're in the backseat. You're the driver. You're supposed to be taking them where they need to go while they're absorbing whatever it is that your writing is giving them. And it's your job as a writer to keep them comfortable with the ride, and to also put enough faith in you to get from point A to point B without aggravating the living shit out of them. Now, every reader is different, and there will always be some that want more 'action', and some that want you to slow down and enjoy the scenery a bit more. But I've found that the real talent in pacing your story comes from finding that special sweet spot in the middle. A place where the tale can have high points and low points, dramatic events as well as some downtime, and a smooth transition from one point to another with enough connective tissue between them where your audience will want to keep reading to see what happens next. Like a bundle of grapes...the tasty parts are what you want, but they've got to be connected by something, right? It can be done. It's all in how you view your project, both as a whole as well as in pieces. And it'll be an important part of making your story a success. So, let's talk pacing! What is pacing? Basically, it's the literary equivalent of city traffic. When your audience is reading your work, there may be some streets that they can travel down without any slow down whatsoever. Maybe a stop sign or two, but mostly a smooth ride. Then you get into one of the major areas of the city, and you have heavier traffic, stoplights, pedestrians...you're moving forward, but not as quickly as you were before. And then there's downtown during rush hour, where it's just total gridlock! Oh, the horror! Writing a story is very similar. Ask yourself how your plot is moving forward. Where are you going? What is the 'point' of it all, and how are you going to get there? More importantly...how are you going to keep your readers thoroughly entertained until you reach your goal? Hehehe, there's nothing worse than being on a long road trip with a bunch of kids in the backseat who are constantly squealing, "Are we there yet?" And you don't have anything positive to tell them in response. In my opinion, the best way to do that is to break your story down into a series of events first instead of a journey from the initial introduction to the climax, and then fill in the rest. You might have an excellent beginning to your story, and a jaw dropping ending...but if nothing significant happens in between the two...your story is going to lag and you may lose readers halfway through. You don't want that. You want to know how you get people to wait two hours in line for a ride at Disney World? You keep them looking up a the ride itself, like..."DAMN! I want to get out of line...but I'm sooooo close now!" Hehehe! You want your story to balance things out in a way that will create a certain sense of momentum in your writing. Even when there isn't much happening during a scene, or even through a whole chapter, it should be nudging your audience with your words, as if to say, "Stick with me. I'm going somewhere with this.". As I've said before in the past, you can't have a bunch of dramatic events happening in every single chapter of your story. It may work once or twice in the beginning, but it dulls the impact if you're constantly trying to up the ante every time your readers click on the next chapter. It's not a TV reality show. If every single day is full of drama...then what is drama worth? Diamonds and gold are expensive and cherished because of their rarity. The big moments in your story should be treated in the same way. BUT...during those 'down' moments between major events, you don't want to allow your story to lose focus or lag in momentum. Every scene that you write, every bit of dialogue, should be building up to 'something'. And it should be in a way that your readers can see and recognize as an incentive to keep reading. Even through chapters where they think nothing much happened to advance the story. You have to maintain that constant idea that even the slower parts of your story are important, and vital in creating something special. Something good? Something bad? Who knows? But it's the author's way of saying, "Hey! Pay attention! This will be on the quiz later!" The way you do this is by leaving little breadcrumbs to hint at what might be coming in the future. You're delivering information, but in a creative way that suggests a hint of mystery as to what may be in store for your main characters and the story in general. Peper these little hints and clues in different places throughout your project. Never give it all away in the beginning, and never leave it all up for the story's climax to figure out. It's the middle of your story that is going to become the vehicle to take your readers from one point to another. Always keep that in mind. For example...maybe you have a chapter where your protagonist has been trying to work up the courage to talk to a boy that he really likes. Maybe he chickened out a few times in an earlier chapter, but he's really trying to push forward and gain the confidence he needs to make the first move. Now, you might spend an entire chapter just having him trying to convince himself that it won't be so bad if he just went for it and stopped being so afraid...but fails to get the courage by the end of the chapter. Now, this is a decent way to handle your story for one chapter, and build layers that will add depth to your main character...but if you were to drag this out for two or three chapters...you're going to start annoying your audience. Some may understand and decide to hang in there, but others will get tired of being teased and will choose to go read something else. Nothing is moving forward. Nothing is being accomplished. You're letting your story fade away right in front of your audience's eyes. That's not a good thing. I'm not saying that you have to toss in some random event to spice things up just for the sake of entertaining your readers. That could hurt more than it helps, and it ultimately won't have any deeper meaning within the context of the story anyway. So why do it? It's not about the big shock moments and major events. It's about building up to those moments, and knowing when to land that big punch before the build up wears out its welcome. Instead of spending three chapters on a boy who's too scared to approach his crush and speak to him...sprinkle in a few baby steps worth of progress along the way. Maybe they end up being the only two people in a room where they are forced to talk to one another. Maybe they end up in detention at the same time. Maybe your protagonist sees his crush having a fun conversation with a girl, or another boy, after class...and now the possible competition has started the ticking clock on when he should move in. He has to push forward before he misses his big chance and someone else takes his spot. Always remember that every chapter that you write should have some sort of momentum attached to it. Keep asking yourself where that particular piece of the puzzle fits into the big picture. Where are you going with that? What information are you delivering? How will this impact the story as a whole? If you're having trouble answering any of those questions, then chances are...you've gotten derailed somewhere along the way, and need to get back on track. Pacing is all about taking your readers through both the peaks and the valleys of your story without having them lose interest or enthusiasm in your project. Every chapter, whether it's full of drama, action, and despair...or if it's just a chapter where things calm down and you feel the need to explain and explore some of the less explosive parts of your narrative...should present a series of questions to the reader about what will happen next, without giving away a single answer to those questions. Every single chapter. What happens if someone discovers this major secret? What happens if the protagonist takes this particular leap of faith? What happens now that this boy's mother has discovered his stash of teen magazines? It's your duty as an author to keep stringing your audience along and continue to present new elements that will intrigue them and provide an incentive to keep going. Not from beginning to end, but from event to event. Remember...pieces. If you're taking too long to accomplish this, you end up turning your readers off. It's important to remember that your readers don't know what you've got planned for later. They only know what you have written out on the screen. So, even if you're building up to one of the biggest, most incredible, most EPIC finales of all time... ...Taking too long to get to the point will guarantee that your biggest fans won't be around to see it. So don't let your story get stuck in a quagmire of details that don't move the story forward in some way, shape, or form. This is the internet. We're lucky that readers found our stories at all. So let's keep their attention focused on our projects for as long as we possibly can. Hopefully until it reaches its satisfying end. It will take some practice, but we all learn how to pace our stories out in an effective way that suits our needs and serves the readers with something that is entertaining and a joy to read. It's all about planning and choosing your moments, and littering them throughout the story a little bit at a time. Always ask yourself what is most important about your story and your characters first, and then think about what parts of your story are going to support those specific highlights. Everything else? Get rid of it. Don't bog your storytelling down with boredom. Find your equilibrium. Not too fast, not too slow, know where you're going. Just like the Taxi/Uber example above. Down below is a short animated film that I think demonstrates this idea perfectly. It has actually become one of my favorite animated Halloween short films, and that surprised me. Because it takes real patience. Hehehe! It's about 14 minutes long, and for most of its run time...there really isn't a whole lot going on. Like, at all. But the genius in this animation is...just when you're starting to get bored or let your mind wander off a bit...something happens that captures your attention again. It's small, and it's subtle, but it makes you think, "Wait...what was that? Where is this going?" And there are a few red herrings thrown in, but I kept watching because I was constantly being pulled along towards the end of the video, just to see what happens next. When you look back at it....nothing is really taking place at first, but there was always this little nugget of 'something' that kept me interested. If you watch closely, you'll notice the literary breadcrumbs being dropped in front of you. Nothing big, nothing major...just a hint of what's to come. And that keeps you locked in for the entire 14 minutes, where the build up shows its importance and the reveal let's you know that it was worth the wait. Don't skip ahead. That's just as much of a writer foul as taking too long. Lagging and moving too slowly decreases interest. But speeding through your stories and skipping over essential moments and details to get to the 'good parts' decreases meaning and impact. Check this out, and let me know what you think... The beauty of that short film is an exercise in having the ability to truly bait an audience...but even though it takes a while to get the end, it works to keep you intrigued JUST enough to wait for the big finale. Well done! It gives you something to anticipate throughout its run time. You reach a point where you suspect that your patience is going to pay off eventually. And when it comes to the pacing in your story, this is exactly what you want your readers to feel too. You're not bombarding them with constant drama, but you're not boring them with long chapters where nothing is happening either. Find your balance. Try out different methods of keeping your fanbase involved in your narrative, and leave the proper breadcrumbs for future ideas and events along the way. It's all about creating momentum, the promise of bigger moments, and a climax worth the journey it took to get there. Teach yourself to recognize those golden opportunities wherever you find them, and then use those moments to your advantage. It will help to give your work that 'can't put it down' vibe, and will keep your readers constantly coming back for more. No matter what. Anyway, I hope this helps! Take these words to heart, and I hope it helps you write the best stories that you can. It worked for me, and I keep learning more tricks every day. Tricks that I'll share with you all as I discover them myself! So have fun! Happy writing! And I'll seezya soon!
  8. Comicality

    Kill The Dog

    Hehehe, you know when I was in college, I had a writing teacher that had a somewhat comical, but very true, rule to follow when it came to getting your audience to truly feel a moment of intense emotional pain in your project. Works every time. He used to say, "If you want to make your audience cry...kill the dog!" And, yes, he meant that literally. Script wise, anyway. You can have Rambo gun down an army of enemies in a foreign land, or have Iron Man burn a bunch of terrorists to ashes with pulse blasters...but if you harm ONE animal in a movie or TV show? Instant tears and gasps of utter disgust from everybody watching! Hehehe! I mean, have you SEEN "John Wick"? No sympathy felt for those dirtbags. Not an ounce! Anyway, this article isn't about murdering puppies, I promise. I'd turn myself into the local authorities if it was. It's about being able to bring some heavy emotion to your writing through certain scenes, and maybe even getting some waterworks going from your readers in a way that they weren't expecting. Most of this particular writing technique is based in creative word usage and detailed descriptions of misery and pain...but there is also a science to it. You can get your readers to feel the ache that your main character feels at that point in the story, with just a little planning and a few moments of honest vulnerability within your prose. Hopefully, this will inspire you to try out some of these methods and really tug on some of the heartstrings and potent emotions of your audience when you're writing. It really does make for a sentimental attachment to your work, and a highly memorable experience that they will hopefully keep close to their heart and share with others for a long time to come. So...let's 'put that dog to sleep', shall we? I will admit that I've written stories or parts of stories that had a much deeper meaning to me, personally, than most readers could ever imagine. I use my writing to channel my emotions into something that could be seen as somewhat productive in my mind. I've bared my soul on personal issues like parental abuse, on suicidal thoughts, on severe heartbreak, on rejection, on death, and many other topics that I just felt that I had to get off of my chest. And there are many times when I've received emails or reviews from people who have admitted to tearing up and losing control of their emotions while experiencing those stories from the perspective of the main character. Whether they've been through something similar or not. And I appreciate that to no end, because it helps to make me feel a little less crazy. You know? But how does a writer go about evoking those emotions in their audience through their writing alone? There are two words that I want you to remember when it comes to this article... ...'Justice' and 'Injustice'. We've all experienced some lever of hurt before. Heartbreak, or rejection...loss or disappointment. It's a part of life. And no matter how hard we try to avoid it, dodge it, deny it, or suppress...there's not a single one of us that hasn't felt some kind of pain at this point in our lives. And there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, as a writer, you can consider that a valuable resource to pull from when you want to write something that really connects to your readers. They've felt it too. Pain is the one emotion that every human being on the planet can relate to in some way. So own it, and consider it a skill to explore it in your fiction. Now, I mentioned the words 'Justice' and 'Injustice'...here's how this works. Let me take you back to a particular scene in the first season of the Netflix show, "Stranger Things"... In the series, there is a young girl, 'Eleven', who has some pretty powerful mental powers. The scene begins with her in a lab, where a doctor and his orderlies are testing her abilities by putting an innocent little kitten on the table in front of her, and try to force her to murder the kitten with her mind. There is an extended moment of tension, and she begins to cry and apologize because she just can't do it. She refuses. So the doctor sends his orderlies in to collect her, and drag her down the hall, kicking and screaming, to toss her back into her prison cell. However, when they throw her down to the floor...she gets ANGRY! The helpless girl stands up, focuses her powers on the two men, and kills them BOTH in the blink of an eye! Now, you can get on Youtube and watch reaction videos to these episodes any time that you like. Just type in "Stranger Things Reaction" and you'll get to see tons of people watching the show for the very first time. But pay attention to what happens to the audience when it comes to that particular scene. When the threat of killing an innocent little kitten ('Injustice'), everybody watching cringes and cries and tenses up...because the thought of such a thing is absolutely unspeakable! Every life is precious. However, when she murders the two orderlies in cold blood without even flinching...those seem people cheer! They say, "GOOD! Fuck those assholes!" ('Justice') This is how you can tap into the psychology of your readers and sway their emotions into swinging one way or the other. Injustice is a huge factor when it comes to getting your audience to empathize with your characters. I think we all have a sense of fairness when it comes to life in general, so seeing a character that is innocent, non-aggressive, loving, funny, or heroic, getting dealt a bad hand or being forced to suffer unfairly at the hands of someone or something evil or loathsome, taps into a very deep part of our psyche. There's a belief that if we're good people and we do the right thing, then we'll be rewarded for it. Or, at the very least, protected from harm. So when that's upset by a horrible event, a massive heartbreak, or a noble sacrifice...the unfairness of it all can really touch us in a major way. And if you're looking to really bring some dark or somber moments to your fiction...the idea of 'injustice' is the best way to achieve that. Your first goal should be to make the character, whether it's your protagonist or a supporting character, a lovable part of your story. Take some time to really develop a close relationship between that character and your audience. Let them really get to know him or her or them...and create a connection. Sympathy for the characters, and a personal synergy with their addition to the story, is what gives the writing its effect. The words you use, the metaphors, the sweeping dialogue...those are all parts of it too. But at the end of the day, it's what your readers feel for your character's plight that is really going to fuel those dramatic moments in your project. If you can form that intense reader/character bond beforehand, and then really turn the screws when it comes to the injustice of what that character now has to face against their will? Even a brand new author can out-write the biggest award winning author in the industry. That connection is essential to make the situation work. And if your fans can connect to that injustice, that tragedy, in the same way that you do...you can't lose. One thing that is consistent in the stories that I've written like "My Only Escape", "On The Outside", "Save Or Sacrifice", or "Never Again"...is that many readers instantly gravitate towards the injustice of what the some of those tortured characters are going through, and immediately want to protect them. That's a definite plus. And they want to swing the pendulum back from injustice to justice. Every time. It's in our nature, I suppose. BUT...I've also written some stories or parts of stories where the characters guiding the story were flawed or made some horrendous mistakes or did something that many would consider unforgivable...and the consensus from my readers was, "SCREW HIM! He's an asshole anyway!" Hehehe! The same people who wanted to help and kiss and cuddle on set of characters, wanted other to die a slow and painful death. Or at least be hurt to the point where they spend the rest of their lives in agonizing pain and regret. It's actually quite a fascinating thing to watch sometimes. They get sooooo MAD at me sometimes! You have no idea! The point is...if you're looking to bring feelings of loss, sadness, heartbreak, and suffering, to the surface when your readers are tackling your work...remember that the 'injustice' part of the equation is where your biggest strength lies. Slowly bond your audience with a character that is, for all intents and purposes, a good person. Now, don't be TOO obvious about it! Hehehe! Don't make him like one of the 'Red Shirts' on Star Trek, who is obviously going to die as soon as he hits the planet surface! None of that, weathered cop, "I'm only a week away from retirement!" stuff. That's just putting a target on their backs for something bad to happen to them. You can be a bit more subtle than that. Hehehe, you're a writer. Make it work. People cringe when it comes to sympathizing with a character that they love and care about...but all of that gets thrown out of the window when it comes to PUNISHMENT! A strange malfunction of the human psyche, I suppose... Also, one last thing...when I talk about evoking emotion, that doesn't mean that you have to KILL anybody! Hehehe! You don't have to have someone get hit by a bus, get a terminal illness, or fall into a n active volcano! It can be something as simple as a rejected confession of love. The loss of a job. A parents' divorce. A missed opportunity. It doesn't have to be so big that it turns the story over on its head and nothing can ever be the same afterward. The whole idea is to get your readers to really feel some level of sympathy for your leading characters in a way that's personal and engaging every step of the way. That's all you need. However, as with everything else...don't lay it on too thick. You can figure out exactly how far you want to go with bringing some emotional gravity to your story, but don't make it your goal to have your readership completely traumatized and utterly depressed for the next few weeks. Ease up a little bit. Make your point, but know when you need to pull your punches. This is somebody's heart you're playing with, k? Down below are trailers for four coming-of-age movies that will tear me up every time I watch them. I think the first movie I ever cried at was "E.T." when I was a kid. But these truly just...ugh! If you haven't seen them, make sure you prepare yourselves ahead of time. Because, my God! Study the techniques these stories use to pull the emotion out of you, and remember your two key words here while you watch and start sniffling...justice/injustice. I think I need some tissues right now! These trailers are bringing back memories! Ugh! Hehehe! Enjoy, you guys! I hope this helps you all out with your writing! And I'll seezya soon with more! 000 000
  9. A big, heartfelt, hug to all of you fellow writers who tuned in today, right here, at Gay Authors! Welcome to a new brand new flurry of writing articles that I hope will be useful to all of you who are already massively talented in everything that you do, but are ambitious enough to still search for an added edge wherever you can find one! And also for those of you who are looking for that little 'push' that might get you started on your first project! Honestly, I'm no expert on any of this stuff. Trust me, I make more mistakes than most, and I've probably had more failures than triumphs while trying to teach myself how to do this right. But I study my craft with a passion, I've learned my lessons well, and I've been around long enough to feel comfortable about sharing my personal experiences with you guys in a place where I can interact with my beloved peers. It has been more than 20 years now, and if something I say in these articles can inspire a few more of you to have the same kind of long lasting success that I have stumbled into (Mostly by accident, I assure you!), then I think it'll be worth it. So, welcome back for 2021! Go out there and do it better than I did! It's awesome to talk to you again! I'd like to kick things off with a very simple, and yet very challenging, part of the writing process. And that is, simply...getting started. If this is going to be your time to tackle that project that's been keeping you awake at night, then I hope this article will give you the much needed push towards getting in the trenches and putting things in motion. It doesn't have to be your first rodeo. You might have a bunch of completed stories out there already...but might be hesitating on your next outing. This might be good for you guys too. Every story has to start somewhere, after all. There's a famous quote that says, "You don't have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great." And those words ring true with everything that you do in life, but even more so when it comes to doing anything creative. Ideas are wonderful! They're these amazing little sparks of inspiration that come and go at random, and they make you feel good about your particular brand of genius. It's such an amazing feeling, entertaining the thoughts in your head. They're portable, they're lightweight, and they cost you absolutely nothing to produce. So, why not enjoy them for all they're worth when they come around, right? However, those thoughts don't mean a whole hell of a lot without the deeds and the efforts that you need to pour into them to make them a reality. Let's be honest, there is an entire internet full of people who think they have the greatest story ever told floating around in back of their minds...but most never let those ideas get any further than that. They don't type a single word. And many that DO type it out, they're too nervous to ever let anybody else read it. Well...what was the point, then? If those stories are never told and are never made available for the rest of us to read...then the writer's head is exactly where those stories stay. And you just can't take any credit for that. That story ultimately dies with you, ya know? Way it goes. And it's a loss for all of us for never having heard your voice, or the story that you had to tell. True or not true. So...you have to constantly be asking yourself..."What am I waiting for?" Even if you're already writing another story at the moment, and have another idea in the back of your mind...same question applies. What are you waiting for? And I mean that...literally, say it in your head or even out loud to yourself if need to...but verbalize it. You never know what kind of energy you've got waiting to be unleashed until you dive into it and start writing something that other people can respond and relate to. Right? They're not real stories until you actually commit to typing them out and letting other people read them. Pure and simple. I think that was something that I had to struggle with the most as a writer in the beginning. The idea that the hundreds, thousands, millions, of ideas in my head...were somehow being seen as a valid currency with readers who are only able to see the final product once it's finished and published on the screen for them to read. They can't see what I do behind the scenes. They don't view the stories the same way that I do. I can write and write and write, night and day, take whole notebooks full of notes, and think about a story and its characters all day long, planning and plotting and putting together what I was hoping would be one of the greatest stories that I've ever written. But, until I actually sit down and type it out on this keyboard, edit it, and then release it to the public? That story doesn't exist to them. It's still all in my head. And I had to learn to get around my own perspective by trying to see things from my readers' point of view. They can't read the story that I haven't told yet. They don't have the 'inside info' on what happens next like I do. And when I short change them or leave them on a cliffhanger for an extended period of time...I can expect some backlash for that. Fair enough. Aggravated replies, accepted. I couldn't see it for the longest time because I felt like I was writing for hours and hours every single day of my life until I was literally falling asleep at my keyboard...but I've kind of become more aware of it now, and I want to correct that problem as far as my story releases are concerned. As I've always said in the past, the writer/reader interaction is a symbiotic relationship. We need each other to thrive. We need to trust and respect one another to have the art of writing grow and evolve the way it should. There's no other way. Readers need our creative output, and writers need their responsive input. We both have a job to do here. But that means taking the first leap of faith...and actually getting started on your story without the promise of any response at all in the end. It sounds simple...but it really isn't. There's a certain anxiety that comes with starting a new project. At least, for me there is. It can be a highly intimidating practice to write a brand new story from scratch. Don't pretend that you don't feel it in your gut every now and then. You WANT to get started...but there's this hesitation, right? You have to think up better names for your characters, or you have to take more notes, or you're not sure what your first sentence will be, or you think you need more time to plan, or your life is too busy at the moment. Maybe after the holidays. Maybe after the Summer break. Hell, maybe six days after the apocalypse! Hehehe! There will never be a 'right time' to write. Trust me. There will always be something else in the way. This is where your personal discipline has to come into play. And if this is your first story...it's going to take some time to build that discipline from the ground up. When it comes to getting started on your first or on your newest story...here are five steps that I've learned to keep close to my heart and implement in my writing process after years and years of trying to get my shit together. LOTS of practice is the only way to get good at it, after all. The first step? Get rid of the excuses. Every last one of them. Hehehe, even if you have to do it 100 times a day...just keep brushing them off of your shoulder, pick a specific time and place that you want to write...and stick to it. Make a point of making it happen! Treat it like a job interview. Don't pretend to forget about it, don't postpone it or reschedule, don't be late for the time you set for yourself. If you say that you're going to sit down and write something at 10 PM...start booting up your laptop at 9:55 and get your programs together. Don't give yourself an emergency exit that'll allow you to put it off for another day or two. Just force yourself to do it. It will feel like some sort of bothersome chore at first, I know...but that's only in the beginning. Once you begin to make it a habit, and actually have a few paragraphs typed out, or even just a few sentences under your belt...that anxiety that you were previously experiencing will begin to melt away. And a sense of excitement will begin to build in its place. To the point where you'll be eager to get back behind that keyboard and pick up where you left off every day after work, or school, or whatever. STOP telling yourself that you don't have the time. Yes, you do. You have the same number of hours in a single day that Michael Jackson, Albert Einstein, William Shakespeare, Bruce Lee, Bill Gates, and Beyonce, had. Hehehe, so if they can do something worthy of greatness in that amount of time...you can too. Think of it like consuming food. Nobody says, "I'd eat dinner if only I could find the time." Trust me, when you get hungry enough...you'll find the time. It's not like, "I'm starving...but let me finish binge watching this Netflix show first!" Lame excuse! Writing is no different. When I started out, it wasn't just because I wanted to write something. It was because I HAD to write something. I was restless and bothered by just thinking about it and not making it happen. If you can find that kind of hunger for your own brilliant ideas, then writing it out is merely a formality at the end of the day. So...yeah, make the time, and get started. Make it a priority. Second step? Get rid of the idea that you don't have a story to tell. That's ridiculous. I'm going to assume that if you're reading this article right now, you've already got ideas rolling around in your head, and you're just looking for that little nudge to get the ball rolling. If you're waiting on a vote of confidence or some kind of official permission to speak your mind, consider this your green light. Go for it. It'll be awesome. Trust me. Everybody has a story to tell. Not some people, not a few talented people, not even MOST people. EVERYBODY! That includes you. Try this very basic exercise when you get a chance. Go through your social media accounts, or your cell phone pics, or even an old photo album at your house. Pictures are excellent at capturing a few single moments in time, but that's not the only appeal of the photos you save. Look at those old pics of yourself, even if they're just from a few weeks ago. Study them. What do you see? There's a story there. A story that you have to tell yourself to connect you with the boy/girl in the picture, right? Maybe you're holding up a fish you caught while camping as a kid, maybe you're sharing a piece of birthday cake with a friend, maybe it's you getting dressed up for your first junior high school dance, or it's you in a hospital bed with your leg in a cast. Whatever it is, you're not just looking at a two dimensional picture without meaning or context. There's a colorful story behind that particular image. There were events that led up to it, and events that followed it. You know the history behind that picture...but your readers don't. Share it with them. That, alone, is an entire story just waiting to be told...and you can beef it up or manipulate the details of that tale to say anything that you want it to say. How fun is that? So...imagine what you would say if somebody saw a picture of you as a kid, covered in dirt and holding a muddy frog in your hands by a small pond, all while smiling for the camera. What happened there? LOL! Ask yourself the questions that someone who had never seen that picture before might ask. Why are you covered in dirt? What's with the frog? How old were you? Where were you when this happened? Think of how you would tell them that story...then write it down. You already know how. Give us a peek into your life and tell the story with whatever words you have at your disposal. Congrats, you're (technically) an author now. Then, imagine being able to go back in time and spice things up with your own details, tweak and bend the story to make it more entertaining for an already intrigued audience, and maybe even altering the events to make yourself (the main character) the valiant hero of your own story. Embellish to your heart's content, and enjoy it. You weren't covered in dirt...it was the blood of your slaughtered enemies. And that wasn't a frog, but a baby DRAGON! Hehehe, whatever. That's all storytelling is. You do it all the time, you just don't recognize it. Even if someone asks you, "What did you do this weekend?"...you have to tell a visually descriptive 'story' in order to answer that question. Getting started on your first project isn't much different. Tell your truth. Everybody's got one...what's yours? Step number three? ERASE your 'comparison' mentality. It will only make you paranoid, hinder your progress, and give you more excuses to stop writing in the long run. It's natural for any creative mind to be competitive and want to outdo, or at least be in league with, its peers when putting a project together. But you have to always keep in mind that you could never tell another author's story the way they told it. And they can't ever tell your story the way that you tell it. You're not on an equal playing field to clash with one another, whether you believe it or not. Don't read this person's story or that person's story and think to yourself, "I could never do that." Yes. Yes, you can. Read your favorite authors, figure out what you like and don't like about their writing, and use that as a guide for your inspiration to craft your own story and invent your own style. When it comes to art, there is no comparison. There's always your story and theirs. That's all it is. Write from the heart. Expose your personal secrets and your deepest insecurities in your writing, then hide them behind the 'fiction'. You're being given the chance to say what most people are afraid to say in their daily lives. You have a platform to put your true emotions on display for the whole world to see, but you can do it from the safety of having it just be a story, and nothing more. Take your personal weaknesses and make them your strengths in your fiction. It will touch your readers on a much deeper level than you could ever imagine. Step four...don't overwhelm yourself. Easier said than done, I know...but it's important to keep your expectations in check. If you try to go into writing your first story thinking that it has to be the biggest, most popular, most amazing, piece of online literature that has ever been read by human kind...you'll never write it. Don't get too far ahead of yourself. It's awesome that you're ambitious, and I applaud you for wanting to give it your all...but you have to be realistic about this sort of thing. There's a difference between being ambitious about the effort you're willing to put in, and being ambitious about how your story will be received by others after it's completed. I definitely think that you should go all out and try to make your writing as powerful and as mesmerizing as you possibly can. Strive to do your best at all times. Make that your focus. The process of creating something great is a long one, but extremely rewarding in the end. However, if you go into this constantly thinking about how much you want it to be the most engrossing classic on the entire internet within the first two weeks, where you'll be showered with praise and worship until the end of time? That can end up being more intimidating than inspiring. And, ultimately, disappointing as a result. How can you sit down at a keyboard and spill your emotions out in an honest and effective way when you're so focused on how other people will read and embrace it later? If they read and embrace it at all. How is it ever going to be good enough for a judgemental audience that you haven't even reached out to yet? That mentality will stall and obstruct your creativity in a major way. Don't focus on what other people will think later. Totally lose yourself in the creative process instead. When your project is finished, THEN you can decide whether you want to edit certain parts of it or make it more 'reader friendly'. Until then, concentrate on what you want to say and how you want to say it. My most popular stories ever are the ones that I started writing many years ago. Unpracticed, no real discipline, no experience, no real expectations for any of them to ever be a big deal. But the heart was there. I had nothing to lose by giving it a try, and wasn't focused on having anything to gain by doing so. It's not a viral video on TikTok or Youtube. That won't happen overnight, you'll have to work for it. But that's not a deterrent. Sometimes, a raw passion for the process will take you to places that skill and popular acclaim can't. Use that. And get your story out there while it's still a special part of who you are. And the last step? Step number five? SHARE your work! Now, this can be the scary part. I know. Trust me, I've been there and done that. And it doesn't get much easier with time. But I truly think it's a necessary part of the process, and one that will help you out in the future. Even if you don't make your stuff completely 'public' right away, where anybody can read it...find a smaller audience of readers that you can share it with so that they can give you some feedback on all of your hard work and maybe ask some questions or offer some advice. It can be an online forum, or a selected group of beta readers, or maybe just a close friend or two. But you can't just write and write and not share it with anybody and never feel like you're making any kind of real progress with it. Like I said...your story doesn't really exist unless you share it with other people. And that's something that takes trial and error and confidence. You have to build up the courage to let people see what you've done. Not just for recognition or 'fame'...but to prove to yourself that your writing can be appreciated by the people you wrote it for. That it can be validated by other writers as well. You can't be your own critic, because you're too attached to the project to be unbiased in your judgement of it. Relax your tight choke hold on the story for a few moments, and show people what you've got to offer. They may REALLY love what you've written! And, worse case scenario, they'll give you some comments and ideas that will help you to make your next story even better than the first. So, again...what are you waiting for? I know that this last part can be frightening for many people who are bearing their souls for the first time online, and just worry about being attacked or criticized for their work. To claim that the internet is the safest place to go and avoid haters and trolls of every breed would be an outright lie. But it really is a rite of passage for anybody who wants to become a writer. Even if it's just as a hobby. You have to have faith in your talent. And the only way to have faith is to build it up, one brick at a time. The only way to do that...is to take a deep breath, puff your chest out, and go show the world what you've got. Anyway, that's my take on getting started on writing a new story! Think about the stories that you have to tell, plot them out, and just sit down and write it. Share it with the rest of us. GayAuthors is an AMAZING place, full of talented authors and forums like this one for all of us to talk to our fellow writers and share our experiences with one another. Join up and become a part of the family. You have a story to tell. So tell it. Get moving! ::Cracks The Whip:: Take care! And I'll seezya soon!
  10. What in the world is MICE? The MICE Quotient is a writing tool introduced by Orson Scott Card ("Ender's Game" Hugo Award-winning Author) in his Characters & Viewpoint (Elements of Fiction Writing) and How to Write Science Fiction. The MICE Quotient tool makes analyzing your writing easy and can help identify and fix issues with a paragraph, a scene, or even a whole story. MICE: Milieu- stories focused on the setting. Think Lord of the Rings books that spend many pages discussing languages and song. Idea - stories focused on answering a question or finding information. Think Mystery stories "Who committed the crime?" Character - stories focused on character and how the character changes over the course of the story. Think coming-of-age stories. Events - stories focused on an event. Think Apollo 13. We will go into the MICE Quotient tool in a future blog. Today, we will leave you with this tidbit: Using the MICE Quotient tool to understand what your story is about and then making sure what you are writing in a paragraph or scene drives the story forward. If this tool sounds interesting, see the Amazon Affiliate links below to a couple of outstanding writing books. We've added one additional topic, Skills, to the MICE list for categorizing our blog posts. For future Writing Tip blog entries, we will put one of these graphics on the blog: M - Milieu -Blog posts that have to do with setting and world-building will use the Milieu graphic. I - Idea - Blog posts that have to do with addressing ideas, themes, and plots that are not character or event-related will use the Idea graphic. C - Characters - Blog posts that have to do with the people populating your story will use the Character graphic. E - Events - Blog posts that have to with events, story arcs, plots, and other items that drive a story forward will use the Event graphic. S - Skills - Blog posts that have to do with developing specific writing skills or the general mechanics of writing will use the Skills graphic. Our intention with the new weekly tip blog posts will be to categorize them into one of the five categories above and dive deeper into the topics from different perspectives. We'll try to provide links to published links and websites where you can dive further into the issues. There are several editions out there of both these books. I have them both, though not this linked edition. I do highly recommend them if you want to improve your writing skill talent stack.
  11. When I′m writing, I often visualize my stories as being movies, TV shows, comic books, etcetera. It′s just the way my mind works, I guess. I picture the characters, the backgrounds, the musical score, the movement of the camera...it′s a part of me putting every part of my story together in sequence, and actually seeing things as they play out in my head so I can effectively describe it for everybody else who might be reading. And just like movies and TV, a vast majority of stories are told in a way where one important scene switches to another important scene, often with some time passing between the two. When you write, it′s a ′fable′ that you're creating. It′s a heavily edited documentary on a fictional character′s day to day life. You don′t want to hear about what this character had for dinner. Your readers aren′t really interested in his homework, or what he watched on TV that night, or how long he spent playing his Playstation online. (UNLESS, of course...it relates to the story being told) So I ask for us all to think about what we′ve done in the last 24 hours of our lives. Every last little detail. Write it down and see how interesting it would be to anyone else who′s reading it. If I asked you what you did yesterday, would you spend two hours giving me every little detail, or could give me an abridged version and wrap the whole thing up in two minutes instead? Yeah. Give me the latter. That's all I need. Every single moment of our lives isn′t interesting enough to put into our book. And a lot of moments that ended up being truly important in the long run? We probably thought they were pretty mundane at the time until all the dominoes fell into place and we looked back to see where it all began. These are moments that we don′t include in our stories for a reason. We only tell that parts of our characters′ lives that are essential to the plot. So we may skip some of the more uninteresting parts where our character is combing his hair, or brushing his teeth, or taking out the garbage. And that means finding a way to jump from scene to scene smoothly, without having it feel ′jarring′, ′jerky′, or confusing in any way to the reader as to what′s just happened. Today′s topic? Scene transition! And how to walk the fine line between a potentially good transition, and a potentially bad one. I will begin by letting you guys know one of the FIRST things that I′ll tell any author when reading and reviewing their work. And I say this with no judgment or disrespect at all...but I will always go out of my way to mention to other writers to lose the visible ′text breaks′ in their stories. Every time. Maybe it′s just me, but I find that highly distracting when I′m reading. It′s almost a cheap way of switching from one scene to another in your story, and it′s something that can usually be solved with a sentence or two, where those breaks wouldn′t be necessary at all. Examples: ″- - - - - -″ ″(A few hours later)″ ″(Insert special graphic to separate scenes here)″ Or any kind of visible break that is meant to let the reader know that you′re changing scenery or a character's point of view, jumping forward or backward in time, or just switching to a different situation entirely. Yeah. Sorry. Hate to say it, but I would definitely advise against ever using those breaks in your stories to signal a scene transition. I'd say to avoid it at all costs. Have faith in yourself as a writer. If you′re writing about one set of characters, emotions, or a certain situation...and then decide to move on to something else...then practice making a smooth transition to a new concept. Don′t take the easy way out and figure, ″This will let the readers know that I′m switching gears without me really having to explain it in my writing.″ Spoiler alert. NOPE! Hehehe, the switch is just as jarring if you don′t ′pad the connection′ as it would be without your specially designed graphic put in place. I think you guys would be better off with an extra sentence or two to imply a change of scenery than you would be with a paragraph break and a few internet symbols to send a vague message that, ″Hey, we′re going over here now! Keep up!″ I've done the transition break thing myself in the past, and I don't anymore. It's just as easy to end one paragraph with a character thinking, "It's been a long day. I need sleep. Maybe I'll be able to see things clearly tomorrow morning." and then starting the very next paragraph with, "The sunlight poured in through my bedroom window, waking me out of my sleep." There it is. Done. You know where one scene ends and the next one begins. The readers are following along, they can sense the change in scenery and tone, and no line breaks or graphics are necessary. Even if you're changing character points of view, there are clever ways to get around that as well. It's a bit more difficult, but it can be done. Example...let's say you're writing from two different POVs, Mike and Brian. Maybe you're following Mike's story right now, and at the end of his scene, you mention, "As much as I like him, I really doubt that Brian has any reason to like me back. He's probably not even into guys." Then, you end that paragraph, and your very next sentence is... "Mike! Dude, are you spacing out on me again, or what?" I didn't even realize that I wasn't paying attention to him anymore. Sometimes, I just start daydreaming about Brian without even thinking about it. I wish I wasn't so crazy about him. It makes it hard to concentrate. Now, there's no real visible cue to show that you're switching characters...but as long as you 'complete' the scene with one character, and then begin the next scene by establishing a change in tone and action, your readers will still be able to follow your story without much of a problem. A few cues can be used to end one scene and start another. The change will be established through the storytelling itself, and not the graphics on the screen. Now, one thing that I want to warn you guys about, is the dread '3B' issue! Hehehe, it's dangerous when it comes to the smooth flow of a story! What is the 3B issue? 3B stands, quite simply, for 'Blah Blah Blah'! If you have any 'blah blah blah' moments in your story when making a transition...go back and change it. Sometimes, we want to get from one amazing to another in our writing, and we try to hurry up and connect two completely different events with something that gives the illusion of storytelling, but it really isn't. It's just...'blah blah blah'. "So these two guys worked at the same pizza parlor, and they started flirting with each other by the end of the first week. They were really sweet on one another and ended up kissing that weekend. Then...'blah blah blah'...they got together and had sex." Hehehe, yeah, that little 3B moment? You need to go back and decide whether it needs to be there or not. Now, of course, a writer wouldn't actually use the words 'blah blah blah', but the writing that they use to connect the first kiss to them having sex is obviously JUST thrown in there to connect the first kiss to them having sex. It's a race from one big moment to another. So that means that the information being delivered has either added something that was never needed (in which case, why is it in your story?), or it needs something that was never added (Which, again...why is it in your story?). If it's unimportant, then take it out. You won't miss it, and neither will your readers. And if it IS important, then treat it as such, and give your 3B section some added detail and depth so that it flows with the rest of the story. Don't skip over it and figure the audience is in a rush to get to the naughty parts. Take some time and develop the story you want to tell. Otherwise, it's almost like the writer is telling you, "Blah blah blah, whatever. You get the point. Let's move on." No...they don't get the point. You're the author. You're supposed to flesh out the point on the page in your own words and paint a clear picture for the people enjoying your work. Imagine seeing a half finished painting of the Mona Lisa, and on the blank half of the canvas, you see a post it note saying, "Whatever. It's supposed to be a woman smiling. You get the gist of it, right?" Hehehe, how frustrating would that be? If you're going to transition from one major scene to another, either find a way to do it smoothly without adding unimportant fluff between the two scenes...or give the moments between both scenes the depth and meaning that they deserve, so it doesn't come off as something you just kind of threw in there at the last minute. You actually send a message that you think your 3B moments aren't worth writing about. And if the writer doesn't care, the reader won't care either. Just something to think about. Alright, I'm done gabbing for this week! Hehehe! I hope you guys are still enjoying these! It's fun to share some of the things I've learned over the years, and I've still got a lot more to learn. So I'll be sure to share even more as I pick up new tricks and tips along the way! Take care! And I'll see ya next weekend!
  12. One thing that I can tell you about my own writing muse is this... It is a shy, introverted, creature, and it takes a lot of coaxing to get it to come out of hiding sometimes. Basically, if you don't want to write your story tonight, or tomorrow, or the next day, because you're waiting for the inspiration to hit you...you're going to end up wasting a LOT of writing time. In fact, you may lose that inspiration altogether. Sometimes you've got to find it on your own. You've got to hunt it down, put a leash around its neck, and physically pull it out of the shadows so you can get something done. Hehehe! So, this week, we're talking about writer inspiration and how to exercise it in a way to keep that creative flow going. Whether you're looking to tell a brand new story or simply want to add to something you're already working on, you can find the inspiration if you go looking for it. And the best way to chase it down is simple...go out and live life. You have to live life if you want to write about it, plain and simple. Writing can often be a very isolated process, and it's easy to lock yourself in a tiny room with a dim lamp and cup of 'miscellaneous', and never come out of there. My inspiration is almost always outside of my room. I've got to be able to go places and talk to people and see life happening all around me. It helps like you wouldn't believe. Now, when I say go live life, that doesn't mean that you have to go mountain climbing or skydiving or wrestle salt water crocs in a mud pit somewhere. it's just a matter of putting yourself in a different set of surroundings. Instead of typing on a keyboard in your bedroom, try taking a pen and a notebook and try going to a nearby park. Or maybe take your laptop to a local coffee shop or library. My place used to be the Lake, and I loved to write on Navy Pier. There's just something about getting out of my comfort zone that gets my creative juices flowing. Things are happening all around you. Maybe you see somebody that you find absolutely gorgeous while you're out, and decide to make him a character in your next story. Maybe you'll overhear an interesting conversation between two people walking by. Maybe the smell of fresh flowers, or the scent of freshly baked donuts will waft your way and bring back a pleasant memory from your past. Inspiration can be triggered by just about anything, but the unpredictability of being in an area with other people works wonders. You never know who or what you'll run into. An example...maybe I go out to buy milk and eggs for the kitchen, and while I'm at the register, there's a really cute college boy bagging my groceries. Those few minutes might inspire a whole new story. I would take that one moment in time, and stretch it out in both directions, past and future. What events brought him to this counter? Maybe he's working his way through school. Maybe his father owns the store and this is his first time having an actual job. Maybe he's saving up for a car, or a trip to Hollywood to take a shot at an acting career. Create a backstory for this random person that you've never met before. Now imagine stretching things out into the future. What would happen if I talked to him? What if I joked around a little bit and he responded with a few giggles and a joke of his own? What if I came back for the next two or three days in a row, buying stuff I didn't need just so I could see him again? What would happen if after a few meetings we decided to go get lunch somewhere when he got a break? I could build an entire ten to fifteen page story off of just that one glance a cute guy bagging groceries. I wouldn't get that being trapped in my room all day. So whenever you leave the house, become an observer. Hehehe, DON'T be the creep who's staring at people or purposely butting into their conversations! But pay attention to everything that's going on around you. You're surrounded by a million different stories every single day. Pick one that you like, put your unique spin on it, and tell that story. Tell the story of that brand new family restaurant that's opening up on the corner, or that teen couple having an argument outside the mall, or that homeless guy asking for change outside the convenience store. There's so much inspiration out there that it can be overwhelming at times. You just have to teach yourself to recognize it. As far as my experience is concerned...the really is no such thing as fiction. There's just my personal truth being expressed with fictional details. Everything that I've ever written for the Shack is simply 'me' speaking through a bunch of different characters. My thoughts, my feelings, my sense of humor, my hobbies and interests...they are the life's blood of everything I type out on this screen. So I can enhance my inspiration by enhancing my life. My experiences. We're constantly telling ourselves stories all day long. We're living a story right now. Picture yourself reading this article. Now think about why you chose to click on this link and what you brought you to this very moment. Now think about what you're going to do after you finish reading, and what it might lead to further down the road. There's a story there. Choose a specific moment, add a foundation, and put your personal brand of whipped cream on top. Voila! You've got a new potential idea to work with. Now...once you find that inspiration that you were looking for, no matter how big or how small...chase it down. Write while the fire is in you. Don't wait. Procrastination is the number one enemy of creativity. Trust me, I'm a master at putting things off until later. Hehehe, like that old joke, "I bought a book on how to prevent procrastination. I haven't read it yet, though. Maybe tomorrow." I do realize that everyone has their own life responsibilities, and you might not have the chance to race to your laptop and get the time, energy, and focus, to write every time a new idea pops into your head. Some of you guys have school and exams, some of you have heavy work schedules and weird hours, some of you have family commitments that need to be your number one priority. But...when you get that tug on your creative strings, immediately make a 'plan' to sit down and write it out. As soon as you can get some time to breathe. I find that my writing never feels more natural, more potent, then when I feel like I'm right there in the moment. Be passionate! Get your head, your heart, and your typing fingers, in sync with one another and bleed on the page for our enjoyment! I also recommend that you write what you're feeling whenever your emotions are running on high. That's a whole other kind of inspiration. Use that. Even if it doesn't fit into the current story you're working on...write it into something else. Or just write your feelings out in a standalone story all its own. I know that I usually get a lot of flak for writing so many stories at once, but I channel my emotions into what I write. I use the inspiration I have at that particular moment. I want people to feel it the way I feel it, and I can describe it best when I'm currently going through it. I think one of the biggest mistakes that an author can make is thinking, "I'm miserable right now...I just want to write something happy to get out of this funk." It'll show. If you're miserable, why not write something miserable? If you're heartbroken, write about heartbreak. Not only will your writing come off as more genuine and relatable to your readers who have been there...but it can be sooooo theraputic to get it out of your system and on to the page where it might do some good. Let it be a sigh of relief. Don't write against your own emotional state. It's there to help season the main course, not poison it. Anyway, short recap... Get out and about. Take some 'me' time and live life. Then come home and write about what you've observed. Inspiration is everywhere. Go find it. And when you do, make plans to tackle it as SOON as you get a chance. Passion doesn't last forever. You'd be surprised how many potentially great stories I've lost simply because I didn't jump on my muse when I had the chance. And be sure to use your deepest emotions to your benefit. Don't try to swim upstream. Some of your best work may be hiding within those painful feelings that you don't want to talk about. I hope this helps inspire a few of you to start writing! And KEEP writing! Go out there and make Gay Authors proud! Hehehe! Take care! And happy writing!
  13. Writer Responsibility December 8th, 1980... A true musical icon was gunned down by his ′number one fan′, according to his assassin. Mark David Chapman murdered John Lennon that night by shooting him in the back, and this was not long after he had just given him a personal autograph earlier in the day. And he didn′t run afterward. Instead...he sat on the curb, and read from J D Salinger′s novel, ′A Catcher In The Rye′. A book that he says inspired his heinous act. One of the saddest days in American history, in my opinion. Now, of course...there isn′t ANYTHING in that book that would suggest killing anybody, least of all a musician who seemed to be dedicated to ending war and violence in all of its many forms. But, it begs the question...when you′re writing a story and putting it out there for the whole world to see...do you feel that you are officially stepping up to claim some responsibility for the messages that you put into the words you share with others? Do you find a moral obligation to be ′careful′ with what you write? Or do you find that limiting on your creative freedom...and therefore, the antithesis of truth and honesty in your art? Not an easy thing to tackle, but let′s give it a shot, shall we? This week...let′s talk writer responsibility! I will be the first to admit that I really don′t censor myself when I′m writing a story. I don′t hold back. My emotions pour forth, and I follow my personal muse as far as it will take me if I think it will paint the kind of picture that I wanted to paint. However, when my creative energy has been spent and the dream factory closes up for the night...the ′editing′ part of my brain takes over, and I feel that other choices have to be made in order to feel good about putting the stuff that I′ve written out there for an unknown public to read. Please, don′t ever think that I write anything without a sense of conscience. I do. As much as I champion freedom of expression and challenging other mindsets to accept and embrace concepts that they might not be willing to let invade their comfort zone...I am always careful with what I say and how I say it. Many of my stories deal with some very heavy issues. Abuse, suicide, heartbreak, coming out, bullying, terminal illness...and people are actually absorbing what I write. Every word. And no author knows whether their story is going to be taken as an emotional roller coaster ride that leads to an impact on someone′s life...or if it′s going to be the next ′A Catcher In The Rye′, inspiring them to do something foolish. Maybe even criminal. It′s something that I always keep in mind when I′m putting a story together. It would KILL me to know that something that I wrote caused somebody to hurt themselves or somebody else. To make a bad decision, to risk unprotected sex with a stranger, to take advantage of a minor, break the law, or to contemplate suicide...simply because they read it in a ′Comicality′ story. I couldn′t live with that. That was never my intention and it never will be. And yet...how much responsibility can an author take upon him or herself when it comes to how their stories are interpreted by others? Where should the line be drawn? I don′t want my teenage readers being afraid of sex. I don′t want them to shy away from it or to be embarrassed by their desires or ashamed of their pursuits. But...at the same time, I don′t want to have my stories building fantasies around dreamy boys and easy relationships where you never fight, never need a condom, and everybody lives happily ever after, no matter what, either. There has to be a middle ground somewhere. A compromise that allows them to think for themselves according to a particular situation. And that′s where I try to keep my writing centered. In the middle. Yes, there are good times, and yes, there are bad times...but there are no pleasurable deeds committed without possible consequence, and there are no downfalls into misery without a sense of hope and redemption. There′s a balance to be maintained. I always strive to show both sides of the coin so everyone reading can make positive choices based on who they are as a person, and not just based on what I wrote in a story that was meant to be used for entertainment purposes only. Thoughtful, inspiring, motivational? Definitely. But entertainment, just the same. I have to take some personal responsibility for the content of my stories. Especially now that the ′Comicality′ brand has a bit of notoriety online. I have to be more careful than ever. I never know who is reading. I have no control over how they take my message or what they do with it. So, I take all of these things into account when I look over my stories and get ready to hit ′send′ to share it with the rest of you guys. I′ve been through violent abuse, I′ve suffered heartbreaks that felt like I′d never ever be able to smile again, and I′ve been at death′s door myself, not to mention, losing a very close friend of mine to suicide when he was only 17 years old. It hurts. It HURTS! But that puts me right in the middle of a conflict that I need to wrestle with if I′m going to truly be passionate about the content of my stories in general. Can I be responsible in my presentation of ideas, and yet still be honest enough to capture the hearts and minds of people out there who need to know that someone understands their struggle, and has the courage to speak the words out loud so they can stop feeling so alone? It′s a thin line. But one that I think every writer reading this can walk if they really feel the urge to do so. I think the goal is to keep your readers in mind, younger and older alike, when going over some of your most emotional scenes. I try to imagine how someone else my read the scene. I want to be raw and brutally honest about the severe pain associated with a broken heart. I want it to be visceral and disturbing and emotionally moving in a way that will remind and possibly bring up past feelings for readers who have gone through something similar. They can feel that torment as if it was brand new. The truer you are to your feelings and memories in your writing, the more connected your readers will be to your project. We′ve all been there before, right? But what about the college boy who′s currently going through a serious heartbreak or rejection at the exact same moment that he′s reading my story? What happens if I′m digging around in his backyard and end up doing more harm than good by triggering emotions they′re not dealing with in a healthy manner? I wouldn′t want that. There are times when I think about certain words or phrases that I use in my stories, and I go over them to ′soften the blow′ by using words with a little more finesse instead. If one of my characters gets their heartbroken, I might avoid talking about how much ″I want to die...″ or ″I could KILL him for stealing my boyfriend from me!″ It may be something that I write while I′m in the moment...but sometimes my conscience pops up and says...let′s not phrase it that way, Comsie. People are reading. Have any of you other writers ever experienced that in your stories? Please feel free to leave your thoughts down below. I′m curious. The other side of that coin, of course, is that the gritty details of certain serious issues are needed for the story to have the kind of hard-hitting impact that I want it to have. If I write a scene in a story where a boy is getting violently bullied, dragged into a high school bathroom, and beaten up with no one to come to his rescue...I want it to be unsettling. It′s meant to be a disturbing scene. I don′t want to hold back and deny the readers who have experienced hardcore bullying in their lives an honest portrayal of what it′s like to have to live through something like that. When I talk about suicidal feelings or childhood abuse, it comes from a very personal place. And readers who recognize those feelings immediately feel a kinship for the descriptions going in to the scene. And for many, it can be a very therapeutic exercise to relive some of those moments and finally lay them to rest. I have gotten so many emails over the years from people who just want to say ′thank you′ for telling the truth and helping them to come to terms with what they′ve been through so they could move on. I don′t want to fake it or sugarcoat some of the harsh realities of what′s going on. Otherwise, what′s the point of the story itself? Am I going to have the stones to say what needs to be said or not? If not, then I can leave the heavy content out of the story completely and write giggly fairy tales all day. Why not? Hehehe, sorry. I′m rambling a bit this weekend. But it′s something that′s awkward for me to think about sometimes. So, any thoughts on this? Please leave your comments below if this has sparked anything for ya! Bottom line, I feel a duty to be honest in my writing, but that doesn′t mean that responsibility gets tossed out the window. I don′t think any author should take a ′devil may cry′ attitude with their stories. Words have a power that we, as writers, definitely understand. Words can be used to empower us, enrage us, break down barriers and blockages, and inspire us to do great things. But those tables can turn quickly if we don′t at least put some thought into how the message is received...instead of just how it is delivered. Anyway, food for thought! Thanks for trying to decipher my weirdness! Hehehe! And as always, I hope this helps!
  14. Sometimes...the hardest, most unbelievably difficult, part of any story...is the first five paragraphs! It is grueling, it is maddening, it is downright FRIGHTENING at times! And it's hard to really explain why that is to people who don't write all the time. It's a level of insanity that only writers and other artists will ever really know. Because this is the 'kickoff' when it comes to starting a new project. It's the equivalent of throwing the first punch in a fight. Like..."Ok! This is it! Here we go! I hope I know what I'm doing!" And while writing may seem like a relaxing, expressive, and therapeutic exercise in general...this first step forward can be more intimidating than any other part of the process. This is the leap of faith. This is telling yourself that you're actually going to take a shot at making this idea in your head a reality...and you'd better do it right. Because you can't be an artist without taking your armor off. You've got to be vulnerable. You've got to show people your true self, and HOPE that they approve. The world is watching now. I can't think of anything that could be more terrifying when it comes to writing my own stuff. So I'm right there with you, even after years of practice and experience. The thing is...the pressure to get things right on the first try can create a feeling of dread in all of us...even if we don't recognize it as such. We begin to procrastinate. We tell ourselves that our ideas aren't ready yet, or that we're still 'fleshing it out', or we just start binge watching Netflix shows so we have an excuse to not commit until later. And while that keeps our mixed up creative minds calm and comfortable for the time being...it can stop our most gifted thoughts and emotions from ever making it on to the page. Or...the screen. Whatever. We need to recognize this subtle self intimidation for what it is so we can conquer it and actually get something done. Otherwise...your personal story is going to stay stuck in limbo for YEARS...if not forever! So let's push that weirdness aside and get MOTIVATED, shall we? First things first...sit at your keyboard, and open up that program. Whatever you use to write with...open it up, and let that harsh blank page stare you in the face until you come up with something to say. That's the hardest part. Think of your story as a whole, pick a golden spot to start from, and then word your first few sentences based on that idea. Easier said than done, I'm sure. But that's the most important part of writing anything. Getting the ball rolling. I realize that a million thoughts are going through your head at this point, and it's easy to feel like the entire story is weighing heavily on your shoulders, but you just have to dive into it without thinking too much. In our heads, we may be thinking of characters and story elements that are waaaaay down the road from those first few sentences. Twists and turns and romantic encounters and everything that we had planned out from the very beginning. But for right now, you just want to find that special jump off point. Nothing else. The rest will come naturally as the story progresses, so try your best to keep from feeling like you have to write an entire book In one sitting by the stroke of midnight. That only adds to the pressure, and before you know it, you'll be opening up your YouTube account in a separate window and you'll be right back to being lazy and distracted. Hehehe! STOP that! For me personally, when I want to get a brand new story or even a brand new chapter of a continuing story started...I think about the main character and where I want him to be at that particular point of the story. Who is he? Where is he? How can I put this character in a place where I can provide the reader with some much needed information about him/her/them? I've written stories that start off with my protagonist's relationship with their parents, and some where they seem to just be hanging out with good friends. Sometimes, their life starts out normal and that beautiful stranger shows up later to flip their whole world upside down. Other times, the very first sentence of the story might be, "He was the most beautiful boy I had ever seen." Boom! You're instantly drawn into the moment. You get a chance to describe the love interest, maybe give a brief history of where this beauty came from, and also have the main character show the audience who they are. Starting a story is all about picking the right moment. Different ways of doing this could be starting at the 'end' of your story, and explaining how the main character got there by having the whole story play out as a flashback. Or you could choose a moment that seems mundane at first, but is soon given detail and meaning through the first few paragraphs to follow. But you want something that will grab your reader's attention right away. Something that will intrigue them and urge them to keep reading to see what happens next. Once you choose that moment, and you make that leap...you can settle in and begin molding your sculpture into something beautiful. Find a moment that starts your main character off in the middle of his journey. At the top of the roller coaster, just about to take that first exciting dip downward...so that you, as a writer, can get excited about this story too. There will be an urge to start off really slow, thinking that you have to have a basic beginning before you get into anything more interesting. Don't. Get your readers involved right away, and if you have to go back and add some more details to your foundation later, then so be it. But, as I always say, an author's worst enemy is that 'backspace' button on the keyboard. You've only got a small window to impress your readers, especially if they're brand new to your writing. So don't take the 'slow burn' approach. Dive in, and have the dive right in behind you. Once you begin writing, the momentum will build all on its own. You'll begin to feel your fears and tensions relax, and focus more on the flow and rhythm of what you're writing in that chosen moment. Simply pick your peak...and then ski down to the bottom of the mountain when your muse is all out of juice. Then...take a break. Don't force it. Allow the idea to be 'born' on its own. Your only job is to kick it into gear. Visualize where you want to go, and force yourself to take those first few awkward steps towards getting there. Don't let the distractions and excuses stop you. Write a few sentences. Then a few paragraphs. Then a few pages. And the more you build upon what you started with, you'll find yourself pounding away at those keyboard keys until you almost don't want to break away to go to sleep for the night. You may not believe me now, but give it a try. I'm willing to bet you'll be surprised what happens. Passion feeds on its own fumes...so get started. Because the longer you wait, the longer you'll WANT to wait. There will always be a reason not to write. Always. So don't think that you're going to be the first author in history to be 'called to arms' when the feeling hits. No...you've got to make that move on your own. Take the initiative. Deliberately step forward, and like gravity...the story will pull you in the right direction until the feelings in your heart have been expressed. Just push a little bit. Just enough to get started. That's all you need. The rest will write itself. I hope this helps you procrastinators get started with your newest projects. If you feel yourself hesitating every time you sit down to write...then take notice of that hesitation. Why won't you write? What are you afraid of? Just GO! Type! Do it! It's a small step, getting started...but it isn't easy. Be aware of that obstacle...then beat it. Happy writing, folks! And I wish you all the best of luck!
  15. It is, quite possibly, the WORST feeling in the world to have poured your heart and soul into a project...ALL of your emotion...ALL of your creative energy...only to have some kind of crazy computer glitch just 'zap' it right out of existence forever. Gone. Never to be seen again. The experience is heartbreaking! I've had it happen to me quite a number of times in the past. Either the 'Save' function didn't work like it was supposed to, or the file got corrupted...my laptop fizzled out on me, or my files got hacked, or my website was shutdown without any warning...I can honestly say that I've probably LOST just as much writing as I've posted on my website over the years. And it never ever gets any easier to deal with. Because, while writing takes time and notes and a game plan set into motion ahead of time so you know what kind of story you want to make...the actual writing itself is a very emotional and spontaneous act. You sit at your keyboard with a feeling and a purpose...and you 'bleed' through your words. Right then, right there, while you're in the moment. You search for just the right words. Just the right phrases. Just the right metaphors. And with your passion and focus working together...you create moments in your writing that express exactly what you're thinking and exactly how you're feeling at that particular time in your life. Once you lose that...even by accident...you can't ever get those moments back. It's like setting fire to a photo album full of your baby pictures. It hurts. Especially when it's something that you worked really really hard on so you could get everything just the way you wanted it. Yeah, there's no feeling in the world like losing your creative expression with a technological screw up or the click of the wrong button. BUT...that doesn't mean that you have to give up on saying what you need to say with your work. If you want to take some time before starting over, that's fine. In fact...I encourage that. But when the anger and the frustration passes, you've got to pick yourself back up, add some wood to the fire, and get your ass back in gear. If this was a story that you felt you needed to tell the first time around... you still need to tell it the second time around. What's changed? You have something in your heart that you wanted to share with the world, and chances are that the world needs to hear it. So dust yourself off and get back to work. That story isn't going to magically write itself. Get up, soldier! There's work to be done! Having been through this sad process myself many times before, I hope this article will inspire you guys to keep going, and take steps towards starting again, despite the harsh blow that our imperfect tech might have dealt you. Step number one...'Grieve'. Hehehe, seriously...take a short break to get over losing all of your hard work. The reason I say this is because it's a truly aggravating experience, and there will be a sudden urgency within you to try to jump right back into your story and start typing away before you lose all of the wonderful things you had in mind before they leave you! I can tell you from experience...this is a mistake. Any writer that is truly invested in their own work and writes from the heart 'exposes' themselves in their writing. It's automatic. The emotion flows freely and it affects your every word choice and description that you put on that page, and if you charge into rewriting your story with a head full of anger and frustration and despair...those feelings are going to come through in your writing. Your readers will feel it. And unless a pissed off author who just lost a lot of hard work and had to start all over from scratch is the vibe that you're going for...you're going to end up writing a very different story from the one you intended to write initially. So...it's gonna SUCK for a while, yes...but take a few days to breathe and get all that out of your system before jumping back into it. K? Your readers will subliminally detect your frustration no matter how careful you think you are about hiding it. Or...they'll just figure out the hint from the number of 'F'-bombs and heavy exclamation marks you use in this new version! Hehehe! Step number two...'Look for your notes'. I once made the huge mistake of keeping a majority of my notes and ideas for stories online. Needless to say, I don't do that anymore. I don't trust ANY online program to keep my hard work safe unless I absolutely HAVE to! Not a server, not a word processor, not my own email, not a 'cloud'...NOTHING! I've been screwed over by every last one of them in the past. So *FUCK* the internet! Hehehe! (See? That frustration? It's still there, and it comes out in my writing. Hehehe!) I actually go out, and I buy physical notebooks and physical pens and I jot down notes on my own where I can see them and hold them in my hand. So unless my house burns down to the ground, I don't have to worry about something like...WebTV suddenly ending their service and losing a TON of my emails and saved stories in the process! Grrrrr! Keep personal notes on your spontaneous thoughts and feelings concerning a certain story, and keep them in a place where you have easy access to them. If the unthinkable happens, and you lose your story online...go back to the notes that you took ahead of time, and use that 'bare bones' structure you referred to in order to write the first story as a guide to start over again. Not only will you have access to your most awesome ideas, but after reviewing them, you might even come up with NEW ideas that you never even thought of beforehand. They will help to keep you in the same frame of mind, so always keep your notebooks close to the hip. Step number three...'DON'T try to recreate your original work'! I speak from experience when I say...that will never ever happen. I don't mean for this to sound depressing, but all of those thoughts and emotions and literary choices that you made 'in the moment' to create that masterpiece of yours? They're gone. Gone for good. And they're never coming back. This is something that you have to take some time to embrace and accept so you can move forward. You will drive yourself CRAZY trying to remember the exact wording of certain passages and dialogue that you wrote before. Trying to rewrite your opus, word for word, isn't possible. You will only end up weakening your own writing by even attempting such a thing. Let your old project go. Keep the feel of it, but start anew. You have your notes, you have your passion and your focus, and while you may see many 'shadows' of your previous work in your new project...it'll never be the same. Don't go backwards and try to create a carbon copy of what you've already done. Move forward, and write something even BETTER. Otherwise, you'll just be rehashing old ideas and stale emotions from moments that have long passed you by, broadcasting your regret to your readers for not being able to effectively pull it off twice. It's ok. There *IS* no effectively pulling it off twice! That's what makes writing so personal, and so unique. Have faith in yourself. You wrote a masterpiece before, you can write one again. Your talent hasn't changed, nor has your drive to tell a great story. So go for it! It'll be fine. K? A quick recap... #1 - Take Time To Grieve. Don't rush to start writing again. Losing irreplaceable thoughts and emotions SUCKS!!! Take some time to wring that out of your system before you try to 'clone' your own genius. #2 - Look For Your Notes. The ideas and brilliant bits and pieces of or your original story might still exist in the notes you took before writing it the first time. Get yourself back in the same frame of mind and remember why you wanted to write that story in the first place. It might inspire you all over again. It won't work. Don't try to build a story off of worn out feelings and 'spur of the moment' expressions. The best thing that you can do is build a brand new version of your original story, based on what you're feeling right NOW. Let it be just as heartfelt and spontaneous as it was the first time without looking back. Follow your heart. Let your muse speak to you without restriction. Your instincts won't let you down. K? That's it for this particular article. I hope it helps. And remember to save save SAVE your work! Keep TEN copies in ten different places if you have to! Email it to yourself at three different accounts! Save it in LibreOffice, in Notepad, on Google+...ANYWHERE that you can save a copy...save one. After 'gay material' witch hunts on Tripod, and email malfunctions, and laptop or hard drive crashes...I have grown WEARY of losing some of my BEST work to technology. But...as much as it hurt...I had to keep going. And you guys can keep going too. So take some time, watch some TV, deal with the loss...and then give it a second try. You may end up topping what you originally had planned!
  16. There are two schools of learning when it comes to writing erotica...some people want a full story with drama and tension and build up...and some people are rock hard already and want to find something hot to get off to! Hehehe, and sometimes we understandably flip flop from one to the other. Depends on the mood, I suppose. But if your writing a story, and you label it as 'erotica'...just keep in mind that no matter how intriguing the story is, no matter how adorable your characters are, or how talented you are with words, style, and metaphor...a great deal of your audience are going to be actively searching for the erotic part of that equation. And that means a touch of the 'naughty' between the people they're reading about. But when is the appropriate time for you to introduce sex into your story? You don't want it to be too soon, or it won't have the same 'umph' in the delivery. But you don't want to take so long that your readers get frustrated with the long wait either. So where's the middle ground? Let's discuss. I started out writing stories that matched the stories that I used to read online. Super HOT! They were mostly short, one chapter, stories that had one hot boy meeting another hot boy, trading names, finding a way to be alone, and then shagging each other silly! Hehehe, and I LOVED it! Sometimes, I still get in the mood for a hot quickie, to be honest. There's nothing wrong with it. Sometimes, it's exactly what you're looking for and exactly what you need. In fact, I suggest you write a few yourself, just to get your name out there and use it as a draw back to some of your other stories that might be longer and have a little more depth and plot to them. However, many times those stories can feel like eating a handful of cookies to hold you over until dinner. It satisfies, but it's not as much nourishment as something that you might find a little more emotionally substantial. I think that introducing sex into a story has a lot to do with how you, personally, view sex in general. No matter what your feelings are about it, tell that story. If you hold that level of intimacy to a much higher standard and think it should be something that your main characters don't take lightly...then take your time and tell that story. But if you think sex is just a normal expression of what you feel and don't want to dive into the whole 'angst' and slow build aspect, and would rather go forward with something sexy and hot without I being that big of a deal, then write THAT story too! Hell, try both if you want to experiment with the difference. But sex scenes in your story should truly reflect a very private and vulnerable part of who you are as a person. Allow yourself to explore the kind of sexual exploits that you would want to have in real life. If you could have it any way that you wanted it...what would you do? How would you do it? This is your self orchestrated wet dream, so go wild with it, right? I like for things to take a very natural and realistic pace in my stories. But that pace is also set by the kind of story that I want to tell. Sometimes I want to write about someone who has spent the better part of their lives lusting over the one they want, and once they're given the opportunity to dive in to a situation...they go for it, full throttle, with no regrets. However, there are other stories that I write where there's a certain level of insecurity and intimidation that comes with having a sexual experience with the boy of their dreams. Especially if it's a virgin experience, which is something that I try to handle with delicacy and a bit of grace. I wrote an article on building up to the 'first kiss' in your story, and I feel the same way about sex in a story. Let it be a reward, not only for your main character, but for your readers as well, for sticking it out through the plot points that come before it. So there's a balance that you'll have to play around with and determine on your own. However, you want to play the 'long game' but still want to add some sex into your story before your audience gets too antsy, a good way to achieve this is through a masturbation sequence or a dream. Possibly even a series of naughty thoughts while staring at their love interest from across the room. That way you can add something truly sexy to your story without having to rush your main characters into doing the deed before it feels natural. Also, since this is your personal fantasy, feel free to really express yourself through the type of sex you want your characters to have. Write it your way, and make it sizzle. The hotter it is to you, the hotter it'll be for your readers. If you want a slow, romantic, grind in the bedroom...then throw yourself into it and bring out the sensuality of that moment. If you're more of a 'rough rider', and want something fast and breathless...then try to capture the spontaneity and desperation involved. Do you want your characters to do something secretive, or in a public place? Maybe you want something more innocent and experimental. Or perhaps a bit more on the dominant/submissive side. Whatever your particular flavor is, you're running the show. And you want that first sexual encounter to be as erotic as humanly possible, as it's going to set the standard for every hot scene to follow it. It takes a little instinct and a lot of practice, but if you can bring sex into your story at just the right moment, and you make it something explosive...your audience will be strapped in and ready to ride with you until the very end. So go on out there and put a smile on their faces!
  17. So, you've done it! You put in the time and the energy and the effort, you've drained yourself creatively, and you've put together a story that you can be proud of. One that can touch and inspire as well as excite and arouse. Awesome! Now, all you have to do is put it out where people can read it so they can be thrilled by your genius. Just find a place to post your work...and wait. And wait... And wait some more... Ok, so what's going on here? Where's the praise? Where are the great reviews? You poured your heart and soul into a story that you think is really impressive and well put together. So what happened? Well, while writing the actual story is a fun a passionate experience for a writer who's searching for an audience...it's not enough. That's not to say that your story isn't great literature. It might be a truly engaging story, filled with heart and wit and written with immaculate skill. But merely putting it in a place where people can see it doesn't mean that it'll get seen. That takes extra. Hehehe, don't groan! This part can be a lot of fun too! So let's talk about getting yourself out there, and getting some readers to notice your talent. The first thing that I want to tell you, before we move any further...may sound a bit discouraging, but don't let that bother you. Ready? Here goes... Chances are...I'd say that 85% of all the people who read your story online...will never send you any feedback on it. That sounds pessimistic, but I'm actually being optimistic by keeping it at only 85%. It's something that I've learned after many many years of doing this, and at first, it's going to be really disheartening. A part of you is going to think that if people liked they story, they'd tell you so. So the deepest cut of all for any writer is silence, because they immediately assume that you didn't like it or weren't interested. That's a mentality that you've got to break before anything else. Get past that. The internet is full of so many distractions that it would be impossible to even begin to appreciate it all. Think of all the Youtube videos you didn't like or share, or all the articles you've read, or the meme images that you laughed at and moved on. It's not that you didn't 'like' it, you've just got a lot more going on. So lose the idea that a lack of response is a comment on your talent or the quality of your work. That's not always the case. That kind of thinking will only demoralize you and keep you from moving forward. Got it? Good. Now that we've got that out of the way, let's get into the meat of it... It takes more than simply putting your work in a public place to get noticed. You spent all this time on getting your story just right, so why not market it a little bit? Let people know how to find you among the thousands of other people who are doing the same thing. We can look at this in three layers. The first layer is on the surface. You want people to check out your story? You want to draw them in? You're going to need to catch their eye. You need to be the shiny object on the table in order to grab their attention. We start with a 'catchy' title. Something interesting, something different, but uncomplicated enough for a potential reader to commit to memory. If you title your story, "Gabe's Story"...well, there's nothing wrong with that, but will that grab your attention when somebody is scrolling down a page of 150 other story titles? Also, if you call your story, "The Unbelievably Annoying Chortle Of My Best Friend"...that's going to scream 'skip' to people who have never read your work before. Those titles can come off as wordy and a little offbeat to the point of turning some readers away. Once you establish a fanbase, that can change. But just starting out and building a name for yourself takes mass appeal. You want the average reader to take a random chance on you so you can show them what you're capable of. You shouldn't judge a book by its cover...but people do. And in cases of online fiction, a lot of times you don't even GET a cover! So the title is everything. The second layer? WRITE!!! Write until your fingers hurt! Write until your back aches and your butt is flat from sitting in your computer chair for so long! If you can get up from your seat and not ache and feel stiff and worn out...you haven't written enough. Take a break and come back to it. A great way to get yourself noticed is through short, one time, stories. A story told from beginning to end, maybe somewhere between 3000 to 5000 words max. Something that will give you enough room to build character and a decent plot, but won't get too involved to the point where it takes half a novel to make your point. Think of it as a collection of 'extended examples'. And experiment with different genres and ideas. Keep a pocket sized notebook on you at all times, you'll need it for jotting down spontaneous ideas. The idea is not only to practice and hone your craft, but to have a variety of stories out there for people to find. If you have only 'one' story out there, no matter how amazing it may be, getting it noticed will be harder for you. Maybe you have a title that doesn't grab the reader's eye. Maybe you have a theme that a percentage of your readers aren't instantly enthralled with. Or maybe you just got passed over for no reason at all. BUT...if you have five stories on that list, somebody is about to find ONE of them. And when they read it, and discover that they LOVE what you have to offer...they'll immediately look for other stuff that you've written. By that time, you'll have a wealth of material that will prove to them that, "Hey, that story you liked wasn't a fluke! I've got more!" You want them to love 'you' as a writer, even more than your individual stories. Stand up and prove you're up to the challenge of impressing them with almost everything you put out. Build a 'brand' for yourself, one that people can believe in. If you've written a high school love story...try a college story. If you've written a modern story...try something with a sci fi twist. Every time you try a new genre, you grab a new audience. And those audiences will all follow the breadcrumbs you leave behind to see what else you've created to give it a chance as well. This is how you build multiple fanbases. Except, since you're at the center of it all, all your fanbases combine into one entity. You may only write one story, but some people might enjoy it, and some may not. Write two stories? Some people might like one, and not like the other. Write five? You might get three stories they love, and they'll give the other two a try, even if it's not really their thing. The more you write, the more material you put out there, the better chance you have of getting your work noticed by new readers. Simple mathematics. The third layer? Get involved with your readers! This is probably the most fun part, at least it is for me. You get to meet and talk to a lot of really great people, and get some feedback on your work at the same time. The first thing you want to do is have an email account where people can reach you. Make yourself readily available for comment and review. Even if you get criticism, that part is important too, because it'll give you a different perspective on your writing in general. Get a Twitter account! Get a blog! Get a mailing list! Find a way to build your own forum, and keep a constant presence in ALL of these places at all times! Be there. Get to know your audience personally. If they can take the time to say, "I liked your story", then you can take the time to say, "Thank you!" Let them know what you're working on next, listen to what they have to say and use it to get an even better idea of how your writing is being seen by other people. Adjust accordingly. Also, make sure to add your contact and social media info on everything you write. Put it at the top of your manuscript, so people can see it before they read a single word of your story. And then add it again at the bottom of your story, so when they finish, and they have that big smile on their face and that sugary sweet feeling in their heart, they can look at it and go, "Oh yeah, I can actually 'talk' to the person who wrote this! Let me send them a quick message." Invite some sort of interaction between you and your audience. They are really COOL people! I've made some of my best friends ever through the stories I've written, so allow them to get to know you, and then you'll get to know them in return. Like I said, this is the FUN part! So, a short recap... Step 1 - Grab their attention with an interesting title and a well-written story. Step 2 - WRITE! Get as much quality material out there as you possibly can! Let me put emphasis on the word 'quality'. Don't just put a bunch of mediocre fluff out there for the sake of having a bunch of stories online. That will only hurt you in the end. Don't rush. Do it right. Your potential fans will appreciate the extra effort. Step 3 - Be social! Start by giving people a way to contact you directly, and then set up public ways to let everyone know when you have something new in the works and when it's getting released. Do this on your own. There are sites with automatic announcements and daily updates and the like, which is great...but that works best for the 'website' you're on. You want to actively connect with your personal fanbase on your own. Your direct involvement should be your main priority, and all other websites should be a very cool bonus in helping you get attention. Not the other way around. Try out a few of these techniques, and I can guarantee you that you'll start increasing your fanbase within a matter of weeks. It takes time and effort, but anything that's worth it always does, right? It's not a 'trick' or a 'strategy'...it's simply a matter of you taking the passion that you put into your stories and extending that to the people who enjoy them. So don't take the self-promotion step for granted. Remember, a work of art loses its value if there's no one around to see it. Don't let your hard work fall into that category.
  18. Are any of us perfect? I mean, I'm sure that a lot of us realize that we're not actually perfect...and the few that do believe they're perfect are often blind narcissists...hehehe, and therefore NOT perfect! Honestly, that's not even something that I would ever want to shoot for. If perfection is determined by some sort of direct formula or standard, if it's a bunch of little boxes that all have to be checkmarked to be considered a part of that group...then that would mean it's our imperfections that make us different. Unique. Hell, even mildly interesting. Who would want to toss that aside from a life free from stress, worry, and pain? Am I right? Hehehe! We're not perfect...our characters shouldn't be perfect either. Today...we talk character flaws. Now, when I say the word 'flaw', I don't you guys to start cringing and worrying and shouting out, "But I don't WANT my main characters to become unlovable douchebags!!!" Shhhh, calm down. It doesn't have to go that far. Ok? Character flaws can be minor. They can be human. And if you plan ahead and play your cards right, you can use those flaws and the flaws of your love interest, to build a wonderful story arc where your characters learn to battle those demons and overcome those flaws for an amazing story that can get your readers to think, evolve, and maybe even change themselves. It's all in the way you put it together in your story. So, what are flaws? What are we talking about here? That's the big question, right? Well, I happen to be a very flawed individual myself, and I'm fully aware of what those flaws are. That's what helps me maintain a conscience about them and try to fix them when they get in the way of me being a decent human being. Naturally, as a writer's creation is always a reflection of the writer, those flaws trickle down to my characters, and I use them as chess pieces to tell a bigger story and to hopefully have a deeper theme. Even if it's done in a slightly exaggerated way. It's easy to want your protagonist to be a good soul and a true angel, through and through. Even easier for your main love interest to shine even brighter and be even more magnificent, to the point where the entire choir of Heaven shouts down at you from the clouds above at his mere appearance. Ohhhhhhhhh, Hallelujah! But as tempting as it is to do that, you're going to end up running out of things to say VERY quickly. There would be no conflict. No adversity. No challenge. What would you do for the rest of the story? "I love you." "I love you more." "No, I love YOU more!" "Unh unh...I love YOU more, times infinity!" Yeahhhh...don't spend ten pages doing that to your readers. That's just plain mean. Hehehe! When I speak about character flaws, I'm talking about typical human traits that could somehow be used to add a touch of literary color to what you're writing. Maybe your main character is a great guy, but he has a bit of a jealous streak. He's involved in his first gay relationship ever, and his brand new boyfriend is talking to the star quarterback of the football team? How would you feel? I have written stories where one of the boys was 'out and proud', but his boyfriend wasn't. There's a slight friction there. I wrote a story where the main character was the victim of physical abuse from his father, and finds it hard to even believe in himself enough to approach his own boyfriend without being suspicious. I've written about people who have had their hearts broken before and are afraid to love again, boys who feel inadequate because of their financial status, or boys who think the person they're in love with is so far out of their league that even trying to ask them out seems like a waste of time. These are all HUMAN traits. They're situations that we've all dealt with in one way or another. Some people are painfully shy, some have a mean streak in them, some have religious constraints, some have age restrictions, some have problems with alcohol, or drugs, or just an unhealthy connection to their ex-boyfriend. These things can be used to enrich your characters and give them a added level of depth, they're not meant to ruin them or make them unlikable. Not at all. In fact, the very concept of dealing with these personality flaws can become the backbone of your story and make it an exciting read for everyone who's reading it. While the loving relationship, the breathless kisses, and of course...the mind-blowing SEX...is the centerpiece of most erotic stories, how much cooler would it be to also touch on a partner dealing with substance abuse? Or maybe cheating on their significant other? Or maybe keeping people at arm's length because he's scared of commitment? Everything from the insecurity of being with an online 'celebrity', to the aggravation and agony of a long distance relationship, can become an enthralling part of your project, and it might just touch people in a deeper way than you ever thought possible. To me? A super hot, super perfect, person...falling for another super hot, super perfect, person...doesn't hold much entertainment value. It's GREAT for a ten minute session of 'cocking the shotgun', hehehe! But once you clean up, who really remembers that? It's not that I don't understand the true intention of erotica, but if it doesn't feel like a real experience to your readers...then it becomes less about your writing and more about their fantasies. Which would mean...they could get the same thing anywhere. From anyone. If you want to stand out, never be afraid to add a little extra layer to your stories and have an impact. I'm not saying that you have to turn it into a soap opera about something else entirely, but drawing attention to little flaws and having them deal with it between marathons of naked sex-scapades will only help you to stand out even more. And it'll keep people coming back for the next story you write. And the next. and the next. I'm thinking that's a goal a lot of us are working towards.
  19. Comicality

    First Kiss

    No matter how hot and steamy the sex may get between your main character and his love interest later on in your story...sometimes the sweetest and most explosive moment of all comes from that very first kiss. Even if your characters are older and it's not their first kiss ever...it's that first delicate connection with the guy you're passing off as his perfect counterpart. If done right, a first kiss between characters can be just as erotic as every other part of your story, if not more so. So how do you make someone's awkward attempt at pressing their lips together for the first time seem like such a grand experience? Read on, and let's talk about writing that first kiss. One thing that always makes a scene for me, as well as the rest of the story, is the love and care put into the characters. That's rule number one. If people care about the characters, then they will care about what the characters are doing. Who they are and how they interact with one another is all a major part of the actual build up to a first kiss. Have them trade glances, talk to each other, flirt with one another...maybe even have them get nervous and back out of a previous attempt or two. The anticipation of a first kiss should be both adorable and maddening at the same time. I've written a bunch of stories where the emails and reviews were like, "Arrgggghhh!!! I hate you! I HATE YOU!!! When's the next chapter coming out???" Hehehe, but that's what we as writers WANT, right? We want the readers to get excited like our main characters get excited! That's a big piece of what makes telling a quality erotic story so much fun. It's not this kiss itself, but the events surrounding the kiss that give it its flare and true magic. It should be a blissful 'reward' for all of the fear and angst and confusion you put your protagonist through to earn it. Once you've successfully built the tension and you're ready for the big moment to happen...let that moment represent your character's personality just as much as any other part of your story. A kiss is basically a silent dialogue, continuing on from everything you know about these boys so far. A previously bashful guy isn't going to ram his tongue down someone's throat. And a stronger, more dominant character, wouldn't deliver a kiss on the cheek and shy away from him with a giggle. Depending on your characters, try to have it match the tone of the story. Have it match their personas as you created them. For example, if you're writing a really sweet dramatic fiction...maybe you have them stare into each other's eyes as they go silent. Then they lean in slowly, close their eyes, and experience something truly amazing. Soft and tender and special. Or, if you're writing a story that's super lighthearted with a lot of humor added to it, you might enjoy making their first kiss clumsy, with bumped noses and smashed lips and possibly a fall back into the bushes. Maybe that's not the story you're trying to tell...maybe you want the first kiss to come off as some repulsive, and you want to describe it in a different way. Maybe they're actually fighting with one another when it happens, and the kiss comes off as angry, but erotic, as their 'oil and water' emotions collide. Think about the overall tone of your story and the people involved, and write something that will reflect who they are. It works wonders. 'Surprise' kisses can also come off as being incredibly sweet. Whether it comes from the protagonist or the love interest. The idea that they're close to one another, and despite holding back originally, they simply can't take it anymore. Lunging forward spontaneously without warning can, physically, cause your reader's jaws to drop. And that's always a good thing! Hehehe! You could go a million different ways with it, but if you listen to your characters speaking to you within the context of the world you built for them...they'll tell you how it should all go down in the end. My own characters NEVER shut up! Hehehe, trust me! Now, once that magical moment happens...make sure you milk it for all it's worth! This is a monumental achievement happening here. This is that first dip in the roller coaster that will lead toward the exciting ride to follow it. So, make sure to get in your character's head and really use this opportunity to paint a pretty picture. What's he feeling? What's he thinking? Put yourself in his place, really visualize it, and describe it to the readers who are taking this journey with you. Let them feel the racing heartbeat, the heavy breathing, the jittery stomach, the slight rise in body temperature. Let them experience the softness of his lips, the fabric of his shirt as you gently hold onto his hips...let them read about the taste of the grape flavored popsicle he was sucking on just moments before. What do you do with your hands? What do you do about the obvious erection digging into his hip? How do you react to the feel of his tongue entering your mouth? What do you first hear a moan fill the room and you don't know if it came from him or from you? All of these little details can grab a few seconds of kissing and make it soar into orbit, making your fanbase just as dizzy and delirious as your protagonist. Make it last. Because, just as in real life...your story only gets one first kiss. Now, one last thing that I've learned over the years about the first kiss...let it breathe. Allow it to be it's own grand event in your fairy tale. I used to have a habit of letting the first kiss happen somewhere private, and then letting it transition, immediately, into that first sexual experience. If that's a part of the story that you want to tell, then so be it. But I find it more effective to just let my characters have that one special moment, truly let the readers appreciate it, and then allow them a period of time to glow and grin and smile up at the sky for a while before they come back to escalate to a naughtier level. I like it when first kisses stand alone in a story. There's nothing more endearing than having a character get just a taste of the possibilities, and watch him float home...enjoying the overwhelming 'wow' of it all. Give it a shot. These are the moments that really define a story as a whole. You don't want to 'blow your load' all at once, do you? As always...pun intended. I hope this helps. Just keep in mind that the first kiss in a well written erotic story is like those first rays of light breaking over the horizon at sunrise. It is, basically, the end of your 'first act' in a lot of cases, and you want it to have some power to it. By the time you get to anything more graphic, your readers will already be so in love with your two main characters that you'll be beyond the point of doing any wrong by them. So pucker up, and give your audience the magic they deserve.
  20. Imagine if you were watching a movie or a play for the first time. You've never heard of it before, you've never seen any advertisements about it, and you don't even know what it's going to be about. Now...imagine if you could hear the dialogue and everything that's going on...but the stage or the screen is shrouded in complete darkness for the first fifteen minutes. You can't see anything at all. You just have to sort of listen to the words and use your imagination to figure out what's going on. Well, the problem with that is...once you bring the house lights up, once the movie visuals actually kick in...the people watching may have your vision all wrong. And that can be a huge stumbling block. Writing is no different. In fact, putting out certain details as early as possible in your story is even more important. Because your readers' imagination is three-fourths of the whole experience, and the last thing you want is for them to spend too much time in the dark before you give them the basics. That's why it's so essential to 'set the stage' before getting into anything that will push your story forward. When someone clicks on your story, most of them are going into it blind. What will it be about? Who are the characters? When does it take place? For example, imagine if you read a story about a guy who's out in the park with his dog, and they're playing fetch, then he sees a guy that he thinks is absolutely gorgeous, and after a brief conversation they decide to go out to a local café for a drink. Seems simple enough, right? Now...imagine that your story has gone on for a few pages, and you don't start giving some basic details to your reader until they're already sitting down to dinner. Out of nowhere, you mention that both characters are high school juniors. Wait...what? Oh, maybe your readers were picturing them as being a bit older. Ok, well, they can deal with that. They keep reading, and you mention the dog was this giant Great Dane. Whoah! You might have pictured a dog that was a lot smaller, but...no big problem. Then maybe you mention that it's Winter time and there's snow on the ground, but your readers were imagining it being a nice Summer day. Then you mention that it's 8 PM at night, and the guy has a full beard and glasses and looks older than he really is...oh, and did I mention this story takes place in 1975? What could have been a very sweet beginning to a story has now baffled and confused your readers, because every time you add some major detail that they weren't told from the get go...they're forced to stumble, erase their previous ideas, and readjust their imagination to fit the details you're giving them. Which can sometimes be frustrating and it can give the story a clumsy start. Always remember, this is the internet. There are WAY too many options out there for you to have a clumsy start. The 'back button' is not your friend. Whenever I start a story, I try to use descriptions of that particular moment so anyone reading can get a real sense of where they are, who they're looking at, and when it's taking place. Now you don't have to spend paragraph after paragraph spilling every last detail at your reader's feet all at once, but you want to give them a sense that they can see what's going on. Because once your audience has dreamed up a solid idea of what everything looks like...that's the vision they're going to be instantly invested in. If you throw them a curveball after they've already made up their minds that the main character is a modern-day teenager from the suburbs, and you tell them, "No, he's really a gritty, chain-smoking, detective from 30 years in the future"...hehehe, we'll that's going to be a problem. If you're writing about a teenager, maybe have your opening scene start out in a classroom, or next to his locker, or at his best friend's sweet 16 birthday party. Maybe have his mother or father call him down to breakfast. These little cues will put the idea in your reader's minds that, "Ok, we're dealing with a high school kid here. Got it." And then they can continue reading, while emotionally attaching themselves to your vision instead of creating one of their own, and later having the two conflict with one another. In a future setting, maybe have someone fiddling with some sort of futuristic gadget, or describe some giant metropolis with floating holograms and hovering cars. If it takes place in the old West, maybe mention dirt roads and people riding past a saloon on horseback. Whether you describe a corporate office full adult businessmen, or a couple of kids sword fighting playfully with a couple of sticks in a Medieval castle, or walking through an apocalyptic wasteland...try to find creative ways to let your readers immediately know who, where, and when, before you get too involved with any other part of your story. That way you can be on the same page...pun intended. Hope this helps. Just remember that the faster and easier it is for your readers to get involved in the world you're trying to build, the more powerful your story will be. Set the stage first and then start building momentum from there. The last thing you want to do is trip them up right out of the gate.
  21. It's been said many times before. It's practically one of the first basics that every writer learns, that every mentor teaches, and that every critic jumps on. That is the idea of 'show, don't tell.' And yet, while many people may hear that, to some it's a bit unclear as to what that really means, or how to achieve that particular goal. Hopefully, this would give you a slightly better perspective on what appears to be a very simple task on the surface, but actually takes a little practice and finesse to pull off correctly. The first thing to pay attention to is the difference between showing and telling. The 'telling' part of the equation is simple...these are the details of who your characters are and what's going on during any particular scene. Telling is a vital part of writing, so even though people say 'don't tell', don't think of telling as being the enemy. Telling is describing what your character is wearing, the color of his hair, how clean or how messy his bedroom may be, or whether or not it's raining outside. These are all things that your readers are going to need to know if they want to fill out a complete picture in their minds. You can also use telling to describe a certain action. Use it to let your reader know that your character crossed his arms, or that he gave your protagonist a slightly goofy grin. Maybe he's shuffling a deck of cards while he's talking or sipping beer out of a plastic cup. These are all acts of 'telling' your audience what they need to know and giving them a clear vision of where they are and what's happening. Now 'showing' is a little bit different. Showing is the talent using the basic details and actions above to tell a much deeper story. Think of telling as getting the ingredients, spices, and garnishings together for a gourmet dinner...and showing as actually having the skill to use those ingredients to make your dish a masterpiece. Sometimes, this is where some people get a little shaky, and if you try to cut corners on this part of the process, you'll be missing some of the emotion and reader involvement that you need to make your story memorable. Let's say you have someone in your story who's a friend of the main protagonist...but he can be a real jerk sometimes. Now there's nothing wrong with describing him through narration or simply writing, "He's my friend, but he can be a real jerk sometimes." That's perfectly functional, but that's just you 'telling' your readers that he can be a jerk. How do they know that? What are you going to do to demonstrate that? Simple...you create situations in your story (Even if they're very small scenes) that actually show him being a friend and other scenes that show him being a jerk. Maybe you have a small scene where he stands up for his best bud against a bully, but in the next scene he runs up and smacks the books out of his hands because he think it'll be funny. Just a few actions like that will give your readers the information they need about the character, and you won't have to waste time 'telling' them that. Find ways to use your story to actually demonstrate what you want your readers to know. Instead of saying, "He was so beautiful!" try creating a scene where your character is just caught off guard and keeps looking back at him. Describe his eyes, his hair, his laugh. Create an infatuation that your readers can feel and take part in. Just saying 'he's beautiful' isn't going to be memorable or important later. But readers will definitely remember that scene and think back to all the times they've felt the same way. It builds a stronger connection to what's going on. This works for everything—moments of heartbreak, sadness, anger, and joy. Your characters' actions and spoken dialogue should say more about them than just what you type out on the screen. Every time you're describing something that isn't just concrete details...ask yourself how you can prove to your readers that the statement you just made is true. If you call someone a tough guy, or say that they're really funny, or that they seemed really shy and uncomfortable...ask yourself if you can find a way to demonstrate that through their actions instead of just saying so. Someone who's shy might look down at the floor when he talks or blush when given a compliment. Someone who's sad might seem distant or might be heard sniffling softly in a corner all by themselves at a party. Don't be afraid for your characters to speak for themselves and show who they are without the extra help. I hope this helps a little bit and gives everyone something to think about while you're writing or editing your next story. A few well-written moments in your story will create memories that your readers will cling to and remember. Unless you've just written one of the greatest, most quotable, sentences in the history of literature...no amount of simple words and details will have the same effect. Then again, if you can do BOTH...then go for it! From @Myr: Here are some additional possible resources. Gay Authors gets a small affiliate fee if you purchase either of these books from the links below:
  22. Welcome, everyone! Starting early in 2018, we will be posting weekly articles by Comicality and other authors every Saturday morning. I wanted to get this kicked off so between now and then we'll be posting links to previous Writing Tips, which can currently be found in our Stories Archive in the Non-Fiction -> Writing Tips category. Please be sure to check them out. Read and review! The three for this week are from Lugh:
  23. Anyone who has ever read any of my personal story reviews of another author's story will almost always find a common theme popping up in my critique. Whether it's said in a positive or negative way, I am constantly pushing for people to give more and more detail in their work. (As a suggestion, of course.) Not in every single scene that they write about, but in a few choice scenes that I find myself wanting to dive deeper into as a reader. Now, that's just my opinion, and writers can take it or leave it as they see fit. But I can't help but feel like there are some events in the stories that I read where an entire chapter could be built around the scenes or plot points that writers sometimes choose to skip over. So, please feel free to absorb or dismiss this article if you want. Hehehe, no hard feelings. Promise. But as a reader and a lover of online fiction myself, this is what I see, and what I look for. And I'm hoping that I can give other writers something to think about while putting out new projects. Imagine that you were watching a movie about the Titanic, or 9/11, or...hell...the life of Jesus Christ, as told by the Bible. And you're totally invested in the story being told...but, at the last minute...you got robbed of the (Sorry to say it this way...but...) the dramatic 'punchline' of the whole story? What if the Titanic hit the iceberg, and the screen faded to black, and then came back up to show a few people in a lifeboat saying, ″Man...that sure was a tragic experience!″ What the…? There was SO much that happened in the previous moments that, conveniently, got skipped over without any detail at all! You can't just 'skip' that shit! Hehehe! You can't skip the falling of the Twin Towers, or the Crucifixion. These are major parts of the story that you're trying to tell, and where your most potent descriptions will become the payoff for every person who had traveled this far on the journey with your characters and your writing in general. Choose those moments. Flesh them out. Don't build up to fake promises, if you can help it. There's SO much more of a story to tell in the small places that you might ignore or shrug off in order to get back to other parts of the story that you're more comfortable with, or may feel are more interesting. That can be damaging your storytelling ability as a whole in the long run. So...let's talk details... Read the stories that you've written so far. Go back, skim over them, reminisce over how awesome it was to finish those projects and put them out for a beloved audience to read. I don't want to suggest that there's anything wrong with them! Not at all. This isn′t about criticism. It′s about ′enhancement′. These stories might be truly incredible as they are...but is there a scene or two that you might have wanted to elaborate on? I know that I am notorious for being extremely 'wordy' and repetitive in my stories in many people′s eyes, especially the older ones that I wrote years ago. But even now, I regret not going into more detail about certain key scenes in some of my projects. I didn't know how to pick my moments back then. I was always racing to hurry up and get to the end of the story without really filling in the gaps that, ultimately, proved to really matter and stand out as some of the most memorable scenes that readers took to heart and ended up remembering in vivid detail. I didn't have the patience back then that I do now. I think lots of practice makes a difference. When you're writing a story, it's easy to overlook a lot of details because the characters and storyline exist in your head before ′putting it on paper′. You see it so clearly. You know where it came from and where it's going, so moving from point A to point B is as easy as building a simple bridge between the two sides. 'This' happened, and then 'that' happened...and all I have to do is write some fluff in the middle to connect one big event to another. That'll work, right? No. It won't. Not the way you think it will. Your readers don′t have access to the full picture the same way that you do. The translation of your ideas to an audience is where the true talent lies. You have to be able to get readers to see your vision. That′s the whole point, right? I can't speak for everyone on this, but I can always tell when a writer is trying to rush from one major scene to another, and not really taking the time to focus on the cohesive situations that bind one moment to another. I can 'feel' it. I think that it's important to look at our own projects and find those 'passover' sentences that we use to progress the story forward, but don't really give the readers an idea of what those few sentences really mean. Example... ″I haven't been the same since my parents' messy divorce. The way that it happened...it just ruined my idea of love, trust, and loyalty, in general. And that's why I feel hesitant to give my heart to Michael. Even though he's offered me a promising way out of my predicament.″ Nothing wrong with that short collection of sentences. It conveys emotion, and it progresses the story forward, where a lot is implied, but never said. Understandable. Sometimes, 'less is more'. I get it. However...when I read something like that, I immediately start asking myself questions. What's a 'messy divorce' in his eyes? The way what happened? What did he go through? How did he feel about it? What did Michael offer him as a way out, and why did it work? There's an entire CHAPTER worth of flashback information in there with the amount of questions that I have about what was just said. You know? It doesn′t take a 1500 word essay to explain it...it can be done in just a few sentences. But I kind of want to know what happened there. A ′messy divorce′? Did one of his parents cheat? Did they just not get along? Was there a lot of fighting in the house? Was it abusive or just a scary experience from the main character′s point of view? Just a few sentences can give us a whole new perspective on his outlook on love and relationships and a whole lot more. It explains his discomfort in giving his heart away. It provides another layer to what he′s feeling, and how those feelings affect his behavior. So, if I personally read that in a story, this would be one of those moments that I′d be commenting on, and asking questions about. What happened there? If I keep reading...will this come up again later? Am I missing some important information? Will I find out more later on in the story? Hehehe, I have a ′noisy′ imagination! Sorry. But I know that some other people do too, and they′ve called me out on some of the scenes that I′ve skipped over as well. And they were totally right to do so. I just didn′t see it until later. I think the key is rereading the stuff you′ve written, and actively searching for places where you might ′hint′ at something exciting and important happening in your stories, but don′t really go into detail about it. Ask yourself...is there a ′scene′ in there somewhere? Something that will actually add something to your story? Don′t get me wrong...if your characters are standing in a room...you don′t have to mention the temperature on the thermostat or describe the wallpaper. That′s not what I mean. It′s more like... ″My boyfriend and I had a fight earlier today. It just left me in a bad mood when I went to work.″ Raise your hand if you′d like to know what that fight was about! Or, if you′re ambitious...to even create a scene with dialogue and all to let your readers be a part of that argument! Sometimes, that tiny bit of detail can really draw your audience into the lives of your characters, even if it′s not the main drive of your story. Take a few moments and create a full experience, you know? I hope this doesn′t sound like I want people to be more wordy when they don′t have to be! LOL! I swear that it′s not my intention. Just look at your work and see if you can pick out sentences here and there that target certain scenes that could use a bit more fleshing out. Be aware of your opportunities. Funny story...one of my best friends was telling me a story that he saw on the news afew years ago, and I hadn′t heard about it yet at the time...and he was like, ″Yeah, there were these two naked homeless guys on a bridge, and one of them was doing this bath salts drug, and he was actually EATING the other guy′s face! The cops showed up, and he didn′t go down when they shot him, and they thought it was some ′zombie apocalypse′ type of stuff″ (That′s a true story, by the way!) But I just broke out, laughing hysterically! Like...WTF??? There is SO much more of that story that I′m not getting! You STARTED with two naked homeless guys on drugs on a bridge! There are like...25 steps missing before I reach the ″How the fuck did we get HERE???″ stage! LOL! That′s what I′m talking about. Some statements made in your storytelling might just need a ′touch′ of finesse to paint a full picture for your readers to jump into. Something to depict a more layered vision of what′s going on, and bring your readers in to peek behind the curtain and become involved in it. That′s all. Keep asking yourself questions during the self editing process. If something was sad...why was it sad? If something tragic happened...what was it? Describe it for us so we can feel the weight of it all. If the main character finds someone super beautiful, or super annoying, or hilariously silly...show us why! Add a short scene to demonstrate that. Put yourself in the moment, and then expand on it so your audience can be right there with you. It takes practice to recognize these moments, and nothing in art is perfect...that′s what makes it art. But if you′re looking to make a few baby steps towards making your stories a little more involving...give this a try. You might just enjoy it! As always, I hope this helps! And I wish you guys the best!
  24. Raise your hand if you′ve been on a roller coaster before! Hehehe, I′m just kidding. It′s the internet, I can′t see you raising your hand! Trust me, if I could set up spy cameras around you, it would be in the shower...not next to your laptop! ::Giggles:: Seriously, though...when riding a roller coaster, you experience certain peaks and valleys. You slow down in certain sections of the ride, left anticipating the next big ′dip′ with baited breath...and then everything speeds up and races through whatever loops and scream-inducing tricks you′ve got planned for your riders to go through. Roller coasters don′t just take you up into the Stratosphere and then let you race all the way down to the bottom in one fell swoop. I mean, that might be exciting for some, but...change it up a little bit, you know? A few twists and turns, a few loops, some variety! I think it just makes for a fun, and ultimately more realistic, experience in the stories we write. Try this exercise for a week... Starting on a Monday, take notes on everything that you did for that day. What you did, what you had for breakfast, interesting conversations you had, maybe some drama that you experienced...whatever. Just take notes, detailing your life for seven days in a row, and look at that list when you′re finished. What happened during the last week of your life? Was there a huge betrayal of your trust? Was there an explosion at work? Was there a screaming match between you and a co-worker where somebody had a drink thrown in their face and turned over a dinner table in a public restaurant? I mean, the big theatrics are really entertaining in some stories...but is that real life? Or is that a reality show on prime time TV? When I′m writing, even though I have a virtual FLOOD of ideas that I want to add into the plot to really make everything exciting and addictive and a ′roller coaster′ ride for everyone reading...I have to be aware of the reality of the situation. And that is this... A story can′t be ALL drama, ALL the time! Hehehe, it just can′t. It can′t be all sex, it can′t be all action, it can′t be all horror, it can′t be all misery. I can remember when I first started writing...I wanted to write the sexiest, most explosive, stories ever made! Hehehe! But...that gets old SO fast if you don′t vary things up a bit with some character development from time to time. If you read my earliest stories, there was sex in every chapter. Sure, I tried to create a decent story to go along with it...but after a few chapters in each story, I mean...how many ways is there for the characters get ′naughty′ with one another? How many ways are there for me to describe the act? And if you have sex in every chapter, it becomes predictable and almost meaningless. For me, ″On The Outside″ was the first story on the site where sex didn′t happen in the very first chapter. That broke the mold. I took more time on the story and the characters and the conflict between being ′in′ or ′out′ of the closet. Most of my writing took a left turn after that. It was much closer to what I wanted to write in the first place. Stories where sex wasn′t the centerpiece of the story, but a fun little bonus to the romance involved. With some of my other stories, I included a lot of ′soap opera′ type drama, which was always fun and challenging and I had a ton of fun with it...but even then, I had to learn that there have to be moments of normalcy in the text in order to make the drama stand out when it happened. If you′re writing a story, and somebody is dealing with a major tragedy EVERY single chapter, or a massive heartbreak, or an explosive secret, or the main character is blowing up an oil refinery...whatever...then, chances are, you′re going to exhaust your audience pretty quickly. How long can you keep up that pace and still captivate your readers′ attention? It works fine if you′re writing a short story or a mini-series that only lasts two or three chapters tops. But if you′re writing anything longer than that, it can become tiresome. Peaks and valleys are needed to provide a much needed change up to your narrative. It can sometimes feel like you′re losing momentum, or that you′re getting distracted from your massive ′push′ to reach the next big gasp moment in your story...but, trust me...stories work better when you introduce a little bit of downtime between jaw-dropping events. It′s one of the many things that I′ve learned along the way through trial and error. Now, this is not a green light to find ways to slow down your story or get off topic when you′re writing. One thing you don′t want to do is waste your readers′ time! The best way for me to describe the big scenes in your story is to imagine it like the sentences you write in every paragraph. Every paragraph can′t be a joke or a ′zinger′. Build up to your key moments with a few sentences so the punchline has a bigger impact. Then...you settle down a bit to finish your thought, and begin building up to the next moment. Does that make sense? I definitely love writing stories where secrets are exposed, or where big break ups happen, or when extremely erotic scenes take place between characters. I love angst, I love scandal, I love action, and everything that comes along with it. But how can I expect those moments to have any real effect when I deliberately try to find ways to forcefully shove them into every single chapter that I write? Hehehe, it′s like watching a movie where an unknown character gets killed and you scream, ″Oh no! Not...′that guy′! Whoever the hell he is!″ Take your time. Think about how powerful you want your big moments to be. If you write a story where two guys become romantically involved in the first chapter, they′re having sex and moving in with one another in second chapter, and then he′s cheating on him in the third chapter, and then there′s a murder plot in the fourth chapter...ummm...unless your chapters are REALLY long and super descriptive in nature, I would say that things are moving a bit fast in my opinion. That′s a lot to handle in four chapters, and I′m not saying that I′m not guilty of it myself, because I most definitely am! Hehehe! Like I said, it takes time and practice and patience to get to a place where your writing instincts will tell you otherwise. Know when to push forward and when to reign it in a little bit. Give your readers a breather. Let them connect to your cast as though they were living the same kind of lives that you′re living in your seven days worth of notes. Chances are, they′ll relate better to your story, and it′ll come off as being a close representation of their lives too. Remember, reader connection is fifty percent of the effort when sharing your art with an open audience. Don′t just put it on display...include them. They′re a part of this too. So...keep in mind that I′m definitely not asking you to write nonsense or unnecessary filler to break up those big dramatic scenes that you might be so anxious and fired up to write and put out there for a big crowd reaction. That feels great for a while, but I′m telling you...it′s not sustainable. That gimmick will eventually wear thin. And if you don′t have likeable, well developed, characters and a decent story behind those ′soap opera′ moments...things can go South really fast for stories like that. Not for ALL stories, but I′ve seen it happen more times than not. Anyway, I hope this article was a little food for thought! As always, these are all things that I′ve learned through years of trying to get it right! Hehehe, and I′m still not quite there yet, but there a few steps of trial and error that you can skip over if you know about the possible hindrance ahead of time! So good luck! And I′ll see you guys next weekend!
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