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  1. Are you following our Writing Tips blog yet? You should be: https://gayauthors.org/index.php?app=core&module=system&controller=notifications&do=follow&follow_app=blog&follow_area=blog&follow_id=634 We post a new Word of the Day every day. We post new prompts every Friday. And starting in the 2021, we'll be posting new Writing related articles every Saturday. However, the number of people following the blog and making comments or liking the content will determine how much effort goes into the resource.
  2. Comicality

    Conflict

    Conflict... ″I love you!″ ″I love you more!″ ″Unh unh! I love YOU more!″ ″No way! I love you more than ANYTHING in this world! I love you to infinity!″ ″M′kay! You win! Kiss me!″ Mwah mwah mwah mwah...blechhh! Hehehe! Honestly, how long can a story like this go on before folks get the point and grow weary of the content? There are only so many ways to say ′I love you′. Only so many ways to hang out and have a good time. Only so many holes to fill in a sexual encounter. Hehehe! It may seem sweet from chapter to chapter to see your protagonist and his special love interest get all warm and cozy, whispering sweet nothings into one another′s ear every time they get together...but even for a HUGE romantic like myself, I can honestly say that it doesn't take long before that schtick gets old. Maybe not right away, but over time...you might need something more than just a lovey-dovey situation where one hot guy compliments another hot guy on how hot they are and they go off somewhere to have sex while the readers watch. You HAVE to change things up sometimes. It′s just one of the rules in the game when it comes to keeping people interested in your characters and the story that you′re trying to tell. There are plenty of emails in my inbox right now, begging..."PLEASE don't let anything bad happen to these two! EVER! Keep it happy! I can't handle any drama in this story!" And...well...sorry. Like...how would that be any fun to read? I don't get it. There's got to be SOME sort of conflict on the horizon to keep people coming back for the next chapter. I mean...right? You wouldn't want to read the same marshmallow sweetness for ten chapters in a row. What would be the point? I'm not trying to anger or depress anybody...but a life without any struggle just isn't realistic in my opinion. Let them have a few snags in their fairy tale ever now and then. What's wrong with that? Come on! It'll be fun! I promise! Hehehe! Not every story has to be an overly dramatic soap opera. Everything doesn′t have to have moments of shock and awe and plot twists that drops your reader′s jaw by the end of the chapter. But...people in real life are different. We have different tastes, different views on life, different beliefs, different interests. And even if all of those things were, somehow, made out to be compatible...we still have mood swings. We have good and bad days. We deal with problems and misfortunes. It′s realistic. Why not make that a part of your story? Not to exploit your characters for the sake of drama...but to enhance those moments and create momentum by showing your readers how they deal with those differences. Who would your characters be if they were under the pressure of a highly emotional situation? Who would they be if confronted and forced to defend themselves in a physical fight or an argument? How would they react to some serious temptation? How would they react to the loss of a loved one or a best friend? Conflict in a story not only spices up your story, but it fills in the little corners of your characters′ personalities in ways that wouldn′t be evident in an ′oh so perfect′ storyline where all they do is kiss and giggle all day long. SO...today, let′s talk about the concept of ′conflict′! And how to effectively use it to up the ante on your writing in a way that will keep people coming back for more. The first rule of conflict is...don't put too much emphasis on the rules of conflict. Hehehe! I know that sounds backward, considering the theme of this article, but it's true. Conflict doesn't always have to be a Batman/Joker kind of confrontation. Never feel like you have to go over the top with the friction you create between your main characters. It's not always necessary. Conflict is simply a difference of opinion. It can be as big as someone cheating on their boyfriend with their older brother...or it can be as simple as one boy is out of the closet as being gay, and the other one isn't. Maybe the 'conflict' takes the form of a long distance relationship. Maybe the love interest has had bad experiences with sex and affection and doesn't want to jump back into that arena without some sort of a guarantee that they won't be hurt again. Whatever their differences are...use them in your story. There doesn't always have to be a 'black and white' kind of fight when it comes to conflict. Your characters don't have to be mortal enemies. In fact, they may not be enemies at all. They simply have an issue, an obstacle, or a belief, that creates a disconnect between them. The conflict is created by how much you focus on that disconnect and the level of intensity you want to apply to it. I've found that mild conflicts are a bit less dramatic, but a lot more realistic. It takes practice to find a balance that you're comfortable with as a writer. Anyone reading my earlier stories can see how major events sort of take place in almost every chapter. It's almost like watching reality TV shows, where something spicy has to happen in order to keep the ratings up. But once I began to relax a bit more and find my stride, I allowed those dramatic events to spread themselves out a bit more. I felt more comfortable being subtle by introducing a conflict between characters and playing with the intensity a little bit at a time...until it's time for the main event, and then I can crank it all the way up and create moments of true hostility that readers saw coming and were just waiting for the other shoe to drop. The audience already knows where the disconnect is, and they know why it's there, but as the warm water heats up, the anticipation for this inevitable showdown between the two can come off as a lot more rewarding. I also believe that conflict works best when your readers can see the logic in both sides of the argument. That's an important part of the audience getting involved in the story. They're forced to ask themselves, "Well, if it were me...what would I do?" It's a lot fun to create a character that's just a pure evil antagonist to your perfect and well-meaning main character. It's entertaining to have a villain that people just love to hate. But, as the saying goes, every villain is the hero of their own story. I've known some people who are just...assholes. Let's be real. Those people exist. But I've also found that they aren't doing it just to be evil. There's a reason for it. There's an issue there, a thought process behind their actions, or some form of damage. And sometimes people are just il and water when they're in the same room together. So even when I have characters who pose a direct threat to my protagonist, I like to attempt to shine a light on who they are and what their motivations may be. Let your readers get a glimpse as to why they're doing the things they do, and maybe give your protagonist a few flawed moments when they're at fault as well. Maybe they'ree being paranoid, or jealous, or unfair, or just mean for the sake of being mean. Juggle back and forth between one flawed individual and the other so the conflict carries some nuance and complexity to their relationship. Nobody's perfect, but every unlikable character isn't a heartless psychopath either. Play around with that. Hehehe, Lord knows I have! And sometimes, the readers end up liking my villain even more than my protagonist! So...be careful. Sometimes it backfires! Anyway, that's my weekly babbling on conflict. Look at the characters in your story, and see if you can recognize the struggle in each of them. Conflict isn't just about right and wrong. Sometimes it's just about being 'different'. As always, I hope this helps! Have fun writing! And I'll see ya next weekend!
  3. 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!
  4. As a few authors might have noted, there was some cause for concern earlier this week in regards to unsolicited commercial interest in some GA authors' stories. We have shut that down, hopefully for good as the so-called author/eBook producer has pulled their content from sale as well, but I will be continuing to monitor content for a while to see if they pop back up again with any stories that have GA content in them stolen from the site. Which is what I'm here to talk about today... We don't just have the mod queue to protect from plagiarism happening when authors post new content on the site. I also help authors whose content has been stolen and posted elsewhere, either for free or for profit. I've issued takedown notices on behalf of the site and, unfortunately, a whopping 5 different times for my own content. And while sometimes that alert comes from fans who are reading on alternate sites, other times I've been able to find my content stolen, for sale, or just posted on websites that I do not want my name or content to be associated with or 'hosted' on and hadn't given permission to do so. How did I know? I checked, and I continue to check, as often as I can. I'm not talking about Torrent sites, or free downloads, though those are a nightmare, but mostly about sites where authors are either flat out stealing your work as their own or trying to make a fast buck by ripping it off with a cheap cover and gathering royalties. How to check your stories for plagiarism: 1. Pick a distinctive phrase such as: Nyle looked up nervously as he rode under the portcullis. 2. Search the phrase within quotation marks "Nyle looked up nervously as he rode under the portcullis.". 3. Repeat search with a distinctive phrase without names: "The austere chapel and rigorous training had been a sharp contrast to his youth". Tips: Search on multiple search engines (Bing, Google, etc...). Search phrases from the first chapter and later chapters. Search distinctive phrases both with and without names in case those have been changed. DO ALL OF THIS OFTEN. How do I get the story removed if I find one or more that's been stolen? How to report plagiarism: 1. Look for a report button or a contact us link. 2. Copy the story link to the stolen story. 3. Share the stolen story title, author name, and links to your original. Haven't posted online? Keep copies of all sent mail to beta readers/fans with advanced reader copies of your work to prove when the content was written and sent. Offer to provide a forwarded copy of said email. If you really want to protect your work, purchase an official copyright, especially if you might publish later. If the site requires it, fill out an official DCMA notice. 4. Follow up. Most sites will work with you to remove the content. Sometimes you have to take it further to the ISP. If you suspect a story or other content on site has been stolen, please report it! This not only protects the site, but protects the authors, and the original artists. How to issue a DMCA notice: 1. Contact the site owners/ISP with the following information: Your signature, links to your copyrighted work, links to the plagiarized work, your physical and online contact information, a statement in good faith that the plagiarized work is unauthorized, and a statement that your information is accurate under penalty of perjury.... There's a lot more to DMCA notices I don't want to outline here, but there is a great website which explains the process: The DMCA Takedown Notice DeMystified by Ken Liu Sample notice:
  5. 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!
  6. This week we have something a little different for today's blog post though we're keeping it all about improving and encouraging authors. Remember we have various opportunities for authors to be featured such as: Story Critique: Open to all GA authors. Sign up here. Ask An Author: Send your questions for your favorite authors to Carlos Hazday (no questions = no Ask An Author) Story Recommendations: Open to all GA authors & readers. PM your recommendation and why you recommend it to a Site Admin. But since last Wednesday was the Ask An Author post, and we don't have a story review to post, and no one has signed up to do an Improve & Encourage Story Critique, then... what could we do? I wanted to continue to feature content for authors, and I'm all about improving writing skills. My focus is often on grammar and the stickier rules relating to line editing, but today we're going to focus on an older blog post that Lugh added way back when we first started sharing site blogs to help encourage authors to improve their craft, and I also have a few Word files for authors to to use while crafting characters to download if they want so make sure you scroll to the end of the blog post! There are two minds as to if a story should be plot or character driven. But, no matter which way you pick, you need to ensure that your story is crafted to its fullest potential on both elements. This week we're going to focus on characters. First up, we're going to take a look at a blog post Lugh shared in 2012 about physical descriptions for characters: CassieQ shared some thoughts about character motivation and stereotypes: How about creating a villain? Renee shared her thoughts on the bad guys here. There are a ton of great articles like these, all about writing and editing, in the writing tips blog especially toward the back of the blog and last pages. These are just a few to whet your appetite! And, now that I hopefully have you hooked, I'm going to share a few Word files below. The first is a Blank Character Bio Sheet. You can use this to fill in your character's physical characteristics, age, birthplace, background, religion, family, habits, likes/dislikes, skills, home-life, job, fighting ability, backstory, etc... it's as comprehensive as I could make it and open enough to cover just about any genre. And, to help you fill it out, there's a character interview question file to make you think about what your character might answer if asked more abstract thoughts to help flesh out their personality and beliefs. Blank Character Bio Sheet.docx Character Interview Questions.doc
  7. 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!
  8. There are going to be times, every now and again...when the written content of your stories may take a very dark turn, or veer off into situations that are somewhat uncomfortable for other readers to absorb as readily as they do some of your 'brighter' themes. This can be an intimidating atmosphere for you to thrive in. The gritty realities and graphic nature of the story that you want to tell may be too much for some of your readers to handle or understand. But, while there is the temptation to avoid darker themes and controversial material at all costs, especially with the sheer brutality of the typical ′internet comment section′ working against you...I say GO for it anyway! They′ll get over it. The people who pretend to be the most offended by the story you wrote have NO problem ripping the author to shreds with their opinions. So you might as well balance things out by treating them the same way when you′re writing what′s in your heart. Hehehe, that being said, there are ways to tell a ′heavy′ tale without having it totally wreck the lives of the people absorbing it for the first time. Still, there are some stories with sensitive, and sometimes disturbing, details that deserve to be told. Whether your reading public is ready for it or not isn′t your concern. They have the option to stop reading. Period. But, as a writer, you have the right to bleed through your words and tell your story any way that you see fit. You just have to find a way to keep things ′accessible′ so at least some of your audience can latch onto it, and appreciate it for what it is. That′s the topic that I′m going to tackle today. So let′s get DARK! The thing about many of these darker themed stories you may read online...is that they often come from a very personal place in the heart of the writer. It′s not always an author trying to be dark for the sake of being dark. Sometimes, it′s a much needed healing process, translated into fiction and created to convey some kind of message or express some sort of personal tragedy. Stories of loss, heartbreak, suicide, rape, physical or emotional abuse...they can be extremely hard to digest for some readers. And if they take it too close to heart, they may end up turning away from the project instead of dealing with the turmoil the story is putting them through. That′s understandable. But if this is a story that you really want to tell, something you really want to put out there for public consumption, then do it. Why not? Get it off of your chest. Share it with other people who might relate and feel even closer to the work than you do. You may touch something deep within them that they haven′t fully dealt with themselves. So every paragraph may end up being a therapy session for the both of you. Again, these stories are often very personal in nature. You′ll never find a more exposed artist than one who is delivering you an unrestricted look at their pain. There′s a rawness in it. Strip every piece of armor away and speak from the heart. It connects to an audience in a way that your ′happy go lucky′ romance stories just can′t. So, if you′ve been holding off on giving a dark themed story a try...maybe you′ll change your mind and step up to the plate after you finish this article. Hehehe, I′d love to read it! But, then again, I happen to be a very dark individual, myself, at times. So that′s just me. There are a lot of readers out there who use fiction as an escape from the problems and stressful impact of the world at large. They may be looking for something cheerful, or uplifting, or inspirational. But that may not be the kind of story that you want to tell. And that can shake a percentage of your audience out of their comfort zone in ways that they weren′t looking for and don′t appreciate in the long run. When it came to some very painful memories about my own past, and I felt the need to talk about it and add them to one or two of the stories that I was writing for the site...I had some difficulty with it at first. I dealt with some extremely abusive memories growing up in a household with a father that was...ummm, less than fatherly. I remember adding ′elements′ of that abusive relationship in a few stories, but I clearly wasn′t ready to tackle that situation yet. Especially when I added it (Briefly) to ″New Kid In School″. If you notice, that plot point was rather quickly written out of the story, and never brought up again. I simply wasn′t practiced enough to take the theme head on like I wanted to. Not at that time. In ″Gone From Daylight″, I tried to do the same, but it was a side story until I was more comfortable talking about it. However...when the time came where I really wanted to tell a ′no holds barred′ account from my personal experience with physical domestic abuse...I started writing ″My Only Escape″, and that was the right time for me to do so. That was my release. A lot of that story is autobiographical, and I still have moments where I have to deal with the aftermath of what happened way back then, even when I would rather leave it behind for good. But it was a story that I felt was dying to get out, and since it′s first chapter, I have received sooooo many emails from people who could relate in one way or another. Emails of support, and sympathy, and encouragement, as well as messages of people who had gone through similar experiences (Or who were younger, and experiencing them currently). I have NO regrets, whatsoever, about finally writing that story, and waiting for a time when I was emotionally stable enough to get it right. If you have a painful part of your past that you want to bring to the screen, and tell from a perspective that only others in your position can truly understand...then don′t wait. Do it. Pour your whole heart and soul into it. Let your voice be heard, and know that your writing had an impact on your readers that they′ll remember. Good or bad. Three things to remember when writing a story that may come off as a bit disturbing to your readers, are as follows... Give it meaning! If you′re going to sink into some truly dark themes and bring that into your story, make sure that you′re doing it for a legitimate reason. NOT for shock value. Shock value doesn′t last long, and will ultimately just become a part of your story that people would rather forget about instead of taking it to heart. If you′re going to have a rape scene, or a drug overdose...a suicide attempt, or someone battling terminal cancer...then I think writers should make sure that it is actually a part of the main character′s growth and evolution as a person. Don′t just throw it in there as some kind of sucker punch to your audience. That′s just plain MEAN! Hehehe! If a character of yours has recently beaten Leukemia? Then have that be a part of his or her personality. What outlook do they have on life now? Maybe they′re super excited to get back to living their lives. Maybe they′re angry at the time they lost battling the disease. Who knows? That′s up to you. But let it be known that the dark circumstances of the story had some meaning, and some impact on how the rest of the story plays out. Don′t go overboard! Scenes of extreme violence and sexual abuse are hard to read. If it′s a part of your story, and you don′t want to pull punches about the reality of what happened…then use your own judgment when it comes to what you say and what you don′t say. I′m not saying that you shouldn′t include some of the graphic details needed to get your point across...but keep in mind what your goal is. You don′t want to depress and disgust your audience. Evoking sympathy and an emotional bond, capable of getting your readership to cheer for your main character is great! But let′s not drag our readers down so low that they can′t recover. Learn to ′allude′ to certain parts of your story, and go into painful details about others. As always, its important to find a balance. Don′t ′bully′ your audience into sharing a truly disgusting experience in a way that overpowers every other aspect of the story that you′re trying to tell. I think it′s important to not let the dark content take center stage, when it′s the characters and how they deal with the content that should be the focus of your story. Give us hope! No matter how horrible a character′s life may seem, no matter how graphic you are with the details of their suffering...readers will struggle through it if they think there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Give us a few brief glimpses of joy. A possible solution to the tragedies they′re facing from chapter to chapter. If all you′re bringing to the table kis pain and murder and rape and misery...your audience will eventually get turned off and go elsewhere for a story that doesn′t make them feel like shit every time they read it. BUT...if you dispense some truly awful scenes here and there, but combine them with possible ways out of their situation...opportunities to experience some level of happiness if only they could get away...then people will keep reading. They may be disturbed and disgusted by the events that are currently taking place...but with just a few hints at a hopeful outcome, they will continue to read to see if things get better or that justice is served for the character involved. Be proud of that. It means that you told a great story and that people sympathize with your situations, no matter how dark they may be. This doesn′t mean that every story has to have a happy ending. It just means that you have to give your readers a break from the misery every now and then, to let them believe that things are not as dark as they may seem. At least for a little while. Think of it the same way as swimming underwater. Let your readers come up to the surface for a breath of fresh air every now and then before they drown. K? The world isn′t always a happy place. Not by any means. And the stories of the abused, the less fortunate, and those in turmoil, are just as important as the uplifting stories that are told elsewhere. But there′s a skillful way to deliver that message without sending your audience running for the hills. As always, I hope this helps you out! And I′ll be back soon for more! ((Hugz))
  9. Imagine that you're standing in the middle of a crowd of your readers and fans that absolutely love the stories you write and appreciate the love and energy you put into every word. Every single one of those loyal readers has a giant feather...and they surround you, lightly teasing and fawning all over you with those feathers, day and night. It's just a good feeling, you know? Hehehe, and there might ten, or twenty, or fifty, or one hundred, of them...giving you nothing but good vibes the whole time. NOW...imagine that there is one person in that crowd...armed with a sharp, rusty, screwdriver. And that person runs up and STABS you right in the gut with it! Hehehe, it doesn't matter how many fans you've got, or how many feathers...that's impossible to ignore. It hurts! And sometimes it cancels out everything else, and all you can focus on is the pain. If you're one of those people...then welcome to 'Part 2' of the 'Giving/Getting Criticism' blog post! Oh yeah...it's our turn now! Last week, I gave FIVE rules that I thought critics should keep in mind when reviewing stories online. That includes us, as writing peers, as well. This week, we have five rules of our own to think about when it comes to receiving that criticism. Hopefully, it will help us look at things from a different perspective, keep up our enthusiasm for something we love doing, and possibly take some of the 'sting' out of getting a few less than favorable reviews. So let's dive right in, shall we? Writing can make you vulnerable sometimes. You may not even realize how much emotion you pour into the words you write on a screen. Feelings and memories and personal beliefs...desires, fantasies, hopes, and dreams. And when you're done, you've actually given birth to something that didn't exist before. You created something out of nothing, and it is so tempting to love that work unconditionally, no matter what anybody says about it. Don't feel guilty about that! It's a good thing. Be proud of what you done, and feel accomplished in knowing that there is a piece of you out there in the world that represents you as a writer and as a human being. However... There's loving your story like a parent loves their child when they come home with a bad report card...and there's loving your work like the mother in the movie "The Bad Seed"! Hehehe! (If you don't know the reference, ummm...Google it) Fans and critics are two sides of the same coin. You simply can't have one without the other. It doesn't work that way. If you open yourself up to praise, then you have to open yourself up to ridicule as well. Your armor can't be selective when it comes to this, but if you stay in the right frame of mind, not only can you avoid some of the hurt and frustration involved, but you might actually come out better for it in the end. K? So, here we go! These are my FIVE rules that every author and creator should take into account when getting criticism! Rule #1 - Shields up! I realize that you have to wear your heart on your sleeve in order to tell an honest and emotionally engaging story...but the criticism will come your way. Expect it. And brace yourself for the impact. I say this because it's easy to make any negative comments on your work seem MUCH worse than they actually are. No one wants to admit to being sensitive, but let's be real about this...we're sensitive. There's nothing wrong with that. The harder you work on something and the closer it is to your heart...the more difficult it is to take criticism on it. At least for me, it is. Now, I happened to grow up with an abusive father when I was very young, and it was a very painful experience for me, trying to write that into the "New Kid In School" storyline. I approached it, but as comments came in, I found that I wasn't ready yet. I was much too close to the source and couldn't handle the critics' comments on that part of the story. Comments that weren't anywhere near as harsh as I made them out to be, originally. So, some of you may notice that the abuse element was quickly written out of the storyline and never mentioned again. I took another shot at it when I wrote "Gone From Daylight", where it is a side story to the main plot. And it wasn't until "My Only Escape" that I felt prepared to tackle the issue head on. And that took practice and a thicker skin to really tell the truth about some of the things I went through and was able to distance myself enough from the story to accept any and all comments about what was going on. When you have a tight connection to what you're writing, criticism can hurt. But DON'T take every unfavorable comment as a personal attack! It's not personal. To your readers, it's just a fictional story. We have to keep that in mind when reading their reviews of it. This is where you need to have your armor in place so that you can listen to what your audience is telling you with an objective eye and avoid making it personal. Have your shields ready! There are going to be times when you need them. Believe me. Rule #2 - Shields down! Hehehe, remember when I told you to put your shields up JUST a few sentences ago? Yeah, well...you're going to need to take them down again! This is step two. The same vulnerability that you needed to tap into in order to create your story...you will need to tap into it again to accept the criticism you receive from readers, and improve as a writer. Again, this takes practice for some people. But there comes a time when we all have to be open to suggestions and try to see our own work through the eyes of the very people that we begged for validation in the first place. Hehehe, it's true! If you're asking for other people's opinion, expecting ONLY good news and nothing less than praise and worship...then you are in for a few harsh wake up calls in the future. And they won't be pretty. One thing that you DON'T want to do is argue! Never get defensive and try to bully your readers out of their opinion. That is only going to make you look like a jackass. I've been guilty of that myself, and I regret it. I've learned better. If you feel the need to explain something to the reader that you think they didn't understand, then that's fine. Do so calmly and let them know why you made the choices you made. Or clue them in on the fact that you have a master plan in the works, and (without giving spoilers) they'll see the need for your story design in the near future. That's fine. But don't get into a war with your readers over how they truly feel about what you wrote. You won't change their minds and they won't change yours. It's an eternal stalemate before it even begins. Instead, thank them for their feedback, and examine their comments to see if they've made any valid points that could possibly point out weaknesses in your work. Try to look at things from their point of view. You're trying to be the best writer that you can be, right? Well, that means taking responsibility for your own flaws and blind spots...and then working to correct them. Writing a story isn't easy. Step up to the challenge. Your readers won't settle for anything mediocre when they're reading, and we shouldn't either when we're writing. Rule #3 - DON'T get discouraged! Just because you get a few negative comments on a story, that doesn't mean that it's terrible and beyond redemption, or that you simply don't have the talent to write a story at all. As I've said in the past, the WORST reaction an author can get is 'silence'. If somebody is taking the time to comment and review your story at all, then you are already being given a gift that many writers never get. Even if the reaction is negative, you have captured the attention of a reader who took the time to let you know how they feel about something that you sat down and bravely put out there for public consumption. That's saying a lot. Appreciate that, and be grateful for the interaction. If you allow every negative comment to 'shut you down' in terms of continuing with the story...then you'll never get anything done, nor will you ever reach your full potential. Don't give up, don't put that story on the back burner or write it off as a loss, never going back to finish it. Have faith in your talent! Maybe you have a few stumbles along the way, but that's no reason to abandon the project. If you receive negative reviews on your work, make that an incentive to work even harder, as opposed to letting them beat you down. You had a dream to make your voice heard, and you're making that happen by expressing yourself your way. What's changed? Nothing. Keep writing. If you don't get them with 'this' story...you'll catch them with the next one. What's most important is that we all stay true to the stories that we want to tell. Do that, and we can conquer any criticism that comes our way. Always remember...we're creators. We create. Our job is already DONE before the critics ever get their hands on it. No apologies. K? Rule #4 - Never be afraid to retrace your steps. Look at your feedback, both positive and negative, and see if there are any similarities in what they are trying to tell you. Whether they say, "AWESOME story! I think the part with the vampire unicorn was a bit weird, but other than that...I LOVED it!" or they say, "I didn't really like it. Sorry. The vampire unicorn thing? WTF was THAT about?"...there's an 'agreement' happening there. Hehehe! Go back and see why both positive and negative comments are stuck on the same problematic elements of the story. What did you do there? Can you see where they're coming from? Are there parts of your story that might need some tweaking or possibly need to be removed from the story altogether? Everything you write isn't going to be perfect. Even if you work hard on editing and revising it a million times in an attempt to do so. The whole point is to have your personal expression translated into words and feelings that someone else can understand and relate to. If that connection is broken, and they're not getting it...then you might want to go back and try to find a more accessible way of getting your message across. It's important that we really LISTEN to what our critics are trying to say to us. And that can really SUCK sometimes! LOL! But don't block them out. Because the worst, most hurtful, comments you'll ever receive might just end up bringing out the best in you. They may leave a few scars along the way, but if you come out better for it...then they're worth it, right? Rule #5 - Know when to 'cash it' or 'trash it'! When you read criticisms of your work, and you've absorbed what it is what they had to say...you're left with a choice to make. Do I 'cash it'? And take their suggestions to heart in ways where I change up my way of writing and get better at doing what I do? Or do I 'trash it'? Because this person is just nitpicking and being rude without understanding how much time and effort I've put into making this story a reality? We have to know the difference. What you DON'T want to do is cave in every time somebody tells you that they don't like certain elements of your story! You can't please everybody. Don't try. You will drive yourself CRAZY trying to chase the needs and desires of your audience. STOP it! K? You had a story in your heart that you wanted to write and share with people online. Write that story. You don't HAVE TO accept every suggestion that you get from your critics. Stand up for your choices as an author. Maybe you killed off a beloved character, maybe your story took on a darker tone, maybe you threw a monkey wrench into a previously 'perfect' relationship...wherever your instincts guided you in your writing, GO there! Why not? Just because your audience doesn't agree with your artistic choices, that doesn't mean that you have to change them. It's your story. You can do whatever you want with it. Follow your gut feelings and put out a project that you can truly be proud of...criticism be damned! Me? I can be really 'wordy' in my stories sometimes. I make a lot of mechanical mistakes, formatting errors, continuity mishaps...I notice them a lot more now than I did when I was first writing my stories for the first time. So I'm still learning and challenging myself to do better with every chapter that I put out. But, despite it all, my goal is to maintain the flow and the emotion of every single story that I release. No excuses. And, while there are people who may not agree with some of the artistic choices that I've made, or the flawed presentation of the stories themselves...I hear your suggestions, but stick to my game plan. I'm stubborn like that. Hehehe! I think every creative mind reading this should be the same. Never let someone with a negative view on what you're written 'hijack' your story. It's YOURS! Own it. Both the good and the 'not so good'. Don't start kneeling down and surrendering to a group of people who think they know how to write the perfect story, and yet, all they do is instruct you on how to do all the hard work while they sit back and judge the end result. No. Stick up for your work. If you believe in it, and you think it truly represents your vision...then don't let anyone take that from you. Because there are people out there that will be overjoyed to read your story told YOUR way! Write for them instead. So...there we go! As writers and artists, opinions and criticism is going to be a constant part of our lives, and while critics need to have a certain sense of grace and etiquette when approaching us, we need to display a certain sense of grace and etiquette when accepting and dealing with them as well. We can be a part of the problem too, and every critic isn't trying to cause you any embarrassment or emotional damage by letting you know that your writing could use some work. Be grateful for the feedback you get, whether it's cheers or jeers. K? I hope this helps, you guys! Love you lots! And I'll be back with more soon! Later!
  10. There are two sides to every story. And two sides to the critical review of every story, once it gets released. Hopefully, with a little bit of insight on both sides of the equation, I can help both the critics and the creators deal with their, often vastly opposing, views on what a good story is, and what it isn't. This week, as the initial approach to a 'two-parter' blog post...we talk about giving and receiving criticism. Two sides of a coin that I don't think most people fully understand each other on these days. Especially on the internet, currently plagued by unprovoked rants and knee-jerk reactions. So I'm going to highlight FIVE points that I think both the critics and the creators need to recognize so we can all have a symbiotic relationship here. One that will ultimately be beneficial to both parties in the long run. Now, seeing as I am a self-proclaimed author and one of the 'creators' myself, I'm going to use my insufferable bias and start off with the 'giving criticism' part of this article! LOL! Because, for every single person that has ever told an artist of any genre that they can't take criticism and are way too sensitive (I can't *TELL* you how many times I've heard that lame argument over the years), they need to look back at what they actually said to this person to provoke that particular response. Seriously. Some critics have gotten way out of control, and they have not been given the green light to be as hurtful and as brutal as they want to be to a writer, simply because they are viewing the extremely hard work of an individual and feel entitled to something more than what they got. So...with a certain level of grace, let's start with the rules of engagement aimed at the critics... Rule #1 - Be constructive! For the love of God...have a point. When reviewing an author's work, think about what you didn't like about it, or what you thought could have been done better, and then give them your honest feelings on the matter. Simple, right? Not for some people. Don't just charge in like a wild rhino and send harsh comments like, "Your story sucks!" Not only is that not helpful in any way, but it's just plain rude and unnecessary and it makes you look like a total jackass. STOP IT! Take some time, read and absorb the writing as a whole, and find places where you think the story could use some improvement. What is it about the story that you didn't like? What turned you off? What questions did you have? What are some of the things that you felt were unfinished or needed more exploring. If you're taking the time to comment on somebody else's story, then we (as authors) should assume that you've put some actual thought into your critique, and have something more intelligent to offer than "I hated it, and you're not a competent writer because I didn't like it." Well...why? Explain in detail. If you can't make any valuable suggestions and articulate your distaste for said story...then you're not a critic. You're a 'heckler'. That's not the same thing. Also, along with the critique, feel free to mention what you liked about the story. You're taking the time to write a comment, right? Something about the story must have grabbed your attention and inspired you to review it. Make that a 3-dimensional part of your comment. "I liked the beginning, but I wasn't so crazy about how it ended." Then provide examples. While negative reviews might be hard to hear, this is the very purpose of feedback. "What did I do right? What did I do wrong?" Take some time and express yourself in your comments. It helps more than it hurts. Rule #2 - The words you use? They matter. I'm sure that we all recognize the usage of words and the tone of voice in everyday conversation, even online. Not just as writers, but as human beings in general. Sometimes, there are language barriers that occur, worldwide, but try to be aware of what you're saying and how you're saying it, if possible. Use TACT when talking about the work of an individual who has just poured their entire heart and soul into a project that was meant to entertain you. NOT to ruin your day, or to frustrate you to the point of throwing a mini tantrum, simply because you don't like what you see. When reading a story that you think has a few flaws in it, feel free to be honest and let the writer know what might have confused you, or what might have been inconsistent from one chapter to the next, or if someone was acting out of character. These are criticisms that can actually help an author realize his or her mistakes and get better at their craft. But, please take a moment to calm down. The theatrics aren't necessary to get your point across. Why are you so angry? It's not an author's job to write 'your' story. It's an author's job to write their own story, and then share it with you. That's it. If you refer to an author's plots and their stories and their characters as...'stupid', 'annoying', 'weak', 'frustrating', 'cliche', 'contrived', 'bullshit', 'ugly', or any one of a thousand other negative descriptions that you would NEVER want to hear about yourself if you overheard other people talking about you, personally...then expect a backlash. Why would you do that? Every artist bleeds openly on the screen and reveals who they truly are in their writing, whether they know it or not. So when you make those nasty comments and use the 'just being honest' shield as an excuse, I think that's a cowardly way to express yourself. You can be honest and direct without being an asshole. Take it EASY, for Christ's sake. It's a fictional online story. Never forget that there is an actual person bearing the brunt of the humiliating rant that you're putting out in public for the whole world to see. Maybe you get off on hurting people for no reason. I do not. Rule #3 - If you decide that you want to stop reading a story? If you decide to leave? Leave SILENTLY! Please, pay attention, because this is something that needs to be addressed. I'm SO sick of it, and I'm sure a lot of authors can agree with me on this one, even if there's a large group of readers out there who can't see it for themselves. If a story that you're reading isn't going the way you planned...if you feel the writing has gone downhill, or the plot is entering territory that you don't want to jump into...if you think the updates are too scarce or that certain story elements just aren't your thing...you may decide to stop reading. You might want to leave and find another writer that is more to your liking. And that is totally ok with me and with the authors that you've supported in the past. But...if you decide that their story is no longer an enjoyable read for you and you want to move on...then, just move on. Go away. Leave. It's alright. Just click on something else. No harm, no foul. Follow whatever story makes you happy. Some people act as if they can't do that. If you actually take the time to sit down and type out an angry email or post a nasty comment to specifically tell an author that you will no longer be reading their work because it's not what YOU want to read? Yes! I, personally, find that to be extremely rude, and you should stop thinking so much of yourself. Just leave. Why are you making an announcement about it? Why the big production? A reader that does this usually has one of three major motivations. One...they're trying to deliberately hurt the feelings of the author writing the story, and is just being cruel for the sake of feeling important. Two...they're hoping other people will see it and agree and feel empowered by damaging your story and your reputation as a whole. Or three...it's an empty threat that was made to emotionally manipulate you into writing everything their way instead of bringing your own personal genius to the written word the way that you intended from the very beginning. Neither one of these scenarios will make you look like anything other than a narcissist and a bully...so don't do it. There is content on the internet that you see every single day that you don't like, and you don't care for...but you don't feel the need to make some grandiose comment about every single one of them, do you? Why do it for THIS particular author? Why are you suddenly a 'warrior' for content that you don't agree with or enjoy? If you really care about the stories you read, and the authors that created them for your entertainment, then show your support for their hard work, and offer constructive criticism whenever you feel they give you less than 100% of their true effort. Don't INSULT them! And don't think that your departure from their readership is going to have some major impact on their fanbase that it didn't earn and doesn't deserve. That's your ego talking, and nobody asked you to walk away. There's the door. Exit of your own free will. We don't need to hear about it. Chances are, you never gave us any real love or support to begin with. No feedback at all. No comments. No emails. No word of mouth promotion. Nothing. So if your 'first' email to me is, "I'm not reading your stories any more!" My first reaction is probably going to be, "I didn't know you were reading my stories in the first place. Who are you, again???" What have I lost? Honestly. Just stop reading. It's ok if you don't like a certain story. Nobody is faulting you for that. But it is an act of cruelty to go out of your way to shame an author just because a story isn't what you wanted it to be. Or because it takes too long to update. Or because the characters don't follow your idea of how they 'should' act and react to what's going on. I stand up for any author that has had to hear comments like these, and will continue to do so for as long as I'm alive. This isn't easy, writing and exposing your true feelings for a judgmental audience. Please, remember that. If any of you want a story done your way...then YOU write it. That's what I did in the beginning. Now you're reading writing tips from ME! Hehehe, and I'm a complete idiot. Trust me! So what does that tell you? Rule #4 - Know your biases! One of the elements that is most endearing about well-written stories like the ones on GayAuthors, is the fact that we can all put ourselves into the stories and identify with the main characters and relate to the situations being put on display. We can reminisce over what it was like to be in that same position, to get that first kiss, or to experience those nervous jitters, or re-live that first time walking into a gay bar. The best stories take us back to moments when everything was so exciting and sweet...and we tend to personalize those moments and make them our own. I do it all the time. However, again...it's important to remember that it is NOT an author's job to write your life story. Writer's don't know you, personally. They weren't hired or contracted to build your fantasy and base it solely on your personality. Maybe you shared a similar experience, and that grips your heart and makes the reading all the more enjoyable, but don't burden the writers you love with the task of writing your personal fiction. Please don't. They are telling things from their perspective, and delivering a message that they understand as an individual. It's their story. So if the storytelling deviates from 'what would *I* do in this situation?' that doesn't mean that the story is unrealistic or wrong or lacking. I know that it's natural to connect with a story or a character and really WANT to take control and have your own personal motivations, ideas, and desires, take over and guide the story in a certain direction. I get that. It's flattering. But if you're giving serious criticism on a story or a character or a certain plot point...you have to make an effort to understand and recognize your own biases in your perspective sometimes. You need a slight disconnect. It's essential in how your comments are conveyed by other people. I think "Billy Chase" is the one story where I've had the most trouble with this issue. And while I am HONORED that readers invest so much love and effort and can relate to what's going on...I have spent years trying to defend the poor kid and reminding people that it's JUST a fictional character and that the plot points and story arcs that I make are done for the sake of conflict and drama. It's IMPOSSIBLE to please every reader that comes across that story, and I understand that. But people that I've talked to in my emails have severe biases that factor in to how they view the series. And sometimes it's just not fair to fault the story itself for something that is so personal to that specific critic. I have to keep that in mind when I post new chapters, because Billy Chase was me when I was a 15 year old kid in the 90s. Shy, insecure, secretive, HORNY, hehehe! This is MY story, dangit! This is who I was back then. It's the foundation of who I am now. But not everybody grew up the same way I did. Some grew up in an earlier time, some are currently going through high school right now. Some grew up in a major metropolitan city like I did, and some grew up in a small rural area in the Bible belt of America. Our experiences are different. And since I'm the one piloting this plane...you'll just have to ride with me and hope for the best. Readers personalize the "Billy" character and then get frustrated and angry when he does something that they wouldn't do themselves. Again...that's not fair to us as writers. We're not responsible for rewriting someone else's history. If they are so fired up about it, then they can sit behind a keyboard tell their own story. Don't let that get you down. K? Some people have been cheated on in a relationship, some people have made bad decisions while they were drunk, some people have had issues with drugs, or suffered through physical or sexual abuse, or simply have regrets over not going for the boy of their dreams when they had a chance. All of these things factor in towards how they read your story. It's baggage that some critics bring with them, and you just can't satisfy them all. It's insane to even try. They are triggered by certain situations and get flustered and full of rage, or deeply depressed and full of sorrow, and want to make your writing the culprit for making them feel this way. It isn't. That might be an unsolved issue that they need to take up with their therapist. That's not your fault. You're a writer. Take care of your own issues while you're writing. If you have something to say, then say it. And if critics disagree? So be it. You expressed yourself with honesty and integrity. So, by the time they read it, you've already done your job as an author. Be proud. Rule #5 - Don't automatically expect an author to submit to your suggestions or demands just because you make them. I will admit, I have gotten plenty of emails with really GOOD ideas for stories, or for continuations of my own stories, and I was like, "WHOAH!!! That's a damn good idea! I wish I had thought of that!" Hehehe! Because there are a lot of fans and loyal readers that come up with concepts that never even crossed my mind. As writers, some of you guys might even incorporate some of these ideas into your story as time goes along. But don't feel pressured into using every idea that is sent to you. Like I said, you can't please everybody. Don't try. To you creative critics out there, we LOVE to hear your ideas, and I'd never discourage any of you from sending them in to your favorite author. But don't think that just because you hit the 'send' button and your idea is awesome, that an author is going to suddenly shut down their original game plan and follow your new path towards an ending that you're not even aware of yet. That's not how writing works. See...some folks have an idea for a 'scene' or two. Something exciting and provocative and 'wouldn't it be cool if?' scenarios. But, when writing a story, those great ideas need a build up. They have an impact, and consequences, and have to fit into the rest of the plot . I can't speak for all writers, but I, personally, have a master plan in mind from the very beginning. And most times, other ideas, no matter how awesome they may be...don't fit. I'm thinking of my story as a whole, and I only make changes when they fit the narrative. For folks reading the story, they might think ahead and, again...think 'wouldn't it be cool if'? But those ideas only fit a scene or two, and then it skews from my timeline and leads to an ending of their design, not mine. Which defeats the whole purpose of me writing a story of my own in the first place. But who knows? If you think you've got a great idea for your author's project, maybe you'll inspire something great within them. But, if your ideas are far removed from what the author is trying to say or the message that they're trying to convey? It might not happen. If it's a fully fleshed out idea that you think would make for a great story...then take a shot and write it yourself. Don't say that you can't do that, because you already came up with the idea. That's one third of the battle already done. Maybe even HALF! Writing is very personal to most people. It is for me. I need to be connected to every part of it. Every word, every sentence, every phrase and metaphor. So, I may think your idea is fantastic and should be made into a story...it might not fit into my current expression. The story ideas were finished long before you guys got to read them. So those are my five rules for critics that are reviewing and leaving comments on stories. I know that there are a lot of critics really don't mean to be cruel, but honesty doesn't mean brutality. If you think something is terrible, then the writer is going to assume that you know why it was terrible. So let them know your true feelings about it. Write your reviews as if you were talking to them face to face, instead of from behind the anonymous protection of a laptop screen. A true critic gives both positive and negative feedback if necessary, and concentrates on the writing itself without making it personal. Word choice is important, and you might be striking at a very sensitive nerve when you attack a story. So be civil. Have some class. And with a little coaching and true support...the writers you love will get better and better with every chapter or story they put out. That's what you want, isn't it? Give some encouragement when you can. It'll only make things more amazing in the future. Alright! This ends 'Part 1' of this blog post! I hope it resonates with you all and will help out in the future. Don't worry, writers! It's our turn next! Hehehe, and we've got five rules of our own that we need to think about when it comes to criticism! So don't get too comfortable yet. See you next week!
  11. You've written a story, you've gotten from point A to point B, and you made sure to wrap everything up, nice and tidy...but it's just not ready yet. Right? You want it to be your best work. So you go back and edit it so that it'll seem like a much better, more professional, well-written story. You take a little more time with it, but even then, it doesn't seem quite right. So you go back again, and try to 'fix' everything that you think is wrong with it. You finish up...and it's OK...but...SHIT! Just before you go to bed, you toss and turn because you're thinking of a few more things that you want to say, and maybe a line of dialogue that you wanted to add to the third act. So you dive right back in and try to alter your project even more. You rephrase a couple of thoughts, add a little 'here', subtract a little 'there', and you wear yourself out trying to reach perfection. This is a natural, but often self-destructive way of handling your own writing in the long run. I know that sounds weird, but I've learned that this is a practice that needs to be recognized and avoided at all costs. There is no such thing as perfection when it comes to art. K? If anything, it is the collection of imperfections that will ultimately set you apart from everyone else who is pursuing the same audience that you are trying to impress. There is such a thing as 'overworking' a story, and in your valiant attempt to improve on your original ideas, you can actually end up doing more harm than good if you're not careful! So...this week's blog is all about leaving well enough alone and not letting your scrutinizing eye eat away at your story, taking the feeling and emotion out of what you're trying to say. This week, we talk about 'overworking' a story. Now, I can only speak for myself when I say that my writing is most potent when I am in the moment. While I have an idea and a game plan and an outline fixed in my head...the writing itself is very spontaneous in nature. Those thoughts and emotions come through me and get translated into words as I channel my muse as best as I can. There are times when my typing fingers can't keep up with what's going on in my mind and in my heart. It can be a rush, to just zone out and have a story evolve and blossom right in front of my very eyes. Then, once the story or that chapter is done, I take a short break from it to make sure that I can look at it with an objective eye, where I'm not still all buzzed and excited over what I just created. Naturally, there are going to be mistakes. Spelling and mechanical errors, dialogue mishaps, and a few things that could be delivered in a better way. So I go back to the beginning and try to give it that good old-fashioned Comsie polish so it's a smooth and enjoyable read for anybody who happens to stumble across it online. However...I have my worries and insecurities just like any other writer, and there exists this temptation to keep thinking about the story long after it's finished. As well as the need to jump back into it so I can fix it. One of the main reasons that I edit all of my own stories is because I would hate to drive an editor into a friggin' ASYLUM with the tiny tweaks and twitches that I'm constantly putting into my stories at the last minute. Hehehe, that just wouldn't be a fair fight for any human being who would try to figure out why some of these things needed changing at all. I still try to add little touches of 'last-minute magic' before posting a new story, but I had to train myself to stop agonizing over the tiny micro details of every chapter the way that I used to. It's not easy, but I feel it's necessary. You see...when you keep going back to your story, changing this and that, trying to correct issues that weren't really issues to begin with...you begin to work against the spontaneity of your own muse. That gut instinct that was pulling you along and guiding you to speak your truth and express your honest feelings? It can get lost if you become obsessed with bending and warping the natural flow of what you were trying to say in the first place. I've seen really heartfelt stories turn into something slightly 'wooden' and less appealing, simply because the original version was overworked in an attempt to appeal to a wider audience. Sometimes, the search for perfection can drain the 'life' out of a project. That's never a good thing. I'm not saying that you shouldn't strive to be at your very best at all times. Of course you should. But, at the same time, you have to develop some level of faith in your own instincts. That energy and that passion that you put into those phrases and metaphors and emotionally engaging moments is the very essence of a great story. It's raw and it's real and it says something about who you are and where your heart lies when talking about the situation at hand. Don't lose that. Think about some of the best moments in your real life. Take a second and think about those times when you fell head over heels in love, when you laughed until your belly hurt, or when you were totally surprised by a bit of good fortune. Did you plan for those moments? Or did they just sort of happen? Life is really a matter of 'winging it' from one moment to another, and having that same feeling expressed in your stories is only going to make it more relatable to everyone reading it. By going back and putting an extra gloss on every situation and word of dialogue can sometimes make it seem fake and unrealistic. That spur of the moment genius that you had while writing gets pushed aside for robotic corrections and stilted conversations. It can become a disconnect between you and your readers. If you think your readers can't recognize a labored scene in a story, you'd be wrong. They can often tell right away. And that's not your best work, is it? I, personally, think that there has to be a time when you let your work speak for itself. Leave it alone. In a way, I imagine it would be like raising a child. You want to give your story a good foundation and bring it to a point where you can be proud of what it can accomplish...but at some point you have to let go and let it breathe on its own. You won't lose any love for it, hehehe, promise. Go back, touch your story up in a few places if needed, and then let your heart take control and give your brain a rest. STOP thinking about it! Hit the send button and anxiously wait for the reaction. Your audience might surprise you. Remember, we can all be our own worst critics sometimes, and the mistakes that you think are so unforgivable when you're reading your own work...most readers don't catch the at all. They're too busy enjoying what it is you have to say. I've reached a point now where I barely even remember half of the stuff I write. Hehehe, it's true! Sometimes, somebody will quote something from one of my stories and I'll be like, "Wait! I wrote that? That sounds pretty cool. THANKS!" LOL! Sad, but true. But, like I said, that's because I write 'in the moment' and don't look back when I'm done. I would much rather have the passion take center stage. Don't be a 'George Lucas' and keep going back trying to fix "Star Wars"! "Star Wars" is fine just like it is. The extras aren't necessary, and they begin to intrude on the simplicity and innocence of the original work. Spill your heart out, make one or two edits for content and mistakes...and then leave it alone! Too much is too much. Less is more. And whatever cliché you want to attach to the same idea. Have some faith in your talent and let your story say what it needs to say. Allow your natural instincts shine without being hindered by afterthoughts and insecurities. K? The more love you have for your own stories, the more that love will be transmitted to the people watching. It's like the difference between hearing an artist or band on a marketable CD, and seeing them live in concert. The concert is an entirely different experience. Feel good about your initial gut feelings, and bring them to your audience without giving them that 'perfection' handicap. I think they'll appreciate it. I hope this helps you guys gain some trust in your muses, wherever they may be. And I'll be back soon with more! Now, if you'll excuse me...I'm going to go back over this entire article and scrutinize every last word and detail to see if it's ok for posting! LOL! What??? It needs 'fixing', dammit! I'm insecure. So sue me...
  12. Who is this person? And that person? Who are the characters populating this fictional world that I'm reading about? What do they look like, what are their personalities, and why should I care? These are all questions that need to be asked and answered with every new story that you put out, as you are trying to paint a vivid picture with the words you type on the screen. No matter how clear the vision of your main characters and love interests may be in your head, you have to keep in mind the fact that your readers only have your descriptions to go on when it comes to visualizing the people they're reading about. If you're looking to set the stage for your written experience, then you're going to want to give your readers a series of images to adhere to. Someone that they can picture walking, talking, and acting, in your little movie of the mind. So, this week, we're talking about character descriptions. Their importance, their effect on readers, and how to effectively translate the actors in your story to an eager audience. Let's get into it! Whenever I read a story for the first time, I mentally try to set the scene and imagine the characters to the best of my ability. If you mention that someone has amazing blue eyes, I put that in the back of my mind and picture someone with amazingly blue eyes. If you mention that they're an older man with a 5 o'clock shadow, then I picture that. If you mention a certain hair style, like a Mohawk or an emo fringe or a buzzcut...then I keep that with me. This works to further connect me to the story that I'm reading. Many of your readers are doing the same thing. They want to breathe life into the characters that they're meeting for the first time. I always think about a story as a cooperative experience between writer and reader. You are both creating the dream at the same time. You set the bare bones, and they fill in the details. This can make for a really engrossing read and can make your story more realistic and enjoyable through the sheer involvement of your audience in its creation. I can break this process down into three rules that have helped me out in the past. 'Suggest'. Don't control. If you are giving a physical description of the characters in your story...leave your readers some room to create their own vision of what they look like. Always remember the eye of the beholder when it comes to beauty. Usually, when I give details on a character, they're very basic. Eye color, hair color, general build, skin color or ethnicity, approximate age, style of dress...etc. Sometimes, if I have something or someone in mind specifically, I'll add a few extra details that I think will complete the exact look that I'm going for. But, I feel that it's important to let your audience define their own vision of beauty. I'm willing to bet if I asked them what some of my characters look like in their mind's eye...no two visions would be alike. That's a GOOD thing! Allow them to fall in love with characters that they, personally, find super attractive. Let them attach the physical attributes of the ultimate love interest to something or someone that they hold close to their heart. It makes for a more immersive experience while reading. Only add descriptions that are necessary. As a personal rule, I never add certain details unless they're a part of the character himself or herself. If they fit into the scale of what is considered 'average', then I feel like those descriptions are readily assumed, and therefore not needed. But...if one of those details is a defining part of the character themselves, then I might make mention of it. As an example...if a character is your average 5' 7" tall, give or take...I won't make that a part of the story. However, if the character is extra tall? Then that is a trait that gives the character a unique 'extra' that should be a part of what's going on. This goes for other details that need to be known if it affects how that character is seen or how they act. If their overweight, or emaciated, or rippling with muscles, or very short for their age. If they have a disability or a visible scar...if they have freckles, or braces, or wear glasses...these are all things that might not be assumed by your readers unless you tell them directly that this is what they look like. So, unless their appearance includes features that are somewhat unique to them...leave them out. You don't have to mention height, weight, or anything of that sort if they're average or not a departure from your typical protagonist's appearance. Let the character speak for themselves, it will show the reader who they are through their actions. Basically, this means that you don't have to 'tell' your readers who this character is through exposition or by using stereotypes to define who they are in relation to the rest of your story. When I started writing these stories, I felt the need to mention that the main character was gay. But that wasn't necessary. The main character is a boy, and he finds another boy attractive. That already explains the 'gay' issue without me having to announce it. That's a bit of fat that can be trimmed off of the story when I'm putting it together. I have written stories with characters who were blind, or deaf, or transgendered, and those details were needed to set up that particular character and initiate the kind of interactions that they were going to have with other characters in the story. But if I can describe them and their differences without actually saying it out loud...then it will work much better in the long run. This goes back to my article on 'show, don't tell'. Sometimes your characters can provide all the details needed through their actions and deeds, without the desperate need for you to spell it out for your audience. They'll get it. Just write the character with those traits in mind, and people will make their own assumptions along the way. Some details are self explanatory when it comes to the flow and direction of the narrative. So let it stand on it's own. K? So, keep those three rules in mind, and you can create a character that you love and want to present to your audience, while simultaneously giving your readers an opportunity to personalize their own visions of beauty and attraction by filling in the details of the characters you've given them to work with. Everybody has an idea of the most beautiful person in the world! Let them make that the love interest in your story, and they'll follow you, chapter to chapter, until the very end. Participation in the creation of a good story is key to making it work. There's a give and take between reader and writer. Never forget that. I hope this helps you guys get an even deeper understanding of your audience, and vice versa. Good luck to you all! And I'll talk to ya some more next weekend!
  13. Comicality

    Driven

    What drives a story? More importantly, what is driving you while you're putting the story together, piece by piece? It's not something that you really have to focus on or worry about while you're writing...but it's something that you will begin to notice more and more as you gain experience with your craft. If used right, you can structure your story in a much more effective way before your fingers ever touch the keyboard. It's something to think about while plotting out the events of your story or series, and it might help you to concentrate on what you're trying to do with it, as well as keep you from going astray with the overall feel of your project in general. So let's get started, shall we? There are three major ways that can drive your story from its beginning to its end. It can be 'character' driven, 'plot' driven, or 'theme' driven. And while these three things have a bunch of similarities, they're really pretty different in terms of telling the story you want to tell. So pay close attention... Character Driven. I would say that this category is probably what most of my own stories fall into. Growing up with comic books as a kid, this was my very first experience with handling multiple characters and having them be the focus of the story while building an experience around them that could (potentially) last forever if I wanted it to. The best example of this would be "The Secret Life Of Billy Chase". Billy is a closeted gay teen in high school, who keeps a diary that documents his day to day adventures with his friends, crushes, parents, and everything that is going on around him. With this story, there are a bunch of different characters, a variety of different storylines, and a series of obstacles and problems that Billy has to face from one chapter to the next. However, "Billy" is the glue that holds the whole thing together. Everything is told from his point of view. Everything that happens is happening to him. He is thee character that is going to carry this whole series through thick and thin. So even if the storylines change, or older characters leave and newer characters enter the scene...everything revolves around the protagonist. This is why that series can have 400+ chapters and not really get tired or exhausting. You're following one character through his life. The problems he faces can change. He can evolve with every mistake he makes. And there doesn't need to be a definitive 'goal' for him to reach, because living alongside the character himself is the point of the whole story. Even when one storyline ends, another one can begin. And as long as the audience stays connected to Billy himself...that's ok. This can make for a very strong connection with the main character, and can give your audience more of a 'friend' than some guy they just happen to be reading about. Plot Driven. While characters are important in every story that you plan to write, some stories are meant to be more plot-driven, and work better that way. A lot of my shorter, 'one shot', stories fall into this category. These stories are based on an idea that I had and wanted to express in story form with a particular agenda in mind. While "Billy Chase" can have a TON of different story plots that rise and fall over time, these short stories have a specific goal in mind and work best when I have a smaller arc and a determined point to make. Some good examples of this would be "Between The Lines" or "Save Or Sacrifice". These stories were written with the intention of tackling a certain event or series of events that would lead to a definitive outcome. In these two series, the problem was introduced, and the storytelling was all focused on solving that problem to reach the end. As I said, the characters are still important, but the plot of the story is what takes center stage this time. If I were to take these characters and put them into different situations...it might make for a good 'side' story or a sequel...but it wouldn't be a part of the original story that I was trying to tell. That one moment in time has been addressed, that one problem has been solved, and the story has been told. The plot-driven story isn't as limitless as the character-driven story...but sometimes it's better to just be short and sweet and to the point. Don't let yourself get too 'out of bounds'. Say what you have to say, and then let it go. If you try to drag it out, people will be able to tell. Never a good thing. And then we have theme driven stories. Theme-driven stories can give you a ton of freedom, but it can be really easy to get lost in that freedom, causing you to go off on tangent and lose your focus if you're not careful. 'Theme' is a really direct, but also a really vague, way to create a story. A theme can be anything. A theme can be, say...drug abuse. If you want to build a project around that theme, you can write a story that takes place in a rehab center. You can have multiple characters involved, and each character can have their own plot-driven stories going on, independent of one another. But the main 'theme' is what connects them all, and as long as you keep that as the main reason for all of these people to be interacting at all...then it'll work. As far as my own stories are concerned, the best example for this would be "Skylight". It takes place in a high school, many different students who all have different backgrounds and different obstacles that they have to face. Some of them aren't related to one another at all. Some have never even met. However, when 'disaster' strikes the school...that disaster becomes the theme driving the story. Even though I'm, technically, telling many stories at once, involving characters who may not even know one another...the theme is the glue holding it all together. The theme is what makes the story cohesive for the readers, and they can follow along, seeing how each story grows and changes depending on how they all deal with the same tragedy. So, taking a look at the story that you want to write...keep these three things in mind: Character driven stories can have multiple plots and can go on and on until you decide you want to bring them to a close. Just make sure your character is likable enough for your readers to want to keep following him on his many adventures. Plot-driven stories are clear, concise, and straight to the point. Decide what you want to say with this type of story, and say it. Address a single problem, situation, or idea...and then present a solution. It's used to capture a single moment in time. Start the story, build the story, then end the story. One, two, three...done and done. Theme-driven stories can get messy if you don't focus. Figure out what your theme is. An Earthquake, an alien invasion, a hostage situation...whatever. Populate that event with your main characters and all of the individual stories that might define them...and see how they all react differently to the same event. Just make sure that the main theme remains center stage, and your readers won't get lost in the chaos. Alright...that's all there is to it. If you get a chance, go back and look at some of your older stories and see what category they fit into. A lot of writers feel most at home with one variation or another, and if that's where you're comfortable, then that's awesome. But if you're ever looking to reach out or jump into something new, keep these three categories in mind, and let them help you build a structure that you might want to play around with. You never know how much you might enjoy doing something different every once in a while. That's it for now! I hope this helps! And I'll be back with more! Happy writing, you guys!
  14. For this article, I want all of you reading this to take your loving, sweethearted, humble, nature...all of your shyness and all of your shame...crumple it up and toss it over your shoulder! Because, for the next few minutes, we need to be a full blown 'ego machine'! Period! Don't worry...you can go back to being humble again when you're done. It passes. It's like a flash fever, or a 24 hour flu. Use it to your advantage while you can. Whenever you decide that you have your story looking exactly the way you want it to, polished and edited and ready for your audience to read...you've got to take the next step and market the HELL out of your own work! I'm not saying that you should just mention it whenever it comes up in casual conversation. No. You've got to actually make a real push to make sure that people get just as excited about reading your story as you were about writing it. In fact, you might actually have to work even harder to promote your story than you did to write it in the first place. The time for being passive or shy is over. You've got to be able to push that aside for a few short moments and express to other people that this story is just as amazing and incredible as you wanted it to be before you typed the first word. Now...I'm not telling you to be Donald Trump about it! Don't go out there saying that every story you've ever written is as immaculate and divine as the Bible itself, and that you're the greatest writer that's come along since William Shakespeare! That's just...dumb. And nobody is going to believe you. So...like...why do it? But, if you're honest and open about your work, and you make an effort to put yourself out there...you can catch the eye of some interested readers who might really like your style and the stuff you write. Not only that, but they might help to spread the word to their friends and family. Some of them have blogs, some have Goodreads accounts or something similar, and some belong to online forums or book clubs where all they do from week to week is talk about new stories and make recommendations to each other as to what they want to read next. All it takes is a few sparks to create a fanbase, and provided you're willing to keep them interested, that can lead to even more attention in the future. How does an author go about doing that? Well, let's jump right in and see, shall we? If you're going to take the time to write something from your heart (which is difficult to do), and gather the courage to share it with people that you don't even know (Which is even more difficult to do), then don't you want it to be read? Of COURSE you do! That's why you end up checking your post and email every ten minutes since you clicked the 'send' button! In order to get noticed, you have to advertise your product, and you have to be relentless about it. This is the only way for you to truly get your story noticed and your talent recognized. This is the internet. There are a BILLION different distractions going on at any given moment of anyone's time online, and the fact that you even stopped by to read the words I've written in this article is mind-blowing to me! Because that means it took a lot of hard work to get you here, and you decided to stick around. At least for a couple minutes. But imagine how hard it would be for anyone else to get you to pay attention to their story right now while you're reading this. Hell, even YOU aren't paying attention to the story you just posted right now! You're watching me instead. Hehehe, do you see where I'm going with this? Please understand that when I say 'relentless'...I don't mean 'obnoxious'. There's a difference. You don't want to run around the internet spamming everybody with unwanted advertisements every time you pop up on their screen. That will get you the exact opposite reaction than what you're looking for. When you continuously bombard people with visual 'junk', they tend to start ignoring it. Or possibly putting you in their junkmail altogether. That's counterproductive. The difference between 'Obnoxious' and 'Relentless' is a matter of finesse and necessity. You don't want to FORCE your story down people's throats. That's obnoxious. What you want to do is make links and contact info available to them at all times. That's 'relentless'. You don't want to send unwarranted emails or make posts three or four times a week with the same information that you gave them just 48 hours ago. That's 'obnoxious'. But whenever you want to post a new chapter or story or update to your site, you can leave a reminder that you still have other projects available for them to read. That's 'relentless'. Getting the picture? Cool. I hope so. You want to be seen, but don't let your promotion speak for your work. Your work should speak for your work. Period. And IF they like what they see...then there are links available to them so they can choose to follow you further. But leave that up to your readers. You can't force them to support you, and you'll only make a pest out of yourself by trying. Always keep that in mind. If they're enjoying your work, then their support is merely a pleasant side effect of that. Keep writing. They'll keep an eye out for you. Have some faith in your audience. Something else that I can't stress enough...answer your email! This may seem easy at first, but could get much more difficult over time. But it is a necessary part of the process. These people took the time to write to you and send you their thoughts and feelings on your project. Read them! And answer back. They are giving you their heartfelt opinion on what you wrote. What parts spoke to them, what parts they may not have understood, what parts moved them...all of these things can be used to get an outside vision of how your story looks to other people. Pay attention, and respond. True fans will comment at length about each and every chapter, and you can't ask for any better feedback than that! If you can find a few trusted voices online to review each story they read by you, you will be truly blessed. But you've got to do your part too. Even if it's just a note to say thank you and let them know that you're paying attention. That goes a long way, believe me. Speaking of email...choose ONE email address and stick with it! Make it separate from all of your other email accounts, and be STABLE! I know some of you guys like to change your name or email addys every few months for little to no reason at all. STOP that! Stay still. When I started writing in the Summer of '98, I chose Comicality@webtv.net as my email address...and 19 years later...it's STILL Comicality@webtv.net! People who are just finding my very first story online right now, can write me at that email address and talk to me just fine. The harder you make it for your fans to talk to you, the faster they're going to turn away from you and go find some other author that doesn't take a treasure hunt to find online. Get something stable and stay there. Nobody's going to send out a search party for you just to give you a brief moment's praise. Trust me. Also, build a virtual community around what it is you do. Social media is a huge part of that in this day and age. Get a Twitter account. Look at things like Facebook, or Instagram, or YouTube if you want to get into that world. Find yourself a free mailing list so you can alert people to upcoming posts and updates. Allow your readers to find a 'home' where they can hear from you and locate your stories easily without having to search around the net for them. Remember, that 'backspace' button on the keyboard is NOT your friend! It only takes one click of that button to send you spiraling right back down into obscurity. Avoid that at all costs. While all social media is a great way to talk to a huge number of fans at once, I personally prefer forums and chatrooms. Because I'm not just dictating messages to a random audience, I'm actually getting a chance to interact with them. The biggest reason that the "Billy Chase" series really took off the way it did wasn't due to my announcements or frequent updates. It actually came from me posting them on the Comicality Library forum. People began to leave reviews and comments, and they began to talk to each other about each and every chapter. That discussion every week ended up boosting that story into becoming one of the most popular on the site in a very short amount of time. Plus, I get to stop by and say hello every now and then, I get to have fun in the chatroom and meet my readers one on one so they get a feel for who I am and vice versa. I get to answer questions and get feedback in real time. AND...as long as were being 'relentless' I have my own platform to toss in the occasional advertisement whenever I feel like it. Hehehe! It takes some time to cultivate your own virtual territory when it comes to this kind of thing, but once you carve out your own little space online...well, as the saying goes... "If you build it, they will come." The most important part of promoting your work is putting a tireless effort into making your stuff available...but not shoving it into people's faces. If they want it...they'll come get it. Take my word on this. Add a 'signature' to the bottom of every email you send out, including your website link and return email. If you post on Nifty (A great place to get started), make sure you do the same. Email address, website link, social media contacts, etcetera. On EVERY post! Put it at the top, or put it at the bottom. I do both. Try submitting stuff to GayAuthors and try to get your work looked at there. Try Wattpad too. Let people see your name and get to recognize you. Encourage feedback, and make sure to REPLY when you get it! Don't ever think for one minute that your readers don't deserve your time and attention. They are just as important for reading your story as you are in writing it. Respect that relationship, and be thankful for it at all times. God, knows that I am. Alright...I'm gonna stop now before I start rambling. Hehehe! But I hope this will help you guys out, and I wish you all the luck in the world in building a fanbase that you can truly be proud of! Happy writing, and I'll talk to you soon!
  15. I believe that one of the biggest tricks you can ever hope to pull off in writing a story is the art of foreshadowing, which is a LOT more challenging than you might think it is. This is due to the fact that you have to be able to set up a series of major events in advance...without letting your readers know what those events are ahead of time. In fact, you don't even want your audience to know that you're doing it at all until you get the pleasure of landing that 'zing' moment upon them later on. It's one of literature's most impressive magic tricks! And hopefully, this little piece will help you to effectively pull it off without a hitch. So...let's get started. What is foreshadowing? It's the daunting task of secretly setting up future events in your story ahead of time without letting the reader in on the secret. For example...maybe your main character just happens to be a computer hacker. That might not have anything to do with 75% of your story...but as you reach the climax? You might have an issue where someone says, "If only we could find somebody with the ability to hack into the system!" Dun dun dun! Your main character just so 'happens' to have some hacking experience! Something that you casually alluded to earlier on in your story. Problem solved. The question is how do you set up that important payoff in advance without your audience rolling their eyes and saying, "Well, THAT'S definitely going to be a part of the story later on! Ugh!"? It's not easy. Trust me. Readers are much more savvy these days. People absorb sooooo much media in a single evening these days. They've seen every movie, read every story, heard every song...no matter how HARD you try, they will always try to outwit you and jump twelve spaces ahead of you to figure out what you're going to do next. Everybody's looking to be the first one to shout out, "CALLED IT!!!"...followed by them calling your work contrived and predictable, of course. (Sigh...I really hate that second part...) But when people are reading ten to fifteen stories a week, sometimes even double or triple that number, it's hard to surprise them with much of anything at all. You have to be sneaky about it. You've got to toss a banana peel on the floor. (Tosses banana peel!) And while I realize that giving some of my secrets away will now make readers even MORE savvy and it will ultimately make things harder for me to ever surprise them with anything ever again...I'm going to give them to you anyway. Because...why not? Hehehe! The first part of the process is obviously the most necessary piece of the puzzle. PLANNING! Planning, planning, planning! This is something that can't be ignored, skipped over, or taken lightly with you story's foreshadowing. You need to know, ahead of time, what's going to happen, why it happens, and what impact it's going to have on the rest of your story as a whole. Remember, your readers already have a seriously unfair advantage when it comes to your creative solutions and set ups. So if you're going to write a story with any surprises at all...you're going to need to take their advantage into account. Because some people are just WAITING to tell you that your story sucks! Hehehe! And that they're smarter than you for figuring things out before you told them what was going on. They live for it. Be prepared for that. Just kidding. They're not that bad. Plan! And don't be 'vague' with your planning. You have to have a definite idea of where you're going to end up from the beginning. Before you even start writing a story where foreshadowing is a technique that you want to use, figure out what you want to reveal, when you're going to do it, and how you want to hide it. Vague and unspecific planning leads to severe plot holes and inconsistencies later on in your project. A good example would be the original “Star Wars” trilogy, where it is revealed that Luke and Leia are brother and sister...but were clearly seen kissing in the first episode. Ummm...yeah, so...great plot twist, but you might want to have a major detail like that worked out beforehand. Otherwise, it only causes problems in the end. So, to avoid this...try to visualize your story fall the way through. Try to think of it as your own personal movie trailer. Seriously, if you were going to market this to an audience, what would be in the trailer? What happens in the beginning, what happens in the end, and how do you get from point A to point B in an entertaining way? Think of all the interesting major events that will carry your reader on the journey you want to take them on? Visualize it in your mind. Now, once you have the whole story in your mind (Don't worry, you still have enough flexibility to spontaneously change things around while you're writing. I know that inspiration can be unpredictable, but that's where some of your best work comes from.) it's time to move on to the second part of your magic trick. Pick your moments. When thinking about your completed story, ask yourself, “What are the events that stand out to you? Which ones are most important? Which events will have the biggest impact on the over all outcome of the story?” These are going to be your golden moments, and the ones that you want to concentrate on building up to. Great use of foreshadowing can really bring an already exciting moment to the next level. Imagine if your main characters are being chased by some kind of deadly enemy and they're trapped at the end of an alley with a locked door. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. What do you do? Well, what if the main character notices a special shaped keyhole in the door, and suddenly notice the chain around his neck...which holds a charm that fits the lock? Imagine him giving it a last minute try in a moment of desperation, and it opens the door...saving everyone from an untimely demise. Awesome! The hero wins again! But something like that can't just 'happen' in your story out of the blue. That would seem a bit weird, right? So, how do we fix that? Foresha...DAMMITT!!! You guys said it before I did! See? Quit trying to jump ahead of me all the time! If this is going to be a big moment later on in your story, you're going to want to make a few 'loose' references in it ahead of time. Maybe the charm on his neck was given to him by a lost parent when he was younger, or by an ally that he met in his journey's along the way, or maybe he took it from a slain enemy...however you want to work out the fact that he now has the essential tool that he needs hanging around his neck at the moment he needs it most, use that. It sets up that magic moment when he finally realizes why he has it, and everyone reading will say, "Oh yeah!!! I remember he had that from before!" Or...some of the folks who are skipping ahead will be silently screaming, "Use the charm! Use it! C'mon!" Both of these things are good for your story. So don't worry too much, either way. What you want to do is sufficiently set up the future scenes in your stories early, so when that big moment hits, your audience will be able to think back and trace the natural progression from one moment to another and have the big 'design' suddenly be revealed to them. This method goes for whatever you're writing. If you're writing a romance story, you don't just want two people getting together and a few paragraphs later they're already making out and dry humping on the living room couch. I mean...where did that come from? You know? Romances use foreshadowing too, albeit a lot more visible. Maybe they meet, they smile at one another, the develop an interest for one another, they begin to flirt, then they get some time alone, and...when they finally share that very first kiss, you readers can go back and follow the breadcrumbs as to how all of this happened. That's all foreshadowing is...setting up the big events that are going to ultimately define the kind of story that you want to tell. Now comes the hard part. CONCEAL! If you're foreshadowing consists of someone giving your main character a charm to wear around his neck and saying, "This will save you when you need it most."...then that's all your readers will be looking for from that moment on. They will have a whole 'Batman' board on their wall with pushpins and photos and strings, connecting one event to another, trying to beat you to the punch. You've got to be sneakier than that. Here...follow me into my secret Comsie lair! (Laughs as you slip on a banana peel!) Hehehe, do you see what I did there? If you go back and read the beginning of this article, does the mention of a banana peel being tossed on the floor seem odd or out of place to you? Just Comsie being dumb and goofy again, right? Good! That's the point. The only reason I even put that sentence or two in this article was so I could bring it up again later and use it as a lame joke to prove what I was talking about. That's foreshadowing. Put it early in this post, and then go on talking until you forget about it, and then bring it back when you least expect it. So everyone reading this can go back to the beginning of this article later on and think, "Damn...you got me, Com. Bastard." When hiding your foreshadowing clues, you want to simply mention them as though they're something insignificant. Something mundane that won't really mean much in the future of your story. A few good ways to do this is to hide it in some random dialogue between characters, or to perhaps have something much bigger going on at the time that it's mentioned. You use the 'shiny' object to distract your audience, and then slide the true gems right under their radar without them knowing it. The conceal and reveal part of the process is the fairy dust needed to make this magic trick work, after all! This takes practice and instinct and it's VERY hard to pull off in a story anymore! As I said, people have seen every plot twist, every red herring, every distraction, by now...and trying to misdirect them is going to be an exhausting experience. And even then, some will spend a lot of time trying to figure you out and beat you to the punch. BUT...if you can make your clues subtle enough, do a little misleading, and then announce everything early enough to have your readers 'forget' about them by the time you're ready to spring the big revelation on them...it CAN be done. And if you can catch just a FEW of your readers off guard with a well executed secret...there's no better feeling in the world than that! Hehehe! Especially when you've been laying the breadcrumbs out ahead of time. You can practically hear their jaws drop all around the world. Hehehe! To find some examples of expert foreshadowing, I'd recommend a few movies that I think did a great job of it. No spoilers, don't worry! Give these movies a look, watch them twice if needed. "The Sixth Sense", "Usual Suspects", "Frailty", "Seven", "Angel Heart", etc. Check out the way these movies build tension, give you hints, and then force you to go back and watch what you missed the first time around. This is what you want to accomplish. Study them and see what made them work. Then...go and do it better! Being able to toy with your audience is a skill that has to be earned over time, so start today! Hehehe! Plan ahead of time, pick your moments, and be sure to hide your hints and clues as best as you can! It's all you can do! But the payoff is sooooo worth it in the end! So take a stab at it, and I wish you guys the best of luck! Happy writing, you guys!
  16. Comicality

    Love Rivals

    What would an involving and engaging story be without some sort of conflict written into it? And what could possibly be a bigger conflict in a romantic/erotic story than a direct rival for the love and affections of the boy of your protagonist's dreams, right? Here he is, making all the right moves, saying all the right things...and here comes some drop dead gorgeous stranger to throw a monkey wrench in the whole works and screw it up for everybody involved! Arrrgh!!! How upsetting is that? Today, we're going to talk about 'love rivals' in our erotic stories...and how we can use them and the complex situations they bring with them to our advantage. When you're writing about love, especially if it's young love or first love, there's an added intensity to the idea that you've finally found perfection in a mate of your choosing. What happens when that perfection is challenged? As I wrote in a past story once, when you're building something beautiful together...you have everything to gain. But once you've got it...you have everything to lose. And if you want a love rival to be a part of your story's conflict, that's something to keep in mind. Because it can take just one mistake, one moment of weakness...to destroy everything and send your happy couple right back to square one. The threat of that happening can be devastating to your main characters, so use that to twist the story into a knot and keep your readers engaged as to what might happen next. What you want from a rival is a certain look or personality that is incredibly appealing. Not only to the love interest, but to the protagonist as well. There should be something about him that is instantly noticeable, maybe even addictive. Whether they be drop dead gorgeous, super rich and/or famous, really funny, or particularly charming. Maybe this other guy has a certain something in common with the love interest that the main character doesn't. Maybe they share a passion for something, or they spend an awful lot of time together. The idea is to raise suspicions and doubt as to what would happen if these two were left alone for an extended amount of time, and accidentally 'shared a moment' that they decided to surrender to. Write their interactions as 'innocent', but more than friendly. Put yourself in your characters' shoes. How would you feel if the love of your life was giggling and trading inside jokes with another guy who was just as cute as you were, if not cuter? Let the tension reach a slow boil, until questions have to be asked and lines have to be drawn. Done right, your readers will begin to take sides between your characters. Some will side with your protagonist, some will think he's being over protective, and some...will just end up falling in love with the rival because they like him best! (Hehehe, if only I had a nickel for every time I had THAT happen in one of my stories!) Either way, your audience will be more involved, and their further involvement is what writing a story is all about. You've got their attention. Spotlight, on. Now put on a good show. While there are nearly infinite types of love rivals that you can use for your story, I'm going to talk about what I consider to be the main three. Number one..."The Schemer" Now this is probably one of the first love rivals that comes to mind, as it is one of the most dangerous. The schemer is an actual 'villain' in your story. He's devious, he's determined, he lacks sympathy or any sort of moral compass when it comes to breaking up a relationship in order to get what he wants. And what he wants is your boyfriend. Now, the important thing to remember when writing this kind of rival is not to make them TOO despicable. You want to intrigue your readers, not frustrate them. I've found that the best way to create the scheming rival is to play with varying degrees of 'evil intent', all while adding in a hint of purpose and reason into what they're doing. Meaning, they're not completely detestable just for the sake of being detestable. Maybe your rival has true feelings for his target and is just trying to snatch him up for himself. His affection is real, and he can't let it go. Maybe it's someone who's been hurt before, or someone who is manipulating the situation because he thinks he's a better match. It's fun to play with their dark side a little bit, but remember to make them human. The reason that they're an actual threat to your hero is because, despite their sinister ways, they are charming enough to possibly win your love interest over if given the proper opportunity. If he's just a jerk that nobody likes, there's no threat at all. Remember to make his presence an actual menace to the rest of the plot. You can only do that if your devil has a decent disguise. Number two..."The Clueless Beauty" Now this kind of love rival, I feel, works best when it's used to bring your main character's insecurities to the surface, creating an inner conflict that your readers might identify with. The Clueless Beauty is usually someone who is everything you're main character is not. Usually a total knockout in the looks department, firm body and a sexy smile. Often very popular, extremely witty, smart...the kind of boy that anybody would fall head over heels in love with if given the chance. But he's not a schemer. He just happens to be the dreamiest boy on Earth, and he's wandered into the lives of your main characters, creating a sense of paranoia and projection every time he's around. He may not have any ill intentions at all, but the very fact that he's around is a temptation in itself. A temptation that might make your protagonist crazy with worry that he's not good enough to hold on to his boyfriend with 'Mr. Perfect' always smiling in his directions. Now, there's a lot of ways that you can play with this kind of rival...it can create arguments between the two main boys, or it can cause a drastic change in your main character's behavior, or it can actually cause them to withdraw from one another. Whether you want to go as far as to have something 'happen' with this beauty during the telling of your story is up to you. But the idea behind the Clueless Beauty rival is that he's not there to deliberately create havoc between your lovely couple...even if he ends up causing it anyway. Number three..."The Divided Heart" Where the other two rivals are most often paired up with the love interest, leaving your main character to ache and worry about it, the Divided Heart rival is a challenge that is more attached to your protagonist than his boyfriend. What makes this rival so interesting is that he can either be a schemer or a clueless beauty or something else entirely. The idea is to have someone that develops feelings for your main character, and provides a temptation of his own that will challenge him to stay true to his boyfriend. There's an added intimacy here, because there's the obvious ego stroke of meaning so much to someone else, as well as an opportunity to dig deeper into the inner thoughts and feelings of your character. This rival should have an alluring quality about them that actually implants thoughts of 'what if' in your protagonist's mind. He's happy with his boyfriend...but there's a 'novelty' in this other person. Something that is attractive, and opens up that naughty part of the brain that is always looking for a way to have it all. Perhaps he fits into a tiny little spot of his heart where his boyfriend doesn't. Having even a slight interest in him could create some real tension in your story, as your main character struggles with the 'grass is always greener' idea. Maybe he feels bad about it. Maybe he doesn't. Maybe it catches him by surprise. Or perhaps it's an old love or a long lasting crush that he just can't seem to let go of. Play around with the way you write the idea, and have him sway back and forth between his admirer and his true love. Make sure to display why both choices are so tempting with your writing, and you'll be able to keep your audience swaying along with you. So, there you have it! If the story you're writing is going to toss a love rival into the plot as an obstacle and a threat to the peace and harmony shared between your two main characters, try to keep some of these ideas in mind. Whether he's a conniving bastard, an innocent cutie pie, or a love struck dreamer, it can strategically add some playful drama to your project. And it will keep your readers thinking and talking about it after they finish the current chapter. That's always a good thing! Hope this helps! And I'll seezya soon with more!
  17. 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!
  18. 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!
  19. 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!
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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:
  23. Welcome to the New Year! We are wrapping up the last of the Writing Tips before launching our new weekly article feature. Be sure to check these out and let Comicality know what you think!
  24. This week, we start posting articles by Comicality. These are in our Writing Tips category in the story system. When we catch up on all those tips, we'll start posting new ones directly right in this blog. Keep an eye out! In the meantime, check out these tips by our very own Comicality:
  25. Week 3 of our Writing Tips Article Review is upon us. This week, we have an article from Don H and sat8997.
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