Writing Lessons From Avatar: The Last Airbender

There’s a stereotype of children’s entertainment being overly simplified and poorly written, and unfortunately, that’s true for a lot of children’s shows. Every so often though, there comes someone who puts time and effort into what they create, because they understand that children can be just as smart and perceptive as adults.

Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of those shows, and today I want to talk about just a few of the things we writers – even adult writers – can learn from it.

Beware, spoilers ahead!

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Why Na No Wri Mo isn't always a good idea

Why NaNoWriMo Isn’t Always a Good Idea

I have a confession to make: I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I set it as one of my goals earlier this year, but as November grew closer, I realized that it wasn’t going to work out this year. I had a lot going on in terms of school and my personal life, and adding 50,000 words on top of that looked more like torture than a fun challenge.

When November 1 came and I saw many of my friends announcing their intentions to participate in NaNoWriMo, I couldn’t help feeling a little guilty. After all, I had told myself I would do it, and I’d gone back on that commitment. As the month wore on though, I got over my self-deprecation and realized that I actually enjoyed not being a part of NaNoWriMo this year.

That might sound like heresy to the writing community, but it’s the truth. I’m thankful that Past Maggie made the decision to pass on NaNoWriMo 2018. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good things that can come out of NaNoWriMo – self-discipline, connections with other writers, and a completed draft, to name a few. Those things come with sacrifices, however, and I’m of the mind that sometimes those sacrifices aren’t worth it.

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7 Ways Your Characters Can Be Smart

When you’re only one person and you’re trying to come up with an entire cast of characters, it’s hard to make sure they don’t all end up being clones of each other. Trust me, sometimes I look back at the “books” I wrote when I was eleven years old and I realize that all of my characters are the same people with different names.

When we think of a “smart” character, we usually think of the stereotypical maladjusted nerd, always spouting facts but is generally pretty useless. However, this isn’t the case in real life – people are smart in all kinds of different ways, not just in terms of what they learned (or didn’t learn) in school.

How do you write a cast of characters that are smart, but also unique? Based on books I’ve read and movies/TV shows I’ve watched, I’ve compiled a short list of different ways your characters can be smart. It’s not an exact science, but hopefully this gives you a place to start.

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Why Writers Should Go Outside

Most writers have heard of “Outside,” even if we’ve never seen it. Supposedly, it’s a mysterious place where this thing called “society” is, where people buy things in stores instead of buying them on Amazon, and they talk face-to-face instead of over text message. If you ask me, that sounds pretty terrifying.

In all seriousness, writers do have a reputation of being hermits who spend most of their days in the shelter of their home or local coffee shop (we have to fuel our creativity somehow). Oftentimes, this is with good reason: we need to be able to focus on our craft without other people interrupt us, and that’s much more likely to happen when we leave our safe writing bubble.

But what if the benefits outweigh the costs? We might embrace the hermit lifestyle, but we might be wise to step outside every so often – there are definitely some good reasons to do so.

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Writing Lessons from Gallagher Girls

I just recently finished rereading one of my favorite book series, Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter. The series takes place at an all-girls school for young geniuses where the students are trained for future work as scientists, analysts, spies and other high-level government jobs. In the meantime, however, the girls are still navigating everyday life (they’re just doing quantum physics instead of high school biology).

Not only is the Gallagher Girls series one of my favorites, but it’s also a very well-written series of books. There are a lot of elements that make the Gallagher Girls amazing, and so today, I’d like to share some of the biggest writing lessons I’ve learned from this wonderful series.

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Through the Eyes of a Writer

We all see the world in different ways. Some of us pay more attention to the people around us, what they wear, how often they smile; while others of us notice the way the sunlight hits the trees or how you can smell Starbucks coffee from the other side of the mall.

These differences often depend on our personalities or the things we consider most important, and writers are no different. Just like other “types” of people (for lack of a better term), we see the world in a way that others don’t.What’s it like to see through the eyes of a writer? I’ll do my best to explain today.

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What I Learned from NaNoWriMo 2017

Well, readers… I did it. For the first time, I  participated in NaNoWriMo, and better yet, I won. If you’ve been following my 2017 NaNo journey, you’ll know that this is the first time I’ve set the goal of 50,000 words, and although I was nervous about it, I finally reached my goal, and two days early at that!

Of course, my story is nowhere near being complete, and it’s definitely going to take me some time to rework this idea and craft it into something I can hopefully one day share with the world. Chances are, whenever I make it to a final copy, it won’t look at all like what I wrote in November. But does that mean that participating in NaNo was in vain? Not at all! In fact, I learned a lot about myself and my writing in the past month, and today, I’d like to share those lessons with you.

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Types of Writer Friends

As the timeless wisdom of The Legend of Zelda says, “It’s dangerous to go alone!” So why do we writers think we can do this all on our own, anyway? Is it because a majority of us are introverts and hiss at the thought of socializing with others? Or is it because we’ve accepted that we’re societal pariahs and must brave this life alone?

dangerous to go alone

Good news, my fellow writers – we don’t actually have to go it alone! A few months ago, I wrote about benefits of having writer friends, but what are your options? Fortunately for you, I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the types of writer friends you may encounter in the wild, complete with gifs.

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NaNoWriMo Survival Kit

Well my fellow writers, this is it: In just a few short days, NaNoWriMo 2017 will begin, and many of us will be spending more-than-usual amounts of time in front of our computers, typing away until our fingers hurt or we realize we need to eat something.

Writing 50,000 words in thirty days is not an easy task. I can’t speak completely from experience, since all of my NaNoWriMos in the past have allowed me to customize my goal, but the number is daunting. Fortunately, however, it’s not impossible. All you need are the right tools.

Using my own experience, and consulting a few of my friends that are NaNo veterans, I’ve compiled a list of things to include in your NaNoWriMo “Survival Kit.” Hopefully these will be applicable whether you’re a plotter or a pantser (read this post for an explanation), or whether this is your first time or tenth time.

Here’s what I recommend for your NaNoWriMo Survival Kit:

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Writing Lessons From Wolves At The Gate

In this series, I’ve already covered writing lessons from books, video games, and even a musical. As you can probably tell, I like to draw from some unconventional sources, because I believe that anything can teach us about writing, from books to movies to music to video games. They all tell stories, just in different ways.

Not long ago, I talked about what can be learned from the musical Hamilton, which tells its story through music. This week, I’m going to discuss music again, but in a different light.

Wolves At The Gate (WATG) is a hardcore band from Cedarville, Ohio. I first saw them when they opened for RED a few years ago, and I saw them more recently at Uprise Fest last year. Though I love many hardcore bands, there are few that I’ve really connected with like WATG, and they’ve become one of my favorites. Not only does their music sound amazing, but the lyrics and themes are so artfully put together, and so today, I’d like to talk about what writing lessons we can learn from their music.

Note: I know many in my audience aren’t fans of hardcore music, so I’ll be providing links to lyrics and to the songs themselves. Feel free to listen to them, but you won’t be missing out on the point of the post if you would rather just read the lyrics.

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