Never Have I Ever Tag | Writer’s Life

You might’ve played a game called “Never Have I Ever” at some point in your life. Usually, the goal is to make other people admit embarrassing things about themselves. I’m told it’s fun, though I’ve never played.

…Until today, that is. Today, I’m participating in the “Never Have I Ever” writer’s tag so I can finally come clean about all of the ways in which I’m a Bad Writer. Okay, maybe not bad, but I definitely realized I fall into fewer author stereotypes than I thought.

I got this tag from Paper Fury, so be sure to visit her post as well!

And without further ado, on to the questions!

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Unexpected Writing Teachers

I don’t remember there ever being a point in my life where someone sat me down and told me, “This is how you write a story.” Sure, I learned about basic plot structure in my middle school literature class, but that wasn’t really meant to teach us how to be better writers. Besides, by that time I had already written stories of my own. They weren’t any good, but they were still something.

Now don’t get me wrong, if you take writing seriously, you probably should study the craft of it. That doesn’t mean you need to go earn your MFA in Creative Writing, but it’s worth your time to pick up a book on writing or read a few articles here and there. I know it’s hard to take advice from others (especially – gasp – when their writing methods differ from yours), but you’ll be thankful for it.

But aside from reading about writing (and reading good writing – all writers should be readers, after all), there are other, less obvious “writing teachers” out there. I’m sure you could come up with some if you thought about it. Today, I wanted to share some of the more surprising ways I’ve learned about writing and storytelling.

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Why Bother Trying? (or, Another Bout of Writer’s Block | Writer’s Life

If you’re a writer, chances are you’ve experienced a creative block from time to time. This phenomenon is not uncommon. I talked a little bit about this before, when I was feeling creatively drained and I just couldn’t get myself to write. Back then, I decided I needed a break to refresh myself.

And it worked! I took a month off from blogging and just focused on doing things that refilled my creative well, so to speak. After a few weeks, I felt ready to take on the writing world again.

But there’s more than one kind of writer’s block, and sadly, just taking a break doesn’t always solve the problem. Sometimes, writer’s block gets a little more personal.

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Writing Lessons from Stranger Things

When Stranger Things started garnering hype on the internet in 2016, I sent a text to my mom telling her she should watch it. She enjoyed shows with vague paranormal/alternate universe stuff like Fringe, and from what I could tell, Stranger Things was right up her alley. I wasn’t all that interested. I was midway through the first semester of my first year of college, and I preferred to spend my limited free time writing or gaming.

And then within a week of me telling my mom to watch Stranger Things, she messaged me and insisted that I give the show a try. And because I’m a good child (most days, at least), I listened to my mother.

Whatever I thought Stranger Things was going to be, it was so much better.

The Netflix Original series, created by brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, takes place in 1983 in the small, midwestern town of Hawkins, Indiana. The premise is simple enough: a young boy vanishes without a trace, and mysterious events begin taking place around the town. Combining an engaging sci-fi world with 1980s nostalgia set Stranger Things apart, but beyond that, the show features strong writing, dynamic characters, and a fascinating story.

With Season 3 of Stranger Things being recently released, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the show’s first season and analyze what we can learn from it.

Beware – Spoilers for Season 1 of Stranger Things below!

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Author interview with Sarah Henry: intricacies are just cracks in the wall

Author Interview with Sarah Henry: “intricacies are just cracks in the wall”

black and white photograph of a young woman with short hair and a feather pen tattoo on her collarbone. Sarah Henry.
Sarah Henry, author of intricacies are just cracks in the wall. She is also a photographer and videographer.

I am very excited to be sharing a project that is very close to my heart with you today. Sarah Henry, my friend and fellow English major (and now graduate), is publishing her first book, intricacies are just cracks in the wall through an IndieGoGo campaign. The novel tells the story of a young woman and her recovery from an abusive relationship through poetry. It explores experiences of mental health disorders, relational abuse, and the pains of self discovery.

I had the privilege of being a part of this project near the beginning as a member of Sarah’s writing workshop. It’s great to see all of her hard work finally coming to fruition through the published novel and the short film she created based on it!

As part of the launch of intricacies, I interviewed Sarah to talk to her a little bit about her writing process and the creation of both the book and the film. So what are you waiting for? Read on to hear more about intricacies are just cracks in the wall!

UPDATE 7/24/19: Sarah’s IndieGoGo campaign may be over, but you can still by intricacies are just cracks in the wall on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

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Lessons Learned from Role-Play Writing Club

Lessons Learned from Role-Play Writing Club

Let me tell you a story. When I was in high school, I had this idea to start a creative writing group. I’d been a part of one in middle school, but sadly, my high school was lacking in that area. I had spoken to other students to get their feedback, and then my English teacher gave me the go-ahead.

She also mentioned that my “Writer’s Nook” would be teaming up with another group. Each group would be led by different people and have different goals, but since we would attract a similar group of people, it made sense for us to share a digital space.

This other club called themselves the “Role-Play Writing” group (RPW), and I didn’t know much about them. They struck me as a rather… eclectic collection of students (not that I’m one to talk, but I digress). I wasn’t really sure what to make of them at first.

As it turns out, what they did wasn’t really “roleplaying” in the sense I was used to, but more of a collaborative writing project. Each writer had one or two characters (some had many, many more, but perhaps we’ll save that for another day), and using those characters, they would build a story. Once that was explained to me, I was interested. I decided to join the group, but I warned them I wasn’t sure how active I would be, since I had my own leadership responsibilities.

My warning was ultimately meaningless, because it didn’t take long for me get into RPW (some might say in too deep, but that’s a bit harsh I think). I fell in love with the challenge of writing a complete story together, especially on a time limit – the length of the school year. The people I was working with were funny, interesting, and all brought something unique to the table. We became more than just writing partners; we became friends. Even now, three or four years after we all graduated, I still keep in touch with a few of them.

All of this to say, RPW was a unique writing experience for me that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to replicate. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, so today, I invite you to do on a little nostalgia trip with me as I share a few of the things that RPW taught me about writing.

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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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