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?
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.
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:
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.
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.
The Legend of Zelda is a franchise that has been around since the beginning of video games. The first entry in the series featured a massive overworld like nothing the world had seen before, and since then, the land of Hyrule has just gotten bigger and better. The Zelda franchise has become my go-to inspiration anything involving worldbuilding, especially fantasy settings like my story for this year’s NaNoWriMo. No matter what game you’re playing, the Zelda series has some great examples of excellent worldbuilding. I’ve learned a lot from these games, and so today, I’d like to share that with you.
So what worldbuilding aspects does The Legend of Zelda do well?
Not long ago, I was listening to Hamilton: An American Musical non-stop all the way through, and while I was listening, I realized three fundamental (writing) truths at the exact same time.
Forced references aside, for those unfamiliar with it, Hamilton is a hip-hop musical that tells the story of the American historical figure Alexander Hamilton. The musical gained popularity when it first debuted on Broadway in 2015 due to its unique music, diverse cast, fascinating story, and modern relevancy. I’ve been interested in it for a few months now, and while listening to it, I’ve noticed there are a lot of great storytelling lessons to be learned from it.
Hamilton is heavily based on historical events, and for the most part is accurate to the facts. However, it is still fictionalized in some ways, and for the purpose of this blog post, I’m focusing on the way that characters, events, and storytelling is presented in the musical. If I say something that’s inaccurate to history, just remember that I’m solely basing these observations on the musical.
Also, as a minor disclaimer: if you haven’t listened to Hamilton before, there are a number of instances with crude language, so just know that going in.
When I was a kid, I had a blog just for my own amusement that went through various phases of activity and inactivity. Eventually, I put that website to rest for good and moved on. But I’m back in the blogosphere, which begs the question: What inspired me to blog again?
My blogging revival, so to speak, has a lot to do with myself personally becoming more involved in the blogging community as I entered my final year of high school. As a writer hoping to improve my craft, I looked to writing blogs for tips and advice to help me in my journey. Reading posts from these different sites is what inspired me to start up a new blog, and to this day, I’m still learning a lot from them with each post.
Today, I want to share a few of my favorite writing blogs with you. Not all of them are the ones that initially inspired me to blog again, but they all provide assistance and encouragement for me as I continue to grow as a writer.
Writing is often thought of as a solitary activity. When you think of a writer, do you think of a person who sits at their desk until the early hours of the morning, the room only lit by the soft glow of their laptop? Sometimes, especially during events like NaNoWriMo, we do shut ourselves away from the world, but that isn’t always the case.
Contrary to popular belief, writers actually rely on each other quite a bit. Without the support, encouragement, and feedback that other writers provide, we probably wouldn’t get as far as we do. At the very least, we wouldn’t grow much as writers. Having someone to challenge us and show us where we can improve is crucial, otherwise our writing would always stay the same, and where’s the fun in that?
Having writer friends is important for a number of reasons, but in the end, it all comes down to three main benefits. What are they, you ask? Read on to find out!
If I asked you to describe a published author, what would you say? Would you think of someone famous, with their book on every shelf, living in the big city and going on book signing tours across the country? Sure, that may describe a portion of the published authors in the world, but that certainly isn’t true of every single one. Oftentimes, there are published authors living right in our hometown, we just don’t know it.
The area I live in has a population of a little over 800,000, and though we have our fair share of cities and attractions, it’s not a super famous area (except for a misnamed Billy Joel song). When I learned the library in my town was holding a Local Author Fair, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Were there really that many authors from our area? I decided to check it out though. It gave me the opportunity to listen to an author panel and speak with a few of the writers, and I certainly learned a lot.
First things first, we need some good background music. This is most definitely not a ploy to get you to listen to one of my favorite soundtracks of all time. Not at all.
Way back in May of last year, I read a book titled Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson which I really enjoyed. After reading it, I noticed that there were writing lessons that could be gathered from the story, and I compiled those ideas into a blog post I called “Writing Lessons from Steelheart.” Since then, I haven’t written any more “Writing Lessons” blog posts, but that changes today.
As you may or may not know, I am slightly obsessed with enjoy a series of video games called Ace Attorney. To make a long story short, you play as Phoenix Wright, a rookie defense attorney, as he investigates crimes and defends the innocent from wrongful convictions. As you can imagine, these games don’t feature a lot of fast-paces gameplay – instead, they focus more on puzzle-solving and logical thinking as you put the pieces of the case together and determine the truth.
Because of this, Ace Attorney happens to be heavily story-driven. It’s like reading a mystery novel, except you’re the main character. With all of the story and narration involved in these games, it makes sense that there are a lot of writing lessons that can be learned from them.
Since there are a lot of games in this series, I’m just going to focus on the first three, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Justice for All, and Trials & Tribulations, which actually fit together like a trilogy. I vaguely hint at a few plot points, but I did my best to keep everything spoiler-free. Without further ado, here are some writing lessons from the Ace Attorney Trilogy!
The alphabet is very important, and incredibly easy to remember. There’s a reason people use it a mnemonic device, after all. People write poems to it, memorize shopping lists with it, and so on and so forth.
As writers, there’s a lot of crazy jargon out there. Before getting really involved in the writing community, I had no idea what a beta reader was, or what on earth was a “NaNoWriMo.” It took a lot of learning for me to learn all of the language.
So today, I’ve come up with a list of writing terms, using the alphabet to help us remember them. As a bonus, this list can also be used to teach your future children the alphabet and about writing at the same time!
Also, special thanks to my friend Grace at Writerly for helping me come up with this idea! She’s fantastic, and has a lot of great writing advice on her blog, so you should definitely check it out!
Oh, yeah, and there might be some sarcasm in here. Continue if you dare…