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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.