7 Writer Worthy Articles

I just now realized it’s been almost a month since my last post. Seriously, where does the time actually go? Of course, as usual, I’m at a loss with what to post. So I will be ‘borrowing’ from others and sharing with all of you. I’ve gathered seven articles of interest for you to check out. I did have eight, but one was so full of ads my browser almost couldn’t take it, so you’re welcome.

 

Writing Tips

Image from Unsplash.com

Have a look and enjoy! (Please note: some contain adult language.)

  1. Blogging Fear: Looking Stupid/Writer’s Block(Well, that’s fitting…)
  2. Ten Stupid Writer Tricks (That Might Actually Work)(Colorful language.)
  3. Stupid Writing Advice(What we’re all thinking.)
  4. Upwork Thinks Freelance Industry Bloggers are Stupid(Upwork likes money.)
  5. Ten Tips for Writing a Book Without Making Your Head Explode(Yay!)
  6. 4 Tips to Write the Climax of a Story(For those who know the struggle.)
  7. 3 Terrible, Stupid Things I Used to Do on My Blog(I’m still guilty of these.)

 

So that’s my lazy post today. But hey… I added text to that photo, so that’s gotta count for something.

Write on, my friends.

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Books by M.S. Fowle

5 Tips to Overcome Your Creative Block

 

Copyright © http://hylian-child.deviantart.com/

 

Whether it’s writer’s block, artist’s block, or any sort of metaphorical New Jersey traffic jam of your creative juices, you just want it to end. It’s like getting halfway up the stairs, only to realize you forgot something. Or driving an hour and a half of a three hour trip to discover you’ve forgotten your kids favorite stuffed animal. (True story.) But there are a few ways to get over it. The key is distraction. Any form will do fine. Just don’t do it for too long or you’ll end up in a full-on rut of procrastination. But soon enough, you’ll be able to face it all with a clear mind.

 

Here are 5 Tips to Overcome Your Creative Block:

1.) Read
  • You can grab a classic you’ve read a thousand times or, better yet, read a book written by one of the many authors following your blog or on Twitter and the like. If you’re a writer, it may help you remember why you got into the game in the first place. It’s fair to say other authors have suffered through creative blocks of their own and found a way to overcome them. You can too.
2.) Create Something Else
  • There are countless artistic mediums to explore, so go ahead and give one or two a try. You can draw or paint, jot down some poetry, or even build a bird house out of ice pop sticks. Discovering another art niche, or even realizing you suck at other art niches, can be just the push you need to get back in the saddle.
3.) Educate Others
  • You don’t have to be a teacher to teach something to someone. You don’t have to teach something you know everything about. You don’t even have to teach within your age group. I find teaching my four-year-old son how to write his letters and numbers or even go over some basic math skills is not only rewarding for us both, but it’s usually just what I need to get around whatever was in my creative way.
4.) Game Apps
  • Most of us own some sort of electronic device, whether it’s a computer, a tablet, or a cell phone. There is an endless sea of educational game applications just waiting to be downloaded and most of them are free. Perhaps a leisurely game of Words With Friends (or Words With Strangers, as I like to call it.) Or try your hand at 4 Pictures, 1 Word to practice some word association. Another great outlet is Luminosity, where you’ll find plenty of games to exercise your brain.
5.) Dance Like No One’s Watching/Sing Like No One Can Hear You
  • This tip may be best served while no one is actually watching or can actually hear you, depending on your musical talents. But go find your favorite album, something from your past that you’re almost embarrassed to love so much, and go nuts! Truly letting go will refresh, motivate, and empower you.

 

Obviously, these are just a handful of ways to overcome your creative block. I’m sure we each have our own method that works best for us.

So, tell me. How do you overcome?

A Writer’s Arsenal

Writer’s are warriors in their own right, and rather unsung if you ask me. I am by no means trying to compare authors to the heroics of soldiers or police officers or firefighters or nurses, etc. But when you bravely tell your friends or acquaintances you’re a writer, they usually seem to get the impression that anyone can do it. They’re almost right – anyone can sit down and put their thoughts onto paper. But for a true author, it is their passion, their first love – and they never give up on it.

No matter what we write, fiction or nonfiction, how we approach it is the same.

Our Sword and Shield = Our Pen and Paper

This is where our harrowing tales first come to life. We’ve let the beginnings of our tales ferment in our minds, so this is naturally the next step. Whether you’re writing an outline or jotting down a few notes, putting those words on paper are more or less engraving them stone. Of course, some details will change along the way, but we’ve got to start somewhere.

Our Trusty Steed = Our Computer

Back in the day, it was our typewriter. And if you’re still using one, kudos to you. Just know you’ll most likely be retyping the entire thing onto a computer as so many agencies and publishers would rather deal with electronic submissions – less paper, going green, saving the Earth and all that. But our computers are the modern day steed. Just remember to BACK IT UP! Like how an actual horse takes a random dump on the trail (sorry for the semi-graphic description) there is always the occasional power outage or program hiccup that could cause us to lose everything we just worked so hard on. Care for you steed – keep it clean, make sure you have the proper anti-virus programs in place, and always remember that giving it a swift smack will NOT fix what’s broken.

Our Squires = Our Editors & Proofreaders

These folks make sure we’re ready for battle. They go over every detail, assure us we’re properly armed and that our stories are as strong as they can be. If you’re lucky enough to have such assets under your employ, you’ll face the battlefield with far more confidence than ever before.

Our Brothers & Sisters In Arms = Our Fellow Authors

We are not alone. The more authors we have at our side, the stronger we’ll be. We are here to support each other, offer words of encouragement and advice, and echo our war cries when we finally charge into battle.

Our Battlefield = The Sales Shelf

Whether that sales shelf is brick and mortar or of the virtual variety, we will face the same obstacles. We’ll need sales and reviews (good ones) to keep charging forward. Some battlefields will be more challenging than others, but our goal is always the same – VICTORY!

Our Enemy = Our Harshest Critics

As the saying goes, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Critics will try to make or break you. Some will turn out to be one of your biggest assets, as you will learn far more about you and your writing from a brutally honest critic than you will ever learn from a friend or fellow author. They don’t care about hurting your precious feelings. They just want everyone to know the harsh truth. Be ready and stand strong.

Our People = Our Readers

We should always write for ourselves. We love our stories and want only to share them. But once you’ve established a fan base, no matter how big or small, they quickly become our biggest motivation. When they love our stories as much as we do, they become our most loyal followers. They will be there when we return from battle, waving their banners and praising our deeds. Thank them. Honor them. Love them as much as they love you.

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These days, our battlefield is far bigger than it was years ago. Modern technology has changed the rules of war, but the basics will always be the same. Arm yourself, have faith in your kinsmen and yourself, and never forget why we’re here in the first place – to write and be read.

Keep scribing, my friends.

Guest Blogger: Author Lauren Carr

Have I got a treat for you!

Here today is best-selling mystery author and owner of Acorn Book Services Lauren Carr, with some sound advice on character flaws, or lack thereof.

Author Lauren Carr

Perfect Characters Do Not Equal Perfect Characters

By Lauren Carr

Recently, an author I know received a review for his book which read that his protagonist was “too good to be true.” In some ways this is a compliment, in other regards, it is not positive because it means your character does not ring true or is not realistic, which can cause some problems with readers.

Before publication, the author had asked me for an editorial review of his book and I had pointed out the same flaw. The author responded to my criticism with, “Yes, he’s perfect.” He chose to keep his character that way and the reviewer had noticed the same flaw.

I understand completely where this author was coming from when he expressed the desire to create a character who was perfect and without flaws: Been there. Done that.

It was the search for un-flawed characters that prompted me to write my first murder mystery.

Up until then, I had written humor columns for newspapers. Yet, my love was murder mysteries. Like my mother, I would devour them. Believing that the ability to write a murder mystery was beyond my artistic grasp, I never dreamed to attempting it—until I became totally disgusted with a flood of murder mysteries with protagonists that were downright dysfunctional.

Talk about flawed! They were rude drunks, violent, cussed enough to make a sailor blush, slept around with everything that moved—Sometimes all of the above. I’m talking about the protagonists—the heroes of the books. We haven’t even gotten to the villains.

It was my disgust with these characters that made me decide I was going to create a murder mystery detective with honor—someone who readers could respect.

Have you ever heard the phrase, don’t knock it until you try it? While I did create a perfectly respectable detective, he was also quite … What’s the word? Boring.

Like it or not, there’s no one out there who’s perfect. Since no one is perfect, then when you create a perfect character who lives a fantasy life that real people can only dream of, no one will believe it. Your character and his life will be “too good to be true.”

Not only will no one believe your character, but they also won’t be able to relate to him or her. If your readers can’t relate to your protagonist, then they won’t be able to get into your book.

That’s not to say that those long line of mysteries that I was trying to read years ago had it right by making their characters so flawed that they were dysfunctional and impossible to respect as characters.

That’s going overboard.

On the other side of the coin, your readers need to care about your characters. If your characters are so flawed that you have no respect for them—which is generally the case of how I felt about them—then your reader isn’t going to care about what happens to them.

There is a middle ground between perfect characters and dysfunctional ones.

It is possible to make your protagonist flawed enough for readers relate to them without making them seemingly ready for a straightjacket.

Here are some tips:

Use Common Everyday Flaws. Think about faults that a lot of people have which aren’t necessarily dysfunctional traits. That way, readers who have these same flaws will rejoice upon seeing them in your protagonist and immediately relate to them. Example: Cameron Gates in my Lovers in Crime series loves junk food and ice cream. She detests health food and practically rebels against healthy eating.

When creating your character, be realistic about what obstacles your character will encounter in his situation and use them as conflict. In the Mac Faraday Mysteries, my title detective Mac suddenly comes into a multimillion dollar inheritance. Here is a man who has lived on a budget his whole life. Suddenly, he has the funds to do anything he wants. His flaw: He can’t stop keeping track of his money and he has difficulty relating to decadence, even though he is surrounded by people for whom decadence is a lifestyle. The result is Mac shaking his head at those around him, while his new friends and neighbors are amused by his worn jeans and T-shirts.

In Blast from the Past, Mac and Archie Monday get into an argument when she takes Gnarly, his dog, in to the groomer for his monthly appointment. Finding out how much it costs, Mac is horrified to discover that he is paying more annually for Gnarly to get his hair done than he spends on his own haircuts. This argument makes for an entertaining exchange between the couple that I’m sure many married couples have.

In my latest Mac Faraday Mystery, The Murders at Astaire Castle, Mac gets thrown into his latest adventure when he disobeys the signs warning him to keep out of an abandoned castle that he discovers he owns. His flaws in this mystery: Mac Faraday’s curiosity and hating to be told what to do. How many of us hate people giving us orders?

It is those imperfections that make Mac relatable to readers.

Even near-perfect characters have flawed family and friends—use them. Do you have a perfect family and perfect friends? If so, you must be living in paradise.

As much as we hate to admit it, there are people in our lives who don’t always have our best interests at heart. They have their own agendas. If you desire to make your main character what I call a fantasy type character who always does the right thing and makes the right decisions, then throw people into his life who don’t care about the right thing: a friend who stabs your hero in the back, a wife who cheats on him, or a dog who doesn’t respect him.

These characters would play the role of antagonists who are going to mix things up.

Now, I make this last tip with trepidation because, as a mystery writer, I hate it when I see a mystery series become more about the protagonist’s chaotic family and friends than about the mystery—where the murder mystery takes the back seat and becomes almost a subplot.

This post is not to say that we as writers can’t create characters to play out our fantasies—handsome and always looking to do the right with family and friends who always have our back. Isn’t that how we all want to live? But think about it. As much as you would like to live your life without any flaws or conflict, would you really want to read about it?

Or would you rather read about a handsome multimillionaire whose dog doesn’t respect him?

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Very insightful, Lauren. Thank you so much for sharing with us today.

If you’d like to connect with author Lauren Carr, you can find her online:

Author Site -> http://mysterylady.net/
Facebook -> https://www.facebook.com/lauren.carr.984991
Twitter -> https://twitter.com/TheMysteryLadie
Amazon -> http://www.amazon.com/Lauren-Carr/e/B001JP4F0Q
Acorn Book Services -> http://acornbookservices.com/

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