I Am A Word Shaker.

If your eyes could speak, what would they say?

2,523 notes

Some Words About Word Count

thewritingcafe:

Everyone worries about word count. Whether you’re writing a first draft, trying to reach a daily goal, or revising, you’re probably worrying about your word count.

When You Shouldn’t Worry about Word Count:

  • Writing your first draft. All first drafts suck. Everyone can cut from their first draft, taking away thousands of words at a time. Don’t worry about your word count during this stage.
  • Reaching a daily goal. It doesn’t matter how much you write in a day. Some days you may write two thousand words and some days you may write five hundred. I’ve gone from zero one day to five thousand or more the next. Having a daily goal is fine, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t reach it every day.
  • Writing chapters. Some chapters are one page long. Some are fifty. While different age groups have different chapter lengths (usually to keep the reader’s attention), you shouldn’t worry about chapter length. You can fix this later by splitting up scenes in to chapters.

When You Should Worry about Word Count:

  • Final Revisions. Different genres have different word count boundaries, and for good reason. Knowing your genre is a must, and the word count for that genre comes along with it (unless you’re a famous author or a celebrity). Do all you can during your final revisions to get the word count within range.
  • NaNoWriMo. You don’t have to worry too much about this, but the winners get some pretty good deals on writing software.
  • Contests. There are contests for several genres, but those have word count limits. These word counts are often within the short story range, sometimes in the novellete range. Don’t go over these word counts. The judges will not make exceptions no matter how good your story is. 
How to Lower your Word Count
  • Adverbs. Writers don’t often realize how many adverbs they use. Using the “find” feature on Microsoft Word can really help with finding all these adverbs. Delete them. If you can’t delete them, rewrite the sentence. That can also get your word count down.
  • Unnecessary Words. Words like to, through, under, at, onto, into, under, up, and down can often be omitted and the sentence will still work. Instead of saying She entered the room through the door say She entered the room or instead of saying the cat jumped up onto the bed say the cat jumped on the bed. Other unnecessary words include: adjective, articles, and pronouns.
  • Scenes, Dialogue, and Information. Get rid of anything that is not needed. If a scene, a piece of dialogue, or some information does nothing to help plot or character development, get rid of it. I don’t care how much you love it.
  • Redundant Phrases. Odds are you’ll find some redundant phrases in your writing. A big one in query letters is “fiction novel”. 
  • Transitional Phrases. Your high school English teacher probably pressed you to use these, but skip them in creative writing. Don’t use them in dialogue either, unless it fits the character’s personality (like the tenth doctor from Doctor Who, who often used “well” at the beginning of his sentences).
  • Description. Don’t over do the description. No one cares what the store clerk looks like or what color your protagonist’s brother’s room is.
  • Active Voice. Writing in active voice cuts down your word count a lot…if you weren’t doing that already.
  • Dialogue Tags. Not every line of dialogue needs a tag or an explanation of the character’s action. Their words alone can give off a tone and the reader will be able to pick up possible body language and facial expressions.
How to Raise your Word Count
  • Subplots.Add subplots. These help flesh out your characters and your world. It gives more opportunity to introduce new ideas and relationships between characters. Here is a subplot resource post.
  • Introduce a New Character. But this character has to be relevant. This character may come along with a new subplot or even the main plot. Odds are, they’ll add a few thousand words.
  • More Conflict. Raise the stakes for your character. Make them take a wrong turn (literally or figuratively). This will add more relevant scenes and keep your reader interested…as long as it’s interesting.
  • Add Description. I know I said to cut description, but some of it can be helpful. Put your reader in your character’s place. Use all five senses, not just sight.
  • Revise. You may find plot holes or missing information. You may even add a scene for clarity.

Word Counts* by Genre:

  • Adult: 75k - 95k
  • General Sci-fi: 100k - 115k
  • Hard Sci-fi: 90k - 110k
  • General Fantasy: 100k - 11k
  • Epic Fantasy: 90k - 120k
  • Contemporary Fantasy: 90k - 120k
  • Urban Fantasy: 90k - 100k
  • Paranormal Romance: 85k - 100k
  • Romance: 85k - 100k
  • Horror: 80k - 100k
  • Mystery/Crime/Thriller: 75k - 90k
  • Middle Grade: 25k - 40k
  • Fantasy/Sci-fi Middle Grade: 45k - 65k
  • Upper Middle Grade: 35k - 45k
  • Young Adult: 50k - 80k
  • Picture Book: 300 - 1k
  • For All Debut Authors: Try not to exceed 100k

*There are exceptions to word count. These are just guidelines.

(via fixyourwritinghabits)

90 notes

Anonymous asked: Hi. I'm trying to name characters in my new story. What do you like and not like about names you read in books? What are some of your pet peeves?

writing-questions-answered:

My number one issue with names is when they don’t seem instantly fitting. Names that require an argument as to why they work are a big turn off for me. Chloe, for example, is currently one of the most popular girl names in the U.S. and in many other countries, so it makes sense for a modern teen protagonist. If I picked up an 1880s western romance with Chloe as a protagonist, I’d set it right back down. It’s not anachronistic but it was very rare back then, and if you’re going to use an incredibly rare name, there needs to be a good reason for it. Names have to be believable.

Names like Sally, Carol, Susan, Billy, Timmy, and Larry are all wonderful names—especially when you’re named after a parent or grandparent—but they’re not popular baby names anymore, so they’re a little outdated. When I see a modern teen protagonist with a Brady Bunch sounding name, I immediately think two things:

1) This author is old and out-of-touch with modern teenagers.

2) This author is unimaginative.

Both of those ring a pretty strong death knell for a book as far as I’m concerned. The same is true of names that are overly imaginative. Could a modern teen girl be named Scrupula? Sure, but really? A name like that would be more fitting on an old witch in a fantasy based on ancient Rome.

When coming up with character names, I think it’s a good idea to do some research and look for names that were popular in the time and place where your story is set. You can choose names on the rarer end of the scale, just be sure to think about how readers might perceive the name. Again, Chloe may be technically appropriate for the late 1800s, but its popularity now makes it feel like a modern name. Evelyn, on the other hand, ranked at 31 on the top 50 list for 2013, but it’s not so common now that it has a modern feel. If you used it for an early 1900s protagonist, it would be very appropriate. Not only because it doesn’t feel modern, but because it was very popular back then, too. :)

1,800 notes

writersrelief:

Writers: How To Let Go Of The Pressure To Be Perfect
For most writers, a little perfectionism isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The drive to create stories, poems, essays, and books that are perfect can propel a writer’s skills from “just okay” to “stellar”—and ultimately publishable.
But perfectionism also has a dark side: If you’re a perfectionist writer, you probably agonize over every word each step of the way. Your inner critic is an ogre. No matter how often you rewrite and revise, you’re unable to accept that a given piece is done, and so you don’t submit it for publication. Or maybe you shy away from sharing your writing at all, convinced of its inadequacies. The process that should be a fun, joyful, and creative experience instead becomes fraught with worry and imagined disapproval. When perfectionism is at its worst, it leads to writer’s block (Such as: If I can’t write anything good, I won’t write at all).
When the pressure to be perfect is overwhelming, try some of these encouraging techniques.

writersrelief:

Writers: How To Let Go Of The Pressure To Be Perfect

For most writers, a little perfectionism isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The drive to create stories, poems, essays, and books that are perfect can propel a writer’s skills from “just okay” to “stellar”—and ultimately publishable.

But perfectionism also has a dark side: If you’re a perfectionist writer, you probably agonize over every word each step of the way. Your inner critic is an ogre. No matter how often you rewrite and revise, you’re unable to accept that a given piece is done, and so you don’t submit it for publication. Or maybe you shy away from sharing your writing at all, convinced of its inadequacies. The process that should be a fun, joyful, and creative experience instead becomes fraught with worry and imagined disapproval. When perfectionism is at its worst, it leads to writer’s block (Such as: If I can’t write anything good, I won’t write at all).

When the pressure to be perfect is overwhelming, try some of these encouraging techniques.

(via fixyourwritinghabits)

362 notes

Anonymous asked: How do I improve my dialogue

howtofightwrite:

Since you’re asking us, I’ll make the assumption that you’ve already checked elsewhere and gotten the basics. If you haven’t, then, there’s decent primers here and here. With thanks to The Writing Cafe for compiling this list of general writing resources.

Stephen King’s On Writing scatters dialog advice through the book. It’s more holistic, and interested in talking about how to be better as a writer, but, if you haven’t read it, grab a copy.

If you’ve already done all that, and wanting more advanced advice, then I can offer some random thoughts:

When it comes to fight scenes, remember that talking is not a free action. (With thanks or ire directed at D&D and TV tropes for that phrase.) Everything your character says in a fight is time they could better spend recovering and preparing for the next strike. I know it’s a genre staple in anime and manga, but outside of a deliberate homage, it’s just going to be bad writing. Cut your combat dialog down as hard as you can. It needs to be information that really cannot wait, or at least that the characters think can’t wait.

I have a minor preference for hearing dialog over reading it. Which means when it comes to dialog sampling, I put a slight priority on watching TV series with good writers over extensive reading, but, I also go read some of what they’ve written, and this isn’t a free pass to just binge watch whatever you want and say, “no really, I’m learning to write.”

Don’t try to copy another writer’s dialog style. You’re not Joss Whedon, and actually nailing the idiosyncrasies of his dialog takes a lot of work. It’s not that you’ll never be able to mimic another writer’s dialog patterns, but it’s a really bad way to start because he’s breaking rules you shouldn’t. Also, I’m singling out Whedon because I see so many writers (both amateur and professional) try to ape him, usually with disastrous results.

Whedon’s schtick is the way he mutilates the English language. It’s part, “in ways science never thought possible,” part teenager with an undefined attention deficit disorder (I’m not throwing this out there as a pejorative, his work reads like of someone trying to sound like they have an amalgamation of ADD and ADHD). Obviously, it works for him, but he’s walking a very fine line between sharp dialog and sounding like grammar is a thing that happens to other people.

Obviously, I’m not just talking about Whedon, though. Chances are, wherever you’re going to look at good dialog, you’re going to see a writer that habitually breaks the rules. Be that something like Aaron Sorkin’s obsession with context misalignment and high tempo conversations that run headlong into walls, or Straczynski’s habit of dumping entire pages of exposition into his dialog.

Look at them, study what they do, but don’t try to copy their styles.

Collect and study idioms. This is one of the things to do when you’re listing to other people talk, or reading other writer’s work. Just keep a mental list of idioms. Make sure you know what it means, and where it’s used. No, it wouldn’t make sense for your SoCal teen to say, “that dog don’t hunt no more.”

Also, remember that idioms are language specific, and are consistently one of the hardest things for a non-native speaker to pick up. So, non-fluent character probably shouldn’t be breaking out complex idiomatic phrases.

The reason is fairly simple: while idioms might follow normal grammatical rules, the meaning is, completely, arbitrary. “That dog don’t hunt no more,” has nothing to do with hunting or dogs. “Butter them up” has… well, none of those words actually mean anything. And of course, your reflexes are too good for metaphors to go “over your head…” …or something.

The insidious thing about idioms is, you already have a huge library of them. They’re a byproduct of how we use language on a day to day basis. What you need to do is step back, filter them out, and make sure they’re appropriate for your character, especially when your character comes from a vastly different background. Then, listen for ones that you don’t know.

Also, please resist the urge to re-purpose an existing idiom into your non-modern setting. “Like a cop eating doughnuts” getting adapted into your high fantasy story is like what Garfield strips are to comedy. Just, don’t do it.

On a related note: keep track of dialect changes. America doesn’t have a completely unified dialect. Cambridge was doing studies and surveys on the subject a couple years ago, though most of the easily accessible information now is just raw data. This isn’t huge stuff, but just word choice between things like “soda” and “pop” will change depending on where in the country you, or your characters, were raised. This is easily one of the hardest things to get right because of how subtle it is.

Keep track of verbal crutches and tics. Using words like “like,” “literally,” or “actually,” as flavoring particles. It’s something a lot of real people do, but be careful to moderate your characters, so they don’t use them too much, and so their verbal tics don’t match your own.

Just because you know what your character is trying to say doesn’t mean your other characters will. I mentioned context misalignment with Sorkin, earlier, because it’s something he uses for laughs. But, your characters are separate individuals, while dialog is about them interacting, it doesn’t mean they’re approaching the world with the same perspective, even if they think they’re agreeing with one another.

Actually, while we’re on this subject, remember your characters are separate people, with different interests, motivations, and backgrounds. It may seem unrelated, but it is important to keep your individual characters in mind when writing their dialog.

Do not try to be “enigmatic” with your dialog. Dialog is there to convey information to the reader. Conveying information between characters is a happy accident that happens along the way. Having someone trying to be deliberately enigmatic without a very solid character justification is just asking for messy, obnoxious dialog.

Also, note that pissing characters off with enigmatic dialog can be conveying information to the reader, it’s just not what the person is saying that matters. Just, be very careful with it.

If your characters need to use some kind of verbal code, make sure you translate that for the reader.

Don’t break the fourth wall in dialog. It’s fragile enough, it doesn’t need you taking a sarcastic claw hammer to it.

That should give you some things to start with.

-Starke

430,344 notes

disneysmermaids:

cherribalm:

site that you can type in the definition of a word and get the word

site for when you can only remember part of a word/its definition 

site that gives you words that rhyme with a word

site that gives you synonyms and antonyms

THAT FIRST SITE IS EVERY WRITER’S DREAM DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY TIMES I’VE TRIED WRITING SOMETHING AND THOUGHT GOD DAMN IS THERE A SPECIFIC WORD FOR WHAT I’M USING TWO SENTENCES TO DESCRIBE AND JUST GETTING A BUNCH OF SHIT GOOGLE RESULTS

(via sammy-has-demonpox)

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thewritingcafe:

A lot of people are trying to write more diverse worlds, but a lot of people are also perfectionists who need to know every detail and reason in their world. Here are some ways and explanations for creating a diverse world. This is geared toward pre-industrial and early industrial societies.
Trade: Trade can do wonders. Trade is how your characters get rare fabrics, different foods, knowledge of other cultures, knowledge of other languages, cultural diffusion, and more. Trade can occur over land or over water. You can get characters to travel halfway around the world. You can have trade posts near major cities. Groups of traders who travel over land can go through cities, towns, and tiny villages. Entire cultures can be centered around trade and they can have influence on many parts of your world.
Exile: This can make for some interesting stories for characters. Using exile can put entire families or even whole groups of people (ethnic groups, religious groups, a village, etc.) in faraway lands where they’ll probably stay for a long time. Means of exile can vary. They might have been banished from their land or a natural disaster could have forced them to move.
Hiding: Like exile, you can uproot characters and place them in another place while also coming up with an interesting back story for why they are hiding. This can also reveal a bit about your world. If there are several people in hiding from one particular place, what does that say about the relationship between these two places or these places themselves (i.e., corruptness, law, freedom, etc.)?
Politics: Political rulers are not confined to their homes. They can travel to other nations for political or personal reasons. They might need to discuss political matters with another ruler or they might be guests at a party. There are also political marriages or children of political leaders who live elsewhere as a ward.
War: War, past or present, can bring people to your setting. Some people might be refugees, some might be descendants of prisoners of war, and some might be allies. Or, a past war could have acquired more land and the people who were there, making them citizens of the new nation post-war (depending on the rules of citizenship). Whether they’re citizens or not, they’re still in the same nation and it’s likely some will travel to major cities or elsewhere within the nation’s borders. There can also be forts and camps for a military of another nation.
Education: Does your setting have some type of prestigious school? If schools are few, ones like these can attract the rich, powerful, and/or connected from several surrounding areas. Even if there are several schools a prestigious one can still attract many people.
Religion: Some religions have a goal of spreading their beliefs, so you can bring that into your world. Other times, if there is something of religious significance in your setting, religious people may travel there on a regular basis. Those who spread religion might travel on similar routes of traders (or they might be the traders) to talk about their religion. Or there might be places where religious leaders gather and live.
Exploration: You can get some explorers, or even just wandering travelers, to go to faraway places in search of resources, people, enlightenment, religion, important objects, and more. Another option would be researchers.
Festivals and Ceremonies: These can be tied to religion, history, politics, and many other things. Large celebrations can bring tons of people to one place, whether it’s in a city or not. If you’ve got something like this in your story, take advantage of it to introduce new people and cultures.

thewritingcafe:

A lot of people are trying to write more diverse worlds, but a lot of people are also perfectionists who need to know every detail and reason in their world. Here are some ways and explanations for creating a diverse world. This is geared toward pre-industrial and early industrial societies.

Trade: Trade can do wonders. Trade is how your characters get rare fabrics, different foods, knowledge of other cultures, knowledge of other languages, cultural diffusion, and more. Trade can occur over land or over water. You can get characters to travel halfway around the world. You can have trade posts near major cities. Groups of traders who travel over land can go through cities, towns, and tiny villages. Entire cultures can be centered around trade and they can have influence on many parts of your world.

Exile: This can make for some interesting stories for characters. Using exile can put entire families or even whole groups of people (ethnic groups, religious groups, a village, etc.) in faraway lands where they’ll probably stay for a long time. Means of exile can vary. They might have been banished from their land or a natural disaster could have forced them to move.

Hiding: Like exile, you can uproot characters and place them in another place while also coming up with an interesting back story for why they are hiding. This can also reveal a bit about your world. If there are several people in hiding from one particular place, what does that say about the relationship between these two places or these places themselves (i.e., corruptness, law, freedom, etc.)?

Politics: Political rulers are not confined to their homes. They can travel to other nations for political or personal reasons. They might need to discuss political matters with another ruler or they might be guests at a party. There are also political marriages or children of political leaders who live elsewhere as a ward.

War: War, past or present, can bring people to your setting. Some people might be refugees, some might be descendants of prisoners of war, and some might be allies. Or, a past war could have acquired more land and the people who were there, making them citizens of the new nation post-war (depending on the rules of citizenship). Whether they’re citizens or not, they’re still in the same nation and it’s likely some will travel to major cities or elsewhere within the nation’s borders. There can also be forts and camps for a military of another nation.

Education: Does your setting have some type of prestigious school? If schools are few, ones like these can attract the rich, powerful, and/or connected from several surrounding areas. Even if there are several schools a prestigious one can still attract many people.

Religion: Some religions have a goal of spreading their beliefs, so you can bring that into your world. Other times, if there is something of religious significance in your setting, religious people may travel there on a regular basis. Those who spread religion might travel on similar routes of traders (or they might be the traders) to talk about their religion. Or there might be places where religious leaders gather and live.

Exploration: You can get some explorers, or even just wandering travelers, to go to faraway places in search of resources, people, enlightenment, religion, important objects, and more. Another option would be researchers.

Festivals and Ceremonies: These can be tied to religion, history, politics, and many other things. Large celebrations can bring tons of people to one place, whether it’s in a city or not. If you’ve got something like this in your story, take advantage of it to introduce new people and cultures.

(via fixyourwritinghabits)

75,218 notes

clevergirlhelps:

Biology
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clevergirlhelps:

Biology

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(via gillasue345)

632 notes

Character Development: Separating Characters from Yourself and Other Characters

writing-questions-answered:

Anonymous asked: I have difficulty ‘connecting’ with my characters. Often I find them seem like me, and I can’t tell if it’s because it’s part of them, or part of me. I have difficulty thinking about writing characters far from me, and I really don’t know what to do. They could just be them, or they could be me. (It might also be a problem that I believe I have a sort of mild mpd, just bc I have strong mood or personality switches, so I can constantly react to things very differently.) so then I don’t know if it’s them or me even more) I know this is straying very close to something you wouldn’t answer, but I just need help knowing my characters easily and knowing the distinct differences between them and I. I’m sorry, I know this is difficult, it sounds difficult to me. But if you can’t answer it or have no idea what I’m saying/don’t understand, could you publish it anyway? See if anyone else gets it? Thank you so much, I just need help with my characters



You could try doing a comparison chart to show all the differences between you and each character. A basic one might look like this:
image

You could add a column at the beginning for listing particular traits (hair color, eye color, likes, dislikes, mood, personality, hopes, fears, etc.), or you can just list everything that is unique to yourself or to a particular character. If you see a lot of similarities, you can augment as needed to keep everyone relatively different. A few similarities are okay, however, and each character will probably have a few things in common with you, as well, which is totally normal. :)

(via referenceforwriters)