What We Can Learn: People

Hey guys!

This post was inspired by an Instagram account I follow called Humans of New York (username: humansofny). I think they have a Facebook too. Anyway, the account owner goes around New York (and some other places too) and talks to people about various things (aspects of their lives, etc.). Then he posts a picture of them and captions it with part of their conversation. Their bio is “New York City, one story at a time.” I think this is so cool! Because who are we writing about anyway? People! And it’s so cool to see diverse people with their diverse stories.

Here’s an example: “My father came from Nicaragua and got a job as a construction worker. My mother immigrated from Puerto Rico and got a job as a cleaning woman. One day he was working high up on some scaffolding at an office building, and he saw her cleaning inside, so he knocked on the window. And here I am.”

I mean how cool and sweet is that?! Real life people can be story opportunities waiting to happen.

(Quick note: This account is super cool, but I can’t guarantee it’s always appropriate/happy. Not everybody has cute stories like this one, and some people’s struggles and experiences are pretty rough. There’s the occasional curse word too. Just saying so y’all know what to expect if you check it out )

Also: talk to people. Watch them. Listen to how they speak. What phrases do they use often? Do they pronounce certain things differently? What about using different words for common things? My classmates were talking to my math teacher about this once. She’s originally from another state, and we were talking about how there, people have different words for things (buggy vs. shopping cart, etc.). Things like that would be really fun to include in a character’s dialogue!

Talk to older relatives or friends. Ask about their childhood. Ask about your family history. My dad has been researching our family tree lately, and he found an old church record (in Latin!) that has one of my distant relatives’ baptism recorded on it. He also found the house where that relative grew up (we think). It’s pretty cool, to see the early parts of your family’s story. Let these things inspire you.

Have you ever been inspired by someone from real life?

Top Ten Tuesday: Goals and Resolutions for 2015

I am so excited to be linking up with The Broke and the Bookish (www.brokeandbookish.com) for the meme Top Ten Tuesdays! I’ve been wanting to do this meme for a while, and now is the perfect time, after I merged my two blogs. I love lists and everything bookish, so this is perfect meme for me. This week’s Top Ten is Goals and Resolutions for 2015.

The last year I made resolutions was when I was eleven. I resolved that I wouldn’t turn into a teenager (metaphorically speaking). Yeah… Here I am a few years later and I have the personality of a teenager. Also I resolved to finish my fantasy novel, which I gave up a month later So my background for goals isn’t very… solid. But this year is the year I will conquer my laziness when it comes to goals.

1. I’ll get up at 6:20 every morning and read or write.


I’m not really a morning person, but I’ll try to force my eyelids open long enough to get up and moving. The rest of my day is usually so hectic, so I need at least half and hour in the morning to get some of my reading and writing to-dos out of the way.

2. I’ll finish at least three novels this year.
I have a few novels in mind for this coming year. I’m finishing my dystopian, then I’m in the researching stage for my historical fiction novel, and in line after that is a steampunk novel. After that, who knows.

3. I’ll write at least five times a week, at least three hundred words a day.
Three hundred is a random number, but it’s right smack in the middle of how low I would actually go a day (100), and my target goal (500).

4. I’ll keep track of all the books I read.
I really want to know what books I read and what I think of them, so starting January first, I’ll be keeping track, adding a little summary and rating for each one.

5. I’ll read at least 100 new books this year. (With my cats’ help.)

And I can’t think of any others. But five is good right?
So what goals/resolutions do you have for 2015?
Elizabeth
(Coming up tomorrow: What We Can Learn: People by Katie.)

Intro To Historical Fiction

I am writing a new historical fiction novel! Well, I’m researching while I finish up my NaNoNovel, so things around here might be a little more historical fiction centric. But don’t worry, I’ll have plenty of other posts about other topics. Today is mostly an overview of what historical fiction is, and I’ll explain it in simple, easy to understand points. (Sarcasm may or may not be included.)
Okay. So what makes historical fiction?
1. It takes place in our world’s history.
Okay, so that one’s kind of a given. Historical fiction can start way back at ancient Egypt, or even take place in the 1990s.
2. It can include real historical characters like, say Hitler.

When you add historical characters, it adds a layer of believability to the story, and maybe even shows a new side to that character.
3. Or it’s all completely fictional characters going about their marry way in the world.
Those are usually either mysteries or romances, but can just be characters struggling to survive against any backdrop you give them.
If you want to change events in history, I believe that is called speculative fiction. (I want to try that sometime.)
That’s all for today, come back tomorrow for my Top Ten Resolutions/Goals for 2015. Also, I’m wondering: What do you think about historical fiction? How much historical fiction do you read?
Elizabeth

New Blog Schedule

So naturally, since I’m merging my blogs, I need a different schedule. Here’s what it’ll look like:

Monday: A writing post
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesdays
Wednesday: Katie’s turn
Thursday: Book Review
Friday: Random

And here’s what this next week will look like:

Monday: An Intro to Historical Fiction
Tuesday: Top Ten 2015 Goals/Resolutions
Wednesday: What We Can Learn: People
Thursday: Book Review: The Book Thief (Oh my gosh! This book is AMAZING!)
Friday: Self Published Book Review: The Search for Bi Delan

So yeah, that’s what’s coming up. I hope you all are as excited as I am! Please comment below about what other posts you would like to see on this blog.
Oh, and in other news, I just signed up for Bloglovin. Here’s the link: https://www.bloglovin.com/blog/13366659
Elizabeth

A Huge Announcment

Follow my blog with Bloglovin
Drum roll please! I’m merging my two sites, http://www.lovingthewrittenword.wordpress.com  and http://www.walkingthewrittenpath.wordpress.com, but still just calling it Walking the Written Path and keeping this address! Exciting! So obviously stuff is gonna change, I’m probably going to do a few memes, and I’m going to start using GIFs! *cues the applause* Yes, I’m just starting. Oh, if anybody has any advice on where to find good GIFs, I would really appreciate it. Katie will still just be doing her Wednesday post, but she might do things other than just writing, it’s up to her. And I’ll be doing writing stuff, book reviews, and random bookish stuff! I’m really excited. So yeah. I’ll be posting a feedback form thing for what you think my new(ish) site should be like tomorrow. For now I’m changing the theme, but I’ll have you all vote on that too. So that’s it for now, come back tomorrow for my feedback form and new blog schedule, and please let me know if and tell me where I can get good GIFs. Elizabeth

What We Can Learn: Classics

Hey everyone! Today we’re talking about classics (be prepared for a small rant).

So I go to a classical school, which means, obviously, that we read a lot of classic books. I know that classics are not always everyone’s favorite books. They can be quite wordy, full of telling instead of showing, confusing, etc. Full of today’s “writing faux pas,” so to speak. So why are they considered classics? Why do we still read them today? Why are we subjected to them in school?

There are likely more reasons than just this. But in my opinion, it is because they display human nature in an intense form. They contain emotion, and even today, we can connect with them. Or in Italo Calvino’s opinion, “A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.” I think that is so true. So let’s look at a couple classics.

1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Suffering. Injustice. Revolt. Resurrection. Guilt. Sacrificial Love. I hope that these simple words have made you think of specific people or feelings. These are big, broad topics, so even though A Tale of Two Cities was set around the time of the French revolution, they are still relevant today. We still see suffering and injustice. We still sacrifice for those that we love. Combined with sympathetic, memorable characters, they make for an amazing, classic story.

2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Corruption. Brainwashing Media. Destruction. Again, broad subjects. This story is about a society entirely brainwashed by media and obsessed with pleasure, where books are illegal. And though today books are, of course, legal, this story still conveys relevant elements of human nature. The love of anything pleasurable and the allure of technology. The tendency to crave the things that are taken away. Out of context, they don’t mean nearly as much. But applied to characters, you get a realistic, emotional sample of human nature.

There are many more examples, of course. To Kill a Mockingbird, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Lord of the Rings just to name a few. So what can we writers learn from such stories?

1. Try using big ideas/themes/feelings. Think of some of the ones I mentioned above. Try to find something that fires you up, that evokes emotion in you. These are things that resonate within people. Things that we can identify with. I’m not saying to turn your story into a huge allegory or anything. But your characters are human, and they experience big human emotions (guilt, righteous anger, strong love, etc.).

2. Use these subjects and emotions alongside strong characters. Innocence, for example, is just an abstract term. But pair the quality of innocence with a character who embodies it, and you have something tangible, sympathetic, and emotional, like the character Scout in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Or take righteous anger and give a character that trait. Show us a real person who has that emotion.

3. Apply conflict. In the example of Scout, her innocence doesn’t mean a lot if there is no conflict or tension. Threaten her innocence, and you have emotion. Or show us the character with righteous anger. Let us see her in tears over the oppressed people she longs to help but, for whatever reason, can’t. Use the story events and characters to display the big ideas.

So those are some of my ideas when it comes to classics. Emotion is a common factor here, I feel like. Emotion is so big to me in stories (I have cried over To Kill a Mockingbird, The Lord of the Rings, and Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities). To be honest, I love stories that make me feel to that degree.

How do you all feel about classics? Anyone care to flail/cry with me over Sydney Carton and/or other characters and books L?
Katie

Yay! Another random writing post! I’ll be writing these every other Monday, alternating with the Path to Publication. Today I’m talking about writing playlists.
My current writing playlist for The Last Villain is:
Let Her Go by Passenger
Pompeii by Bastille
Lights by Ellie Goulding
Write Your Story by Francesca Battistelli
I See Fire by Ed Sheeran
Unconditionally by Katie Perry
Fix My Eyes by For King and Country
Live With Abandon by Newsboys
Roar by Katie Perry
Safe and Sound by Taylor Swift
So there it is! I have a diverse taste in music, as you can tell. In my last novel’s playlist, which was a middle grade contemporary I had a lot of Frozen songs and scores.
So what music should you write to? Do you like complete silence or could you listen to heavy metal for hours? I prefer to listen to upbeat songs that have a faster tempo. When I really want to get into a scene I’m writing, I turn to my trusty soundtracks. (I still have it on my to-do list to get the soundtrack to Maleficent.) Bottom line: you can listen to whatever you like and works for you.
That’s all for today! Comment below on your writing playlist and come back Wednesday for Katie’s fabulous post.
Elizabeth

What We Can Learn: Movies

Hi guys! Sorry I missed last week. Today, I’ll be starting a series called What We Can Learn. This will focus on what we as writers can get out of other people’s work. Today we’ll be looking at the value of movies.

1. Description and Language. Okay, I hope I’m not the only one who sort of “narrates” movies in my head as they play on the screen. You know, think things like “so-and-so collapsed on the stone floor and so-and-so threw herself down beside him,” etc. If you start thinking like this during movies, you’ll realize that there is SO much you can say, so many rich images, so many “cool” ways you can put what you’re seeing into words. It’s interesting how sometimes, the camera focuses on the smallest details, things that we maybe wouldn’t think to add to our descriptions. Use movies to help you describe images and action, to help hone your language skills. Watch a clip, and then pause it and try to describe what you just saw in words, being as precise and detailed as possible. Movies can also be helpful for describing certain things we likely wouldn’t see in real life, like explosions, wounds, certain types of terrain, etc.

2. Scenes. The next time you watch a movie, pay attention to the different scenes. Where they start, where they end, how they’re laid out in relation to each other. A technique I’ve heard of is to bring the reader into the scene late and take them out early (thank you goteenwriters.com). Pay attention to this in movies.
​Another thing movies can show us is which scenes are necessary to the story and which are not. Watch a movie that has deleted scenes included on the disk. Try to decide why the scene was deleted. Do you think it should have been left in? Did the plot or characters suffer because it was deleted, or were they better off for it? A good example is the deleted scene on the disk of Captain America: The Winter Soldier (I’m sort of a Marvel geek if you couldn’t tell). I won’t give spoilers, but to me, the deleted scene was deleted for a good reason. It was just another, very fleeting burst of action that didn’t need to be there. Nothing overly vital came out of it, and the action moved on without it just fine. See what you can learn from various movies’ deleted scenes.

Well, that’s all for today! What other aspects of movies could help us as writers?

~Katie

The Path To Publication Step Seven: When and Where to Write

Hey guys! It’s Elizabeth. NaNoWriMo is officially over! I still can’t believe it. It still feels like the beginning of November. But that’s how these things go, I guess. I’m sorry I didn’t write as much as I hoped, but I got a solid ten thousand words in, and that’s a good start. I hope to get my novel done by the end of the year. But to do that, I need to restart my scheduled writing time, which is actually the subject of this post.
So if you all are new, I’ll quickly review what the Path to Publication is. The Path to Publication, is a series of articles taking you through the steps of writing and publishing a novel. So far I have gone through six steps: deciding if your story idea is right for you, making a writing plan, pre-outlining, using plot points, outlining, and some of the things you need to do before starting your first draft.
Today, the topic is: Figuring out when to write.
Where To Write
I have already written a short article on this:
It’s time to find your writer’s space. This space can be in any spot that you want. Where do you like to write? The answer will not be the same for everyone.
I, for instance, like to write at desks, preferably in my bedroom. I started at a small, pale, wooden desk meant for a much smaller child. My legs were pressed up against the top, and it sometimes left marks, but it was worth the words pouring out from my fingertips. Later I got what I work at now, a huge L shaped desk made out of dark wood. It has many bookshelves, where I store all of my books on writing, notebooks, and library books I need to return. I also hang posters on it, and store little mementos around me for inspiration. I also have a vanilla air-freshener. Whenever I open it up, the scent of vanilla floods out, and inspires me to write. This scent gets me in a writing mood, since I only use it when I write.
I say all this to give you ideas, none of which you have to use. Maybe you don’t like to write at a desk, but at a coffee shop, or on your bed, or in a tree, or on your living room couch. That is awesome! Do what works best for you.
If you don’t know what works best for you, experiment. Try your couch one day, and your kitchen table the next. You never know what place will inspire creativity, and aid your writing.
And remember, you might need a change of scenery now and again. For instance, I wrote most of my novel at my desk, but finished it on my bed. I desperately needed a change of scenery, and it worked! Soon, while I plot my next novel, I’m going to try writing at my library in the newly remodeled teen section. Who knows, maybe it will be just the thing to get this new novel jump started!
What Time Of Day To Write
This, again, is different for everyone. It depends on a lot of things, including your circumstances, and what time of day you are most productive.
I like to write early morning, just before noon, or at night. In the summer I wrote just before noon and at night, but when school rolled around, I couldn’t do that anymore. I had to discipline myself to wake up earlier.
That’s all for today! If you have any more questions, please comment below. And come back on Wednesday for the first post in Katie’s new series.
Elizabeth