I am a writer. Alright, you already know that. Or you should if you read my blog.
The other night I was talking to my friend Kyle about my story. You know the one I always talk about that I haven’t really written anything except like three pages that I haven’t visited in like 4 months, but hey, it’s a start. Back to the point, after talking to Kyle, I realized what really helps me write is: a sounding board.
Alana, my BFF, and I soundboard off each other A LOT. It helps to have someone to talk too. It might sound right or great in your head but then you spew out the word salad, and it sounds like shit.
That’s when your soundboard person – let’s call them the SBP – starts asking questions. The questions help me out a lot. Sometimes I have this grandiose idea but here’s the thing, I can’t always figure out how the hell to get it on paper. How do I explain it? Yes, I can see it clear as day. It is RIGHT THERE. Seriously, it is, but then I try to write or try to explain to my SBP and it just…
Thank you, Sheldon, for the lovely explanation. It’s like that. I know exactly what I want to happen but getting it on paper is the hard part. I write, and I write, and I write, but it still comes out not how I want.
All these ideas run through my head. Like this: Oh, I can do this. No. This. Wait, no again. That makes no sense. How is that going to work? What if this happens? Crap. That can’t happen because of this. It’s crazy. I need a file folder for my brain. I have SO MANY IDEAS, and that’s my problem. Having an SBP helps to have someone be the “reader” and tell you what you need/should do. Alana does this all the time, and it’s so helpful. Like I said, I have so many ideas, and she’s the one makes me take a step back and see if [insert idea 1] meshes with [insert idea 2] or does it seem too cluttered? I have the tendency of wanting to throw everything and the kitchen sink into a story. Alana helps me by saying, “Yeah, no, Keely. That’s too much. You’re overwhelming the story and veering off your ultimate goal.”
Being someone’s SBP helps to think like a reader. Your narrator isn’t going to know everything that you, as the author, is going to know. The narrator is not omniscient, and if they are, honestly those kind of narrators are a bit boring. (Unless they are omniscient yet no matter what they do they can’t change what happens. Now that would be interesting.) As a writer, I think you need an SBP, even if that person isn’t a writer. It will definitely help. A lot.
Now that I am back on the writing bandwagon, I’ve noticed a few things.
- Does everyone really roll their eyes that much? Do they really shake their head or shrug their shoulders that often? Is that realistic? Honestly, I don’t think so. I haven’t seen someone roll their eyes/shake their head/shrug their shoulders nearly as often as it is written.
- In the first-person point of view, writing “I blushed,” really makes no sense. How does the narrator know they are blushing? So instead of that people write, “I felt my face heat up.” How does someone ‘feel’ their face heat up? Would it be better to explain their embarrassment rather than just say they were blushing?
- The said debate. I’ve heard it both ways. I’ve heard YES YOU MUST USE SAID AND ONLY SAID UNLESS IT’S A QUESTION THEN ASK/ASKED. Then I’ve heard NO YOU MUST NEVER USE SAID. YOU MUST USE EXCLAIMED AND ALL THOSE FANCY WORDS. Well…this doesn’t help me. Which do I do? Personally, I kind of do both. It depends on the situation, and what I’m writing.
- Dialogue is a pain in the ass. It is the bane of my existence. I’ve gotten better, but I still hate it. I can write an introduction, no probs. I can do action scenes, love scenes, etc., but dialogue? It’s fucking hard. And yes the foul language was necessary. Trying to write dialogue is hard. Here are a few of my tips to dialogue:
- Don’t be a talking head. Don’t do “She said,” “he said,” etc. Give some details. What is the character doing while they talk? Are they still? Do they fidget a lot? Something. Even if it’s something simple, it’ll help make it flow better.
- Read your dialogue out loud. Sometimes you write something that to you, sounds good on paper, but then you read it and realize that it’s crap. People don’t talk all perfect all the time. They stutter. They get distracted and lose their train of thought. They use the wrong word. They say um, er, and uh. Use that.
- Everyone has their own vernacular. Everyone. To help make your characters more distinctive, figure out how they talk. Do they use contractions? Do they have an educated vocabulary? Do they swear? Do they have an accent? Give each of your characters a distinctive voice.
- Figure out what said rule you want to use. If you like using said, go for it. Use said and ask, and very rarely any other words like exclaimed, demanded, etc. If you hate the word said and want to use it sparingly, excellent. Just chose your dialogue word very very carefully. ‘ “She didn’t,” ejaculated Tom ‘ is an example of NOT good word choice.
- Active vs. passive voice. I am terrible at this. I can’t ever tell if I’m writing in passive voice. This is why I use Grammarly. It helps me find where I used passive voice instead of active. It’s beneficial. I’ve noticed that I have gotten better at using only active as well.
- Just. So. Actually. Really. I used these words A LOT. What did I do? I went through a document, found all these words and deleted them. It made my writing more concise and less sloppy.
- Try something new. If you always write in first person POV, try third person POV. That’s what I did. I write everything in the first person, but with my Harry Potter fanfiction, it made more sense for it to be in the third person. Thus, that’s what I did. It’s a different and new experience, but I found that I like writing in the third person.
- Scrap the grammar. Look, your first draft is not going to be perfect. I used to be the person who would pause on the beginning sentence if the grammar was wrong. I don’t do that anymore. Ignore the grammar and the spelling and the typos. Ignore all that. Simply write. You’ll find it frees you. What I do is write until I can’t anymore, and then when I hit that writer’s block, I go over what I wrote. Not only do I fix the mistakes but rereading the piece helps me figure out what should happen next.
- Find your own style. Every writer has their own style. I know I do. When I write in first person POV, the narrator is usually sarcastic and think-swears a lot. I’m still figuring out third person POV but I did notice that I don’t like describing things if it’s not important. Who cares about a bag if it’s not important? Stuff like that. Find your own style.
- And last, but certainly not least, WRITE.
Unrelated note: I found a picture of the canary I drew for my grandpa. Here it is! I’m thinking about doing another bird in the same style. What kind of bird should I do?