Beating the Block
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Please read this list slowly and carefully, considering not only the individual prompt but ways to bend it. You'll get much more out of it. (Thinking about specific characters and/or listening to your book's theme music while you read may help.)
This list is designed mainly to give ideas for characterization-related scenes. If your issue is more along the lines of "I don't know where I'm going," then this may not be as helpful. While you can read this anyway, meditation and logic are usually the things that work best.
If this gives you an idea, write it down! It's a long list, so you don't want to risk forgetting anything.
Not all of these thoughts and ideas will apply to your story, but perhaps one can give you an idea! I encourage you to modify the ideas below to better fit your characters' unique situation. This is just meant to get the ideas flowing. Let's get started!
Two characters are stuck under a br
Planning the Evil PlotPlanning the Evil Plot3 years ago in Writing More Like This
A half-guide, half-narrative on writing a story
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Before I start writing, I like to have some idea of where I'm starting, where I'm going, and how I'm going to end up there. Let's say that I want to write a comedy about an author who suddenly changes places with her Mary Sue. I usually jot down some basic ideas:
Sarah, the author: ~13 years old, average-looking, glasses, rather tall and gangly
Ellemere, the Mary Sue: ~16 years old, long flowing hair, violet eyes, etc.
Forrest (Ellemere's love interest) : ~18, stereotypical pretty boy who is too dark and broody to make a good love interest
Leon: ~17, Ellemere's somewhat dorky friend who falls in love with her but is cast off to side in favor of Forrest
Tangent: For those of you who are confused, the ~ symbol means "about." I think it comes from math.
I like to draw, so I'd probably make doodles of these characters too. Drawing characters is a great way to develop th
I Dub Thee...I Dub Thee...3 years ago in Writing More Like This
On the psychology and choosing of names
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Many authors struggle with names. After coming up with a character who perfectly fits his or her intended role, planning personality traits, clothing, hobbies, and physical descriptions, now you have to sum all of that character's being up in a name!
There is an incredible number of ways to choose a name. Often authors are baffled by the vast array of first names and surnames that could be given to a character, and it's almost impossible to start. Whether you're hoping for a name that could belong to any girl on a street or a fantasy warrior from planet Xyla, there are infinite ways of choosing a name.
The best way to find ordinary names is a list. Sometimes one might choose a name that actually means something, while other times one might hope for an ordinary name with little more meaning than "her mom liked it."
Knock Yourself OutKnock Yourself Out4 years ago in Writing More Like This
How to Write a [Near]-Fainting Experience
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You've probably all read books or seen movies in which a character passes out. The heroine might swoon gracefully and collapse onto the floor or into the hero's arms. People rush to bring water, a doctor, or something to revive her. She then wakes up, rosy-cheeked and a bit distressed, and she fans herself for a while while insisting that she is fine.
Fainting in real life is not nearly so beautiful. Authors, especially ones with no experience, can sometimes fall for such idealized descriptions. I am (un)fortunate enough to have experience in this area, so I will share it here.
Quick Losses of Consciousness
Usually this involves an impact or a sudden pain. The character may have no idea what happened to him or her afterwards, and later results vary depending on the severity of any injuries sustained.
Real-life example: My mom used to work as a waitress during her teenage years, and Aunt Jennifer, her
I Have Writer's Block!Don't panic. Don't bang your head against the wall. (All you get is a headache... trust me on that.) Writer's block requires a thoughtful, logical approach, so hating yourself will go nowhere.I Have Writer's Block!4 years ago in Writing More Like This
The first thing we tend to do when we have writer's block is to leave the book. We close the file or notebook and say we'll get to it later. Well, sometimes that works, but sometimes we still haven't touched it a week later. Or a month later. At that point things get a little worrisome. That's why I've compiled this list.
1. Try taking a walk or bike ride. Sometimes you just need the time to yourself. I know you've probably heard this before, but that's because it works. Let your mind drift to your characters, and an idea may arrive.
2. Think about your book before you go to sleep. Sometimes you dream about it, which can provide ideas. Sometimes you figure out the answer to your writer's block before you fall asleep. (If you're like me, you'll grab the nearest Post-it, scribble down your ideas, a
Nobody Loves My Character!Nobody Loves My Character!3 years ago in Writing More Like This
On making characters lovable, in your story and online
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Disclaimer: This is a troubleshooting guide, and it doesn't necessarily cover every possible solution. It's based on my own experience, and not every idea may fit every character or work. Please use your common sense and personal taste when applying this information. Thanks for reading!
It's every writer's nightmare: your characters, after all the things you've put them through and all the months or years they've inhabited your head, have been eagerly displayed to the public and received an unenthusiastic response. Your audience has not been enchanted. They do not drool, fall hopelessly in love, or draw fan art in droves. They don't even pick favorite characters or whine for more information! You've failed. Nobody understands your characters. Nobody understands you.
...Wait a second. Try again?
Deviants who regularly post OC stories and art are lucky: their relationship with their audien
Creating a New WorldCreating a New World4 years ago in Writing More Like This
Please copy and paste this into a Word document or deviation. Then highlight the information after the colons and type over it.
Time/Era: Exact year or approximate time
Name of Country: For fun, you could alter the name of an old country to amuse more educated readers. For example, I altered the Assyrian Empire's name for a conquering people to evoke images of brutality and Mesopotamia.
Geography: Keep track of all the places you mention and their approximate locations. I find it handy to draw a rough map of the area.
Landscape: Trees, soil, water, buildings... Imagine you were flying over the place in an airplane. What would you see down below? (And no, you can't write "screaming people who have never seen airplanes before and think the apocalypse has come.")
Housing: How big are the houses that the people live in, and what are they made of? If they're members of a migrant tribe, what do they use for shelter, and how do they
Character QuestionnaireCharacter Questionnaire4 years ago in Writing More Like This
Convenient location for consolidating facts (986 mg)
Useful reminders (310 mg)
Advice (127 mg)
This is a questionnaire meant for recording important information in a convenient place to facilitate consistency.
Copy and paste text into a Sta.sh Writer, .txt, or Microsoft Word document. Highlight information after the colons and type over it. When writing, record facts about your character here to keep track of them.
The questionnaire is not a substitute for proper character development.
Do not use if you have not written any scenes with this character.
Stop and ask a doctor if you find yourself uncertain about what the answers to many of these questions are.
Keep out of reach of children. If swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away, and purchase a new computer.
Your OC's HairYour OC's Hair4 years ago in Writing More Like This
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You have the unique opportunity to see a Writer's Guide being drafted.
Some bug of a mysterious nature decided to delete the resource text last January or so and I think the text is gone for good, so I'm re-writing it. This notice will be taken down when this is no longer considered a draft. (Yes, I'm letting you read my draft. Now you have insights into my evil mind...)
*~*~*~The Actual Guide~*~*~*
Most girls are taught that there is a standard, all-encompassing way to take care of hair. You brush it every morning and don't pull the tangles too hard. When you wash it, you use a little bit of shampoo for the hair near your scalp, and a little bit of conditioner for the rest of it to minimize tangles. You should only blow-dry it, curl it, or straighten it on special occasions, because doing so damages your hair.
So we learn the rules and follow them, perhaps tweaking them here or there if necessary. It's just like Mom
Character Description FormCharacter Description Form3 years ago in Profiles More Like This
This form works for commissions, art trades, requests, or any possible situation in which I or someone else could be drawing your character.
This form will give me a sense of how to draw your character! Please copy and paste this text into a note or deviation. Highlight and type over the parts that aren't in bold. You can jump back to this form for the links.
Please share as much information as you can think of! The more info you give me, the more easily I can draw your character how you envision him/her. You won't be pestering me if you tell me the exact hair color; instead, I'll be happier to know that I'm getting it right.
Premium members (and non-premium members?) can add thumbnails to literature deviations through Sta.sh! This is a great way to incorporate reference pictures. Otherwise just put in links, such as
Art Block BanisherArt Block Banisher3 years ago in Other More Like This
Do you find yourself staring like a zombie at a blank piece of paper on your desk? Do you whip your pencil in a circle to draw a head, erase it, draw it again, and still find yourself dissatisfied and uninspired? Do you long to draw your characters in some crazy or adorable situation but lack the ability to come up with an idea?
Never fear! The Art Block Banisher is here!
This is a list of possible scenarios you can evilly dump your favorite characters into, whether they belong to you or someone else. So think about a few favorite characters, pull out a pencil and paper, and let's go!
Cooking Who can cook what, and how well? How many fire extinguishers will be necessary? Try drawing a full-out scene or just little doodles.
Age: What did your characters look like when they were little? How did/would they interact? What about when they're older? Try drawing them as grown-ups or (gasp) geezers. (Here's a great tutorial on faces at differen
Punctuating DialoguePunctuating Dialogue1 year ago in Writing More Like This
For non-native English speakers and young readers: If you hover over a blue word, you'll see its definition.
Punctuating dialogue can be surprisingly difficult, even for people whose first language is English. It's one of the things that you see all the time in books, but you pay little attention to, and all your English teachers assume that you already know it. Sure, if you read a lot, you pick up the basics, but even then it can be difficult to unconsciously absorb all the rules. (Until 2012, I was making heinous mistakes with commas vs. periods. I'm still weeding out errors from my novel.)
Anyhow, for the sake of my fellow spirits who bemoan the lack of proper dialogue education, I've researched the subject and compiled this little guide. I hope that it answers your questions, and that it isn't too dull.
Note: I use American English. Other English-speaking countries may have slightly different rules.
Anatomy of Dialogue
I'm going to be using these term
ExtrasuperfabulousExtrasuperfabulous3 years ago in Writing More Like This
(with a cherry on top!)
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This resource is outdated and has some sections that are poorly written. Several of the ideas are bad. I am working on revamping this to make it appropriate for all audiences and situations.
Here is a better guide.
When you have a story, there are characters that you like, characters that you love, and characters that you hate. Then there are those characters whom you adore. You think about them a lot. You know their personalities, zodiac sign, blood type, Myers-Briggs type, favorite foods, favorite outfits... you name it! You draw them in your sketchbooks and algebra notebooks. You imagine extra scenes from the character's childhood. You can't stop thinking about that special character!
Are you this obsessed with your characters? If you are, that's okay—I am too. However, if you have that much obsession concentrated on one particular charac
Paper VillainsPaper Villains3 years ago in Writing More Like This
On writing three-dimensional villains
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Disclaimer: (as experience suggests that I need one) This resource consists of opinions. There may be better ways to write, and my advice may not fit your type of story. Please use common sense when applying the ideas expressed below. Thanks for reading!
Do you remember the Big Bad Wolf? He destroyed the Three Little Pigs' houses and ate them (or only chased them, depending on the rendition). He ran to Little Red Riding Hood's home and devoured her grandmother. The Big Bad Wolf appears in countless fairy tales to eat and terrorize the general populace.
In many children's stories, the Big Bad Wolf is symbolic for the negative consequences that can follow bad choices. Two of the Three Little Pigs failed to work hard on their houses, allowing the wolf to blow them over with his tremendous breath. Littl
Exercise: Your Character's Distinct VoiceExercise: Your Character's Distinct Voice2 years ago in Writing More Like This
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The purpose of this exercise is to see how much you've differentiated each of your main characters' voices from each other.
How to Use
Pick a few major characters in your story. (I recommend using between 3 and 6.) For each of the numbered prompts below, choose what each character would say in that circumstance. You may want to write a few sentences of dialogue from that character or a quick internal monologue.
These lines are meant to generate short pieces of dialogue (about 1-5 sentences), as it's easiest to compare lines to each other that way. If you start writing long paragraphs or another character's reply to your character, then stop. Copy and paste the text. Then place it in a Sta.sh Writer or other document and continue the scene there. If you like it, post it (and credit me for the prompt, if you please!). When you finish that and return to this exercise, write about 1-5 sentences for that character and continue. L
OC Exercise: The Best Cure for Writers Block'Ello, Kitsune here. As many of you know, I'm currently working on a novel that is taking over my life. Recently, I've been having trouble keeping the personalities of my characters (who have changed a lot over the near eight years that I've been working on my novel) completely straight. I know my main character well enough, since the story follows her life closely, but sometimes I feel like I don't know everyone else in my world enough.OC Exercise: The Best Cure for Writers Block2 years ago in Writing More Like This
I'm sure you've all seen the character profiles before. (Name, age, height, physical description, likes, dislikes, etc.) I have filled out more of those than I care to admit, but they very seldom help. Therefore, I came up with this "OC Exercise" to help you get to know your characters better. The best part is, it will even get you some writing practice!
I highly suggest posting your finished products on deviantart and requesting a critique. This will not only help with your actual writing, but it mi
Finding MotivationFinding Motivation1 year ago in Writing More Like This
This article focuses on novels, but its advice can be applied to any long-term project.
Do you tell yourself that you're going to write and never do it? Do you keep talking about your book but leave it sitting at chapter 2 for five months straight? Is it difficult for you to sit down and actually write something?
Most people don't write because there are so many easier ways to spend their time. Their favorite show is on at eight. Oh, look, their friend just posted a bunch of photos online. Then they feel like baking cookies. And suddenly, a day that was supposed to be productive has been spent on TV, the internet, and food.
When I tell adults that I want to be a writer, around ten percent of them say, "Oh, I've always wanted to be a writer, too, but I simply haven't found the time to write that novel." And chances are, they haven't even drafted an outline. Why not? Something more pressing or interesting always seems to pop up.
Unless you make time for writing, you will be
Freewriting (+ Prompts)Freewriting (+ Prompts)9 months ago in Writing More Like This
You're staring at a blank page with no ideas about where to go or how you're going to get there. The image is so familiar, it's cliché. Yet no matter how many times we write about it, sing about it, or think we've gotten rid of it, we always end up returning to that sheet of paper as empty as our minds.
If you're mid-story and wondering where to go, this guide is unlikely to help you. You may want to try "Beating the Block," which lists a few scene ideas. If you're a visual artist and came here by mistake, try the "Art Block Banisher."
However, if you just want to put something—anything—on that piece of paper, this guide is for you.
What is freewriting?
Return to your blank page there. I don't mean mentally, I mean physically. Pull out a pencil or place your cursor at the beginning of the page. Then do something that may surprise you: start writing.
But you have no
The Art of VILLAINYThe Art of VILLAINY5 years ago in Writing More Like This
The Art of VILLAINY ~ Making Realistic Villains for your Fiction ~
"People will do far more to Avoid Pain than they will to Seek Pleasure."
-- CIA Profiler Gavin DeBecker on Human Nature
When I craft a villain, I go out of my way to make darned sure that my fictional villains are as realistic as the villains we face in real life. I begin by giving them ordinary human Issues.
Within every villain (fictional and non-fictional) there's a human issue at core that drives them to BE villains in the first place. Even mass murderers have reasons (however twisted) for doing what they do.
NO villainous action is RANDOM.
The victim may be randomly chosen, but the action -- no matter how twisted -- always has a reason behind it. That reason is ALWAYS driven by a very human issue triggered by an unfulfilled and essential human need.
Key Human Issues:
* Desire for Connection
The Wasteland AKA the MIDDLEThe Wasteland AKA the MIDDLE5 years ago in Writing More Like This
The Trackless Wasteland known as: The MIDDLE
The middle (of a story) KILLS me. I freeze when I have to decide which way things are going to go, and how, and that happens during the middle for me.
Middle, middle, middle... It's the Slough of Despond!
The Middle is where I usually fizzle out.
The middle is DANGEROUS territory.
Why? Because the Middle of a story is where you have a million-and-one options, a million-and-one directions to choose from, and a million-and-one ways to really show off your writing skills.
The Middle is also, where you have a million-and-one opportunities to really screw up your story for good. Opportunities that will send you spiraling into ever tightening circles that eventually jam you into a corner you can't get out of. In short: get you Lost in your own story.
You KNOW yo
The Necessity of Flaws in CharacterizationOkay. Close your eyes (well, maybe just one) and imagine your favorite fictional character. Are they strong? Compassionate and giving? Witty and clever? Wise and intelligent? No matter the make-up of their awesomeness, they probably bring a smile to your face and that warm, fuzzy feeling to your insides. You probably remember vividly their adventures and hijinks, their clever retorts, or how amazing they were at figuring out some wild and crazy puzzle. They probably inspired your own writing. You probably wanted to recreate that smile and fuzzy feeling with your own readers, so you made your version of the character (or took some of their traits) and integrated them into your prose.The Necessity of Flaws in Characterization2 years ago in Writing More Like This
This is all fine and dandy, especially considering there's nothing new under the sun, but there's a good chance you missed out on something really important. Let me explain.
It's great to have a badass character who kicks ass and takes name. But what makes them so badass? Is it that they can lift a Hummer w
Fishing for INSPIRATION?Fishing for INSPIRATION?5 years ago in Writing More Like This
Fishing for INSPIRATION?
Your imagination is a pond that you fish your ideas from. Like any fishing pond, what you catch depends on what you've stocked your pond with and how much you put in there. If you fish for only the occasional idea, your little ideas have time to breed creatively until they overflow the pond, leaping right out into your hand -- and onto your keyboard. If you fish a lot, you will have to restock -- Frequently.
A Dry Pond = Writer's Block
What's in YOUR Imagination?
What do you KNOW?
What do you love to Do, to Study, to Think About, to Talk About...? Make a list of all the things you know well and all the things you've done -- seriously! Mythology, history, any retail jobs you might have had -- anything you might have seen, done, or studied.
WHO do you KNOW?
Have you ever met...?
A real Criminal?
A real Hero?
A real Romantic?
The Cracks Begin to Show: Making Flawed CharactersThe Cracks Begin to Show: Making Flawed Characters2 years ago in Writing More Like This
First of all, I freely admit that what I say isn't gospel. I am a total amateur at art and writing. I've learned everything that I know via the internet and a few books. It's just that I appreciate all of the tutorials here on dA that have helped me out, and I want to put a little bit of my own methods back in.
I've run across an odd myth about fictional characters here on good ol' deviantART: If my character isn't a Mary Sue then I've definitely written a good character. Sadly, this is not so. A Mary Sue (see here for more) is just a specific kind of bad character. Not all bad characters are Mary Sues. It would be like saying that since the movie you made isn't Birdemic or The Room, it's a good movie. Erm that's not quite the case. Maybe your skills are only OK. What's a budding writer to do?
Making a good character is a lot more complex than just avoiding
Writing Lesson: Your Character's Parents While I am not a professional by any means, I have been writing for many years and, more recently, beta-reading as well. In all of my experience, I've noticed that a lot of to-be authors follow the easy trends and miss out on some great story telling opportunities. Hopefully this guide will help you improve your story and learn that the easy way out isn't always the best! If you would like more writing guides and tutorials, check out the description below.Writing Lesson: Your Character's Parents2 years ago in Writing More Like This
For this "Quick Tips" entry, I'm going to focus on an important part of back story: parents.
*Please note! I understand that, unfortunately, not everyone reading this has parents. If your parents have passed away or are otherwise absent, please forgive anything written here that might be considered upsetting. These scenarios are for fictional parents only and when I say "dead", I do not mean it to sound nearly as insensitive as it
Writers Block and How to Kill ItWith NaNoWriMo coming up soon, I thought I'd finally spit out a writers block help guide. This can be used any time and for any blocks! Let's begin.Writers Block and How to Kill It2 years ago in Writing More Like This
A lot of writers block cases come just from environment. For example, for a long time my computer was a desktop. Not very portable, right? Well, this meant that if I wanted to do any writing, I had to sit down in the same spot every time and write. I had to deal with the same environment, the same clutter, the same chair, the same sitting position, etc. This doesn't help! So consider your environment. (For suggestions that require moving elsewhere, use a laptop or a good old fashioned notebook with a pen or pencil)
Clean up your workspace. Organize it. Rearrange it. Make it different than last time you sat there.Light a candle or incense, or even freshen up your room with an air freshener. Go in another room. So