CALLING ALL ROOMMATES – A Call for Embarrassing, Gross, Funny Stories

Moving is hard.

It’s also time consuming, so excuse my lack of posting.

But, I’m all settled in now, in my new home town in British Columbia. I’ve been ever so slowly working on Bad Acid, but an idea struck me a while ago and I can’t seem to get it out of my head.

For the moment, Bad Acid isn’t going anywhere, so I’ve come up with a side project I’d like to work on. I want to put together a compilation of stories – funny, embarrassing, gross, whatever – based on experiences with roommates.

Basically, you would send me your story, and I’ll rewrite it, and the stories will be organized in the book based on categories. The stories can be either something that happened to you, or your roommates, but either way replace the roommates’ names with A, B,C, etc to protect identities. If you don’t want your name in the book it can go in as anonymous, but if you don’t really care I’ll be putting in first names and last initials, as well as ages.
Once the book is completed, anyone whose contributed a story that’s in it will be paid – to be determined based on if/how well the book sells.

If you have a story you’re willing to share, you can send it directly to unwritten_rules_of_roommates@outlook.com . I think it would be a pretty funny read, and it gets me some practice at ghostwriting. Also, if you can, reblog this post to help me get the word out about this project!

I promise to post again soon with my regular blog posts! Til then, lots of love!

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Life Update: I’M MOVING TO BC!

Alright, so last time I trailed off of writing blog posts I came back promising it wouldn’t happen again. Well, I didn’t forget about you guys; I’ve just been preoccupied with thoughts.

I’ve been thinking about this for a long time now, and recently I’ve made a decision: I’m moving to British Columbia, and I’m doing it in a month. BC is basically on the opposite side of the country for me, and I’m going up with little money in my pocket. I have some family up there, though, and I feel like it might just be a change that I need.

I’ve trailed off of Bad Acid again (maybe because I actually did start writing that Supernatural fanfiction, after all), and I’m hoping a change of scenery might help me get back into it. Besides, there’s not many people up there that I know, so (until I make some friends, at least) what else will I do to pass the time?

I’m nervous, but beyond excited at the same time. This could either go very bad or very good for me but I’m praying it goes well. I guess we’ll find out!

Welcome to Roleplay – Population: Fangirls

Last night, B introduced me to the world of roleplay. And, to put it simply, I can feel a future obsession in the works.

Now, I’ve never really had an interest in roleplaying. I’ve had a couple of friends who were into it, but it was never something I found appealing. To me, from what I’d heard, it always sounded similar to fanfictions which, as I’ve said before, I’ve had no interest in, either. But, after actually participating in it, I can say this isn’t true. Roleplay is more like… improvisational writing.

For anyone who doesn’t know, this is how a roleplay (in mine and B’s case, at least) works: Each person picks a character to play, and then takes turns writing an excerpt. You can not write lines for the other character, but you can write their actions, or prompt them to speak by ending your excerpt with something like “and then ________ approached me.”

What I like about roleplay is that you no longer have total control over the events of your story. You control one character, and one alone, but even then, you can’t control everything that happens to them. It provides an interesting writing experience and a way to exercise your creativity. Especially if you’re like me, and plan things out in your head way before the time comes to write it, it’s a good thing to pick up. Letting the control be taken away from you allows for some pretty creative results.

Mind you, all of this is being reported to you by a massive fangirl. I play out stories with characters in my head all the time, and sometimes I tend to love my own stories more than the storylines of the TV shows. Roleplays often have a focus on the romance between two characters, and that alone is enough to hook me, regardless of whether I get to plan every detail or not. That being said, B is a Twi-hard fan (our characters being Jacob Black & Leah Clearwater), and I have never liked any aspect of the Twilight series. Still, I’m into it – if anything it’s a fun pass-time.

So for any of you fangirls (or boys!) out there who are looking for a creative outlet, give it a try. It’s fun, it’s creative, it’s a new experience, and if nothing else it’s practice!

Killing Your Characters: How to Do It and Why You Should

As writers, we have a love-hate relationship with our characters.

As readers, we have a love-hate relationship with writers.

Killing off characters is a tricky business. It’s not exactly something we enjoy reading about, and it’s certainly not something we like doing ourselves. But – as morbid as it may be – death is what makes the writing world go ’round. There’s an increasingly high number of deaths in fiction. It pulls at our heartstrings, making us remember once again everything that made us fall in love with that character in the first place. But killing a character can be harder than you think. There’s the matter of who, and why, and how, but most importantly when. Timing is everything. Depending on what kind of story you’re writing, you might need to kill your character at the climax, or the end, or, if you’re feeling particularly creative, the beginning. The beginning though, I would recommend only for the most advanced writers unless it plays a major part in the plot, because it’s hard to make readers care about a character they’ve only just met.

Your characters are like your children. You created them, you raised them, and despite their better judgments, they’ve made mistakes, but you were there to help them learn from them. We writers get just as attached to our characters as the readers do, if not more. So coming to the conclusion that one of them needs to die takes careful precision and planning. Here’s a basic breakdown to help you decide if it’s the right move for your novel:

Who: Before anything else, you need to figure out who it is you need to kill. If you’re really crafty, you might be able to swing killing the main character while still completing the story. But this will most likely affect your narration style, and obviously limits when the event can occur. Many writers find that opting for someone close to the main character is best – the best friend, a girlfriend or boyfriend, a sibling. Someone who will be in the story often enough for the readers to get to know well. This creates the same dramatic effect, while still allowing the reader to experience the emotional impact the protagonist is going through.

When: As I’ve said, this is arguably the most important piece of information. It will affect how the rest of your book turns out, will either make the climax seem more or less powerful, and by the end of the novel, will either have your readers wanting more or feeling cheated. I can’t tell you exactly where the best place to kill a character is – that depends on the novel. But I can tell you this. Give the readers time to get attached. It makes the initial impact of the character’s death much more powerful. Allow yourself enough time to build up to it – don’t rush. Let the character live a little bit of their life first. As a matter of fact, if you’re looking for the timing that will give off that heartwrenching emotion, let the character live just enough so that they’re beginning to overcome something they’ve been struggling with. They’ve been recovering from a drug addiction, but relapse and overdose; They’ve gone their whole lives without knowing how to swim, and just after learning, an incident causes them to drown; The disease they’ve fought for the better half of the book finally goes into remission, but out of nowhere they fall ill and pass away. If you want the scene to pack that extra punch, try having your main character be involved with the cause of death somehow.

Where: An important part of any story, with the right setting you can add some extra emphasis to the scene. You have to take into account the personality of the character you’re killing, the circumstances of their death, the setting throughout the rest of the book. If you’re looking to create a sense of irony, you could kill them in a place that they loved, like a hidden clearing they frequented in the forest. If the character senses their death coming (terminal illness, threats, etc.), they could die in the place they least wanted to – this would make their death seem more tragic. For example, a cancer patient dies in hospital when he’s been begging to go home.

Why: Despite what readers may believe, we don’t just go around killing characters for laughs. There are lessons behind their deaths, or at the very least, they needed to die in order for other events to take place. Think carefully about the events that will take place before and after the scene. Make sure this death needs to happen. If it doesn’t, all you’ll be doing is creating filler and confusing the readers. So if you’re planning to kill a character just for the good ratings, STOP. It isn’t worth it. Don’t ruin a good story by throwing in an unnecessary death. It’s a plot point, not a marketing ploy. Use it sparingly.

How: This one is all up to you, I’m afraid. How you decide to end your character’s life is what will make your story unique. It’s what will provide the impact, the drama, the emotion, the WOW factor that you’re looking for. I can’t tell you how to do that. Just think carefully, plan everything else, and this part will come to you. If not, then revise again, because maybe your character should be kept alive.

Like with children, us writers will cry for our fallen characters, too. Writing a death scene is like watching them die right in front of you – if you’re not crying while writing it, something’s wrong. Either you haven’t given enough information about the death, allowed enough time to get close to the character, or the setting & circumstances need to be changed to provide more impact. Let their death come with the story; don’t go into the novel thinking, “I want to write a really sad book where somebody dies.” In the writing world, that’s the equivalent to hiring a hitman. It’s malicious. Don’t let a character die for the wrong reasons. After all the time you’ve spent on this character – creating their backstory, describing their facial features, sculpting their life – you deserve to make that hard work mean something. Make their death mean something.

And if you do it right, your story just might mean something.

Motivation Vs. Inspiration: 5 Ways to Conquer Your Writer’s Block

My friend B seems to be the inspiration for a lot of my blog posts lately.

Or is she my motivation?

Today B texted me, as she usually does, to let me know that she was finally making herself sit down and write (she knows it makes me happy to see someone suffering as much as I do). During our conversation, B informed me that she needed motivation, to which I replied, “Motivation or inspiration?”

Is there really a significant difference between the two?

When it comes to writing, it seems to me that inspiration is what gets you started, and motivation is what keeps you going. In my case, the inspiration for Bad Acid were my friends D and C, and select events in their lives. But my motivation was, at first, those two and a few others who encouraged me to keep writing, and later, after we drifted apart, my motivation became to finish the book, in the hopes that maybe one day they would see it on the shelves and remember me. Not everybody has motivation like that, because not everybody gets their inspiration from something so personal as I did. For some, their inspiration is a dream, a story prompt they saw online, or maybe even passing strangers on the street. B’s constant issue with writing original stories is that she gets a basic idea, but from there, she’s lacking. She doesn’t have the motivation to keep working on her stories, mainly because she lacks the inspiration she needs.

So for B, and any of you in the same position, here are five ways to get inspiration for your novel.

  1. You don’t always have to start from the beginning. Often times when we get an idea from something, it usually isn’t the start of the novel. it’s the conflict, or the grand finale – essentially, the big bang that makes you want to write the story in the first place. It’s this big bang that becomes your motivation to write the novel, but you don’t know how to lead up to that point. So don’t. Instead, try writing this scene first, and the words should begin to flow right to the end (not without struggle, or course – nothing comes easy in this line of work). Once you have a climax or ending written, creating the events leading up to that point becomes easier. Backtrack, thinking, “What does my character need to go through in order to get to this point?”
  2. Give your character backstory – in detail. This one has become a favorite of mine, in fact I think I may have mentioned it in “How to Procrastinate Without Really Procrastinating”. Sometimes, when you don’t know where to take your story, the problem might be your character. A major ingredient to any best seller is character development – but it’s hard to see how a character develops if you don’t know their past. Of course, their backstory will leak into your novel as it comes along, but to help you get started, try writing a short story about their life before the events of the novel. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a prequel; it can have nothing to do with the events of the book. For example, if one of your characters is in a relationship, you could write a story about how the two met, or their first date. I did this with Janie and Cayden in Bad Acid, and it turned out so well I wound up using it. Not only that, but I got my writing flow back and was able to work on where I was originally stuck.
  3. Look at newspaper headlines to create your conflict. Man escapes after police car chase became on foot race. Why was the man running? Was he in the wrong, or innocent? Did he get away on his own, or did a stranger help him escape? From this, you get your conflict – either major or minor – and you can easily plan the events both before and after, creating a basic storyline.
  4. Characterize a strangerThis is something writers often do, usually unbeknownst to others while they sit in coffee shops, sipping on their drinks, peering over the tops of their laptops or notepads. If your writer’s block is the result of not being able to create a character, this is a good one for you. Sit in a busy coffee shop or restaurant – busy enough so that there’s various people, but not so busy that you can’t concentrate. Now, listen to their conversations. Read their facial expressions. Analyze their clothing. Based on what you see and hear, try to imagine their personalities. Why do they look so sad? Is she wearing clothes that are dirty because she can’t afford any others, or does she just not care? What do you think their name is?
  5. Make a picture speak 50,000 words. It’s true, pictures really can speak a thousand words. But if you stare at it long enough, and delve deep enough, you can make a picture speak a whole novel. This is something to try when you want to write, but can’t even think of an idea to start off with. Look at a picture of absolutely anything; a painting, a photograph, a landscape, surrealism, etc. Start writing about what you see in the picture; create a story for it. Or maybe pretend to be the person behind the lens/canvas, and imagine why they created such an art piece.

Have you started to see the trend yet? You have to put your own mind into someone else’s.  As writers, we must put our own personalities aside. We must take on the personas of our characters, our scenes, our settings, and our stories, and that is what will make our words jump off the page. We all get out inspiration from different things, or even, different inspiration from the same thing, and we all have our own drives that keep us going. If you lose that motivation, then find some new inspiration. If you lose your inspiration, remember your motivation.

Don’t use writer’s block as an excuse to give up. Use it as a reason to try harder.

My Writing Binder

Hello Roses! So I don’t have time for an actual blog post today, so instead I thought I’d just share this gallery of all the writing tips & rules I’ve collected from various websites. None of these are mine; I’ve just found them very helpful and thought that some of you might be able to benefit from them, too. If You have any more, be sure to send them in and I’ll add them to the gallery!

Writing Fanfiction: Helpful or Harmful?

There’s been a frenzy sweeping the internet and fandoms everywhere for quite some time now: Fanfiction.

For those of you who don’t know (if you even exist), Fanfiction is when fans of a TV series, book, movie, etc. write their own stories based on the fandom; their own events and ideas, and occasionally one of their own characters is thrown into the mix.

As a massive fangirl who gets way too emotionally invested in TV shows, I spend a lot of time in my head with fictional characters. Lately, said character has been Sam Winchester from Supernatural. I’ve been hooked on this show for ages, and I’ve been binge-watching like crazy. And if I’m not binge-watching, I’m in a daze, imagining my fictional life with Sam & Dean, travelling with them, fighting demons across the globe (Yeah, I’m a dork, I know). I’ve been considering taking this fantasy life of mine and writing it all down, but I’ve never really been one for fanfiction. I’m not sure if it would improve my writing at all, or if it would make it lack luster.

On the other hand, a friend of mine, B, swears by fanfiction. She prefers it to writing original stories, claiming she can never come up with good, three dimensional characters for her own work. With fanfictions, you already know the characters inside and out; you just have to adapt your writing to their personality. I’ve read some of B’s original work, and it’s brilliant. But whenever we talk about fanfiction I can’t help but wonder: Does it help her by exercizing her writing skills? Or is it more likely to keep her from improving her skills writing characters, setting, and the like?

So, without further adieu, here’s The Pros & Cons of Writing Fanfiction, and I’ll leave the decision making up to you.

Pros:

  • Adapting your writing around someone else’s character is a good practice. While I think this can also hold you back (we’ll come back to this in the cons section), it’s a good exercise to get into. When writing your own story, you’ll need to be able to give each character a distinct voice and actions. Practicing this with someone else’s character can be helpful. Write the scene, then go back, highlighting anything they do or say that seems out of character, and fix it.
  • It can make for some great inspiration. Sometimes it’s interesting to take the characters of a show or book series and place them in a different setting, or give them an unusal quirk, etc. Fanfiction writers do this all the time, for example taking characters from a sci-fi or supernatural show and placing them in high school as ordinary people. You can’t claim the characters as your own, but you can take the setting, select events, and apply them to new characters and voila! Your own original story.
  • You get inside a character’s head. Referring back to point one for this one. To write a good fanfiction, you need to think and act like the character. But more than just helping you give them distinct personalities, you can really get inside a character’s head and understand them. Don’t write the character, be the character. Find out what makes them the way they are, what makes them tick. It’ll help you get a better grasp on creating your own characters – you’ll get an idea of what their personality needs to make them go from one dimensional to three.

Cons:

  • When it comes to your own work, you won’t have that starting point anymore. Don’t become too dependent on someone else’s characters and setting. Otherwise, once it’s time to write your own novel, and none of this is mapped out for you, you won’t know where to begin.
  • Another author’s voice might flow into your own. This is my biggest concern about taking up fanfiction. I’m the kind of person who will unconsciously pick up someone’s British accent just after a two minute conversation with them. This is more a problem for fanfictions of book series than television shows. Often times, while writing a fanfiction, you try to make the words flow as though the original author wrote it. You want it to be on point, the characters acting as the author wrote them, the narration being the same as the author’s, etc. The issue is that when it’s time to come to your own work, you might not be able to pick up your own voice again. Worse yet, you might not even realize it.
  • It’s plagiarism in sheep’s clothing. Mind you, I’m iffy on this point. It kind of goes hand in hand with the pro about getting inspiration. People have turned all kinds of fanfictions into best selling novels, making them their own, simply by changing the characters names, settings, etc. Most recently, Fifty Shades of Grey became a top seller, originally a Twilight fanfiction. This is something you need to be careful about though – mind the number of similarities between your fanfiction and the original characters and storyline. If it seems too alike and you’re claiming it as an original, you could wind up with a serious lawsuit on your hands.

Well, that’s my Pros & Cons list. Even after writing all of that out, I’m still on the fence about the whole fanfiction thing. What about you guys? Do you think it helped improve your writing? Let me know in the comments! Now, in the meantime, I think I have time for just a couple of Supernatural episodes before work…