The ABCs of Writing

WA while back I wrote a post featuring the ABCs of Fantasy Writing. For this post, I thought I’d branch out and do some ABCs for writing in general. Feel free to add your own words or ideas for different letters, and let me know in the comments!

A – Amazon. The place where everyone should have their book listed for sale.

B – Books. Duh.

C – Characters. What kind of story would you have without any characters?

D – Dialogue. When writing dialogue, don’t be afraid of using the word “said.”

E – Edit. Every book, regardless of length, genre, or talent of the author, needs a good edit. Probably several. And at least one round of edits done by someone other than the author.

F – Fans. That loyal following who will keep buying your books.

G – Genre. Even though mixing and crossing genres is very popular, most books still should fit into a broad genre like women’s fiction, fantasy, or non-fiction.

H – Hashtags. If you use Twitter (which you should be if you’re an author), then hashtags like #amreading, #amwriting, and #PitchWars can be very useful for getting yourself noticed.

I – Idea. All writing comes from an idea. Inspiration (I could have used that for my “I” word) can come from a picture, a single word, an event, or anything else. Without ideas and inspiration, there’s nothing to write.

J – Journal. Many writers find journaling to be very beneficial. It’s good for brainstorming ideas, documenting feelings and events for potential later use in a book, and just keeping the writing muscle active every day.

K – Keep going. If you’re frustrated with writing, keep going. If you got rejected by agents or publishers, keep going. If you’re stuck, keep going.

L – Love. Let’s face it – writing can be hard, tiring, sometimes thankless work. Most people who write – and especially those who have reached a level of success of some sort – do what they do because they love it.

M – Magazines. Getting stories or articles printed in a magazine – whether a commercial newsstand mag or a literary journal – can be a great way to get started with a writing career.

N – NaNoWriMo. This stands for National Novel Writing Month, in which people spend the month of November writing a full novel. If you’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo, give it a try one year – it’s fun and a good writing exercise, even if you don’t “win” it.

O – Outline. I know there are a lot of pantsers out there who write by the seat of their pants (hence the term “pantser”) and don’t use outlines. There’s nothing wrong with that, but even a rough outline can help keep your story on track. If you’re writing non-fiction, an outline is pretty much a must.

P – Plot. Even literary fiction that is more character-driven has some sort of plot. Nobody wants to read a story in which nothing happens.

Q – Question. To me, this goes along with “idea” and “inspiration.” I think that pretty much every story concept begins with some form of the question “what if?”

R – Reading. This is what we hope that people will do with our books. And as writers, we should be readers, too.

S – Social Media. Every author should have some kind of presence on social media. You don’t have to maintain a profile on every single social media site and join every new one that comes along. Start with a blog and a professional Facebook page. If you’re not using at least a little bit of social media, it will be that much harder to gain a following.

T – Thinking. Writers are thinkers. I often have a whole scene – dialogue and everything – worked out in the head, so then all I have to do when I get home is write it out.

U – Understanding. This is related to thinking, but to me thinking is a more purposeful, active word. Understanding can come with or without prior thinking, and can sometimes be hard to put into words (a frustrating thing for a writer). You can apply the word “understanding” to any part of the writerly journey.

V – Voice. That elusive yet definitive thing that makes your writing uniquely yours.

W – Writing. Duh.

X – Cutting. As in “x” something out. The editing process is frequently more cutting than anything else. That’s where I am with one of my novels – I’m saying goodbye to many passages, bits of dialogue, and whole scenes.

Y – Yay! Okay, sort of a lame word for “y,” but it’s a feeling that’s important to a writer. Celebrate your successes – even if it’s just finishing a scene.

Z – Zeal. Writing is a labor of love, as I pointed out in the letter “L.” But more than just love, I think approaching your writing with zealous excitement can go a long way towards keeping your motivation high.

Why do I Blog?

Last week I didn’t publish a blog post. I know I have a lot of subscribers, but I really have no idea if anyone pays attention to my publishing schedule or waits in breathless anticipation for a new post every Wednesday. (If you do, then I thank you for your attentiveness and interest, and I apologize for leaving you hanging for a week).

I’m sure I was far more upset than anyone else at missing a week for the first time in nearly three years of blogging. The sad part is, I have no good excuse – I simply forgot. So that got me thinking: why did I start this blog? And why have I been so committed to keeping it up for so long?

After a bit of self-analysis, here are some things I came up with. In no particular order, the reasons I blog are:

I like writing. Blogging gives me a chance to write a little bit every week. It took some nerve, at first, to put my words out there for the whole world to read, but the positive feedback and comments I get are definitely encouraging.

Blogging has helped me with discipline. Writing of any kind takes discipline. Even if you’re writing just for yourself and just for fun, it takes a degree of disciplined action to write regularly and to finish anything. The discipline of committing to a weekly post – even if I’m the only one who notices or cares about the regular schedule – has helped me to start learning the art of writing even if I don’t feel like it or feel inspired. (Except for last week, obviously, but let’s not talk about that anymore).

Blogging helps with SEO. Now we get to the technical side of things. I’ve known for years that an author needs a strong social media presence if they expect to ever be noticed or read by anyone. And there are so many tips out there about getting a web presence launched before your first book is published, so that you already have a following when you’re ready to start promoting a book. Since I love social media and I love writing, starting a blog seemed like an easy and logical thing to do.

My blog is my home base on the internet. Blogging regularly helps keep the following that I have, and increases my chances of gaining new followers. My blog also serves as my main author website. Since I have no books for sale yet, I don’t need a fancy website with multiple pages or a calendar with my book signing schedule. (Yet. Here’s hoping I’ll need all of that soon). Anyway, my blog is where you can find me online. I have it linked to all of my social media profiles, so if you want to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest (or all three), my blog is the easy one-stop-shop to find everything.

So there are my main reasons for continuing this blog for so long. I hope that you are enjoying it, even if you don’t read every post or care what day of the week I publish. I love blogging, and I intend to keep it up for many more years to come!

10 Quotes about Life from Babylon 5

I’ve written another post of quotes from sci-fi and fantasy, but I thought I’d do a part two and make it exclusively quotes from the sci-fi TV show Babylon 5. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I’m rather fond of that show. Not only is it one of my favorite TV shows ever, it’s one of my favorite epic fantasy stories, in any medium. The writing was brilliant, and the episodes were full of witty dialogue and quotes of wisdom.

As I asserted in my previous quotes post, we can learn a lot about real life from stories of fantasy.

It takes a rare kind of wisdom to accept change and redemption in another. Many would refuse, seeing only what was, not what is. – G’Kar, “The Hour of the Wolf”

You seek meaning? Then listen to the music, not the song. – Kosh, “Deathwalker”

We are all born as molecules, in the hearts of a billion stars – molecules that do not understand politics or policies or differences. Over a billion years, we, foolish molecules, forget who we are and where we came from. In desperate acts of ego, we give ourselves names, fight over lines on maps, and pretend that our light is better than everyone else’s. – Delenn, “And All my Dreams, Torn Asunder”

We are all the sum of our tears. Too little, and the ground is not fertile and nothing can grow there. Too much, and the best of us is washed away. – G’Kar, “Objects in Motion”

Touch passion when it comes your way, Stephen. It’s rare enough as it is. – Marcus, “Lines of Communication”

I am both terrified and reassured to know that there are still wonders in the universe, that we have not explained everything. – G’Kar, “Mind War”

We are dreamers, shapers, singers, and makers. – Elric, “The Geometry of Shadows”

Fighting a war is easy, destroying is easy. Building a new world out of what’s left of the old: that is what’s hard. – Delenn, “Lines of Communication”

Faith and reason are the shoes on your feet. You can travel farther with both than you can with just one. – Brother Alwin, “The Deconstruction of Falling Stars”

Now we make our own magic. Now we create our own legends. Now we build the future. Now we stop being afraid of shadows. – Delenn and Sheridan, “Into the Fire”