Small Town Writing

Two years ago I made a huge change in my life: I left my hometown (the only city I’d ever lived in) and moved clear across the country to a small town that I’d never even visited before.

I haven’t regretted the move at all. Even so, after two full years now, I’m still finding myself periodically marveling at the differences between the big city east coast life I grew up with, and the small-town north-west life I live now.

It’s great fodder for stories, for sure. Even though my current WIP does not take place in a small rural town, I’m filing away my observations for potential future writing use. And now, I’m sharing these little observations with you! So if you’ve never lived in a small rural town, then feel free to take some of these tidbits and use them to inspire your own writing!

A Town of “The”

My town is small enough that it’s a town where many things are “the.” As in, “the post office,” “the Chinese restaurant,” and “the gas station.” It used to be a town of “the traffic light,” but then the light was removed. There is only one other traffic light in the entire county, just past the north edge of town; so my town is officially now a no-light town. Continue reading

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Overcoming Writer’s Block

I don’t believe in writer’s block. Yes, I believe that writers can get stuck, frustrated with, disillusioned by, and tired of their writing projects. I believe this because I’ve experienced all of these things.

However, “writer’s block” to me sounds permanent and insurmountable. And it is most certainly neither of these. So whether you’re experiencing writer’s block, writer’s pause, frustration with your characters, or uninspired by your plot, there is a way out. Here are three tips that I use when I get stuck.

Go for a Walk

Or a run, or a swim, or vacuum your house, or work in the garden. In other words, do something besides sitting there staring at the blank page. Physical movement helps—it gets blood flowing, and distracts you. And if you haven’t cleaned in a while, well, then you’re killing two birds with one stone. Double your productivity! But seriously, I do some of my best thinking while I’m doing physical tasks that require very little conscious thought, such as vacuuming or talking a long walk. Continue reading

Choosing a Historical Time Period for Your Dieselpunk Story

One of the aspects of dieselpunk is the time period and associated aesthetics. The “punk” aspects of fantasy, the paranormal, high-tech gadgets, or alternate history blend with the “diesel” age—from about World War I to post-World War II/1950s era.

I chose the Roaring 20s for the setting of my dieselpunk series starring the enigmatic high-class adventurer Mrs. Jones. Why the Roaring 20s? Well, for the story I wanted to tell and the world I wanted to build, it seemed like the most ideal time period.

Post-war Decadence

My main character Cornelia Jones is a wealthy, upper class woman who very much enjoys the privileges of her class. Fine clothes, dinner parties, and a house full of servants is what she expects out of life. She’s not arrogant or snobbish, but she is accustomed to luxury. The 1920s saw a booming economy and a world of people ready to put the grimness of the Great War behind them. For a character who loves the glamorous life, the Roaring 20s was an obvious choice for a setting. Continue reading

What to Do When You’re Sick of Blogging

I’ve been diligently blogging for over five years. One post a week every week, only missing a handful of times over the course of several years. I’m proud of the discipline I learned, and happy about all the comments, followers, and connections I’ve gained. But over the past year or so, I’ve become much less diligent about that one post a week.

What was my reason? I got busy. I got distracted. And to be honest, I just got plain tired of blogging every week. Now before you ask—no, I’m not shutting down this blog and quitting the blogging scene. I’ve decided to return to regular blogging in 2019 because, after all, I am still a writer.

Anyway, I got to thinking about my options. Since I’d admitted to myself that I was sick of blogging, what should I do about it? I think there are several options for any writer if they’re ever faced with this realization—whether they’ve grown tired of blogging, tired of social media posting, or just plain tired of writing. None of the following options are right or wrong—I think each person needs to decide what is the best choice for them at that time. Consider your options, consider why you’re sick of blogging or writing, and consider what your ultimate goals are. Continue reading

What to Read While Writing

So what do you read while you’re in the middle of a writing project? From my personal experience, and some research and reading of other blogs/articles on the topic, there seem to be several different schools of thought on this topic.

Read in your Genre

If you want to know what’s popular in the genre that you’re writing, then read some recent books. Learn about popular tropes, what current readers expect or enjoy out of that genre, average acceptable story length, and so on. After all, how can you expect to write a cozy mystery or a sword-and-sorcery tale if you’ve never read one (or a few) before? Continue reading

A Glossary of Writerly Jargon

If you’re new (or even not so new) to the world of writing, you may have discovered that us writerly folks have our own jargon. Even if you’re not a writer, if you’re an avid reader you’ve probably associated with enough writers (and/or literary critics) to have heard some odd terms being tossed about. So I thought I’d help you out with this small starter list of writerly words and abbreviations. This is by no means a comprehensive glossary – I’ve just tried to pick some of the most common or weird-sounding terms.

WIP

This stands for Work in Progress. A short story in its first draft or a novel in its third draft is a WIP if it’s unpublished and the author is still working on it.

MC

MC stands for Main Character. There are a lot of other terms to define character types (like protagonist, anti-hero) and one of these may or may not be the main character. But if you’re reading about a writer or a book and you see “MC,” it just means Main Character.

Mary Sue (or Gary Stu)

This is a character that is “too perfect.” A Mary Sue character is often super-model beautiful, multi-talented and excels at everything without trying hard, is loved by everyone, and makes few or no mistakes. A Mary Sue (or Gary Stu for a male character) frequently is an idealized version of the author, and the story can read like a contrived excuse to showcase the author’s perfect fantasies. Continue reading