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Journal Entry: Wed Apr 30, 2014, 8:23 AM


When poking around for stuff on my own, I sometimes come across things I think other writers may find useful. While it's fine to tweet and write polls about them, I figure it would be more helpful if I started a journal and kept a running list. Would help me to keep track of them, too. I'll update this when I find new  things.


Many people write fan-fiction. There is a budding community of authors right here on DA, who write stories based around others' worlds. While there is a lot of talk about copyright and the legality of fan-art,  fan-fiction seems much more elusive and mysterious. But it really isn't. This is a very good and informative article that explains not only the legality of fan-fiction, but your rights with respect to fan-characters (OCs who reside in the fan universe), and the legality of fan-fics of fan-fics (yes, they happen).

Copyright Myths from the World of Fan Fiction






There are a lot of things to consider when you are coming up with a character's name. Particularly when the character has a prominent role in your story. But what happens when you're totally out of ideas, or have to pick a name for a character that will only be in a scene or two? The "Behind the Name" website has a wonderful Random Name Generator that allows you to get a name based on criteria you choose.

Random Name Generator






Having a good mental image of a character's physical looks is helpful in writing descriptions, as well as reactions of other characters to them. However, knowing other aspects of their appearance is important, one of the main things being height. A very short character may not be able to reach something placed on a high shelf in a scene, or a tall character may need to stoop down to kiss another character. This height utility is amazing, as it not only gives you a clear look at height differences, but also proportionate size/girth.  Also very helpful if you are commissioning art of your characters.

Comparing Heights Utility






:bulletblack: Reading is an important part of being a writer. However, many people argue they don't have time to read. I'm one of them. Several people I know (like lostie815) have turned to text-to-speech software. This essentially turns the writing into an audio file (book) you can listen to. I've written about my own experiences with several software packages on my blog. It's wonderful being able to "read" while I work on art or other computer stuff. I use a pay program, but I recently found a free online program that not only allows you to covert and listen to pieces, but gives you a variety of real/natural sounding voices (as opposed to the synthesized ones available with a lot of free software). It allows you to listen online, or you can download an MP3 to listen offline.

Aside from general reading, if you are a writer, having your lit read aloud is a very effective part of the editing process. You can hear syntax errors that you sometimes cannot catch while reading, and it can help you identify clumsy dialogue. So, even if you're not interested in "reading," this site can help you with your writing, as well.  

YakiToMe - Free Text-to-Speech Utility






:bulletblack: Peeking in with a quick quote...

“If you’re a writer, your first duty, a duty you owe to yourself and your readers, and to your writing itself, is to become wonderful. To become the best writer you can possibly be.” ~ Theodora Goss



You need to keep learning, growing. You need to learn how to do it well. A well written story is kick-ass, no matter how you look at it.




:bulletblack: As a bit of a follow-up to the Cheat-Sheet I linked below. This is a great articles that talk about the usage of body language and facial expressions, as well as their over-use. It's a great companion to the other piece as it gives a ton of really specific and quirky examples.

Body Language as an Artistic Writing Tool






:bulletblack: Showing, not Telling, is the key to good writing. Body language is a great way to show how a character is feeling without overtly telling the audience. However, finding the right language, and words, can be a struggle. This cheat-sheet is a great resource, giving tons of helpful suggestion for most of the common emotions.

Cheat Sheets for Writing Body Language



:bulletblack: As much as showing is the way to go, there are actually times you do need to tell. While part of that is stylistic, there are some more firm rules...er, suggestions...on when telling is better than showing.

Five Instances Where You Need to Tell (Not Show)






:bulletblack: Whether you are a seasoned author, or a beginning writer, critique is hard to take. I mean, c'mon, a bruised ego hurts. But it's necessary to grow (the critique, not the bruise). This is a great article that gives some sound and realistic tips on how to handle criticism of your work.

15 Tips for Handling Writing Criticism





:bulletblack: This Article is a MUST-READ for every writer. Seriously, hitting that Perfect Storm is terrible. I've been there many times myself. This article tells you what to look for so you can avoid being sucked up into the torrent.

The Perfect Storm that All Writers Need to Avoid


:bulletblack: I'm also going to highly urge you to read this article. With so much writing advice out there, this was a breath of fresh air to me.

The Bad Writing Advice that Kills Your Success





:bulletblack: I sometimes bristle at articles like this. Yes, what a Literary Agent looks for may not necessarily be what you are looking for in your novel. But this article offers some sage advice about things you should avoid in starting your novel.

The Worst Ways to Begin Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents





:bulletblack: One of the big complaints seen on dA is that authors often ask for "permission" to write a story, or want to see if their idea is interesting to others. Well apparently, someone has gone and capitalized on the concept. This site encourages people to share their story ideas and get a "I'd Read It" rating from their community. So, next time someone asks you, "would you read this story?" point them here...

HelpMeWrite.co





:bulletblack: My own thoughts on why writers should take the time to learn to write properly.

:pointr: But My Story is So Great...:iconnbsp:
I usually save writing stuff for my blog, but Ravenswd and I were talking this morning and he said something so succinctly and to the point that I had to share...
With respect to an alarming number of people who feel they don't have to make an effort to write properly and who feel that learning the basic rules is a waste of time, here are some wise words:
"The rules are there, not to be arbitrary. They are there because that is what makes great storytelling. When you ignore the rules, then it is nearly inevitable that your writing will suffer and not live up to the greatness of your story."
I hear so many people talk about how proud they are of their stories. They are so proud of their characters. They are proud of the worlds they have built, be it through their own imagination, or fostered through role-playing. They want the community to know and love their worlds as much as they do. Problem is, their stories are often hindered by their writing. You can have the most a


 
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Writer Resources and More by mirz333

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:iconmjengels:
mjengels Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2015  Professional Writer
Enjoyed using Yakitome! and will definitely use it again.  This one was also helpful:

www.fromtexttospeech.com/

Can't overstate how important this step was.  After editing my novel's manuscript, these tools helped me uncover dozens of places where prepositions and other connecting words had either been added or deleted inadvertently.  I had the apps speak while I followed along in my text, then paused them when I needed to stop and fix something.  I'd back up a few seconds and resume until I got to the next one.  

For this endeavor I write limited third person.   With the number of voices available I was able to really mix it up well.  Each scene had a different POV character and a different voice, depending on whether the POV character was male or female, younger or older.  The British dialects came in particularly handy for foreign nationals, especially Eastern Europeans who grew up in the day when Russian was the lingua franca.

MJE
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:iconmjengels:
mjengels Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2015  Professional Writer
Agreed. I found and corrected a couple of places where I typed "se" but had intended to write "see." and you're spot on...I had been over the text dozens of times myself and had never seen those before. Spell check obviously glossed right over them..."pro se" is a legitimate term as you well know.

On one of your earlier blog posts you'd mentioned Naturally Speaking. It is a product one must pay for (aside from the 2000 character per day per user promo), but I did see in their promo that the have a scripting function. Each line of dialogue can be cast using a unique voice. I may ante up in the future for scenes where I have men and women talking to provide contrast during my editing.

Finished up Browne & King's "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers". They give similar advice..."every word you write should be read out loud" in their chapter "See How It Sounds". And the rest of the book I found very valuable too. I'll be submitting soon and know resources like yours have helped me put my best foot forward. Thanks again!

MJE
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:iconmirz333:
mirz333 Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2015   General Artist
I'm glad it helped you. Apart from the instances you mentioned, which I agree with,  I find it invaluable in finding typos. You can read something 20 times and miss a one-letter-off word. But when you hear it spoken, it's right there. I do similarly -- listen and read along, pausing to fix typos. I actually have plans to go back and "listen" to the first books in the series to catch the typos there.

I actually have several voices each with a different purpose. One voice is for all Relativity stories. I have another voice for a novel series my friend wrote. I have one voice I use for proofreading technical/articles. And so on. I, too, enjoy the accents.

Thanks for the additional link.
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:iconminato-kushina:
Minato-Kushina Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2015
I just found this nice page that maybe will be useful to you or whoever needs it:

wordstopages.com/

With this, you can convert the number of words to pages. ^_^ So for example, if someone has written a 120,000 words novel, it means their novel is approximately 300 pages. :nod:
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:iconmirz333:
mirz333 Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2015   General Artist
That's a great resource. Thank you for sharing. I'm going to link it up when I update this soon. :heart:
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:iconminato-kushina:
Minato-Kushina Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2015
Thank you a lot for all these resources! :love: :hug:

When you find others, please share them with us! :nod:
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:iconmirz333:
mirz333 Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2015   General Artist
:happybounce:
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:iconbanjelerp:
Banjelerp Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Yup, saving this for later reference. ♥
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:iconmirz333:
mirz333 Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2015   General Artist
:happybounce:
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:iconraspil:
raspil Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2015   Writer
super awesome!  thank you for the links, that is fantastic
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:iconmirz333:
mirz333 Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2015   General Artist
:hug:
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:iconyuuza:
Yuuza Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
OMG these are so useful! :love:  Love the body language cheat sheet <33333
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:iconmirz333:
mirz333 Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2015   General Artist
Glad you find them helpful. I agree, the body language one is great.
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:iconazurevirgo:
AzureVirgo Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2015
Let's see what new goodies you found
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:iconmirz333:
mirz333 Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2015   General Artist
Just a couple this time...
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:iconazurevirgo:
AzureVirgo Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2015
Do the comparing heights utility come with female silhouettes?
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:iconmirz333:
mirz333 Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2015   General Artist
Not that I know of. Perhaps the creator will make one now that it's getting a lot of attention.
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:iconcaptain-savvy:
Captain-Savvy Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I will definitely check out the text to speech thing! That will be so helpful to me!

The body language thing.... omg. I have rp'd with someone who had her characters shrug or sigh literally every time they spoke... even when there was no need for it. It drives me crazy!
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:iconmirz333:
mirz333 Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2014   General Artist
I cannot tell you how much I love the text-to-speech. Granted, there is a bit of a "learning curve" to it. It can take a bit of getting used to and understanding a few of it's pronunciation issues (such as "read" and "read" -- pronounced reed and red, but the program can't distinguish). But overall those are just nit-picky. It really is cool and allows me to read so much more.

Yeah. I mean, I know it adds richness to a conversation when you show the characters moving and doing things, but it has to be peppered in. That sounds crazy about the RP, though. LOL.
Reply
:iconcaptain-savvy:
Captain-Savvy Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yeah... she also puts single quotation marks around every almost every other word as though for emphasis. Example: Bob 'knew' that there was a bat 'waiting' in the 'belfry', and he 'hoped' it wouldn't 'wake up' and 'bite' him, because Bob 'detested' bats. 'They were the 'worst' of 'nightmares' for him. With a sigh he shrugged as, "I 'guess' I have to go into the belfry 'anyway',". 
I'm not trying to be mean by talking about it, but when I've tried to politely explain how distracting that is she's gotten extremely offended. She was even kicked off one rp forum for it (they had  sort-of strict, but fair, rules about grammar and punctuation). Needless to say, there's barely any rp'ing going on these days. She kinda ruined it for me -__-

Sorry for my rant there ^^;  but anyway I'm going to try out the text-to-speech today. :) Niek made his computer read a story of mine a while back and I enjoyed that, so I'll probably enjoy this XD
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:iconmirz333:
mirz333 Featured By Owner Edited Sep 2, 2014   General Artist
Oh, gosh. Yes, I can understand your frustration. I have a few people I know, whom I like very much, but have some issues in their writing which they simply won't acknowledge or change. RP tends to be more prone to that, since people feel that since they are outside traditional story-telling, they don't have to follow the conventions. Yes, it can make participating very difficult. I think there is a saying that goes along the lines, "If the writing makes you realize you are reading a story, you've failed. You need to pull your reader in so much they don't notice."

What I really like about this online program is that it offers real voices. Those particular voices cost around $30 each if you were to purchase them for a stand-alone program. The fact you can utilize this free utility is great.

Jim and I use it a lot now, to read our stories back to us. I used to read them aloud to Jim for proofreading, but even then, my would eyes would skip over typos or substitute the correct word if something was off. All automatically. So we didn't catch everything. This thing reads it like it is, so it's better. Plus, it is neat just hearing your stories sometimes. :giggle:

Good luck!
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:iconcaptain-savvy:
Captain-Savvy Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It's reading one of my stories now :eager:
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:iconmirz333:
mirz333 Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2014   General Artist
:iconlaplz:
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:iconpixiepot:
pixiepot Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2014  Student General Artist
A wonderful collection, Mirz. :love: Thanks for this!
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:iconmirz333:
mirz333 Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2014   General Artist
Thank you, dear.
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:iconinkyrose:
InkyRose Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for this- this will be really helpful! :D
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:iconmirz333:
mirz333 Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2014   General Artist
I'm glad you think so. :hug:
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:iconsilverhammer:
silverhammer Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Good to know :)
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:iconmirz333:
mirz333 Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2014   General Artist
:icondummyhi5plz:
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:iconthe-port-of-riches:
The-Port-of-Riches Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2014  Hobbyist Filmographer
Thanks for this, friend. Will prove useful moving forward. Have  a great weekend. :)
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:iconmirz333:
mirz333 Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2014   General Artist
I hope it helps you. I find a lot of these articles beneficial, which is why I hope others will.
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:iconthe-port-of-riches:
The-Port-of-Riches Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2014  Hobbyist Filmographer
Thanks, me too.
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:iconfayerin:
Fayerin Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
:eager: thid looks really useafull :love: going to read for sure! might help me with my novel :P 
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:iconmirz333:
mirz333 Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2014   General Artist
Oh, that's good to hear. :heart:
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:iconmahoujirou:
mahoujirou Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Whoa, I read parts of this and it looks really helpful!! :la: thank you very much for sharing, I think it is very useful. I do not consider myself a writer per se, but I surely love doing it.
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:iconmirz333:
mirz333 Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2014   General Artist
I find that many of these "lists" just kinda dump everything out there, and it can be hard to slog through. I try to post the items I feel can help everyone.
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:iconmahoujirou:
mahoujirou Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for being such a nice person then ^^
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:iconmjengels:
mjengels Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014  Professional Writer
I enjoy reading your writing-related blog posts nearly as much as I enjoy reading Relativity. It's clear you care just as much about your stories and continuously honing your skills to exposit them as they deserve, which is your best and then some. You are truly a craftsman both in your willingness to develop yourself and furnish others with resources to help them do the same.  Thank you for sharing these interesting perspectives.

MJE
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:iconmirz333:
mirz333 Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014   General Artist
Thank you for the comment. That is something I feel strongly about. I watch several "writing accounts" on Twitter and Tumblr. Most of them post any and every writing related article the find. The problem with that, is more or less what was outlined in the current article I featured. You have so much information thrown at you, and so much crap. It's difficult to sort through all of it. And it's very easy to discouraged. I try to be very selective in what I share with my watchers. I want to foster positive, but realistic, support. Writing is hard. The business of writing is hard. But it's not the deep dark pit (or the manna from heaven) that most people make it out to be. I am more or less trying to be that writer support that I wish I could find in someone else out there. :D
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:iconmjengels:
mjengels Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014  Professional Writer
"I am more or less trying to be that writer support that I wish I could find in someone else out there."

Maybe you already have?

Regarding your assessments regarding quality vs. quantity of information, agreed. Sturgeon's Law applies.

MJE
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:iconazurevirgo:
AzureVirgo Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2014
Thanks for the journal update. Found the perfect storm article interesting. Found myself in it a while ago, and ended up developing the girls to get out of it. Wish I knew about that last year.
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:iconmirz333:
mirz333 Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2014   General Artist
A few months ago, I went through everything outlined in that article. It's kinda hard not to. The thing is, most people do not know just what it takes to get something out there. The time and energy. It's very hard to look back and see how much you've spent, and not really see any payout (yet) and not worry that you've wasted your time.

I really need to find a group of authors to be a support unit. I think she is right, it's good to have friends and fans, but to have other serious writers rooting for you is important. I had toyed with starting a Twitter group along those lines. I might just resurrect that idea.
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:iconmjengels:
mjengels Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014  Professional Writer
You speak wise words. I found a lot of her points disturbingly convicting as well, especially about isolation and lack of interaction during the creative process. It does seem counterintuitive, especially seeing memes whose punch line is "You're an author! You shouln't be Facebooking, you should be writing!"

That said, I do believe that being part of a supportive community of people actually *writing* something similar to our own speculative fiction endeavors will help ensure that when we *do* write, we write well. I would enjoy engaging you as a member of such a community, as I think both your writing and mine would benefit from same. Please keep me posted as you mull over such an idea.

And in the interest of accountability from this community, word count for my novel's manuscript broke 30K last night. By the time I finish all of the stuff I've currently storyboarded, I'm confident I'll be north of 35K--halfway to my goal for the first novel of 70K or so.

MJE
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:iconmirz333:
mirz333 Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014   General Artist
I think that is one of the main things that people have to keep in mind. While writing in general (be it original, poetry, fan-fiction, etc) makes you a writer, you have to actually *write*. This is not to say there will not be gaps, etc. But so many people talk about writing that novel, but never place pen to paper. Or the people who tell me over and over, "I have no time" but then update their Twitter that they spent a week straight watching a t.v. series on Netflix. No, I don't believe doing personal things is wrong--and I very much disagree with the idea that you have to press your nose to the grindstone to be a true writer. However, there has to be a balance.

Congrats on the 30k milestone. That's a big one, and pushes you into firm novella territory (if you were to stop now). Many people never make it that far. Continued luck with the rest.
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:iconmjengels:
mjengels Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014  Professional Writer
Thank you Michelle. While I can appreciate where James is coming from, I do believe there is a nugget of wisdom in the "just do it" world view.

I've heard many of the same things as you:

"I'll write when..."

"I'll quit smoking when..."

"I'll start exercising when..."

"I'll start saving money for retirement when..."

I'm afraid there will be many people who read James' advice and conclude that since the time's not right there's no sense in even starting. I'm about the same age as you, and I'm realizing my own mortality and how few days I have left on this mortal coil.

If not me, who?

If not now, when?

While balance is a good thing, I see a lot of people use that term to justify mediocre work and squandered potential. I believe that whatever's worth doing is worth doing to the best of my ability, and if that means saying "no" and saying it a lot then so be it. I would much rather do a couple things well than a lot of thing half-assed.

I don't ascribe to the theory of locking myself in a room until I'm done under the auspices of "just do it", but I have a time every single day that I have specifically set aside for writing.


Let me repeat that for the benefit of others who might read this:

"Every single day."

Some of those sessions are certainly more productive then others, at least if one considers word count. But each one, every day, I'm incrementally closer to completing my first novel's manuscript.

This has been tough to do as there are sacrifices that I must make and that my family just has to live with. They don't like it, but, well, tough. I have decided that when I lay my head down to die, it will be with the knowledge I had a goal and I stuck with it through to completion. And in the time between now and then I *must* write and write every single day because it's the only way to scratch that itch!

The ideas I'm expositing and the characters I'm developing have haunted me day and night for over a year and a half now. If I don't get them out on paper, I'll surely go mad (or, at least, have to live with the crushing disappointment following each and every other thing on my "woulda/coulda/shoulda" list)

For those of you in the "I'll do it when..." crowd, I rather envy you. Procrastination is an alternative for you. For me, it's simply not an option. My muse is an imperative who refuses to be ignored.

Thanks again for the supportive words, Michelle. And I can assure you and everyone else who reads this, I'm not stopping now. I couldn't stop now any more than I could tell my six-year-old son "I guess I don't need to be your daddy anymore!" I am grateful to have stuck with it this long and am glad I'm off to a decent start, but that only motivates me (sometimes fearfully so) for me to continue. Stopping anywhere before I'm done telling the complete story (which from my A-lister's estimates from my outline would be three of four novels) would render the entire exercise a colossal waste of time.

MJE
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:iconazurevirgo:
AzureVirgo Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2014
Sounds good.
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:iconveni-scripsi-vici:
Veni-Scripsi-Vici Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks for writing this journal! When I was reading the list of worst ways to start a novel, I have to admit I will disagree on one particular point and that's the descriptive sentences. Depending on what's said and HOW those descriptive sentences are written, it can be quite good or quite bad. I myself am very descriptive, always have been, and I'm a good writer.
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:iconmirz333:
mirz333 Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2014   General Artist
I think one thing to remember about ALL writing advice, is that you have to remember that it is all opinion and subjective. Granted, much of it is sound, but there is no one way to write, and no one formula for success. A quote of my own which I fall back on often is, "Take what you need, throw the rest away, and just write." That's the core of it. There are certainly gems to be taken, and I think we need to read these things in order to keep growing. But, on the other hand, we also have to take it with a grain of salt. There were quite a few things I disagreed with in that article, but overall it was well worth the read and the information good to keep in mind.

I'm glad this list helps you. In the stormy waters of the writing world, I hope I can give a little light and hope with these resources.
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:iconveni-scripsi-vici:
Veni-Scripsi-Vici Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
After reading more of the list it's making me wonder about my opening chapter for my book now lol. I don't want it to be an info dump :-/ sigh back to the drawing board I guess
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:iconmirz333:
mirz333 Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2014   General Artist
It's hard when you look at your work and realize it needs revision. But, the hope is that it will make it that much stronger.
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