World Building Prompts!

blatisimo:

OK, posting BEFORE I post last nights. Here’s some prompts from my saved lists - take your pick and feel free to throw them back at me :)

Etiquette

  • How do people greet each other? Is there a difference between friends, relatives, and strangers?
  • What are some topics…

How to Write a Really Good Persuasive Essay

theyuniversity:

You will succeed if you read this.

10 Tips on Writing Strong Scenes For a Novel or Story | WritersDigest.com

writing-tips-blog:

10 Ways to Launch Strong Scenes

Categories: How to Improve Writing Skills, How to Start Writing a Book, 1st Chapter, Literary Fiction Writing, What’s New, Writing Your First Draft Tags: craft/technique, fiction.

Any story or novel is, in essence, a series of scenes strung together like beads on a wire, with narrative summary adding texture and color between. A work of fiction will comprise many scenes, and each one of these individual scenes must be built with a structure most easily described as having a beginning, middle and end. The beginning of each scene is what we’ll address here.

The word beginning is a bit misleading, since some scenes pick up in the middle of action or continue where others left off, so I prefer the term launch, which more clearly suggests the place where the reader’s attention is engaged anew.

Visually, in a manuscript a new scene is usually signified by the start of a chapter, by a break of four lines (called a soft hiatus) between the last paragraph of one scene and the first paragraph of the next one, or sometimes by a symbol such as an asterisk, to let the reader know that time has passed.

Each new scene still has a responsibility to the idea or plot you started with, and that is to communicate your idea in a way that is vivifying for the reader and that provides an experience, not a lecture. Scene launches, therefore, pave the way for all the robust consequences of the idea or plot to unfurl. Each scene launch is a reintroduction, capturing your reader’s attention all over again. Start each scene by asking yourself two key questions:

  • Where are my characters in the plot? Where did I leave them and what are they doing now?
  • What is the most important piece of information that needs to be revealed in this scene?

Only you and the course of your narrative can decide which kinds of launches will work best for each scene, and choosing the right launch often takes some experimentation. Here we’ll cover 10 key techniques for launching scenes in three main ways: with action, narrative summary or setting.

ACTION LAUNCHES
The sooner you start the action in a scene, the more momentum it has to carry the reader forward. If you find yourself explaining an action, then you’re not demonstrating the action any longer; you’re floating in a distant star system known as Nebulous Intellectulus—more commonly known as your head—and so is the reader.
Keep in mind the key elements of action: time and momentum. It takes time to plan a murder over late-night whispers; to cause an embarrassing scene by drunkenly dropping a jar at the grocery; to blackmail a betraying spouse; or to haul off and kick a wall in anger. These things don’t happen spontaneously, they happen over a period of time. They are sometimes quick, sometimes slow, but once started, they unfold until finished.
The key to creating strong momentum is to start an action without explaining anything:

Albert leads them all into the dining room and everyone drifts around the large teak table, studying the busily constructed salads at each place setting—salads, which, with their knobs of cheese, jutting chives and little folios of frisée, resemble small Easter hats.

“Do we wear these or eat them?” asks Jack. In his mouth is a piece of gray chewing gum like a rat’s brain.

Lorrie Moore plunges her reader into the above scene in the story “Beautiful Grade.” Although the action is quiet, there is physical movement and a sense of real time. The lack of explanation for what is happening forces the reader to press on to learn more. The action gives clues to the reader: The characters are led into a room full of wildly decorated salads that one character is uncertain whether he should eat or wear, which gives a sense of the environment—probably chic. We get a feeling for Jack—he’s got a good sense of humor. Clearly something more is going to happen in this environment, and judging from the tone of the paragraph, we can probably expect irony and humor.

Action launches tend to energize the reader’s physical senses. To create an action launch:

1. GET STRAIGHT TO THE ACTION. Don’t drag your feet here. “Jimmy jumped off the cliff” rather than “Jimmy stared at the water, imagining how cold it would feel when he jumped.”

2. HOOK THE READER WITH BIG OR SURPRISING ACTIONS. An outburst, car crash, violent heart attack or public fight at the launch of a scene allows for more possibilities within it.

3. BE SURE THAT THE ACTION IS TRUE TO YOUR CHARACTER. Don’t have a shy character choose to become suddenly uninhibited at the launch of a scene. Do have a bossy character belittle another character in a way that creates conflict.

4. ACT FIRST, THINK LATER. If a character is going to think in your action opening, let the action come first, as in, “Elizabeth slapped the Prince. When his face turned pink, horror filled her. What have I done? she thought.”

NARRATIVE LAUNCHES
Writers often try to include narrative summary, such as descriptions of the history of a place or the backstory of characters, right at the launch of a scene, believing that the reader will not be patient enough to allow actions and dialogue to tell the story. In large doses, narrative summaries are to scenes what voice-overs are to movies—distractions and interruptions.

Yet a scene launch is actually one of the easier places to use a judicious amount of narrative summary, so long as you don’t keep the reader captive too long. Take the opening of this scene in Amanda Eyre Ward’s novel How to Be Lost:

The afternoon before, I planned how I would tell her. I would begin with my age and maturity, allude to a new lover, and finish with a bouquet of promises: grandchildren, handwritten letters, boxes from Tiffany sent in time to beat the rush. I sat in my apartment drinking Scotch and planning the words.

The above bit is almost entirely narrative summary, and the only action—drinking Scotch—is described, not demonstrated. There is no real setting, and the only visual cues the reader has are vague and abstract. However, the narrative summary does demonstrate the nature of the character, Caroline—she feels she must butter her mother up, bribe her even, in order to ask for something she needs, which turns out to be a relatively small thing. It reflects Caroline’s tendency to live in her head, and shows us she’s the kind of person who must prepare herself mentally for difficult things—a theme that recurs throughout the book. It’s also useful because Caroline spends a lot of time by herself, cutting herself off from her relationships, and, therefore, it is very true to her personality. In just one short paragraph of narrative summary, the reader learns a lot about Caroline, and Ward gets to action in the next paragraph:

Georgette stretched lazily on the balcony. Below, an ambulance wailed. A man with a shopping cart stood underneath my apartment building, eating chicken wings and whistling.

If the entire scene had continued in narrative summary, it would have had a sedative effect on the reader, and the scene’s momentum would have been lost.

A narrative approach is best used with the following launch strategies:

5. SAVE TIME BY BEGINNING WITH SUMMARY. Sometimes actions will simply take up more time and space in the scene than you would like. A scene beginning needs to move fairly quickly and, on occasion, summary will get the reader there faster.

6. COMMUNICATE NECESSARY INFORMATION TO THE READER BEFORE THE ACTION KICKS IN. Sometimes information needs to be imparted simply in order to set action in motion later in the scene. Opening sentences such as, “My mother was dead before I arrived,” “The war had begun” and, “The storm left half of the city underwater,” could easily lead to action.

7. REVEAL A CHARACTER’S THOUGHTS OR INTENTIONS THAT CANNOT BE SHOWN THROUGH ACTION. Coma victims, elderly characters, small children and other characters sometimes cannot speak or act for physical, mental or emotional reasons; therefore the scene may need to launch with narration to let the reader know what they think and feel.

SETTING LAUNCHES
Sometimes setting details—like a jungle on fire, or moonlight sparkling on a lake—are so important to plot or character development that it’s appropriate to include visual setting at the launch of a scene. This is often the case in books set in unusual, exotic or challenging locations such as snowy Himalayan mountains, lush islands or brutal desert climates. If the setting is going to bear dramatically on the characters and the plot, then there is every reason to let it lead into the scene that will follow.

John Fowles’ novel The Magus is set mostly on a Greek island that leaves an indelible imprint on the main character, Nicholas. He becomes involved with an eccentric man whose isolated villa in the Greek countryside becomes the stage upon which the major drama of the novel unfolds. Therefore, it makes sense for him to launch a scene in this manner:

It was a Sunday in late May, blue as a bird’s wing. I climbed up the goat-paths to the island’s ridge-back, from where the green froth of the pine-tops rolled two miles down to the coast. The sea stretched like a silk carpet across to the shadowy wall of mountains on the mainland to the west. … It was an azure world, stupendously pure, and as always when I stood on the central ridge of the island and saw it before me, I forgot most of my troubles.

The reader needs to be able to see in detail the empty Greek countryside in which Nicholas becomes so isolated. It sets the scene for something beautiful and strange to happen, and Fowles does not disappoint.
These final three methods can create an effective scenic launch:

8. ENGAGE WITH SPECIFIC VISUAL DETAILS. If your character is deserted on an island, the reader needs to know the lay of the land. Any fruit trees in sight? What color sand? Are there rocks, shelter or wild, roaming beasts?

9. USE SCENERY TO SET THE TONE OF THE SCENE. Say your scene opens in a jungle where your character is going to face danger; you can describe the scenery in language that conveys darkness, fear and mystery.

10. REFLECT A CHARACTER’S FEELINGS THROUGH SETTING. Say you have a sad character walking through a residential neighborhood. The descriptions of the homes can reflect that sadness—houses can be in disrepair, with rotting wood and untended yards. You can use weather in the same way. A bright, powerfully sunny day can reflect a mood of great cheer in a character.

Scene launches happen so quickly and are so soon forgotten that it’s easy to rush through them, figuring it doesn’t really matter how you get it started. Don’t fall prey to that thinking. Take your time with each scene launch. Craft it as carefully and strategically as you would any other aspect of your scene. Remember that a scene launch is an invitation to the reader, beckoning him to come further along with you. Make your invitation as alluring as possible.

This article was written by Jordan E. Rosenfeld.

You might also like:

(via clevergirlhelps)

myfandomsareinfinite:

buckyunofficial:

hannibalscock:

GOD DAMN IT IT’S BEEN A YEAR WHO THE FUCK BROUGHT IT BACK.

WHO BROUGHT THIS BACK I THOUGJT I BURNED THIS POST WITH SALT AND FIRE I DONT WANT TO BE REMEMBERED LIKE THIS

This is hilarious

myfandomsareinfinite:

buckyunofficial:

hannibalscock:

GOD DAMN IT IT’S BEEN A YEAR WHO THE FUCK BROUGHT IT BACK.

WHO BROUGHT THIS BACK I THOUGJT I BURNED THIS POST WITH SALT AND FIRE I DONT WANT TO BE REMEMBERED LIKE THIS

This is hilarious

(Source: erenjaegerscock, via iamironygirl)

World Building Tips to Keep in Mind

fictionwritingtips:

World building is the process of creating a fictional or imaginary world that is the basis of your novel or series. These worlds usually have their own histories, geographies, back stories, species, etc. Although the world you’re creating is fictional, it will most…

linestorm:

200 words that describe light

(via ceywoozle)

uneditededit:

Character Motivation and Consistency:  
So lets take a moment to talk about character consistency.  This is something that I find a lot of people have a hard time with and a lot of it has to do with the actual development of the character in itself.  When making a character, we pick out traits and experiences that define our character.  All of these things including flaws and talents are important but something that people tend to forget with picking out a character is what their motivation is.  

Author Orson Scott Card reminds us “We never fully understand other people’s motivations in real life.  In fiction, however, we can help our readers understand our characters’ motivations with clarity, sometimes even certainty. This is one of the reasons why people read fiction—to come to some understanding of why other people act the way they do.”

Why is Knowing Motivation Important in Writing?:
This essentially, explains to us why characters act the way they do.  Choices are determined by the motivation of the character.  They are a guide in the choices they make because where they want to go or what they want determines what choices they are going to make.  Very very VERY seldom does anyone make a choice at random. By knowing your characters primary motivation, the choices that they make will remain consistent (Even if they are not the ‘right’ choices.  
Basic External and Internal Motivations:  

EXTERNAL: Bold-face is obverse aspect (stuff in parens = goals, effects, or other association)
Survival/safety; Fear of the world (food, water, escape from danger)
Physical comfort; gluttony (shelter, warmth, good food, health)
Pleasure; hedonism (sex, great food, culture, games)
Dominance; tyranny (power, social standing, competition, respect)
Acquisitiveness; greed (wealth, materialism, collecting, excellence)
Curiosity; voyeurism (learning, searching, investigating)
Mastery; perfectionism (excellence, conquest, discipline, achievement)
Reproduction; profligacy (children, creativity, family-building)
INTERNAL:
Autonomy; isolation (self-sufficiency, freedom, non-confinement)
Affiliation; conformity (security, cooperation, loyalty, clan)
Love; lust/ownership (connection, passion, sex, mirroring, approval, giving)
Revenge; justice (righting wrongs, recognition of grievance, vengeance)
Guilt; denial of guilt (responsibility, shame, punishment, redemption, forgiveness)
Identity; self-centeredness (self-esteem, self-knowledge, self-protection)
Surcease; conflict avoidance (peace, escape from anxiety, death)
Spirituality; fetishism (religion, transcendence, transformation)
Growth; decay, aging (learning, maturation, wisdom)
Ambition; insecurity/anxiety (fear of failure, inferiority, stress)
Vindication; rationalization (success, proving self, apology)

The Difference in between a Goal and Motivation:

The goal is like the flower… the motivation is the roots.
The goal is the outward manifestation of the motivation. It is concrete, measurable, and specific. You don’t know when you’ve fulfilled the motivation: “I want success” isn’t measurable– what’s success?  But you know when you’ve achieved a goal:  ”I want to be on the New York Times bestseller list–” That’s measurable. You’ll know when you reach it.
Just keep in mind that while the goal is the external manifestation of the motivation, the connection is not always a straight or clear one.  You can have a goal that is destructive and against your true motivation– “looking for love in all the wrong places” is an example. Or you can have a laudatory goal for a selfish or twisted motivation– “I want to be first in my class to show my father up!”
Motivation is the past; Goal is the future; Conflict is the present.

Distinguish between MOTIVATION and ACTION:

Remember that motivation exists to inspire the character to make choices and take actions.  If you’ve been told your protagonist is “too passive”, it’s likely what’s lacking is motivation that leads to action. 
Every action, however small, should be motivated.  If the motivation is obvious, then you might not have to show it (we assume that she’s running from that tiger for survival). 
Compare the external (obvious) motivation to the goal and/or actions.  If they don’t match, an internal motivation is probably in force. What hidden desire or fear is influencing actions? An alternative reason for motivation/action mismatch: You’re trying to make an original character act in stereotypical ways.
And keep this in mind: Heroism and villainy are in the action, not the motivation.  Heroes do heroic things, they don’t just intend to do them.  And villains do bad things even if they have the best of intentions.

Taking all of these things into account, here are three exercises that I found a while back and use to help figure out character motivations:

1. Real People as a template: 
Make a list of 5 people you know really well. Beside each, make notes about how they:
react to stress
experience happiness,
treat other people.
After that, list what motivates each of these behaviors. Try to be as factual as possible, drawing from things you know; for things you’re unsure of, use common sense to hypothesize.
A person might make it their goal to treat others with respect because of religious beliefs, or maybe because they were disrespected in the past. Someone might react poorly to stressful situations because they have a deep-seated fear of failure, stemming from a past experience.
2. Characters from Literature:
List 5 characters from literature and what motivated their actions throughout their respective stories.
For example, Shakespeare’sHamlet. His thoughts are motivated by revenge (because his uncle secretly killed his father), along with anger, sadness and confusion (because his mother married his uncle so soon after his father’s death).
Add to this a host of other factors, and you have a well-developed character you can understand.
3. Self reflection: 
Write paragraphs to describe
 your most frightening experience
 your happiest experience,
your most stressful experience, and how you reacted to each situation.
After, list all the factors that motivated your behavior. How is your personality shaped by your motivations?

During the story (Or role play) it is important to remember these character motivations when your character makes choices.  That is really what this is about; identifying the motivations that make your character act the way that they do.  
During the plot, motivations may change, and should actually shift for the character to develop, but never all at once and never out of the blue.  Still the back story that drives your characters motivations will always be part of them.  
For instance; I write a character whose past has made her a survivalist but over the course of a year she shifts to protection of the family that she has developed.  However this took a full year to happen and her motivation of survival was never put on the back burner.  Instead it just expanded to protection of the group and not just herself.  Her fear of lose over this new family is what really drives her.
And there you have it: Keeping your character consistent through their motivation.

uneditededit:

Character Motivation and Consistency:  

So lets take a moment to talk about character consistency.  This is something that I find a lot of people have a hard time with and a lot of it has to do with the actual development of the character in itself.  When making a character, we pick out traits and experiences that define our character.  All of these things including flaws and talents are important but something that people tend to forget with picking out a character is what their motivation is.  

Author Orson Scott Card reminds us “We never fully understand other people’s motivations in real life.  In fiction, however, we can help our readers understand our characters’ motivations with clarity, sometimes even certainty. This is one of the reasons why people read fiction—to come to some understanding of why other people act the way they do.”

Why is Knowing Motivation Important in Writing?:

This essentially, explains to us why characters act the way they do.  Choices are determined by the motivation of the character.  They are a guide in the choices they make because where they want to go or what they want determines what choices they are going to make.  Very very VERY seldom does anyone make a choice at random. By knowing your characters primary motivation, the choices that they make will remain consistent (Even if they are not the ‘right’ choices.  

Basic External and Internal Motivations:  

EXTERNAL: 
Bold-face is obverse aspect (stuff in parens = goals, effects, or other association)

  • Survival/safety; Fear of the world (food, water, escape from danger)
  • Physical comfort; gluttony (shelter, warmth, good food, health)
  • Pleasure; hedonism (sex, great food, culture, games)
  • Dominance; tyranny (power, social standing, competition, respect)
  • Acquisitiveness; greed (wealth, materialism, collecting, excellence)
  • Curiosity; voyeurism (learning, searching, investigating)
  • Mastery; perfectionism (excellence, conquest, discipline, achievement)
  • Reproduction; profligacy (children, creativity, family-building)


INTERNAL:

  • Autonomy; isolation (self-sufficiency, freedom, non-confinement)
  • Affiliation; conformity (security, cooperation, loyalty, clan)
  • Love; lust/ownership (connection, passion, sex, mirroring, approval, giving)
  • Revenge; justice (righting wrongs, recognition of grievance, vengeance)
  • Guilt; denial of guilt (responsibility, shame, punishment, redemption, forgiveness)
  • Identity; self-centeredness (self-esteem, self-knowledge, self-protection)
  • Surcease; conflict avoidance (peace, escape from anxiety, death)
  • Spirituality; fetishism (religion, transcendence, transformation)
  • Growth; decay, aging (learning, maturation, wisdom)
  • Ambition; insecurity/anxiety (fear of failure, inferiority, stress)
  • Vindication; rationalization (success, proving self, apology)

The Difference in between a Goal and Motivation:

The goal is like the flower… the motivation is the roots.

The goal is the outward manifestation of the motivation. It is concrete, measurable, and specific. 
You don’t know when you’ve fulfilled the motivation: “I want success” isn’t measurable– what’s success?  But you know when you’ve achieved a goal:  ”I want to be on the New York Times bestseller list–” That’s measurable. You’ll know when you reach it.

Just keep in mind that while the goal is the external manifestation of the motivation, the connection is not always a straight or clear one.  You can have a goal that is destructive and against your true motivation– “looking for love in all the wrong places” is an example. 
Or you can have a laudatory goal for a selfish or twisted motivation– “I want to be first in my class to show my father up!”

Motivation is the past; Goal is the future; Conflict is the present.

Distinguish between MOTIVATION and ACTION:

Remember that motivation exists to inspire the character to make choices and take actions.  If you’ve been told your protagonist is “too passive”, it’s likely what’s lacking is motivation that leads to action. 

Every action, however small, should be motivated.  If the motivation is obvious, then you might not have to show it (we assume that she’s running from that tiger for survival). 

Compare the external (obvious) motivation to the goal and/or actions.  If they don’t match, an internal motivation is probably in force. What hidden desire or fear is influencing actions? 
An alternative reason for motivation/action mismatch: You’re trying to make an original character act in stereotypical ways.

And keep this in mind: 
Heroism and villainy are in the action, not the motivation.  Heroes do heroic things, they don’t just intend to do them.  And villains do bad things even if they have the best of intentions.

Taking all of these things into account, here are three exercises that I found a while back and use to help figure out character motivations:

1. Real People as a template: 

Make a list of 5 people you know really well. Beside each, make notes about how they:

  1. react to stress
  2. experience happiness,
  3. treat other people.

After that, list what motivates each of these behaviors. Try to be as factual as possible, drawing from things you know; for things you’re unsure of, use common sense to hypothesize.

A person might make it their goal to treat others with respect because of religious beliefs, or maybe because they were disrespected in the past. Someone might react poorly to stressful situations because they have a deep-seated fear of failure, stemming from a past experience.

2. Characters from Literature:

List 5 characters from literature and what motivated their actions throughout their respective stories.

For example, Shakespeare’sHamlet. His thoughts are motivated by revenge (because his uncle secretly killed his father), along with anger, sadness and confusion (because his mother married his uncle so soon after his father’s death).

Add to this a host of other factors, and you have a well-developed character you can understand.

3. Self reflection: 

Write paragraphs to describe

  1.  your most frightening experience
  2.  your happiest experience,
  3. your most stressful experience, and how you reacted to each situation.

After, list all the factors that motivated your behavior. How is your personality shaped by your motivations?

During the story (Or role play) it is important to remember these character motivations when your character makes choices.  That is really what this is about; identifying the motivations that make your character act the way that they do.  

During the plot, motivations may change, and should actually shift for the character to develop, but never all at once and never out of the blue.  Still the back story that drives your characters motivations will always be part of them.  

For instance; I write a character whose past has made her a survivalist but over the course of a year she shifts to protection of the family that she has developed.  However this took a full year to happen and her motivation of survival was never put on the back burner.  Instead it just expanded to protection of the group and not just herself.  Her fear of lose over this new family is what really drives her.

And there you have it: Keeping your character consistent through their motivation.

(via referenceforwriters)

Character Consistency

fuckyeahcharacterdevelopment:

If readers are going to understand character development, know when someone is behaving in an atypical manner, or form attachments to a character, consistent characterization is necessary.

Consistent characterization means that the writer has a clear understanding of their characters…

tayjxrdine said: How do I kill off a hero?

fixyourwritinghabits:

MERCILESSLY AND WHILE CACKLING WITH GLEE.

*ahem* Sorry, I have to stop channeling George R.R. Martin.

When you kill off any hero, you have to remember the following things:

  • The audience needs a reason to care about the death. Quite a few years ago, I happened to watch a short behind the scenes on The Incredibles that mentioned there was originally going to be a pilot character who would be killed off to show how serious the situation was. The decision to cut him due to the fact that in order to make the audience care about his death, he would need more screen time than they could afford to give him. In other words, your readers need to know your characters before they die. The better they know them and how they think and feel, the more effective their death is.
  • Leave the shock value deaths to horror movies. There’s a difference between a pointless death that angers readers and a death that causes them to care. A lot of this is left, in my opinion, to how the other characters feel about the death. In schlock horror movies, character deaths are about the gore and creativity of the death, not about how it affects the characters or the readers. In real life, deaths have impact, from friends to strangers. However the death is done, exploring the impact of it on the remaining characters is essential.
  • How the character dies is important to the theme of your story. A lot of movies will make it seem that a heroic sacrifice is the best way for a hero to go for the maximum effect, but if that’s not the point of your story, you don’t have to go that way. Heroes can die in all sorts of ways, not always in battle or to save the earth. They can die from cancer, they can die in a car accident. They can die doing something stupid. In a book, character deaths will have meaning, but it’s up to you to decide what meaning that will have. (Speaking of George R.R. Martin, this is something he’s quite good at.) Look carefully at how you want the death to impact both the plot and the characters.
  • Death isn’t beautiful, it isn’t erotic, and it’s often messy. When people die from a long illness, they don’t look pale and pretty. When people die in a fight, there’s blood and gore. Bodies bloat and decompose. They don’t look attractive like they do on cop shows to keep people watching. Your dead hero is not going to go out beautifully and bloodless, and that’s okay. It’s part of death. Don’t be afraid to show it.
  • Don’t hold back, but don’t be afraid to care. The more you ensure your readers are attached to your hero, the more you will become attached. On the other hand, if you don’t care about the character because you know they will die, your readers will pick up on that too. Don’t be afraid to put real emotion into it, but don’t let that emotion stop you from carrying through. It’s good to care, but it’s also important to stick to your story. (And if you’re not a wreck when you kill a character, that’s okay too! Just make sure your story gives the reader reasons to care for them.)

Do you know all of the following vocabulary words?

theyuniversity:

Many students we know are using their precious summer break to prepare for the October SAT.

image

As you study the hundreds or thousands of vocabulary words, make sure that you master all of the following words. If they’re missing from your flash cards, vocabulary books, or smartphone apps, add them.

They appeared on a recent official College Board SAT exam (October 2012), and they are some of the test’s favorite words.

image

Make sure that you know not only what the words mean but also how to use them in context. Vocabulary.comis the best source of usage examples.

image 

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