Weekend Writing Warriors #17

Hey all! Thanks for stopping by 🙂 This snippet is from my WIP, Nightfire, and a direct continuation of last week. You can check out other snippets from this book, or my other book, Ember, here. To meet some new authors, read some great writing, or join in the 8-sentence fun, stop by at Weekend Writing Warriors!

Image

_________

This makes his smile widen. “And that’s why I like you.”

Mina snorts. “When you wake up with your guts spilling out of you, I’m going to say I told you so. Ferals only know how to deal with blood and bullets, and that’s all they’ll get from me. She’ll have a bullet in her brain and I’ll be long gone, guts intact.”

I like this one. At least, when she wants to kill me, I know how to handle her.

______

It’s not quite the end of the scene, but thought that was a good place to stop while still giving a good impression of their personalities 🙂 I have one more post planned before my break. Thank you so much for reading, and look forward to your posts as always. Happy 8sunday!

 

Blog Post and Novel Excerpt © Victoria Davenport and the Coffee.Write.Repeat. blog

Why I Don’t Write Every Day

Yes, you read that right. While practically everyone else is telling you “write every day” like a mantra to be repeated until you are getting very sleepy, I am telling you the exact opposite.

Why? Why not write every day? Isn’t practice the key to  getting better? If all the bestselling authors say it, isn’t that the secret to becoming a brilliant author?

Yes, and no. I think “write every day” is good advice for those just starting out. When you are just starting as a writer, you  need all the time and practice you can get to develop yourself as a writer, which can only really come from getting words on the page. So if you are new to writing, by all means, write every day. If you are anyone really, and you want to write every day, by all means go for it!

I am not here to stand in the way of anyone who wants to write all the time. That’s awesome, go do it! I am here to talk to those who beat themselves up because they don’t.

First of all, writing every day assumes a lot of things. You don’t have a full-time day job, or three kids, or a full class load, or a social life, or basically anything else. It assumes you have time to sit down at a computer and pour your soul out, every day of the week. Even if you can find time to wedge writing between the conference calls and cleaning spit up and cramming for a test, do you really want to write right then?

You sit down and stare at that blinking cursor on a blank part of the page, and it seems a lot less like your passion and more like another one of the day’s many chores to cross off your list. I don’t think anyone should ever feel that way about writing. When that happens, you have stopped being a writer, and become a machine, going through the motions.

Yes, there will be days you don’t feel like writing, and you shouldn’t let that stop you. You shouldn’t use lack of motivation or inspiration as an excuse, but sometimes it happens. Sometimes you just don’t feel like writing, and you shouldn’t force it. You shouldn’t force it because then your words will feel forced, which the reader can tell, not to mention you end up starting to hate everything to do with writing.

The only time I have ever forced myself to write (almost) every day was for CampNaNo. Honestly, I would never do it again. I was exhausted, and every time I sat down to write I started to hate it more and more. The words suffered for it, too. I am still cleaning up the mess of some of those scenes I wrote, and probably will be for a while to come.

I don’t write every day because writing every day sucks the life and joy out of it for me. I start to dread it, feel obligated, and guilty when I don’t. I hate that feeling. When I sit down to write, I want to feel excited. I want my mind to be whirling with all kinds of scenes and voices and images that I just can’t wait to put on the page.

Now one thing I will tell you to do (almost) every day is read. I learn more in an hour of reading than I do in ten hours of writing, and I could never get burnt out.

Writing every day works for some people, which is great (but we secretly hate those people). For those of you who it doesn’t work for (like me) don’t worry about it. Write as much as you can, as often as you can, but never let it take away your love for writing.

 

Worthy of the Week

Untitled23

Hey all! Here is this Friday’s Worthy of the Week, a weekly breakdown of things worth sharing. If you like what you see, feel free to join in! Just post your link in the comments, and I’ll stop by 🙂 Check out the others here. 

Inspiration

I don’t usually do a video for inspiration, but thought this video was so powerful, and had so much story in it. Something about the little boy in a doctor’s coat, treating battle-torn adults not only tugged my heartstrings, but made my writer’s brain churn. Definitely worth the watch, though be warned it is about the Syria conflict and is rather violent and graphic.

Issues

Though I really have no connection to it, Ferguson really affected me. So much so that I wrote an entire post about it. But I recently found this post which highlights the issue around the Ferguson events, and that this is not just a one-time tragedy, it is a pattern. And clearly, a large part of it is about race, whether we want to admit it or not.

Words of Wisdom

You’ve probably heard this quote before, but I think this is important for writers. This is part of what I love about books and what I try to do through my writing. Everything else will fade, but words and their feelings remain. Despite time, distance, and language, words never cease their ability to connect us.

This Week's Quote: Maya Angelou

 

To Build A Story: Nameless

Names can be tricky. Sometimes I’ll go days, weeks, or even months without being able to choose a good name for a character. If this happens, I use some kind of placeholder, usually the first name that pops into my head. It works in the mean time, but it’s just not right. 

Right now, I have two characters in my WIP Nightfire. They are ferals like my protagonist Kera, which means they are basically a native people who mostly live in tribes outside of civilization. They are brother and sister, and skilled warriors. The girl is small, sharp-tongued, and quick, and she loves knives. The brother is large and strong, serious, blind, and very spiritual.

As of now, their placeholders are Namri and Nayo. They work, but they just don’t feel quite right for these two. I have been working on a lot of world-building lately, and have started to base the feral culture around Eskimo and Inuit people. I’ve started adapting the Eskimo languages into words and phrases I can use in Nightfire, and would love for these two characters to have Eskimo based names.

Now it’s your turn to help me! I’ll put two polls below, one for the brother and one for the sister, with some of my options and their meanings, though some have been chosen just for how they sound. Choose your favorite, and hopefully we can find the right names together 🙂

A Whole New World

Hey all, sorry for the relative silence! I’ve been busy with classes starting and everything, but I am trying my best 🙂

I’ve said before that characters are the most important thing in a story. What is the second most important thing? Not plot, but world. But how can it be a story without a plot?

The reason I say world is more important than plot is because I think plot is relatively easy. Yes you have to come up with something different and interesting, but it’s point A to point B to climax to end. I say world instead of setting because I think it is just that–a world. It is the living,  breathing world that is not only where this story takes place, but could go on with its own stories afterward. I think world-building takes a lot more skill, and is a crucial part of the story that a lot of writers miss.

There can be many different approaches to world-building, but they all basically have the same goal: create an environment that feels real, no matter how imaginary.

When I first started writing books, world-building was something I more or less neglected entirely. Yes there was a setting–a futuristic city–but there was no world. There were a lot of nondescript hallways and buildings and places that probably made no logical sense but I used them because they worked for my plot (which I always put first). They did not have a world, but a shell. They were actors on a stage, with only a flat backdrop behind them.

Through reading, I learned that the stories I fell in love with were not the exciting ones, but the ones that completely enveloped me in this other world, so much so that I lost myself in them. Two of my favorites are The Hunger Games and Shadow and Bone. Shadow and Bone is probably my favorite example of world-building. I mean, wow.

Here are some of the things I have noticed that great world-building books use:

1. Details. The kind that you probably don’t even notice. The line about a rat scampering off into the darkness, or the smell of the salt air. These flesh out the world, and give the reader a sense of the world being alive, tangible. A good tip for details is to use senses, especially those other than sight, ones you don’t always think about when writing, like smell or taste.

2. People. No, your characters don’t count. This is a big thing I have noticed in successful books like The Hunger Games. There are mentions of people we never learn the names of, but they are there. Specific people, not just a crowd or group. A young woman and her children at the market, an old man sitting on a stoop playing cards. Your world does not just have your story, it has a hundred other stories in it as well, each with their own protagonists. Your characters cannot be the only real people, or their world feels empty.

3. Location. This one is a little bit trickier. What comes to mind for me is Shadow and Bone, when they are travelling, and each town or village has a name and something memorable about it. Some are harbor towns, others farming villages, some trading towns. But I think what makes it feel real is that each one of these places is established. The characters are not going from point A to point B, they are going from Townville to Villagetown, and each one has its own set of people and details to go with it. Think of each place as its own little world, with its own stories that will continue on as they always have, with or without your characters there.

4. Culture. This one is huge, but can be difficult. Every world and every society has some type of culture. This is everything from art and music, to laws and crime, to language and social expectations. It is difficult because it can be complex, and hard to be unique. It doesn’t have to be completely out there, though. You don’t have to create an entire language and law code and unique method of art. I think considering social structure and expectations is the easiest and most effective way to establish culture. It can be simple, such as how women are treated or how separated the classes are, but just taking the time to think about how these people live their lives can make a huge difference.

These are the four main things I have noticed, though each one can have different elements within it. I will write another couple posts on world-building, specifically how I have learned and used it in my WIP, Nightfire, which is something I am pretty excited to share with y’all 🙂 I hope these have helped. Do you agree? Did I leave something out? Let me know what you think!

Weekend Writing Warriors #16

Hey all! Thanks for stopping by 🙂 This snippet is from my WIP, Nightfire, and a direct continuation of last week. You can check out other snippets from this book, or my other book, Ember, here. To meet some new authors, read some great writing, or join in the 8-sentence fun, stop by at Weekend Writing Warriors!

Image

_________

His smile lingers. “Your eyes–they don’t hide anything, unlike most people, I like it.”

I feel heat rise up from somewhere—whether anger or shame, I can’t tell. I was prepared for civilians to hate me, to try to kill me. All my life, anything outside of Mother and Hana has been dangerous, and deadly–I can handle something trying to kill me, but now I am faced with something that isn’t, and I am clueless.

I harden my gaze instead, boring into him. “Then you are stupid–It is never smart to trust. Anyone can kill you, even if you like them–I would kill you, and not even blink.”

______

I’ll post one more snippet from this interaction to finish, then I am debating one more post before I take a break. Thank you so much for reading 🙂 Look forward to your posts, and happy 8sunday!

 

Blog Post and Novel Excerpt © Victoria Davenport and the Coffee.Write.Repeat. blog

 

 

From The Outside Looking In

You have probably heard of the recent chaos that is Ferguson. If you haven’t, I suggest you read this post. If you have, I suggest you read it anyways. I know this is totally non-book related, but I just had to get this out. Since I first heard of it more than a week ago, I keep reading bits and pieces of each side of the story, usually conflicting and confusing. I have yet to read something that breaks the whole situation down, and looks at both sides. I hope to do that here, and in the process sort out this tangle of thoughts and feelings I have about Ferguson. I am in no way an expert in any of this, but both sides of each point are taken from real arguments and points I have seen made.

Side 1: Michael Brown was a criminal and thug. He stole cigars from a convenience store and matched the description of the criminal. The cop who shot him feared for his life, and shot in self defense. 

Side 2: Michael Brown was a 17-year-old boy who was about to be the first in his family to attend college. The security footage which is pointed to as evidence of him robbing the store has also been used to show he paid for them, or that it’s difficult to identify him in the video at all. Even if he had stolen the cigars, the penalty for theft is not death. Self defense is understandable, but Michael Brown was unarmed at the time, and was shot six times. According to one of the autopsies, one of those bullets entered the top of his head, indicating he was already face-down on the ground. Autopsies also showed he was not at close range (read: not dangerous) when he was shot. Also, why six potentially fatal bullets? A tazer or shot to the leg would have stopped him, without having to kill him.

Side 1: People started riots and looting after his death, and many used it as an excuse for violence. Force is necessary in return to keep order and protect the people.

Side 2: The majority of protesters were entirely peaceful, with only a handful who were violent in any way. Yet, SWAT and military trucks, assault rifles, and tear gas was brought out in full, threatening force. Many were held at gunpoint and arrested including media, and both tear gas and rubber bullets were fired on peaceful protesters. Also, some looting was out of need–such as protesters who broke into a McDonalds to get milk for those who had been hit with tear gas.

Side 1: They are trying to make everything about race. Why does no one care when it is black-on-white crime? 

Side 2: Missouri, and specifically Ferguson, apparently has racism deeply embedded in its history. Many witnesses and protesters reported police officers and dispatchers calling them racial slurs when they tried to get information, or to talk peacefully. There is also a long precedent of police officers discriminating against those of color, and that has sometimes ended in tragedy, such as the recent death of Eric Garner who was choked to death by a police officer. They are making it about race because at least some part about it is, the world just doesn’t want to see it. (Also, have you noticed how few of the police officers are not white? I have only seen one man of color in the entire force.)

Side 1: Why don’t the media and protesters just go home? They are just stirring the pot. They want the attention and excitement.

Side 2: Yes, they could go home, but their problems wouldn’t go away. Maybe for the media–but it is the media’s job to show the world these things, especially the things that people try so hard to hide and keep from the public (such as the lies about tear gas and corralling media away from action). They have every right to protest, and they are angry. They want to be seen and heard, because they are tired of the way things are and they want change.

 

So far, I think those are the main controversies that I have observed (please point out anything I might have missed). From someone who is relatively detached from the situation and conflict, I find myself siding with the protesters. The police have lied, kept secrets, used unnecessary violence, shot rubber bullets at protesters, violated first amendment rights, and shot tear gas at peaceful protesters including children (and lied about it). For me, there are too many tallies against them that I have a hard time seeing their side, even when I look at the facts. And I did try to weigh both sides, and see how they might be justified.

But the truth is, none of this is. Even if Michael Brown had been a criminal who robbed a store and been shot by a cop acting in self defense, even if there were looters and rioters, even if they’re making this about race and trying to stir the pot, does not justify a police force that looks too much like an occupying army in an oppressive regime. Attacking unarmed and peaceful civilians? Taking away rights, violating the first amendment, and enforcing their rules with an iron fist?

Really, it makes me angry. How could we as humans do this? How could we let this happen? It makes me want to get there on the front lines and chant for justice right along with them.

It is shocking that this could ever happen, that it is still happening, and that we haven’t really done anything about it. And honestly, it is terrifying. To see how easily this did happen, how fragile our system and our little world is, and just how close we are to real life dystopia.

My thoughts and prayers are with those in Ferguson this week, and I really hope this gets resolved soon, for all of our sakes.

 

 

This video is a quick, factual, and clear breakdown of the situation and some of the factors behind it.

Also worth checking out: This news interview, these pictures, and this article.