Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Looking Up Your Characters

It's been a while! (Which seems to become my fixed first sentence, sorry about that). School's been really busy for the past few months, but I'm done for now. 

Some weeks ago, I started a new project and I did something I might have told about before. I searched the internet for pictures of my characters. I put them in a Word Document and wrote a short description of a few lines next to it. That way, I got to know what my main character looks like, what her family is like and what the different looks of her teachers and classmates are.

Of course I spent some time doing that. Time I didn't actually write the story. But now I'm writing the actual thing, I find out more and more the helpfulness of this document. Every once in a while, I open this thing and have a quick look at the color of the character's eyes, whether or not this person is in the same class as my main character and if I use the right name for the right person.

My main character for my current project. 
This way, I'm a little bit more protected for mistakes like giving my main character three different types of hair throughout the book, or changing the name of the biology teacher. 

I think this is a helpful 'tool' for writing the story. I think I even decided the names the characters based on their pictures, although it sometimes was the other way around.

Besides this, it always motivates me at least a little bit when I open my first draft and think about what I have to write. Looking at my characters pulls me a bit in their world and that's the thing we want when writing, don't we?

Have you ever used pictures of persons who represented your character while writing? If so, did you find it helpful? If not, would you consider doing it?

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Schedule destruction

It's been a while! I've been pretty busy with school and other things. I even made a trip to Malta with my class, which was absolutely wonderful.

But that one week away destroys my whole schedule.

For example: CampNaNo has been running during April (and yay for all winners!). I'm not sure if I would have participated anyway, but not being able to write for one week, of the four and something weeks you have, doesn't stimulate you to try, does it?

It's not the only thing that 'suffered'. I was following a course on linguistics, but since I went away, my discipline for that course has become less. I had missed one full week (of the five) and it would/will be quite some work to catch up on that, especially because I haven't too much time left. This week I didn't watch a single lesson of that course, although I could have, maybe.

Should I punish myself? Should I look to myself in the mirror and start to preach or something like that? Or should I just accept that things go the way they go?

The best thing would probably be something in between.

Look, it's not like I'm on a life changing deadline or something. It's not that I'll fail, will get a bad grade or will drop out from school. These are just things for my leisure time, things I do for 'fun', although I want to treat them quite seriously. So it's not the end of everything when I don't do what I perhaps should do.

But training yourself in discipline, even when it's voluntarily, can be a great exercise for your future. I know I'm not totally lacking of discipline, since I still do my homework :) However, I think we should encourage each other to set little goals and to reach them, as far as possible.

So maybe I should better go back to my writing now...

What about you? Do you always have the motivation and discipline to do the voluntarily things you told yourself to do? If not, what do you do to get back on track?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Beyond Words

It's been a while, huh? But anyway, here I am again.

As you might have found out, I kinda love writing. Perhaps I don't do it as often as I would want (or should want), but once I am writing, I feel a certain emotion which I only experience when I'm writing. A feeling of intense satisfaction, but yet a kind of humbleness.

Writing helps me, as I have said before, to process my thoughts and feelings. Words are great things to drop your anger and sadness in. You put them on the paper and they won't feel it, but you've get rid of your anger. Or at least that's what you want.

But sometimes...

Sometimes, even words fall apart when you want to describe something. Have you ever tried to explain what love is? It will take you quite some time, and still, you'll not be able to describe it in its full extent.

Sometimes, I get a feeling which I can't put down in words. I had it some days ago, when I played my instrument at a place where quite some people were listening to me. I was nervous before, but once I had started and had dived into the story of the piece, I lost my nerves and forgot about everyone around me. Well, almost. Of course you're always somehow aware that hundreds of people are listening to you ;-)

It gave me a feeling of intense happiness, which I haven't experienced much in my life.

These words come close to what I felt, but it's still not the actual feeling. I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to put in words. However, that doesn't matter. Sometimes, the best memories are just 'locked in the brain'.

But these emotions can help you. When you're stuck in your writing, you can think about those moments and try do describe them. Think about these intense feelings, listen to some music and go back to your writing. You'll be inspired again.

Although some things really can not be put down in words. That's fine. Some things are too big to be written down. Keep them for yourself and use them once you need them.

Have you ever experienced emotions you weren't able to put down in words, even though you love writing?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Playing with Words

Something I really like about writing is the fact that is has to do with several parts of expression. Writing is about your feeling, your emotion. Things which bother you or which you've experienced can be the perfect source for a touching story.

Besides, writing for me is also playing with words. It's quite funny to realize that we've only 26 letters in our alphabet. Just 26. Count your fingers, your toes, ears, eyes, nose and mouth and that's 26.

The Dutch language already contains millions and millions of words, formed by these letters, and the number is growing every day.

These words can form a sentence. A sentence can be as long as you want. It can be just two words, or three, or twenty-five.

Your options are endless.

Putting the words into a sentence is one of the great aspects of writing. I'm trying for myself to write short pieces of text, mainly focusing on nice sentences, double (or hidden) meanings and figures of speech. When the words are ordered in the correct way, when you use the right words to describe what you want to see and to give the reader a special feeling, that's when a sentence works.

Putting words into a sentence, or making a sentence itself, can be hard. Some sentences don't belong on certain places, whereas they would be brilliant somewhere else.

Use your words and sentences as pieces of a puzzle. When you put everything in the right place, you'll get a beautiful, complete picture. Write the puzzle.

Have you ever considered to focus on the words you use and the sentences you make instead of focusing on your plot or characters? What do you think is more important, a good story or great writing?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A letter to my First Draft

Dear First Draft,

You're finished for now, congratulations! Although you shouldn't think you're a finished product. You still need a lot of work, as you might know.

Perhaps I told you where the idea about you came from. It had something to do with a certain sermon and a ride in the car... But why should I explain that? It isn't important. The idea needs to be turned into a story, and that's what I tried to do. Or what I tried to start, that would be a better way to put it.

I worked on you during a 100/4/100 challenge, which motivated me to write on you. At the end, I needed a kind of break, but once I didn't have the 100/4/100 pressure anymore, I wrote some more, with the idea to finish you asap.

I didn't finish you directly, because I actually didn't know how to finish you. But then, you told me something that I kinda liked, actually. However, it means that you need a lot of work to make it a bit more natural.

Anyway, you know you haven't been the easiest child I've had, but then again, there's nothing wrong with that. I really, really hope that once I've read you again and made a second draft of you, I'll love you even more than I do now.

I want you to become my written child, such as your older siblings. And I ask you to be a little bit patient with me. Come on, give me some time, I'll fix you.
I hope.

Kind regards,

Yours truly

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Beautiful People (Author Edition)

Another Beautiful People link-up! This time it's an narcissistic one: The Author Edition. So prepare for some rambling about myself. I'm sorry, guys.

1. How many years have you been writing? When did you officially consider yourself a ‘writer’?
As far as I remember, I have been writing since I was a little child, like 6 years old or so. But I wouldn't call it officially writing, I didn't write full manuscripts or so. I think I started doing that two or three years ago. Still, I don't dare to call myself a writer, like 'Hello, I'm a writer'. I'd rather say 'I like writing'.
2. How/why did you start writing?
I think I started writing to process my feelings, somehow. My main characters were more or less like me. The more I write, the more I hope to make my characters like themselves, not like myself.
3. What’s your favorite part of writing?
My favorite part is, I think, editing. I have a first draft, an idea and I want to make that idea work the best as possible. It's a great feeling to shape your awkward first draft into something that actually can be called something like a book.
4. What’s your biggest writing struggle?
I love/hate first drafts. It's great to work out your brilliant idea, but then, the distance between 0 and, let's say, 45,000 words, is quite a long one... 
5. Do you write best at night or day?
It depends. I mostly write in the evenings, but when I have time, I try to write in afternoons. And it's at that moments that I mostly can write more then one chapter (my chapters are mostly between the 1,000 and 1,500 words)
6. What does your writing space look like? (Feel free to show us pictures!)
Well, it's nothing special. Just my desk and my laptop, the same place as where I do my homework.
7. How long does it typically take you to write a complete draft?
This depends. A lot. I had some first drafts which took me almost a year to finish, which was because I didn't know how to finish it. I took a break from it, but I eventually finished them.
8. How many projects do you work on at once?
I try to work on one project at once, unless I'm not actively working on a project, for example when I've taken a break between a first and second draft. It also depends when the ideas come. You can't really control that, can you?
9. Do you prefer writing happy endings, sad ones, or somewhere in between?
Somewhere in between. I don't want to have too happy, predictable endings, but when I write sad ones, they should at least by satisfying. It also depends on the manuscript I'm working on. Some stories require a sad ending, some don't.
10. List a few authors who’ve influenced your writing journey.
Stephanie Morrill, Stephanie Morrill, Stephanie Morrill, and after that Jill Williamson, Rachel Coker and perhaps Anne Lamott.
11. Do you let people read your writing? Why or why not?
You want an honest answer? I almost never share my writing. I think I've one manuscript that I've shared with two or three friends, but that's it. Sharing your writing feels like putting yourself out there naked.
12. What’s your ultimate writing goal or dream?
I'm thinking if or if not I want to be published and follow that dream, but my ultimate dream is to inspire people by my writing, to touch them, to help them or just to entertain them.
13. If you didn’t write, what would you want to do?
I have a shared passion, of which writing holds 50,000001 per cent. The other part is music, which helps me by my writing as well. I also play some instruments and I sing a lot too. So perhaps I'd focus on something in music.
14. Do you have a book you’d like to write one day but don’t feel you’re ready to attempt it yet?
Yep, I have. I have something like one third of a first draft about another world with other political rules, something like that, but it needs deeper research and further investigation to make it work.
15. Which story has your heart and won’t let go?
Honestly? All my stories have my heart. I sometimes have the danger of admiring my finished projects and not working on the current ones, but I love all my babies ;-)

I'd love to know what your writer characteristics are. So go join the link-up!

Monday, December 29, 2014

My 2014 (and what I would like for 2015)

Christmas is over, and so is 2014. Within two days, we'll have our oliebollen and appelbeignets (you can look up what that means) and of course the fireworks.

Time to reflect on the past year. I remember that at the beginning of the year, I said somewhere in a comment (and since NotebookSisters moved to Paperfury.com, that comment seems to be lost) that I would like to finish a brand new first draft. Perhaps I mentioned other things, but this is the one I remember.

Did I manage to finish a new draft where I didn't even had a clue of in January?

Not yet. Unless I write crazily the next two or three days (which I probably won't do), I will not finish my first draft in 2014. But I know where I have to go to and what it should be like. Possibly after a lot of rewrites, but still.

Of course I also had some other drafts I started, but they didn't work out, so they're on my digital shelf, being busy with collecting dust and waiting to be put in the rubbish bin - or not.

I also revised two other projects that I still love. I know you should look forward and not stay with you babies forever, but that's quite difficult sometimes...

So, do I have any plans for 2015, in case I'll still be healthy and alive?

Sure I have. As I said before, I want to finish and rewrite One Year Left (where I still need a good Dutch title for). And I have vague plans for another projects, with thanks to our inspiring king. I might explain this later ;-).

Koning Willem-Alexander benadrukte donderdag in zijn kersttoespraak dat Nederland zijn kracht ontleent aan eenheid en tolerantie. "Eenheid zonder verscheidenheid is verstikkend. Verscheidenheid zonder eenheid is los zand. Nederland is meer dan zeventien miljoen selfies'', aldus de koning. Willem-Alexander sprak ook over het verdriet na de vliegramp met de MH17, die voor ,,duizenden mensen in ons land en daarbuiten'' het kerstfeest overschaduwt. Ook andere ontwikkelingen in de wereld, "aan de grenzen van Europa'', hebben volgens de koning hun weerslag op het leven in Nederland. Er vinden "felle krachtmetingen plaats'' en door het geweld zoeken "miljoenen mensen een veilig heenkomen''. "Spanningen zetten ook onze samenleving onder druk, landelijk, maar ook dichtbij huis'', zei Willem-Alexander. Hij waarschuwde dat dit geen aanleiding mag zijn voor uitspattingen. "Hoe intens overtuigingen ook kunnen worden beleefd, ze zijn geen vrijbrief voor elk willekeurig gedrag."
'The Netherlands are more than 17 million selfies'

Your turn! How was 2014? What are your plans for 2015?