Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Write Club -- Keep Writing!

Hey y'all. It's been a while since I've done one of these posts.

Okay, so I just wanted to go over something about writing. One of the hardest parts of keeping up with it (as you can see by my meager posting of the Hero of the Month segment) is that you just have to keep on writing. It's not a habit that always comes to you easily. The worst thing ever is sitting in front of a blank computer screen or page and wondering what the heck you're doing. There seems to be some sort of myth going around that writers are able to look at that blank page, press on through, and just write.

See, this is exactly what doesn't happen, and I think the myth trips up a lot of writers. It's like comedians. You always expect those guys to just think "okay, I have to write a comedy routine now" and then just sit down and do it. Nope. They have to have a goal in mind, a subject they want to go on about. It's exactly the same about writers. We never make something out of nothing.

So how in the world do we write? We have to be inspired. You'll be walking somewhere or you'll be washing dishes or staring at an awesome picture (maybe even a special word), and you'll just have a "DING DING DING!!" go off in your head in the form of inspiration or story. Sometimes this inspiration is only a little, and sometimes it's enough to actually start writing something with. In any case, the hard part is definitely sitting at your computer and typing up something out of your raw inspiration.

I've learned a lot through my years of fanfiction and poetry, so here's a few tips for young'uns to learn.

1. Write quickly after inspiration hits.

Not only do you not want to forget your inspiration, you also need to remember how much passion you felt for it. If you remember the idea but have stopped caring, it's going to be very hard to write on it. Maybe you have an idea for a story but really have more background than actual plot in your head. That's okay, write it down too. That way you can follow the next tip.

2. Reread what you write constantly.

While writing my Mega Man fanfiction, one of the things I more or less inadvertantly ended up doing was rereading my story. I started off on Okkusenman, a story where Bass gets out from under the thumb of Wily, and I found myself enjoying the story so much (doesn't it feel sometimes like someone else wrote your work?) that I just wanted to read it again and again. That proved a great way to maintain my passion for this story series, especially now that I'm on the fifth and last story of my Mega Man fanfiction. It reminds me of how much I wanted to write this story in the first place.

Not only that, but it helps me remember what directions I took in my first story. Sometimes in my later stories I'd wonder what to do next or what to give a character to make them more interesting, and then I'd look back at my writing and get inspired to do something or remember an old character trait that I need to show off again. It's a great way to find errors in your work or odd points that you can exploit and pretend was planned from the beginning.

So heck, reread your stories and even your notes about your works. It helps your brain get into the proper mode for your story so that when you think of your works, it will only be a natural extension of what you have already written rather than mismatched and sort of random plot additions or changes. *COUGH*R.A.Salvatore*COUGH*.

3. Love your characters and story.

One of the mistakes you can make is just get bored with what you're doing and just stop. Or maybe you carry on, but because you have lost your love for a person or even a plotline you just kind of go on with it for the sake of money or reviews or whatever. Just so you know, if you're bored by something, chances are your readers will be.

So if at any moment you feel bored, there are a few things you can do. You can stop working on that plotline and find some outside characters to write about. You can focus on that character and think about how they feel or how they got to a situation. Maybe go out and take a walk, or do the dishes (it's surprising how much work inspires my writing).

Maybe you could go listen to music that inspires you. This song Into Being from Paul Oakenfold's Another World (yeah, sometimes I listen to Oakenfold, sue me) really inspired me to write about Kerrigan from Starcraft. There are certain videos on youtube that make me want to write about the Mega Man universe, including fan-made music videos and let's plays of the games.

Really, at the end of the day you just have to remember that your characters are people. Notedly, so is your audience. Your audience wants to identify with the people from the story and be able to live your story through them. Write the story as if it's someone's life, and learn to describe things in a way that makes your readers think that even if it's only in some far off, fantasy alternate dimension, your story really could have happened.

4. Write incomplete ideas.

Yeah, basically don't forget the things that you don't know what to do with. Like maybe you're staring at a few inspirational words or ideas and you have a clue where to go, but you're not sure yet. Just write it down and wait. Sooner or later you'll get more ideas, or maybe you'll figure out how to attach that idea to one of your current stories. There will be times when particular inspiration won't be useful ever, but the more you think and the more ideas constantly pop into your head, then the better you'll be.

5. Have a vision and aim for it.

Oftentimes you'll have a key idea or image you're trying to express in a story or story series. This is the most important part of writing. Maybe your vision is to create a vast world with interesting creatures. Maybe you want to talk about a certain theme or emotion, how you feel on a particular topic. Or maybe you just want to fill your audience with a specific emotion, sharing your past or a specific hurt or glory in your life.

Let me emphasize this. If you have no vision, your story will suck. Period. This is the ironclad rule of all storytelling. For example, look at these movies that came out lately after you pretty much thought their series was over: Rocky, Rambo, Indiana Jones, Die Hard, etc. Rocky and Rambo had the advantage that Stallone seems to understand that you need a vision. Rocky Balboa was about not letting anyone tell you that you can't do something. Rambo was about the Karen rebels of Burma with the additional set of themes that show the perspectives of how different people feel about going into dangerous situations: some want to go without guns and show peace, others just want to stay away, still others believe that it's fine to let people trapped in terrible countries just rot, and finally there are those who will go in and fight.

Indiana Jones 4? All about the money and universally derided. Die Hard 4 actually tried to have a theme, one that basically says it sucks to be a hero, but this is a major failing because none of the other movies in the series have that theme, and it looks tacky and not a natural extension of the trilogy before it. Also they have a sucky villain, but that's a different topic. I mean, in the first movie Hans Gruber was hardcore. This guy in the fourth? Some idiot that you feel like you can just walk up to and slap in the face without consequence.

Better get back on topic...

For my story series on Mega Man, the idea which keeps me inspired is my objection to Keiji Inafune and the direction he took Mega Man in. I disagree with how dark the X series, the Zero series, and the ZX series ended up being. They tried to make Mega Man Legends more happy, but that game feels like it could be its own universe; it didn't really need to be a Mega Man game. Honestly, I feel like they sort of betrayed Mega Man Classic. Pretty much every game in the X and Zero series (I haven't yet seen playthroughs of ZX, I just know it's dark) makes the world worse off after the heroes save the day, and honestly that sucks. It's like saying that nothing you do in the end matters. So that's my motivation in what I wrote.

So anyway, the real key to writing is this: To write! You'll only get better if you write and read, making yourself more kin to the written word. Don't sit there in front of a blank page and wonder what you're going to do. Take the things running around your heart and mind and put them on paper! Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go eat food!

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