3 Types of Cliches

Who else cringes when reading a straight out cliche?

I certainly do.

There are a few different types of cliches, some are annoying and eye-roll-worthy, and others aren’t so bad because sometimes you can’t avoid them.

  1. eye-roll-worthy is the type of cliche that I just read in (I won’t say what book because you may be a fan). But, I’ll give an example of where I’m going. A smart teenage boy with extraordinary powers goes to high school, gets bullied by big jock for no apparent reason other than the pretty girl who reads books and has no flaws and a blond pony (whom of which big jock has crush on/used to date) was nice to teenage boy with extraordinary powers. Wow, that was one long sentence! Wait a minute, was I talking about (inserts 2 completely different stories that somehow have that exact plot).  I won’t say what two story’s came to mind, but if you’ve ever read YA, you get where I’m coming from. I’ve seen that scenario and everything similar to it so many times it’s exhausting.
  2. The unavoidable cliches because it’s your only option. For example, using a tracker for the bad guys to track your hero. I’ve seen that many, many, times, in many famous and lovable stories. It’s sometimes the only way that could possibly work for the plot of a story. Though if you find some way around an unavoidable cliche, take it, take it, take it.
  3. The cliche characters cliche. You know what I’m talking about, the mean tough girl who uses a sad past as an excuse to be a jerk, love interest with no purpose other than being a love interest, excitable nerd kid genius, etc, etc. There are tons of cliche character types that have been written over, and over again, and are still being written. Go beyond what you know and use your own creativity to make the most extraordinary, unforgettable, characters you can.

 

Happy Writing! ~ Tatyana

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Write, Reread, Rewrite, Repeat.

I think the title of this post explains everything you need to know about writing (what you hope will be) your final draft.

I’ve already written my entire first draft and it was… a complete mess.

But that’s okay. That’s actually more than okay. While writing a first draft, your focus shouldn’t be on making sure it’s perfect or everything matches up, your focus just needs to be on getting it done.

But today I’m not focusing on first drafts, I’m focusing on the later draft(s). They are the hardest, darndest, part of writing. What felt hard before, is a piece of cake once you start writing second (or third or fourth) drafts.

Maybe it’s not so hard for you, but I’m a messy, unorganized writer. My first draft was a big jumble of words that didn’t quite fit together with the plot (like I’ve mentioned before my character’s name changed three times, and I didn’t go back and change it because I was too lazy) but instead of editing it to make sense, I just ignored it and kept writing.

But with later drafts, you can’t say “I’ll do it later”, you have to do it now. Because serious drafts need as much work into them as you can muster.

And yes, that means writing the words, reading the words, rewriting the words, then rereading them.

Over and over, til you’re done. 

It takes so much more energy, and time, than it did before.

But all that energy and time is worth it, because the results are beautiful (maybe that’s a little over dramatic, but that’s just how I feel.)

So you better go refill your coffee, because that second-draft’s not gonna write itself.

 

                                                        Happy Writing! ~ Tatyana

Why Nobody Cares About Backstory (early on in the book).

Raise your hand if you’ve ever opened a book filled with pages of backstory for these characters you literally know nothing about and you go “wow! This is awesome! I care so much that Sally found a secret cave when she was ten and told nobody about it and then her dad died and everyone cried at the funeral and then her best friend randomly hates her and now the book suddenly switches to when she’s sixteen! I love this!”

Literally no one raises their hand.

When the first page is about somebody’s past, a somebody you know nothing about, you’re not going to care. You’re going to skim over it with glazed over eyes.

As a writer this is hard because we care about our characters backstory and it feels like we know them. But for a reader it’s a completely different story.

In my first chapter I had some backstory, which I very, very, reluctantly deleted. Even though found it interesting, I knew deep down nobody else would.

So out the door it went.

  1. Number one reason people don’t care about backstory early on (I already mentioned this) is because we don’t know the character. It’s like meeting one of those people who you barely know, and they start telling you a bunch of personal stuff. We don’t care, and we certainly don’t want to read it because it’s annoying. 
  2. Don’t get me wrong, backstory is great… later. The reason to put in backstory in later, is because until then, your character will have the advantage of being mysterious. And we all know that any real book-lover loves a mysterious character (I know this because I myself am a proud book-lover). So if you have really good backstory you can’t wait to spill, just hold back until the right time.
  3. You definitely, definitely, should have backstory, because it’s essential for a good book. Just don’t over do it with the ‘I’m mysterious’ type. You can still have a character that wears a black hood and doesn’t say much, and keep the mystery from not over-doing itself. Because if you over do it – say in their dialogue, or constant hints on every page – people will get annoyed. Keep it subtle, subtle enough to keep people intrigued, not bored or annoyed because it’s been going on for too long and too hinted at. That’s the key to backstory, figuring out how much you want to hint at and when you think the character should.

Okay… so that last point was a little confusing, but backstory means a lot, especially when it’s done right.

 

                                                     Happy Writing! ~ Tatyana

 

Tear-jerking Emotions (3 reasons your story totally needs them)

I once wrote the death of one of characters and cried. Of course I was sad enough to cry, but at the same time I was excited because before I’d written the scene I read the quote:

 

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the  reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”


― Robert Frost

 

So I’d finally written something worth reading, and something that maybe, maybe, would make readers feel some emotion towards the story. Yay!

….But then I decided I needed to rewrite my book (long story), and one of things I eliminated while finishing the first draft was the character that died. Why, oh, why did I have to get rid of that beautiful and sad person from my story???!!! I ask myself that all the time, and my answer every time is the same: he added nothing to the story or plot other than romance/drama and to make readers cry. I knew that if his whole purpose in the story was just to make people cry when he died, he didn’t need to be in the story at all. Characters, just like real people, have, and need, a real purpose in life. Now I’m not saying crying, drama, and romance shouldn’t be in a story if they don’t add to the plot/book, but in this case I felt my story already had enough drama and crying and too many characters as it was.

So out with pointless characters. 

Any way let’s crack down on some major points why we need sorrow in our stories.

  1. As much as we (readers, writers, watchers, and fans) hate to see our favorite characters dying and going through tragedy, would we watch or read the story if none of the sadness or hardship wasn’t there? Maybe not. If Frodo and the ring hitched a ride with the eagles and the whole story was over and finished in a third of the time as it is, would it be as popular and loved as it is? How about The Maze Runner? Would anyone have read the books if the characters finished all the trials and lived happily ever after? Those books could’ve ended with half the death and sadness and misery, and for any one who’s read them, a lot characters could’ve lived (I won’t spoil because the last movie is still in theaters). But maybe no one would care very much about the story if they hadn’t. Anyway I could go on a long time about how many characters I wished hadn’t died. But there’s something about when a book makes you feel sad or moved, that makes us attached to that story. 
  2. Yes, making someone feel sad when they read a book is a good thing, but have you ever read a book where the author is just trying so hard to make you care, that you just can’t care at all? Forcing emotion into your story doesn’t work. You can’t shove sadness into your book if it doesn’t have any actual meaning besides you think it should be there. It will just bore people or make them stop reading your book. Emotions and sadness have meaning, they have to flow into the story, either by surprise (but not surprise for the sake of trying to shock your readers) or over time.
  3. Show don’t tell. Sadness doesn’t have any punch or effect to it if it’s just thrown in front of the face of the reader saying: “HEY LOOK AT ME, I’M MISERABLE, FEEL SORRY FOR ME!” It’s takes time to become attached to a character enough to actually care. Maybe a character has been sad from the beginning, but if you tell that right away, no ones going to care. It has to take time, and readers eventually will notice that this character is sad and wonder why. I know it’s hard to show and not tell (I struggle with this all the time) but it makes a story so, so, so much better.

So the whole point of the matter is to make sure that the tears and sadness in your story mean something. Because when something has real meaning, people will care a lot more, and yes it will take time. But readers need that time to know what they’re getting into and if they actually like the story before you try to get them to care and cry. 

 

Happy Writing! – Tatyana

Opinions and How They Shape your Story.

Write!

Just recently I decided to change one of my characters (not in my current book, but in some other idea) to a him instead of a her. And quite a while ago I changed my main character’s appearance and personality completely. And these weren’t minor changes either, these changes were hard and hurt a little. I’d grown used to the person I’d written about for two years of my life. But sometimes you have to eliminate things that don’t work, either for the plot or for you. And not only had I changed her appearance and personality, I also changed her name three times. Three. 

The main reason I made these changes was because Madge (my character’s name before) didn’t quite cut it for the things I needed her to do in my plot line. She was very smart, shy, and maybe a little selfish. I liked her very much, but I couldn’t see her doing the things that needed to be done. I had my sister read some of my book, and when I told her that I changed Madge into Jeen – a tall and fiery redhead with a sarcastic sense of humor – she said she was glad because she didn’t like Madge very much. Which leads me to another point: Opinions.

  1. Other peoples opinions are the best thing you can do for your story. Have other people read a few chapters, ask them what they think. And as I once read somewhere; if someone says they have a problem with something you wrote, they are almost always right. Take peoples opinions on your story very seriously, even if you hate what they say, take them seriously because they’re going to be the ones that determine your success.
  2. I have a very serious scene in my book, so of course I had my sister read it (like I always do when I can get her to) and she liked it, but then she said my character’s reactions ruined the scene. So my point here is sometimes what us writer’s only see is what we think is important to the plot and not what’s realistic. So I unwillingly changed the scene to what would be realistic reaction’s instead of what I thought they would do because of the plot. This is another vital reason to listen to people’s opinions, they give you a better view on reality. Sometimes I get so caught up in my little world and what I think sounds so cool and interesting, that I forget what real people are like. I mean, have you ever read a book where none of the character’s seem like real people? Probably. And has it annoyed you? It annoys me (and I am not one to like reading about real life, I love fiction and only fiction. I’m writing about outer space and aliens for heaven’s sake!)
  3. But not everything on this list is about criticism. Sometimes people can tell you how much they liked something in your story that you didn’t think was very good. For example I have a character whose lifestyle is very harsh and sometimes she could care less less what people think of her. Every time I write her and the things she does, I always end up worrying that she’ll come off as annoying. But as it turns out, when someone else read a chapter about her they told me how much they liked her, and that she was funny. So before you judge (whether its positive or negative) have someone read your work, you’ll be thankful for it even if it hurts at the moment.
  4. And last but not least, it only makes things harder if you’re in it alone. I know because I’ve tried this whole writing process alone for all 257 pages and over 365 days of my first draft. Being the only person to read my own writing for so long made me very self conscious about it. Every time someone would walk in the room while I was writing I’d immediately switch to a different tab, or if they did catch me writing without my knowing, I’d be flustered and tell them to go away. My brother once told me that if I can’t deal with him reading it, how would I be when twenty people read it? Of course I told him that was dumb, and it would be completely different when I publish it. But in reality if I kept going the way I was going I would become a horrible author. so sometimes we have to put our own securities behind us to become the best writers we can be.

Happy Writing! – Tatyana

4 Reasons Why Music Is The Answer

When I first began writing, I didn’t listen to music while I wrote. But after a short   while I gradually started playing music while I typed away.                                                    At first from my media player (which had a bunch of songs my brother put on there) on my computer (it got really boring), then on YouTube. And now on Pandora, and it’s totally awesome. And ever since then, you will most likely find my writing away while wearing earbuds.

Here’s some reasons why to always listen to music when you write.

  1. It makes writing more fun (like, what’s not fun about listening to Fun?)
  2. It gives you the right mood. For example I like to listen epic movie theme tracks when I’m writing a fight or conflict. And pop/rap when I feel my writing needs to be more upbeat. Hey, get it? upbeat
  3. It helps me keep track of time. Sometimes I try to get as much writing done as I can during the span of one song. Then other times I get distracted by the internet (as always) and when the song ends I know I need to get back to writing.
  4. So this is my last reason and I’m going to try to make it a good. I like listening to music. And if you find yourself being distracted by things around you like I did, find some music that your really like – whatever the genre – and just tune out the world around so it’s just you, your WIP, and music. Okay, I’m done, Tatyana out.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Happy writing!

Hello Writer!

So this is my first post, and I’m very excited! On this blog I will be writing my thoughts on, well, writing. I’ve been writing a book since last winter and in that short time I’ve learned soooo much since I first started writing. So as I like saying sometimes “practice makes progress” (because I’m far from perfect). Before I began writing a book and reading other amazing posts by other well-accomplished writers, I knew pretty much nothing about writing. I was sort of just sitting in front of my computer screen thinking “what’s character development?” But the more I write the more I learn. This whole blog will be about what it’s like to write every single day and the long road to completing my first book.

I hope you enjoy future posts! ~ Tatyana