We rarely write about other people’s problems, or struggles, or battles. We write about our own. We express ourselves through our characters, through their lives and moods and emotions. Screaming, laughing, crying, longing, fighting–we do all of these with our characters. Not because they are people that we can share these feelings with, but because these characters ARE us. They are a part of our mind and soul. And the struggles, the questions, the desires our characters have…they are our own.
The sum of the characters and storyline, with all its messages, themes and metaphors, tells us a lot about the author who created these things. I think that, more than we realize, we are truly studying an author’s mind, his background, his soul (or hers).
How well do you know that author you claim to love? Have you ever tried to wonder what made them write the way they do? Have you ever sought to discover the secrets they tried to release to the world, or the part of their soul crying out to be heard?
I was at Candidates Day today. It’s basically when you get accepted to a college and they invite you to check out their programs and campus one last time before you decide to go there. Do you know what their theme was?
People are stories. Every person doesn’t just have and story: every person IS a story.
That’s why being an author is so beautiful…so human. Because we share this truth and give it to the world.
I am a story, and I am expressing my story, myself, through Elithius.
What’s your story? Where are you going? How will it end or change?
What do you think?
“Hey Dom, can I have some advice?”
“What can I do to gain an audience for my book?”
“You can blog?”
“And after that?”
“Blog some more?”
One month later
“Hey Dom, I’ve got 10 followers! What should I do now?”
“Great job! Keep blogging!”
Three months later
“Dom, nobody liked my last post! I haven’t received any comments at all this week! What should I do?”
“Just keep blogging.”
Six months later
“Dom! I did it! I hit 150 followers! Now what?”
“Blog some more.”
Another six months later
“I don’t get it, Dom. I have 200 followers, but I hardly get any traffic. I just don’t get it. Any ideas?”
One year later
“BAM! I did it Dom! 2000+ followers! Can’t believe I made it this far! Your advice was so helpful. Could you just summarize what you’ve taught me?”
Determination is something that you give yourself. Maybe someone or something can inspire you to feel determined, but, in the end, the only person who can make you feel determined is you.
Maybe that’s why with determination there is very often fear. Because if we give ourselves determination, then that means we are relying on ourselves. And that’s scary. It’s nice to be able to lean on someone else. It’s nice to have someone else giving you direction. It’s nice when things aren’t totally our fault, because they weren’t totally of our doing.
But that’s not how it is with determination. Instead, we ARE alone. We will be the ones at fault if our determination is misplaced. We must rely on at least a part of ourselves.
And let’s face it: we’re weak, aren’t we?
The only way we can be determined is if we have faith. Faith in ourselves. Faith in our goals. We need to be strong enough, to be big enough, to be determined. You know what? Determination itself is an act of faith.
Determination doesn’t just require faith. Determination IS faith.
How determined are you? How much faith do you have?
Being a writer is a long, dark road. It’s hard to see where we’re going. It’s hard to keep on believing in ourselves. In these times, we need to have determination. We needed to be fearless. We need to scrap and brawl with doubt.
It’s the only way.
Have faith. Be determined.
Well, so my computer is shot. That’s right, no more convenience of hopping onto my computer and being able to write much faster than on my phone…editing is going to be harder, and no doubt publishing will be.
Oh well, guess I better cough up some money for a new one.
You know I’ve been thinking a lot about stories lately. A lot about what I’m trying to accomplish by writing. Writing is something beautiful and it means so much to me; it’s a sport of the mind, a rollercoaster of the heart, a journey of the soul. I would be a totally different person without it.
But I’ve been thinking about the things that will really make me happy, about the paths that lie ahead. Choices I need to start making, mentalities I need to form. What will make me happy? What should I be doing with my life?
Yes, I know, these are big questions. But another big question is “will writing be a part of the answers to these questions?”
Writing makes me happy, yes, but lately I’ve been feeling a call to make my life more about other people. I know it’s cheesy, I know it’s preachy, but nothing makes us happier than when we make others happy, than when we change someone’s life for the better, when we mean something to others, not just to ourselves. This is what makes people happy: it makes ME happy.
And I want to use my writing to do this.
So the question becomes, “what can I write that will help others, that will build people up, that will mean something too them?”
I feel like it isn’t so much “what should I write” as much as “how should I write it? With what mentality? With what drive?” And, ultimately, if I form my willpower in the right way, or point it in the right direction, then I’ll always be writing the right thing.
So I guess I need to change my drive. I need to not write for myself, or about myself. I need to write something for others. If I do that, then I’ll help myself. I know that I need writing too, but I need to act lIke people need my writing more than I do.
If you read all of that, then thank you. And welcome…welcome to who I am. You just experienced a lot of me; I hope you understand that.
So thank you, and, as always, please tell me: what do you think?
Many of us have been writing stories for a reallllly long time. Like since we were 10. Or 7. Or 5.
Some of these stories hold a special place in our hearts. Maybe these stories have developed over time, or changed, or helped spark new ideas for a champion story.
The point is, we’ve all got stories that mean a lot to us. And maybe we’ve been working on these stories for a long time, biding our time as we hunt for publishers or try our hands with self publishing.
The journey of working with a story you created when you were younger is quite beautiful, in my opinion. Also, I think that you, as the author, have a deeper connection with your characters and with your setting, which you can then convey to the reader better. Sometimes these stories can be even more meaningful, since we have discovered and taught ourselves a number of lessons through them.
Often times this means that when it’s time to edit, we aren’t willing to change what we’ve written. We can grow so attached to our stories, stories that we have grown with for such a long time, that we refute the idea of editing and everything that comes with it: erasing and rewriting, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, this can be really hard, and even a little frustrating or heart-breaking. It’s like parting with an old friend. I get it, and I’ve been through it. I “wrote a book” when I was seven, and I worked on that story up until I was sixteen. Yep, that’s right. I tried to get it published and everything.
The emphasis is on “tried”.
The truth is, I had grown too attached to parts of my story, especially in the beginning, that I really should’ve let go of. The beginning of the boon was slow, drawn out, etc. But, because of my affection, I wasn’t willing to make the changes necessary to my book.
Fight this mentality with tooth and nail. Seriously. No matter how tough the fight gets.
Because we need to ask ourselves an important question: how far are you willing to go to make your book into what it needs to be? To make your book into what it should be?
This is one of the hardest parts of writing: being honest with ourselves. And accepting criticism from others. And being willing to criticize ourselves.
It’s tough. Nobody likes being criticized or having to correct themselves. But it has to be done.
I’m actually struggling a little as I edit Elithius, the series that will be coming out soon. I just happened to be perusing the beginning of the book, a part I had already edited numerous times, and I realized, “Gosh, this needs to change!”
After so much editing, do I really want to change the beginning?
No. But I will.
Because I want to give whatever it takes to make my book perfect. And there is something beautiful about that. In fact, although I don’t like thinking about the changes I have to make, I think that I will enjoy this in the long run. Who doesn’t like making something better than before?
In what ways does your own story need to change? What parts are you holding onto that need to go?
How far are you willing to go to make your book perfect?
That question is equivalent to: how much do you love your story?
What do you think?
Also, just a note: my computer is down, so I have to use my phone for everything. Thus, if I don’t seem very productive…well, that’s why. Thanks for understanding!
I’ve been seeing a lot of blogs recently where the authors have a MAD following. I sigh and drool and faint whenever I see how many followers these people have. They average at LEAST 40 likes a post.
But they also average MAYBE 2-3 comments a post.
These people have 5,000+ followers. Some have 20,000+ followers. Why is no one commenting?
Let’s be honest. Everybody likes to get Liked. But I think we can agree that when people take the time to comment, this feedback means way more to us. Because it’s easy for people to click the Like button, but it takes effort to comment. And that means they are taking us seriously and actually paying attention. We like comments more than Likes.
The question is then: What makes people comment?
You might have a huge following, but if you don’t have a sense of personality, people will stop treating you like a blogger. They’ll see your blog posts, they’ll Like them, hopefully they’ll read them…but if you are only putting your writing forward, or whatever you’re trying to promote, people won’t care about you. They won’t know YOU.
People might like your blog, but they aren’t going to comment unless they like you.
Think about it.
If your blog, your writing, lacks a sense of YOU, what will people be seeing? Just words. They might be some good words. But if they aren’t able to attribute them to you, then why would they comment? Who are they commenting to? Not a person. Just words. And no one praises or converses with random words, however good they are.
Of course, maybe you ARE putting yourself into what you write…but maybe it’s too much of yourself. I see this sooooo often. Those bloggers who get big and popular and then all they do is blog about themselves and their own personal endeavors. The titles of their posts are eternally:
“Hey, check out my new book”
“PLEASE buy my new book”
“Hey, guess what? My new book is out”
“Update on my story”
You get the picture.
I’ve said this multiple times and I’ll say it again. If you want followers and an active audience, blog about things people CARE about. Blog about things that HELP people. Make them WANT or NEED you.
If all you blog about is yourself, this can also constitute a lack of personality towards your audience. Or, maybe not a lack of personality, but a bad personality.
Don’t be like those bloggers who are dry and have no personality, and don’t be like those bloggers who never have anything to offer to their followers. Let your audience know who you are, and show your followers that you care about THEM too. Make people come to your blog not just because of your content, but because of your character–because they genuinely know and like you as a person (and not just what you’re promoting)!
I hope this helped!
What do you think?
I think we can all agree that our love for a particular story has to do with waaaay more than just the plot. Don’t get me wrong, everyone loves a fast-paced, intricate, well-planned plot. After all, if there ISN’T a good plot, then the story will stink…
…no matter how awesome the characters themselves are.
But this doesn’t change the fact that being able to connect with characters is something awesome and extremely special. Great characters make stories meaningful to us in a personal way; great characters make stories memorable; they can even change the way we view life or ourselves.
Having unique but relatable characters in your story is something every writer should strive for.
I am therefore proud to share that my series, back when it used to be called The Golden Lands, has been praised for having characters that are both human but morally-inspiring. Nowadays, it can be hard to find characters that can be both.
If a character is too “human”, perhaps they lack the ability to inspire us to be better. If a character is too upright or saintly, everyone rolls their eyes and thinks, “This is unrealistic.”
How do my characters fit into both categories?
John Hedekira is the main character of my series. Throughout the series, John struggles with feelings of vengeance towards his enemies, anger towards his friends, confusion within himself and towards his family, and emotional insecurity about his (lack of) parents. Sometimes he’ll make a poor decision when it comes to intense moral dilemmas, acting off of his gut instead of what’s right.
But John is also very brave. And he stands up for others when they can’t. He wants to help to people, still possessing a sense of child-like (but not childish) sense of innocence and heroism that we all should have. He makes up for his wrongs and he exercises forgiveness and justice.
I remember having a conversation with my dad and older brother about the characters of Avatar: The Last Airbender. We decided that there was something extremely unique and humbling about the sense of heroism that Aang and Zuko and the other characters had. Why? Because they were just kids/teenagers.
I think that some people tend to brush off the pure, inspirational effect that kids can have on us. Avatar: The Last Airbender is an example of how younger characters are able to teach us some big lessons…and just because the lessons come from younger characters doesn’t make the lessons any less true.
I’m not saying that Elithius is like Avatar. Elithius is more mature and way darker on a number of levels. I’m simply drawing a comparison because both stories have young-adult characters.
Here’s what some people have said about the characters in my series:
“This is a well-paced story with compelling main characters and plenty of action”-Smashwords Review
“…John Hedekira and Faith Pinck are both realistic characters with depth, and the story is fast-paced and exciting…”-Smashwords Review
“…The characters are very realistic and the action scenes are amazing…”-Smashwords Review
“…John and Faith’s characters continue to become more developed, and the action scenes are brilliant…”-Smashwords Review
“…The book is well written. The characters, landscape, and especially fight scenes are artfully described by the author…”-Amazon Review
What do you think? What’s your opinion on character structuring?