Cup of Dcaf: Why I Write

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With November being National Novel Writing Month, I’ve seen a proliferation of posts about writing habits, motivations, help and tips, and, most of all, identity as a writer. NaNo is a big deal in the writing world, especially the amateur section of it (let’s be honest here: the pros were already writing during November). NaNo is the time for people who “always wanted to write a book” to find the motivation and acceptance in the community and sit down at a keyboard or put pen to paper. There’s a general air of beginnings with NaNoWriMo.

For me, though, NaNo is something I’ve struggled with. It feels very much like it’s targeting a different demographic of writer than I fall into. NaNo, for all of its freedoms and encouragement and message, feels very restricting to me. I plan things out way in advance, and even when I don’t or can’t stick to those ambitions, I still have an order of things. NaNo seems like a wrench in the gears when it comes to that.

Because of all this, I’ve been giving a fair amount of thought to my situation and identity as a writer. Continue reading

Cup of Dcaf: So You Want to Write a Book?

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I want to start off with some encouragement here. You want to write a book? AWESOME. You can do it. Sit down with your pen or your keyboard and write it. If you want to write a book, it’s probably because you have a cool idea that you like. Write about that cool idea.

But here’s the thing. You have to understand what writing a book actually is. And what it actually is, is hard work. Continue reading

Cup of Dcaf: Another Beginning

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It’s a weird feeling. After giving myself some breathing room for the last month (not all of it voluntary; see laptop issues), I’m diving back into writing. There are two things of note here.

First, All Flames Cast  is still in the alpha read phase. I have four more alphas still working through it, but the first three have finished! I gotta say, it’s a curious feeling. For the first time ever, somebody has read a book that I wrote, in its entirety. This is a scary feeling, but pretty exciting, too. Initial reviews were actually pretty good, but one plot line is going to need a lot of work on the next draft. That’s on the backburner, though. Because… Continue reading

Cup of Dcaf: Getting Close to Your Characters

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“Write what you know”, right? It’s one of the most common writing tips, something that writers of all ages have no doubt heard many times. It’s pretty sound advice on the surface. After all, it’s tough to write about, say, a location in Italy if you’ve never been there or studied it. Trying to do something along those lines is begging for the writing to feel flat.

On the other hand, we need to write about things we don’t know—namely, characters. I’ve found that it’s very common for inexperienced (often young) writers to write characters who are very similar to them. It’s easy to do, because you know yourself better than you know anyone else. But that doesn’t make for very interesting stories. Things will get very stale, very quickly when all of your protagonists are the same person.

So the question remains: how do you write a variety of characters? Continue reading

Cup of Dcaf: Short Fiction and Scenes

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After finishing the first draft of All Flames Cast, my mind has become increasingly bent on filling out the world and details of the next book(s) I’m going to tackle. I’ve found myself writing little character sketches, scenes, and short stories to help myself with building a new world for a new book. Over the course of this, I’ve gotten a clearer view of the differences between short stories and scenes, which is something I’ve found over the years to be a bit of a blurred line for many writers.

I went through a university degree in Creative Writing, as I know many, many other writers have, and as a result I kind of went through a crucible. There are a lot of pressures on an undergrad writing student—including the pressure to abandon genre fiction because of the flawed idea that it’s inherently inferior to lit fic—and one of those pressures is to learn how to write short stories. Continue reading