but seriously though i’m sick and tired of those masterposts that are like “here! A reference site on Greek mythology for all your needs! Look it has all fifteen Greek gods on it!” And I’m like. tHERE WERE LIKE HUNDREDS OF FIGURES IN MYTHOLOGY YOUR CRAPPY HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL BIBLIOGRAPHY SITE MEANS NOTHING TO ME
if you want a basic outline of Greek mythology okay sure fine??? but like. if you want an extensive fucking reference site you are looking in the wrong goddamn places
as a self-declared greek mythology snob my reference site is fucking always this fucker right here. almost every single figure ever mentioned in a Greek text is on it, it has the most obscure gods, spirits, nymphs— it’s GREAT. You really wanna extend your mythological knowledge past the basic 12 and like four others? USE THEOI. plus plus PLUS everything is cited so you can actually read the source material written about whoever it is you’re looking at.
fucking signal boost this. i’m so sick and tired of writer’s helpers blogs referring people to sites with as much information you would get from opening a third grade mythology book jesus chriiiiiist
Last night I did some reflecting and I’ve finally decided how I would like to finish my first novel. In NaNo terms I’m going to be “pantsing” it. I’ve picked a general idea that has always intrigued me, but I’ve never done anything about it. Starting today I have four months to finish this novel. Easy, right?
My goal is 5,000 words a week. Every Monday I’ll make a post about my progress. It’ll include my thoughts, struggles, and why I reached or didn’t reach my word count that week.
Now that I’ve got your attention…
As a writer, we’ve all had these moments: You’ve got the plot, the characters, the entire story down-pat, you’re ready to go. You put the pen to paper, and…nothing. For many writers, starting a story is pretty much a train crashing nose-first into a wall on its way down the track. Often times we back up, try again, and just end up slamming into those bricks once more. Story starters can be agonizingly painful, because we KNOW they’re important—how else are you going to make the reader want to keep reading?
Recently, we received a request for aid on how to start a story. (This “story starting”, however, may have been pertaining to “how to start a plot”, which we also have advice on in this post: http://thepenspointofview.tumblr.com/post/53714173697/how-do-i-start-to-write-my-story) But right now, we’ll be covering how to start an actual piece.
I have found, in my own writing struggles, I CANNOT continue a story if I don’t have a satisfying start and a resolute ending. There’s a lot of various openings that work extremely well, and here’s just a few that can help spark those first few words on your page.
1. The MIGHTY HOKO
Now that you’ve continued reading because you have no clue what a hoko is, it’s evident I’ve gotten your attention with it. (Don’t tell anyone, it’s just a typo I made while trying to spell “hook” and I’m deciding to roll with it) I’m sure in your reading life you’ve grabbed a work with the most monotonous beginning known to man, and the thing is, YOU DON’T WANT TO KEEP READING. In order to ensnare an audience, you’ll need a quality hook, and it’s actually not as hard as you think.
The key? Randomness.
Now I’m not saying to start a story with the words “marshmallow lederhosen” or something to get people’s attention (who does that?), but rather, do something that catches people off-guard, but ties in accordingly. For example, the opening paragraph from Cardboard Murals:
“Hank Wolfson owned three personal belongings:
1. The clothes on his back—More specifically, a Pink Floyd T-shirt, blue jeans with gaping shark-jaw holes trailing at the ankles, and a tattered russet backpack that looked as if a great white had snagged that too.
2. A cardboard grotto hidden underneath the zippers of his pack, remnants of what used to be a fedex box folded immaculately in the luggage.
3. A blue beta fish named Switzerland.”
As the story continues, Switzerland remains a part of Hank’s life, and at times, a significant one, as opposed to a random burst of oddity. Still, the abruptness of his presence makes readers want to continue, and figure out how any of this makes sense. If you’re going to use the mighty hoko, though, be sure that it isn’t too bonkers, and it makes sense in the long run.
2. Contorted Cliches
If you’re totally drawing a blank, even on the randomness, take an old cliché and totally make it your own. For example, in John Green’s/David Levithan’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson, the first paragraph starts as:
“When I was little, my dad used to tell me, ‘Will, you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.’ This seemed like a reasonably astute observation to me when I was eight, but it turns out to be incorrect on a few levels. To begin with, you cannot possibly pick your friends, or else I never would have ended up with Tiny Cooper.”
The nose-picking cliché eventually resurfaces later in the story, in one of the oddest senses. Just remember, if you’re going to use a cliché, it needs to have a new spin.
3. Shove us in with the IMAGERY. (For help with this, head here: http://thepenspointofview.tumblr.com/post/30946568615/writing-tips-imagery)
Forget the dark and stormy night. Immerse us with every sensory detail you can. Your character is handling a bird? Don’t tell us that. Instead, start with the feathers between their fingers, let us feel the downy fibers, hear the chirping in our ears, let us realize it’s a bird. For bigger scenes, close your eyes and try to picture a movie in your head. Think of the starting scene with the characters traversing this field. Help us dive into the field first, then let us know why they’re there. Always remember to show not tell, and use every sense you can. Drown us in a world to the point where we don’t want to reach the surface.
4. Just let it come.
Sit down and watch a few movies, but only the opening scenes, and see what they do. Experiment with taking a movie opening and writing it down in words. See what some book openings have in common too. Do a freewrite, where you write down the first things that come to your mind, anything, and after you’re done, pick something that may grab people’s attention. Write the most random things (marshmallow lederhosen, anyone?) and see how you can link them into a legitimate story.
Try everything you can, don’t be afraid to take risks, and your entries will snag them, hoko, line, and sinker.
I don’t think she means that Leonardo Dicaprio will portray you in a movie.
Pick a Region: (Italicized states could fit into more than one group, depending on who you ask, and some people list more or less regions than the ones listed below)
- Northeast: New York, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey
- Midwest: Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma
- Southwest: Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada
- South: Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Maryland, Delaware, Louisiana, Arkansas,
- West: California, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Montana
- Non-Contiguous: Alaska, Hawaii
Once you’ve got your region, narrow it down by state. You don’t have to get more specific than that if you don’t want to, but your character’s world will give away what region they’re in and possibly the state based on clues. Here is what you should know when creating your fictional town in a region/state:
- Environment: Know the environment of your region or state. There are no wolves (except for isolated incidents) in areas like the lower Midwest, so it would be odd for your characters to come across a pack of wolves in a southern Wisconsin forest.
- Climate: There are tons of different climates around the US. If the area of your town is specific (like how South Park is a mountain town in Colorado), you’ll need to know more about that climate. If your characters are in a temperate region, you just need the seasons to change depending on the timeline of your story. If your characters live in a region where heavy snowfall is common, snow days at school will be rare.
- Culture: Slang, common religions, architecture, food, popular music, references (to nearby cities, sports teams, etc.), etc. vary by region, by state, and by city. Some slang is only found in certain cities or certain regions of a state.
Type of Town:
- Rural: Rural towns are found in the countryside, often with low populations.
- Suburban-Rural: These are a mix of suburbia and the countryside. Houses may be placed farther apart, the town might be larger than a suburb without having a larger population, and there may be small businesses.
- Suburban: Suburbs are just outside cities and large towns and are primarily residential, meaning there are not a lot of businesses. In the US, it’s typical for suburbs to have single-family homes (though there are multi-family homes sometimes), sidewalks, and gaps between houses. Suburbs are a favorite for authors, especially YA authors.
- Suburban-Urban: These are between the “true” suburbs and the city, often sitting on the border of the city. They have residential areas, but also everything you might find in a city such as busy streets, public transportation, several businesses, and buildings. You’re more likely to find multi-family homes and apartment buildings in suburban-urban towns than you are with suburban homes.
- Urban: Urban towns aren’t necessarily in the heart of the city (the main tourist areas). Urban neighborhoods, towns, villages, etc., vary greatly by city and each one has its own unique culture and demographics, especially if there is a large population of immigrants in the area. Some urban towns can resemble suburban towns.
When you’ve got your town, draw a map for it. Note important places, like schools and the homes of characters. If your characters are in a suburb or a suburb-urban town, pick either a real city or a fictional city in a real state to put it around.
If your characters are in school and you want a lot of characters, pick an urban, suburban-urban, or suburban town. For the last one you can have more than one suburb share a school. If your character works at a place like a major law firm, they’ll probably need to be near a city. Think about what your character needs to pick a town.
- Name: If you know what region your town is set in, look at the names of real towns around that area. They usually follow a pattern. The name of the town can be the name of schools, businesses, streets, and parks too.
- History: If needed, come up with a history for your town. You might not think you need it at first, but it can come in handy. For example, if you need your characters to be at an event, there can be a party for the town’s 100th birthday. The age of the town might also determine the architecture.
- Appearance: In the town I grew up on, every property had at least one (big) tree on the front lawn thus creating an arch of branches and leaves over every residential street in the summer. What does your town look like? Are there boulevards? Parks? Fences? Alleys? Driveways? Streetlights? Public transportation? Tall houses? Wide houses? Large properties? Small properties? Is it hilly or flat? While there may be a combination of all of these things, certain traits may be more dominant or typical.
- Activities: What is there to do in your town? Is there a popular hangout? Is there a beach nearby? Do people go to a nearby city for fun? Are there certain areas within the environment (cliffs, clearings in a forest, a lake, etc.) that are popular hangout spots?
- Keep track of all facts: Write down everything about your town so that you don’t end up with inconsistencies. Keep a list of schools, businesses, public places, government buildings, and everything else that is relevant.
Your town has to be realistic. Readers should have an idea of where this town is or what is near it. A suburban town in the middle of nowhere with no mention of where it is and varying ecosystems isn’t realistic. It’s surreal, distant, and might only work in certain fantasy genres. A town with a population of 15,000 people, but with four middle schools, two churches, a mosque, a synagogue, two law firms, no variation in economic or social class, eight restaurants, and a car dealership is unrealistic unless this small town is used as a center for several other towns.
Pictures of my bookcase (and overflow)!
I might make a list later of all the books I have read and all the books I still need to read.
Found this gem in the MX (train newspaper in Melbourne)
This is a list I made for YALSA’s The Hub on the wide range of YA literature featuring LGBTQ characters. See the full post and a downloadable pdf here.
Great list! :D I’ve read one of them already and a lot of them are already on my to-read list. However, i did get some new books to add, so that’s great! :D And, at some point, be writing some books with LGBTQA characters(the series I’m writing now has one bi character*one of the main characters* and one lesbian). I have some really good book ideas with LGBTQA characters (fantasy, historical fiction, etc).
It’s been a while since I’ve been on this blog. It’s a bit embarrassing really. Even more so by the fact that I haven’t been writing much either. Yikes, right? There was always an excuse or distraction and before I knew it I let let months pass by without being productive.
That ends today.
I’ve already gave my blog a new theme for this fresh new start. Now it’s down to business. I’m going to finish a novel this year. Heck, I’ll be more precise: I’m going to finish my first rough draft of a novel by July 30th. I’ve added a progress meter to my sidebar as well.
I’ll most likely make another post about my goal for each day/week/month. This one is really to say that I’m back and ready to start writing—seriously writing—again.