How I feel towards Nano right now…
- Talking style (conversation)
- Talking style (storytelling)
- Writing style
- Way of thinking
- Political view
- Religious view
- Sense of humor
- Pet peeve
- Opinion on every other character
- Sex drive
- Normal amount of happiness
- Opinion on the major events in your story
Making all your characters similar in these respects will make your story dull and possibly preachy.
going all out for NaNoWriMo, eh?
We’re past the half way point, and some of you might be worried about your word goal because you’ve already written most of your story and you still have a long way to go in order to reach 50k.
That’s precisely where I was three years ago. It was my first NaNo, and my life was pretty crazy. My neice was born on the 10th, (Happy Birthday Faith Marye) and I had come to the point where I realized that I didn’t know how I was going to catch up on my word count, and I had no idea what I was going to do with the 20k+ words I had left to fill.
So I quit.
Remember that Camille and I have been generating that last couple of years, and I didn’t have the experience to say that it could be done. (and yes it can be done.)
So this year, I decided to go back to that first story and finish it. I was referencing what I had written before, but just to reference because I thought the story was good already. and then I got to that point in the story and I was a little worried how I was going to finish the story and generate more words, but then I took a moment to dig into my understanding of writing.
So here are some ways that you can stretch out your story and keep it moving right along.
- Split your characters up At its heart, my story is a buddy cop story, so what better way to generate more story than to see what your characters do when they are on their own? Don’t worry about bringing them back together, you’ll figure that out too.
- Introduce someone new New characters provide new dynamics to your story. How will your characters relate to this new person? What kinds of conflicts will be created because of your outsider?
- Throw in a plot twist If needed, you can create an even more complex twist into your story. We’ve been posting a plot twist every Thursday, but here are a few ideas for you to consider. Someone gets arrested. Someone wins the lotto. Someone gets attacked. Someone has to go to the hospital.
- Write out your story so far and see if there’s anything you missed. Get a note pad and write down a summery of every chapter in your book. Is there something you can insert into the story? If so, go back and write that chapter. Once you do, you may find that your story still has lots of life in it.
There are a few ideas for you to try. If you need more help, let us know. Camille and I are always happy to help.
Horror is considered a separate genre, but these three genres often overlap.
- Paranormal Romance: Romance with a paranormal element. However, the romance outweighs the paranormal aspect in most cases, but is still an integral part to the story.
- Urban Fantasy: Urban fantasy is often used interchangeably with “paranormal”. It takes place in urban areas and has fantasy, paranormal, or supernatural elements.
- Dark Fantasy: This genre is a cross over between horror and fantasy. It has fantasy and horror elements, but does not focus on them as heavily as other genres. This would be considered paranormal rather than supernatural.
- Gothic Horror: This used to be the name for the horror genre. This genre is not related to the goth fashion style. There are several forms of this genre (English, American, southern) that may involve romance or a sense of being “trapped”. Paranormal creatures (like ghosts and other creatures associated with the afterlife or death) are quite popular in this genre.
See Basic Horror Writing Guide for a general overview and some resources.
There is often a paranormal or supernatural element in horror, most likely some form of ghosts. However, there are also other elements present.
Certain abilities given to humans may fall within this category. This can include telekinesis, clairvoyance, and telepathy, among others. However, these abilities often come secondary to the horror element or the main horror creatures (ghosts, psychological torture, etc.). They should come second if horror is the main aspect of the story. Once these elements become primary, you’ve left the horror genre (primarily).
But, as with horror, including paranormal and supernatural elements must be there to further the thrill, suspense, or horror of the story. With supernatural and paranormal fiction, those elements should be integral to the story.
PARANORMAL VS SUPERNATURAL
This is a personal opinion
Supernatural: Something inexplicable that defies the laws of nature or something that was once a part of nature, only to defy it.
Paranormal: Something that shows signs of being beyond scientific understanding.
As noted in the definitions above, supernatural deals with transformation from the ordinary to the impossible. Paranormal deals with something beyond us, like clairvoyance.
Paranormal fiction tends to be lighter and it often has a romantic feel to it. When I say “romantic”, I do not necessarily mean love, but showing something in a light that makes it better than it actually is. Supernatural fiction tends to fall on the side of gritty horror more often than not.
What falls under each definition depends on who you ask, but abilities (for example, telekinesis) are generally considered paranormal while certain creatures (werewolves and vampires) are considered supernatural.
CREATURES & CLICHES
With this genre comes otherworldly creatures. Right now, the genre is heavy with angels, demons, vampires, and werewolves. While there’s nothing wrong with writing about those creatures, it’s good to expand. After all, supernatural and paranormal are forms of fantasy. You can do anything.
Research some underused creatures and put a new twist on them. Use them as a base for a creature of your own creation. Go nuts with these creatures and make them unique.
They can thrive in one environment and suffer in another. They can be subject to evolution. They can be associated with a certain element or symbol. Give them odd abilities and give them reasons for this. Make up your own mythologies.Yet with the four main creatures mentioned above comes cliches. We’re all sick of them and you should challenge yourself to write outside these cliches, though you can still rework a cliche and make it unique.There is a group of cliches in paranormal romance that stand out from the rest because they are harmful. For example, male love interests who are brooding, possessive, and creepy yet written as desirable.An important point to remember when you’re creating creatures is not to go so far that these become something else entirely. You can’t take away the fundamental characteristics if you’re trying to be unique. That destroys the creature. Your vampires don’t have to sleep in coffins or turn into bats, but you can’t really take away the blood drinking thing, can you? That’s the main characteristic of vampiric creatures (and there are many).More:
- Ten Worst Vampire Cliches
- The A-Typical Vampire
- Supernatural Creatures Inspiration/Definitions
- Vampire Cliches
- Werewolf Cliches
- Werewolf Genre Pet Peeves
- Writing an Overused Supernatural Creature
- Vampire Tropes
- A Guide on Zombies
- Guide to Ghosts
- Describing Fantastic Creatures
- Werebeast Tropes
- Tropes of the Living Dead
- Writing Zombies
- Sea Creatures
- Birds: Mythology
- Cliches in Paranormal Novels
- Is Your YA Paranormal Romance Cliche Enough? (chart)
- Cliches in Paranormal Romance
- Top 13 Paranormal Romance Cliches
- YA Common Cliches: Paranormal Romance
- Overplayed Urban Fantasy Cliche 1 2 3 4
- Fantasy/Urban Fantasy Cliches
- Mythical Creatures List
- Mythical Creatures A-Z
- List of Mythical Creatures
- Magical/Mythical Creatures
Some music to listen to while writing:
Bad Moon Rising | Black River Killer | Blood Circus | Come Little Children | Davy Jones Music Box | Ghost Riders in the Sky | Hell | Hell Hound Blues | Herr Drosselmeye’s Doll | Hotel California | House of the Rising Sun | The Killing Moon | Mr Crowley | Oogie Boogie’s Song | Sympathy for the Devil | This House is Haunted | This is Halloween | Void
- Supernatural Romance
- Books with Angels, Gods, or Demons
- Best Gothic Books of All Time
- Ghost Stories
- Angels & Demons
- Favorite Ghost Stories
- Best Books About Faeries
- Paranormal’s/Urban Fantasies That Don’t Suck
- Haunted Houses
- Paranormal in New Orleans
- Best Gothic Novels/Suspense Novels
- Forbidden Love in Fantasy/Paranormal/Supernatural
- Supernatural and Addictive Fantasy
- Best Shapeshifters
- Books with Supernatural Females
- Bone Chilling Paranormal Romance
- Anything But Vampires
- 19th Century Supernatural Horror
- Gay Horror
- I See Dead People
- Killer Ghost Stories
- Uncommon Supernatural Creatures
- Gothic Paranormal
- Best Adult Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance
- Indie Books - Paranormal Fiction
- Humorous Paranormal Books
- Hot Paranormal Romance
- Werewolf and Shifter Romance
- Paranormal Book Lists
- Not the “Normal” Paranormal
- Literary Fiction Meets Paranormal Romance
- Gay Paranormal Romance
- Lesbian Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
This should be useful for NaNoWriMo this year. I feel possible urban fantasy coming on.
A colleague of mine was talking to me recently about her misgivings about her capabilities regarding writing Women of Color. She wanted very badly to include several WOC characters in her sci-fantasy series, but she had some concerns about correct portrayal and writing them in a way that wouldn’t instantly piss people off. I told her I would write something about it that might help. So, here we have it: How to write POC without pissing everyone off and doing a horrible job.
In general, it comes down to three things. Research, Persistence and Consideration. Also. for the point of this essay, I am going to use Black women, Native Women and Mixed Race women as they each represent different individual (yet very important) racial struggles that need consideration.
1. Research is by far the most important thing. EVER. For this example, I am going to use black women.
It is important to start by trying your hardest to forget anything you think you know about black women and black female identity. As a white person, anything you would know about them you probably learned from media that is not controlled by or monitored by black women themselves. Meaning that it is likely not a good representation of black women at all. Or maybe you just have a black friend.
Which you should consider in the same way you would a control group for a science experiment.
One or two subjects would not provide conclusive evidence in regards to any hypothesis. Having one or two or even five black friends can’t help you with understanding the complex history of black discourse….
In order to start from scratch, I would first spend some time reading literature written by black women for black women. Learning the way black women have discourse among each other is the first step to understanding their perspective AND emulating their voice. Literature is the genre of media where POC have the most liberty (unlike film) to discuss certain topics or parts of their identity.
Then, I would delve into “complaints”. There are thousands upon thousands of articles where black women complain about their portrayal in media. These complaints are both valid and often eloquently expressed. It is important for you to know, what things black women (WOC) are already so fucking tired of seeing in regards to incorrect or offensive portrayals of themselves. Not only will it help you avoid making the same mistakes as white writers before you (an example of this: Arthur Golden and the hot mess that is Memoirs of a Geisha), But it will also get you upset about certain ways black women (POC women in general) are portrayed, and make you want to write them better. This can improve your writing in that not only will you avoid being offensive, but you now have the chance to be progressive and kick stereotypes out the window!
Finally, I would take some time to follow some tumblr blogs that are run by the group you’re trying to write. This part of the research can really help because you’ll get a first hand, contemporary dialogue about issues within the specific POC community. Which leads me to my second topic…
Great guide for white writers and definitely click through the “read more” to see more great points below the fold. But just to add on:
In response to the complaint of white writers about writing about people of color: “Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t,” I want to say: absolutely.
It’s absolutely true. You’re damned either way. If you don’t do it, you’re a racist. Yes, you are. Race and racism exist in this society, and if you ignore them, you’re expressing a racial privilege that you don’t, morally, have any right to. That’s a subtle form of racism.
If you do do it and get it “wrong”, you’ll get reamed, and rightfully so. It’s presumptuous of you to think that you have the right to represent a culture you don’t belong to if you can’t be bothered to properly examine and accurately portray that culture.
Further, if you do it and get it “right”, or rather, don’t get it wrong, you’ll still get reamed by members of that culture you’ve represented who rightfully resent a white writer’s success representing their culture. After all, every American ethnic minority has its writers: good and bad. The good writers are mostly ignored. Inevitably, some white writer will come along and do a bang-up job portraying that culture and will get—in one book, in one section of a book—more attention than the poc writer got over the course of three or five or ten books.
You’re a white writer trying to do the right thing, but no matter what you do, it’s wrong. And that’s so unfair to you, isn’t it?
Welcome to a tiny taste of what it’s like to be a person of color.
Oh, and quit complaining.White writers should not expect to be praised by POC for writing us and writing us “right,” but the alternatives are horrible and a complete erasure of our multifaceted identities. Laziness is racist and privileged, and this guide is a great starting point for white writers trying to parse this space and do the right thing, even if they may still face criticism for it.
We get questions about pets a lot, when to include them and whether a pet Elephant is a bit too far. So these are my opinions about including a pet or animal in your story.
First I want to split the different reasons for having a pet in your story, I’m basing this off the numerous books I’ve read so I’ve stuck in some examples for you. In my opinion your pet should have a purpose, if they are mentioned once and forgotten then you might as well not have a pet. So these are the two reasons for having an animal.
The useful pet- horses are useful, they can help your plot. Owls can carry letters, I mean where would Harry be without Hedwig? He’d have bloody struggled. In these cases they aren’t really ‘pets’ in the sense they provide comfort and companionship (although they do), they serve a purpose.
The Constant Companion- Hamsters, dogs, cats they aren’t always useful to your character. But they do provide comfort, companionship and love. In this case the point of the pet is to provide these comforts, for the character to perhaps talk openly with or to show the character as a rounded individual not just the hard arsed buisnessman. I can’t think of many examples of this but in the Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich, Stephanie has a hamster called Rex, he shows her more motherly side and also serves as someone for Stephanie to be open with (how he’s survived 20 books I’ll never know).
It’s all about you- It is all about this animal, or it revolves around this animal and it’s relationship with the main character. (That was a Mcfly reference- by the way.) There are so many books like this, Marley and Me stands out although it is a true story. There are many children’s books written this way, Animal Ark for instance.
Pet and animals need a purpose, if they aren’t serving a purpose then they don’t need to be involved in your story because it is unnecessary and I really don’t want to hear about how original your character is with their pet Tiger if this Tiger is mentioned once and then the Tiger disappears for the rest of the book.
Now when you are including a Animal in your story you need to do RESEARCH. Lions aren’t like domestic cats, so you can’t write them as such. There should be an air of realism with your animals (unless it’s fantasy, cos anything goes in fantasy), therefore you need to do some research and know what they eat, where the sleep, their behaviour and how they are with humans. It will help you, promise!
For instance, Rabbits are lovely animals and you would think- it’s a pet, must be really domesticated. BUT THEY AREN’T, NOT AT FIRST. I have a rabbit and she’s lovely. But it takes me 15mins to catch her to pick her up, if I’d have done my research I’d have realised that taming a Rabbit can be a time consuming job and some will never like being picked up. So research is important because what we think we know about animals isn’t always the truth.
So include animals, but please, PLEASE do some research!