Back with a draft

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Introduction of post: Happy Friday! In previous posts and podcast episodes I’ve shared on this blog, I’ve talked about the different steps everyone can take in order to write their first fiction story. I have also discussed some ideas for fiction stories that I wanted to pursue.

After taking a long break from this website and writing in general, I have decided to completely switch gears with the fiction story I had been planning. I thought the best way to share my idea would be to write it in the form of a draft and share it. My ideas are far from finalized, and I am completely open to constructive feedback on my draft at this point.

I just wanted to be able to add a space on my website where I can start to develop my ideas for fiction stories and start to develop a routine posting schedule again.

Name of story: Grey?

Setting: Starts in New Orleans, Louisiana. Typical two-story home in a quiet area. Working middle-class family and upbringing. Then shifts to an abandoned warehouse building with magical/supernatural elements. Meaning even though it’s a warehouse building, it transforms into a dark, poorly lit environment that is constantly changing for the rest of the story. The image of the room constantly shifts into different mazes and images, depending on what the female main character and “narrator” are talking about. The abandoned warehouse is related to the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. The story doesn’t revolve around the aftermath of Kartina at all, but it does have a quiet, strong presence because it adds to the main question/theme of the story,

Theme: Which is “Can you label something as completely bad or completely good?” The main character is scared that she’s not a good person on the inside, but everyone thinks she is on the outside because she presents herself in a way that checks off the boxes of what mainstream society would consider a good person.

Setting Continued: Then the majority of the story takes place in a sort of maze the main character will walk through. She walks on a dirt path in a rural, wooded area, but will encounter different buildings that look completely out of place along the way. Ex. An NYC Penthouse, a small cottage, a shopping mall. The environment she stumbles in depends on what scenario each supporting character presents to her.

What season is it?: Fall, leading into winter

Music: Jazz & Hip-hop, street performers

Entertainment: Mardi Gras, festivals, a large mission trip with churches there to help with the aftermath of Katrina (which further contributes to the theme of good vs. bad).

Characters:

Main character: Name- Cristal- The Greek meaning of this name means “pure of heart” which is significant b/c even though her biggest fear is that she is a bad person & that she has hurt several people in her life, she doesn’t realize how pure-hearted she truly is to her core. 

Age: Mid-twenties (25)- subject to change

Hobbies: Art- drawing & painting, volunteering at an animal shelter, loves to play soccer, loves to watch football, loves to go out to bars & clubs with her small group of close friends & boyfriend, loves spending quality time with family & playing board games with parents

Pets?: Yes, one cat.

How she interacts with others: She’s extremely polite & respectful, people pleaser, charming, people find her compelling, oblivious to her own beauty, vulnerable, easy to take advantage of. People constantly underestimate her own self-awareness. She’s strategic. She is working on building self-confidence. She’s extremely intelligent. She is aware people are taking advantage of her sometimes but goes along with it, because the most important thing to her is that she is a nice person, despite the hardships she has faced in the past.

She is an excellent listener, she’s a bit naive, she was semi-sheltered throughout her childhood. People find her sweet, endearing, slightly childish but also extremely mature. She is confusing to people. They look at her with a watchful eye because the major shifts in her personality can come across as though she’s being disingenuous and hypocritical if you didn’t truly know her.

How does she react to being put under pressure?: She has a lot of anxiety. She reaches a boiling point & gets extremely emotional. She takes everything personally, even when it’s not about her. She spreads herself too thin. She shies away from conflict. She sacrifices her own happiness to make others happy. She feels like a complete failure when she can’t solve a task that was always going to be impossible for her to complete successfully. When she hurts/disappoints other people, fails to measure up to other people around her who had way more handouts than she did, she feels like a complete failure and doesn’t think she has a purpose. When she is under too much pressure, her mental health drastically spirals.

Narrator: Name- Basar, it means “sight, vision, the eye”, Arabic origin. His character is the only one with magical elements/powers. He can create visions that feel like reality to Cristal, but they are completely fabricated. She is physically safe for the entire story, even though at some points she feels like Basar has put her in real danger. He knows she feels this way, but secretly ensures her safety is always protected, pulling back slightly every time he notices that she is at her breaking point.

He is a trickster. He is all-knowing. He was mortal in his initial lifetime. He had a troubled childhood. He has done this journey with other people before, but he really sees himself in Cristal. Cristal makes him feel nostalgic and secretly touched that she is such a kind person who is so troubled by the thought she might be bad. He has a long grey beard and black eyes. He knows that Cristal will become overwhelmed by the vision and he knows what conclusion she will come to in the end because it’s the same conclusion he came to several years ago, in the same exact way she did.

She won’t ever realize that he genuinely liked her and wanted to protect her, but this will be seen by the readers at the very end of the story. When Cristal begins to question the point of trying to be a good person, he gently ensures that she won’t veer off onto the path of apathy or rebellion by gently reminding her of her roots.

This draft is far from complete but I wanted to make this post today as a baseline. Throughout the next couple of months feel free to check-in for updates to see how I develop this story further. Happy Friday!

What’s the Obsession with Toxic Relationships all About?

Hey guys! Welcome to this week’s Podcast episode which was all about discussing why toxic relationships are so popular in fiction books, especially when it comes to YA fiction. Keeping in theme with the format of the last couple episodes I start this podcast by proposing this question, I give you real examples, and then we end on a positive note by discussing what we as writers can do to prevent ourselves from indulging in this toxic narrative. I used the Twilight series, 50 Shades of Grey series, After fanfiction/movie, and 365 Days movie as examples. Enjoy the episode!

My 4 Unpopular Opinions: Fiction Novels

 
  I'll admit it, I've already started suffering from a second wave of writer's block. I started to do what a lot of us do when that happens: google ideas. Then a random idea hit me. My unpopular opinions. This post will be about unpopular opinions I have about general patterns I notice in fiction novels and I will use examples from popular fiction novels I’ve read in order to illustrate my point. Here are my four unpopular opinions about fiction novels:  

The Main Character’s Love Interest

 
 1. I often disagree on who the main character ends up with romantically. I know, you read that and thought to yourself, ‘everyone does.’ As someone who was a die-hard Harry Potter fan since Elementary School, I have to admit that from day one I thought Harry and Hermione should have ended up together. I even thought Katniss and Gale should have ended up together in the Hunger Games series. Hear me out, sometimes it’s difficult for me to ignore two character’s obvious compatibility and submerge myself in the belief that a character who is the polar opposite of them will be what’s ultimately best for them in the end. I can understand why this tendency of mine isn’t always right. In the case of Katniss and Gale, they will always be similar minded but his actions and defining flaw, resulted in an unforgiveable mistake. In the case of Harry and Hermione, reading about their constant spats and at one point, Ron’s complete abandonment of Hermione was excruciating. As writers, I hope all of us try our hardest to do what’s logical for our character in the universe we’ve created for them, instead of using our characters to prove points to ourselves based off what’s going on in our personal lives. 

Having a Plot Twist with no Purpose

2. Fairytale endings are not overrated. I remember exactly what I felt when I closed My Sister’s Keeper. Why? Why and how could it possibly end that way? Consider this your spoiler alert if you still want to read this book and you don’t know the ending. I’m not saying every book should have a happy ending and I’m not even necessarily saying the endings to this book was bad. However, I think becoming attached to a girl named Anna battling to get emancipated from her parents who were using her as her sister Kate’s personal marrow donor to help her through her battle with cancer was a heart wrenching battle to read hundreds of pages about in itself. What on earth did we as the reader gain from the ending? At the end of the book, after the emancipation trial was finally over, a car accident happens. Anna had formed a unique and powerful bond with the attorney for her emancipation case, named Campbell. Anna had just been granted emancipation from her parents and the judge appointed Campbell to act as her power of attorney. The reader, who has spent the entire novel empathizing with Anna gets to be excited by this outcome for maybe a few minutes before going on to read that a car accident happens where Anna is killed. There are many more details surrounding the plot and ending but these are the main factors you need to understand to comprehend my outrage at the ending. I don’t think authors need to coddle their readers with a happy ending every single time. I even favor a realistic approach to a fiction novel, but I think several authors are guilty of using a dramatic plot twist to set their work apart, instead of letting the plot speak for itself and come to a natural conclusion. The plot of this novel was so powerful and unique by itself that I wish we could have followed the natural conclusion the rest of the plot had set up instead of settling for an abrupt plot twist. 

Not Every Story Needs a Love Triangle

3. There doesn’t have to be a love triangle, or a romantic love present at all. I’ll keep this explanation short because I think the point, I’ve made speaks for itself. Here are some Titles of excellent fiction books that aren’t about romantic love: A Wrinkle in Time, Matilda, The Help, Coraline, The Golden Compass, The Kite Runner. It’s a strange combination of recommendations but just a friendly reminder that stories without a romantic plot are out there and definitely worth a read! 

Always Do Your Research

4. Even though you’re writing a fiction novel, you should still do your research. I read Fifty Shades of Grey. Yeah. There’s a reason there were several protests surrounding this movie’s release. I am a huge fan of any author who steps outside of what is conventionally accepted and opens the public’s eyes to more taboo topics. However, the lack of research done about the BDSM lifestyle was extremely evident with this novel and the potential consequences of it are scary to think about. The idea that someone would read about Christian Grey’s behavior and think that this mindset is attractive and healthy to emulate is extremely concerning. If you’re going to tackle a topic, please do enough research about it that you don’t create a harmful message for your readers or disrespect an entire community of people who have been fighting against stigma for years.  

Do you disagree with any of these opinions or have any unpopular opinions of your own? Comment and let me know!

5 Tips for Editing Short Stories

Earlier this week I uploaded a post about how to edit poetry. Today I wanted to share a checklist of five different tips you can use when editing short stories:

  1. Read it out loud. The #1 tip for editing any style of writing is to read your work out loud. Why is that? When we read our writing out loud, it’s easier for us to spot grammatical errors, wordiness, repetitive phrasing, and much more.
  2. Check for consistency. This is especially helpful for character development. I like to read through a story to make sure if I brought up a small detail about a character, for example a character who doesn’t like fruit, that I take time to read through my entire story and make sure I keep this fact consistent throughout the story. I find when I write a story over a long period of time, I can forget small details and fail to deliver on consistency.
  3. “Trim the fat.” I also gave this tip in my post on how to edit poetry but for short stories the way you can accomplish this is different. Instead of trying to cut down words sentence by sentence, think of this more broadly. If you have clichés, if you have an extremely long introduction that doesn’t contribute to the story, or if you have filler words, try to cut down on these as much as possible. This will help your story have a more efficient impact on the reader that doesn’t linger on unnecessary details or wording.
  4. There should be multiple drafts. I can’t recommend the exact number of drafts you should write before you’re finished with your short story. What I can say for sure, is that the first draft should not be the same as the final draft. It is exciting to finish a piece of work, especially a short story which can take a much longer time than other styles of work. After you finish your first draft, take a break, the break could be a few days long even. Then come back and read your first draft again. After a break you’ll be able to read your work with more objectivity. Repeat this cycle until you’re satisfied with the end product. Each draft will most likely have less and less edits. If your second draft looks extremely different from your first draft, don’t be alarmed! It’s okay. Sometimes we need the freedom to write down out ideas but once we read it, we realize that it didn’t pan out as well as we originally hoped it would. That’s okay and that’s part of the fun of the editing process, we’ll find a way to work through it and produce an amazing end product.
  5. My last tip is the same as it was for editing poetry; share your work! Sharing your work with friends and asking for feedback will help you find ways to improve that you might not have found on your own. Everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to sharing their work but sharing your story with at least one person that you trust to give constructive feedback will help you grow as a writer. If you are comfortable, I would strongly recommend sharing your work with more than one person since people’s opinions and critiques may vary. Sharing your work with at least a small group of people can help you get a general consensus on your stories strengths and weaknesses.

I find the editing process the most difficult for any type of writing that I post. I didn’t have a strong method until after I graduated college and I’m still learning on how to improve my method every day. This is to help any beginner or any writer that needs a refresher, come up with an editing method that works for them.

What does your editing process look like?