On Making Your Story Bigger!

As writing becomes more of a daily habit for me, and as I prepare for NaNoWriMo next month I’ve been teaching myself to “take a step back”.

After I’ve written something–whether it’s a character profile, a snip of a story, a plot point or a twist, I “take a step back”, take a long drawl on my pipe and ask myself, “How can I make this bigger?”

I’m a “discovery” writer. The story grows and develops before I even put the entire outlien together, and that comes from “taking a step back”.

Allow yourself to look at the smallest inception of your story and expand that inception into something bigger and better.

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Something Old, Something New

This quote from Aaron Sorkin has had me thinking over the past few days about my own writing. Looking back, a lot of write I write is just a mishmash of things I’ve snagged from some of my favourite writers, for both film and books.

Nothing is new under the sun, and we as writers may struggle to come up with “something new”. Chances are that’s not happening. There hasn’t been a totally original story in hundreds of years–all of them are in one form or another something that we’ve either heard or read elsewhere. And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I encourge you to “steal” from your favorite writers. For the script I’m working on, I’ve been pulling through movies and shows like SupernaturalConstantineHellboy, and the Blade Trilogy .  For my novel I’ve been re-reading all of my high fantasy books such as Eragon, Fool’s Gold,  and The Nightangel Trilogy. I’ll take the things that I really like from those books and either alter them a little bit, or pull from other resources that may bnot even be related to my novel and make it my own.

That there should be the focus of writers. Let’s not focus so much on “writing something new”, but more so, “writing the story that we want to read”.

Music, Writing and Productivity pt. I

I’m always listening to something, almost no matter where  Igo, especially if I’m walking log distances.   Whether it be music or podcasts, having something in my ears helps my messy mind stay on track, otherwise, it floats away like the kid who lost their balloon at the carnival.

 

So, it’s no surprise that I listen to music when I write. Music does three things for me when I sit down to spin stories.

1.) Music Sets the Stage

I have MONTHS worth of music on my Spotify account–my longest and favourite being a  whopping 240+ hours of music. Having such a vast library allows me to pick and chose a music playlist that best sets the mood of my story. For example! I’ve been writing short pieces for a YA novel I’ll write one day, and the natural overdrive I hear from groups like Skillet and Five Finger Death Punch, and the melodic and symbolic lyrics from Nightwish and Epica set the tone perfectly for this universe. The feeling of love, loss, and desperation rambles around in my head and channels what I feel from the music to fuel the emotion and mood of the story.

For the urban fantasy I’m writing–my biggest and most important project–I have a playlist of swing, electro-swing and modern swing. The slick, sexy sounds of an almost alternate 1920’s universe set the stage for the slick, sexy and upbeat universe of an urban fantasy.

 

2.) Music Inspires

I don’t have to be in front of a notebook or laptop to be fueled by music. Like I said, I’m messy-minded, and music molds my messy mind of mine (oh, look! An alliteration!) into something workable. Music inspires me. Be it classical, dubstep, melodic metal or gangster rap, music has the power to spark a new story in mind. I may have a small spark of an idea floating around somewhere, and a certain style of music clicks with that inkling of an idea, and a song can take it from there, giving the story life.

What about you? Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what kind of music do you listen to?

Morning Patrol

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A soft, lilting voice gently stirred me from sleep. My eyes fluttered open; the scent of earth, wood, and our night of lovemaking still kissed the room. It wasn’t unusual for my darling to be awake at this hour; being a soldier in the Dawn Patrol meant sunrise marches. But this morning, was different. She wasn’t so tense like she is when I bring her the day’s lunch during her march. Her back ramrod straight, shoulders at a forty-five degree angle, slender fingers grasping a longspear, her armor casting eerie flashes across the ground. No, this time was different.

Facing the sun, and lazy day to come, her nude body was an oil painting of flawless imperfection. Her pale hair fell down the arch of her slender back. Milky skin, licked by fragments of the rising sun shafting through gauzy curtains. Ribbons of long, jagged scars danced across her soft back, her sides; an uneven landscape of pink and alabaster. Elven blankets pooled around, and between strong thighs, a tight stomach, and small breasts. Her pointed ears twitched once, and she turned her head towards me. Her high cheekbones were painted in azure; the Marks of War. She bit her lower lip, and tucked her legs underneath her arms, resting a cheek on her knee, almost…teasingly hiding her body from me. Periwinkle eyes twinkled in playful misbehavior and a crooked smile touched her soft lips.

“Good morning, darling,” she whispered softly.

I wrote this piece a couple of years ago, inspired by the artwork of wlop, and the Two Steps from Hell soundtrack Miracles. As you will see in more of my writings, I’m quite fond of elves, warrior women and the beautiful transpirings of eveyrday life. I’m not sure where this story will go in the future, or if it even has a future. Either way, I qutie enjoyed writing the two characters. 

Of Hookah and Story History

My best friend and I were sitting in a hookah lounge together, one wintery evening. It was the first time he and I hung out outside of work, and we got the opportunity to talk about Doctor Who, Star Wars vs Star Trek and Lord of the Rings. As he blew smoke rings into the air (and as I tried and failed horribly), he asked me about my writing. I flew into a frenzy, spilling a lot of my current project (more about that in the coming weeks!) with him. He mentioned something to me, that I’d love to share with you all. He asked me if I’d ever read The Silmarillion. Being the ever nerd that I am, of course I’ve read “The Silmarillion!” For those of you who don’t know, The Silmarillion is J.R.R. Tolkien’s mythopoeic narrative that of the universe of Eä in which are found the lands of Valinor, Beleriand, Númenor, and Middle-earth within which The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place.

And I thought to myself…

And thus began my new adventure in writing! And boy, what an adventure it has been! Writing down the history and lore of my universe allowed me to dig deeper into my characters and the way the world worked. From the behaviour of certain species of characters, to the history of my heroes and villains. I understood why the world worked the way it did.


As I began to carve out the history of my story, as I began to whittle the mythos of my world, a deeper, richer plot began to emerge itself from the wood shavings of imagination. I began to have a clear depiction of the story from beginning to end.

When I go back and begin the writing process, I don’t have to world build along the way. I can look back at my mythos, my Silmarillion and the story is that much clearer to me.


So I challenge you, fellow writers to do the same! Write your Silmarillion! Write out the universe of the world first. Before you plot, before you write that first chapter, carve out the lore of your universe, and watch the story unfold on its own.

One Oni, Two Oni. Red Oni, Blue Oni

A couple of years ago I was cruising the internet as I am wont to do (I actually should have been working. That just goes to show what kind of a writer I am), and I came across the Myers-Briggs test! I love taking those little personality quizzes you see on Facebook and what not, so I decided to jump in on that and ya know what? I’m an ENFP! I’m the sparkly, energetic, rainbow powered unicorn of the world! Oddly enough, all of my closest friends are introverts, one of my best friends being an ISTJ–my polar opposite! The up to my down! The cold to my hot. The Batman to my Joker! We’re pretty much our own foil!

Throughout literary and nerd history we see a gaggle of foils: Superman and Batman, Sherlock and Watson, Arati Kagami and Souji Tendou, Naruto and Sasuke. These pairs of characters–these foils contrast in such a way that they highlight particular qualities about each other. This is what we call the Red Oni, Blue Oni foil–one of the many different types of foils which we will discuss in coming weeks.

Pulled from Japanese folklore, the Red Oni, Blue Oni foil represents two yokai: Jorogumo (red) who captures her prey by batting her eyelashes and flirting and Yuki-onna (blue) who uses innocence and elegance.

The Red Oni, Blue Oni foil shows two individuals that have contrasting personalities and often different approaches to the world. Their “hot and cold” take on life cause them to bump heads in a form of rivalry as the two aren’t necessarily enemies but two people with two very different views on life, like my friend and myself.

The Red Oni (Jorogumo) is the embodiment  of determination, passion, wildness and defiance (yours truly). Extroverted and overflowing with life, the Red Oni are people-oriented and bound to act before they think. Loved by everyone–even their enemies who may eventually become their allies–the unbending determination of the Red Oni is what gives them the respect of the people around them. They are the Inspired Influencer and the Dominant Driver of DISC and Extroverted Thinkers and Extroverted Feelers in Myers-Briggs. Red Oni lean more towards Chaotic alignments.

Key Strengths: Charming, cheerful, loves people, energetic, talkative, passionate and compassionate, positive, unpredictable, expressive influencer, and all around fun guy!

Key Weaknesses:  Undisciplined, too talkative, emotionally unstable, hyperactive, scatterbrained, gullible, disorganized, late for work, and sometimes frivolous.

Popular Red Oni include Wolverine, Harry Potter, Naruto Uzumaki, Eragon, and Shotaro Ishinimori

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The Blue Oni (Yuki-onna) is associated with serenity, control and observance of authority. A Blue Oni is more intellectual, proud, traditional, introverted, and goal-oriented. Blue Oni personalities are often respected by others, but also likely to confuse their peers because they are difficult to read and have an air of mystery about them. They are the Contemplating Conscience and Stable Supporter of DISC and Introverted Thinkers and Introverted Feelers of Myers-Briggs. Blue Oni lean more towards Lawful Alignments.

Key Strengths: Detailed, conservative, analytical, organized, a perfectionist, faithful to a fault, discreet will of stone, elegant (in the more dignified ways), selfless, an excellent medic or lawyer.

Key Weaknesses: Rigid, too straight-laced, critical, bashful, pessimistic, moody, depressed, impractical (yes, both practical and impractical), has unrealistically high expectations, paranoid

Popular Blue Oni are Cyclops, Ron Weasley Sasuke Uchiha, Brom, and Philip Sonozaki

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Have FUN when writing this type of foil! You don’t have to force your heroes into a box. The Red Oni is fueled powered by emotion, but they’re also more laid-back than their Blue Oni counterpart. However, the stoic Blue Oni is unpredictable and that can cause them to erupt if pushed too far. So weigh the two out. Have the roles reverse. The Red Oni becomes the calm, composed partner and the Blue Oni is the passionate hot head in times of crisis.

Carry this out in other ways in how they speak, react and even how they fight. A Red Oni may rush headlong into a battle, while a Blue Oni will hang back and analyse the situation before making any moves.

 The Red Oni, Blue Oni foil is one I will be using in my work in progress (more to come about that in the coming weeks), allowing me to explore the relations between the two heroes and how they co-relate to the world around them. But for now? I want you to give it a try!

EXERCISE: Write a story of 500 words or more where the protagonists are the Red Oni, Blue Oni pair. For an extra challenge, have the Red Oni and Blue Oni behave how they normally would behave, then toward the end of the story have their roles reverse. 

Why Do You Write, Dear Writer? 

There comes a point in time where every write, every Brother and Sister of the Feathered Quill and Inkwell, every tale weaver, every liar on paper, every storyteller musk ask themselves a question.

“Why do I write?”

After all, ’tis utterly useless to do something wihout having a reason–or perhaps a better yet, a good reason behind doing it. Other wise, ’tis naught but time, effort, and in the end life wasted.

So why do you write anyways? What makes you sit in an uncomfortable wooden chair, in the middle of the night penning the ravings of a madman? What makes you brood over a glass of whiskey, with fingers tapping away at a keyboard, writing about a fair dragonslayer? What makes you tell the tales that you do? Lies that any fool with any shred of common sense would have to believe if he were at all intelligent?

Why do you write? 

I for one write–as narcissisitic as it may seem–for me. Aye, I write for mineself, and mineself alone. Mostly because a flying feather I do not give of anyone’s persona opinion about my writing (that may or may not be entirely accurate. I’m what one would call an “unreliable narrator”. Be ye mindful of the things I would say. Take them with a grain of salt, aye? Whatch out for plot holes, dear reader!)

The main reason why I write is so that I can read the story that I’ve always wanted to read. The story that I’ve always wanted to hear. The tale that has taken place somewhere in teh back of my mind since before El Shaddai brought me into this universe. The sotry I’ve been begging to read my entire life.

The story of a life beyond my wilest imagination.

The one no one has ever written yet. 

So tell me, dear writer.

Why, do you write? 

Musings on Muses

“She is the beginning of new life, baby flower in the spring
The symphonic tune of summer that makes the world sing
She is autumn leaves dancing, illuminated by evening light
All assuring warmth, through a harsh winter’s night
The beauty in changing seasons is what I think of
When I stare up at the sky and ponder the woman that I love”


One of the most fulfilling and beautiful things about being a writer, is perhaps our ability to craft the most amazing tales of poems from the strange and wonderful world around us.

The above poem, dear readr was inpsired by a woman that I love very much. In fact, it is her that inspired poetry writing in me, but that is another tale for another occasion.

She is the well of life in which that poem spring from. She is the source. She is, my muse.

Many of us creative types are inspired by the amazing people around us. Throughout history, they have breathed creative life into our lungs, that would drive us to create our best work.

Patti Smith was muse to Robert Mapplethorpe–but oddly enough his photography was her muse as well.

Camille Claudel–sculptor and mistress of sculptor Auguste Rodin–a “revolt against nature; a woman genius”.

And let us not forget “youthquaker” and “it” girl Edie Sedgick–muse to oddball extrordinaire Andy Warhol–filmed shopping for clothes or smoking cigarettes.

We all are inspired by the wonderful, amazing and beautiful people that surrounds our day today lives. Whether total strangers, friends or lovers. There is–there CAN–be someone in your life that inspires you to create amazing, fantastich art. All because they are in your life. Thus dear writer, value your friendships and relationships. Build bonds with amazing and strange and wonderful people. You never know who will inspire a great work within you…