Writing Diversity

Hi, guys!

So, I read a book recently that was meant to feature an empowering female lead and be LGBT friendly and such.

But it was pretty mishandled.

The female lead did want equality for women, but she was also…a manipulative, scheming, murderous bitch. Not exactly a role model, by any means.

100% it was written through the perspective of a villain. Which is cool. It was interesting enough for me to finish it.

But in a Q&A, the author said she wanted it to empower women. Seducing a man with the intent to take everything he has…That’s no role model.

That’s a bitch.

And the LGBT aspect consisted of one side character with very few speaking parts, but every time he danced with a guy, it was pointed out as if to say, “Hey, look, I’m inclusive.”

And it kinda breaks the world a bit because it’s set in a society VERY similar to Victorian England.

Two dudes dancing probably wasn’t gonna happen.

Now, I’m all for writing diversity into your books. Characters with the goal of equality are great.

But DON’T shoehorn diversity in for the sake of patting yourself on the back for being inclusive.

That ain’t how it works, my dudes.

If you do that, it will be obvious, and it will not make you look like a hero.

You want to know how to properly write diversity?

Write people.

That’s it.

It’s that goddamn simple.

Look at the world you’ve built. Look at their individual backstories. Look at their cultures. Shape each character as an individual within that culture with those experiences.

Don’t rely on stereotypes. Just write people.

Diversity will come naturally if you do that.

Honor the setting if it’s historical.

If your story takes place in medieval Scotland, don’t drop one Asian guy in there with no reasonable explanation and call yourself inclusive. If it’s set in Victorian England, don’t drop one flamboyant gay guy in there and pat yourself on the back.

If it’s a fantasy setting wherein everyone is seen as equal, then those things that tend to divide us should hold no bearing over their personality, whatsoever. Their experiences would shape them far more than the color of their skin or who they go to bed with.

If it’s set in a place where there is a lot of division, still don’t go to stereotypes. Build a person.

Think about what you’re writing and the way those characters interact with the world you’ve built.

Maybe the division in their land made them more defiant or more repressed, more prideful or more self-conscious. It isn’t going to guarantee they act one specific way.

Just write people.

Period.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

The Dangers of Comparison

Hi, guys!

Writers tend to want to learn from their favorite authors and writer friends. Which is good. We need to learn.

With the importance of maintaining a good author platform, social media has made it easier than ever for writers to network with each other and show their readers how they write.

That also means that writers see exactly how other writers write. Sometimes, that makes for a good bonding opportunity or lively discussion. Sometimes, it can be discouraging to newer writers who haven’t quite found their own creative process, yet.

Lurking on social media, comparing ourselves to each other…does very little good.

So what if someone else wrote more or less than you did this week Maybe they used a vacation day to stay home and write. Maybe they had a bunch of overtime.

Did a writer friend start a new project the same day you did? Maybe you were both psyched that you’d be working on your projects, side by side, but now…one of you is falling behind.

That doesn’t mean anything bad about either of you. It doesn’t mean one is better or worse than the other.

It just means that you’re not the same person, and the two of you approach writing in a different way. Maybe you edit as you go, whereas your friend types anything and everything that comes into their head. Of course, their word count will climb faster than yours.

If you like to plot your book ahead of time and your friend doesn’t, they’re going to jump in and write. If they have a few chapters written before you ever start writing? So what.

Your writing journey will be different than theirs.

There comes a point where we need to stop comparing ourselves to others and just write like ourselves.

After all, the thing that could truly make you a great writer…is your unique style and process.

There are so many options, so many ways to personalize your writing.

Trial and error is the best way to find your own voice. Practice writing and eventually, you’ll find your groove.

It might be a niche. It might be a wildly popular genre. Maybe you like to write in the mornings like Stephen King.

Maybe (if you’re like me) that just doesn’t work for you. Writing in the middle of the night instead of getting up at 5 am to write doesn’t make you less of a writer.

Maybe you like typing anything and everything that comes into your head and organizing/editing later. Or (if you’re like me) you make sure everything is halfway decent before moving on to another chapter.

As long as you don’t let that stop you from actually finishing your book, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Writing is a very personal thing. The creative process varies wildly from one person to another, and that’s a good thing.

There are so many different readers out there, all searching for something different.

3rd person or 1st? Both are good in their own ways.

Present tense or past? Both are good in their own ways.

Whether you love interpersonal drama or action, whether you like your prose flowery or quick and punchy…That’s up to you.

Your stile and process will develop naturally. You just need to practice and try new things with your writing.

And most importantly, stop telling yourself that the way you write is wrong because someone else writes faster/slower or different than you.

Keep learning. But stop comparing your progress. You will grow and write at your own pace.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Building Character

Hi, guys!

This past week was mostly spent working on behind the scenes stuff for Soul Bearer. I’ve been reaching out to ARC readers left and right. I got a bit of editing done for the rerelease of The Gem of Meruna.

I also finished the pre-beta reader edits of Salt and Silver, and got it sent out to them. They found a few things that need adjusted, and I’m glad they caught it. Their response was overwhelmingly positive though, and I’m so freaking excited about it!

It’s a great feeling to know someone enjoyed your work.

And that story was so much fun to write. The characters are…interesting (a demi-demon with a conscience, a werewolf with a hero complex, a reckless mortal). lol.

Which brings me to the topic of the day…

Character development.

So, there are a lot of types of writers, and a lot of standpoints on how autonomous our characters actually are. Some people believe their characters have minds of their own, and have a lot of control on how the story develops. Some people believe all the control rests within the hands of the author.

And to be honest, as far as my next point is concerned…which side of that fence you’re on doesn’t matter.

Because, whether you think they’re forcing your hand or not, you need to think of them as fully independent people.

Whether you’re plotting carefully or running wildly through pages, the characters have to be people to you. Because if you don’t see your character as a person, your reader won’t, either.

You need to see all the facets of their personality. Otherwise, how will you ever figure out how they’ll react in a given situation?

If they’re a full person to you, it’s easier to figure out what they’ll do.

They can’t just be heroic because you say they are. Fiction has to make sense, ironically enough. Your characters have to have a motive.

Which is where backstory comes in.

Now, getting a normal ass person to leave a life with which they’re content to go chasing danger is going to take some persuasion. A person who has reason to hate their current situation…will go more readily.

Which is why backstories get rough.

But no matter what the backstory, you need to be consistent. If they have a history of running their mouth, they’re not going to stop whenever its convenient for the writer for them to not spout off at a superior or an uneasy ally.

It’ll take work for them to control that impulse, if they even see it as a problem. If they don’t, they won’t bother adjusting their attitude. And you either have to find a different way to move your plot forward or curb their temper in earlier scenes.

Because people change, but not instantly, and not when it’s most convenient.

Oftentimes, change is brought about by a low point. (Terrible backstory…reason 2.)

Now, there are a lot of ways to see your characters as real people.

Some writers do personality tests as each character. Some give each character a quirk, or a phrase that they use a lot. It makes them just a bit more distinct, a bit more human.

Whatever you do, each character needs a voice. You don’t want your reader to struggle to tell one side character from another. You definitely don’t want that struggle with your main characters.

The most basic thing you can do is figure out what they want. They’re not always going to want the same thing as your other characters, so there’s a pretty easy distinction.

Then, figure out why they want that thing.

This kinda brings us back to their backstory. What we go through has a huge impact on what we want out of life. And we tend to think about things we want…a lot.

Which means that a character’s thoughts (an important tool in character voice) will be informed by their past.

If someone went through something terrible…they’re going to think about it. If they want to prevent that happening to someone else, they’re going to think about that.

If one character is in love with another, and they’re going along on a quest to try to win affection…they’re not going to spend as much time thinking about the quest as the person on it for a personal vendetta. Instead, they’ll be preoccupied with how their crush is doing and how safe they are and what needs done to win them over.

That right there, the thing they focus on in the safety of their own mind…

That’s a huge distinction.

Take the backstory you’ve provided, and pick something (preferably plot-related) that makes your character anxious. That’s another huge difference between characters. Or maybe it’s something two characters can bond over.

Does your character have low self-esteem? Maybe that makes them befriend people who possess qualities they envy, because they want to be like them.

Maybe it does the opposite.

Perhaps they can’t handle being surrounded by the quality they admire, and they tell themselves that quality is dumb to ease the tension of not being good enough. Maybe they end up hating the person they know they should emulate, as a defense mechanism, surrounding themselves instead with like-minded people to avoid any cognitive dissonance.

Who knows?

There are so many options, so many ways to build messed up people for your stories.

At the end of the day, the best recommendation I can give is to learn about psychology. You don’t have to get a degree. You don’t have to be an expert.

But learning about psychology has so many benefits for writers.

You can use it to build people.

Believable people that readers can relate to.

And that’s huge.

It’s…kinda…the point. Or, a major part of it, anyway.

But I digress. I’ll stop ranting, now.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Bah. Socializing.

Hi guys!

Last week was a hell of a week. I got Soul Bearer up and going, despite a shit ton of technical problems. It’s officially up for pre-order, in case you didn’t know from me posting all over social media about it. Lmao.

The official release date is October 22, 2019. So close! I’ll have information about the giveaway soon, I promise. But it won’t actually take place until closer to release day, anyway.

I’ll be honest, it doesn’t feel real yet.

I also started contacting ARC readers, and powered through a SHIT TON of editing on Salt and Silver (WIP in preparation for beta readers).

I also realized just how much I’m working on. Lol. I don’t know if you’ve looked at my works in progress page, but damn.

I never really think about it until I talk about one of my stories with someone, and they mix it up with another, and I have to stop and say, “no, that’s a different one.”

I can’t wait to get all these books out.

I’m gonna need help maintaining my sanity over the next year or year and a half. Which brings me to the topic of the day.

The importance of finding a writing group.

I’m lucky enough to have a supportive husband and family, but a lot of writers don’t have that. From what I’ve seen in various groups, a lot of people have the opposite.

Which sucks because…writing isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Whether you struggle to write, or to edit, or to market (*cough cough* me + marketing = nightmare), there’s always some part of it that trips people up. I’ve yet to meet a writer who loved every single aspect of being an author.

And that’s fine.

It can be frustrating, at times.

Not to mention the drain of imposter syndrome. Feeling like you aren’t good enough, or like you’re not a real writer can really drag you down. Any creative profession is rife with self doubt.

On the one hand, it’s what tells you to keep learning and improving. But it also has the potential to stop you in your tracks.

And that’s why you need a group of people around you to keep you going.

And coming from me, that’s saying something. I AM NOT a group oriented person.

At all.

I’ve briefly touched on my social anxiety in past blogs, and how it dates all the way back to preschool. I’ve mentioned how I started preschool a year early to socialize, then didn’t talk to the teachers for a year and a half. Then, when it was time to do testing for kindergarten, I wouldn’t talk to them either, so they thought I needed special ed. My mom asked me their questions, I did fine, and they said, “just go to kindergarten.”

So I did.

But I didn’t talk to the teacher there for like…9 months.

So I don’t typically like groups or socializing or talking.

But writing groups are a necessity.

I’m in several. Lol.

The friendships I’ve built (with people who know the struggle of misbehaving imaginary friends) and the things I’ve learned from them…they’re definitely worth the initial awkward feeling of, “Oh, god! New people! What do I say? What do I do? Have I gone too long without saying anything? Did they forget I’m in the group? Are they glad I’m not messaging? Do they talk about me when I’m not in the group?”

Because when you push that aside and get past it, you get so much out of a writing group.

If you’re looking for one, I’m in World Indie Warriors. There’s a page on IG and FB. They’re wonderful, and super supportive. Not only are they amazing friends, they’ve talked me through a lot of tech problems (because I’m garbage with computer anything) and helped me with cover design and all manner of other things.

There’s also Fiction Writing on FB. It’s a huge group, so anytime you need a lot of opinions, that’s a great place to go. It’s also great for getting questions answered. With 90,000 members, there’s bound to be someone who knows the answer. Lol.

I recently joined Writing Bad on FB, but have been working, so I haven’t gotten to explore that one yet.

There’s also Fellow Creative Minds on IG and Women Writing Fiction on FB, but I’m not in either of those as much as I should be.

Even if you just join a small group, maybe five or six people, it can be super helpful.

Especially when it comes to writing quality. You NEED to have other people looking at your work. You’re too close to it to pick out every flaw. You know the scenes and the characters, so you don’t always see when you need to elaborate more. Maybe it’s the opposite. Some people over-describe.

If other people are looking at your work, they can tell you these things (in a constructive manner) to help you grow as a writer.

You need people to push you, to challenge you. You need people to help you become the writer you’re meant to be.

And that means…*dun dun dun*…reaching out.

Because even the most antisocial among us…sometimes just need someone we trust to say, “You’re good enough, you can handle this, and you deserve this.”

So, go join a group. All the ones I mentioned above are very welcoming.

I’ll stop screaming socialization, though. Lol.

For now…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.