Loneliness is a terrible thing. The isolation and the lack of human interaction pushes you into the silence. The hopeless isolation becomes a heavy burden, growing in weight until it buries you in the suffocating quiet. There are times when you want to cry or scream and you couldn't do so because you've forgotten how.
The things you couldn't scream aloud started to pile high, one after another, tearing your heart to pieces, and pulling your mind apart until you could barely think. Unhappiness was all you've ever known and for once, you'd like to know what it was like to genuinely smile. Writing allows you to forget, and smile, even just for a little while.
So write, if you'd like. Write a few words. Write a lot of paragraphs. Imagine a world you desire and describe people you'd love to be with. Dreaming is not a crime; sometimes, it's the only way out.And I'll be here. Simply reading your dreams, appreciating your selfish wishes, and childish complaints. I won't say a word in judgement because I know that there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. ~Stephen King
This is the best writing advice anyone ever gave me and let’s be honest it’s awesome to be able to curl up on the couch with a good book and call it working. Reading teaches you about writing. Good books give you something to aspire to, bad books teach you what to avoid.
I try to read a book a week for review. (We post our reviews for Writers Write on The Bluestocking Review.) Reading for review is different to reading for fun. It makes me pay attention to things I’d usually overlook because reading like a writer is different to reading like a reader.
When I read for review I take note of the following:
- Genre: Is it a genre I enjoy? I don’t think it’s fair to the author if I read a genre I don’t like. I read across many genres so this isn’t the biggest issue. But does it hold true to its promise? Did it entertain me, scare me, or let me fall in love again?
- Viewpoint: I prefer books written in the 1st person, but only if the writer can pull it off. A trend at the moment is to have two alternating first person accounts. Very few authors can do this. It annoys me when the two characters sound the same. I do enjoy good 2nd and 3rd person accounts as well.
- Characters: Are they well developed? Are they believable?
- Dialogue: I adore dialogue. The more the better, but is it well written? Does it convey character and advance the story? I will put a book down if it lacks dialogue.
- Setting: How does the author convey this? Does he portray a sense of space by letting his character interact with the setting or does he bore me to death with paragraphs of description?
- Description: Coma inducing or a feast for my senses? I hate blocks of description. I prefer it when it is woven into a story.
- Pace: Did it start at an incredible pace only to run out at steam in the middle? Did it take forever to get going? Was it too fast overall or too slow?
- Plot: Does the story work? Is it believable? Is it good? Was it unexpected or predictable?
- Did I like the book or not? I allocate a mark out of 5. (See our scoring criteria.)
Once I have taken all of that into account I write a review of 150 words. I write one paragraph outlining the plot and one paragraph about my opinion. There is no point in writing a 1000-word book review. Be honest, those are the ones you don’t read on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t necessarily touch on every point but I highlight the parts that impressed or disappointed me.
I learn from every book I read. If I find something I enjoy I examine it and see if I can apply the techniques to my writing. If I find something that irritates me I’ll work through my manuscripts to see if I have made the same mistake.
Book reviews are also something you can mention in a query letter. An editor could read them and will be able to see if you know what you are talking about when it comes to writing. Anyhow, it’s a great exercise. Perhaps you could try writing a review for your own book?
by Mia Botha for Writers Write
More scans from Fashion Design Course.
DANG THIS IS USEFUL.
Steven Millhauser, In the Penny Arcade: Stories (via)
A dolphin on the warm side of the “Meeting of the Waters.”
The Amazon River meets the Rio Negro in Manaus, Brazil. A strong density gradient contributes to their visible separation, as well as a difference in temperature. In fact, if you place your hand in the water at the intersection, you can feel a significant temperature difference!
Limits of the Human Body by Soda Pop Avenue
Credit goes to SPA, but I wanted this here for a writer’s reference. This way we know exactly how far we can push our characters ;)
Lawful Good is known as the “Saintly” or “Crusader” alignment. A Lawful Good character typically acts with compassion, and always with honor and a sense of duty. A Lawful Good nation would consist of a well-organized government that works for the benefit of its citizens. Lawful Good characters may sometimes find themselves faced with the dilemma of whether to obey law or good when the two conflict—for example, upholding a sworn oath when it would lead innocents to come to harm—or conflicts between two orders, such as between their religious law and the law of the local ruler. Lawful good is the best alignment you can be because it combines honor and compassion. Lawful good can be a dangerous alignment because it restricts freedom and criminalizes self-interest.
- Sensitive To The Feelings Of Others
- Respectful of “life, love, and the pursuit of happiness”
Neutral Good is known as the “Benefactor” alignment. A Neutral Good character is guided by his conscience and typically acts altruistically, without regard for or against Lawful precepts such as rules or tradition. A Neutral Good character has no problems with co-operating with lawful officials, but does not feel beholden to them. In the event that doing the right thing requires the bending or breaking of rules, they do not suffer the same inner conflict that a Lawful Good character would. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. Neutral good can be a dangerous alignment because it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.
- Protective of Life
Chaotic Good is known as the “Beatific,” “Rebel,” or “Cynic” alignment. A Chaotic Good character favors change for a greater good, disdains bureaucratic organizations that get in the way of social improvement, and places a high value on personal freedom, not only for oneself, but for others as well. They always intend to do the right thing, but their methods are generally disorganized and often out of alignment with the rest of society. They may create conflict in a team if they feel they are being pushed around, and often view extensive organization and planning as pointless, preferring to improvise. While they do not have evil intentions, they may do bad things (even though they will not enjoy doing these things) to people who are, in their opinion, bad people, if it benefits the greater good. Chaotic Good is the best alignment you can be because it combines a good heart with a free spirit. Chaotic Good can be a dangerous alignment because it disrupts the order of society and punishes those who do well for themselves.
- Respectful of Personal Liberties
Lawful Neutral is called the “Judge” or “Disciplined” alignment. A Lawful Neutral character typically believes strongly in Lawful concepts such as honor, order, rules and tradition, and often follows a personal code. A Lawful Neutral society would typically enforce strict laws to maintain social order, and place a high value on traditions and historical precedent. Examples of Lawful Neutral characters might include a soldier who always follows orders, a judge or enforcer that adheres mercilessly to the word of the law, and a disciplined monk.Characters of this alignment are neutral with regard to good and evil. This does not mean that Lawful Neutral characters are amoral or immoral, or do not have a moral compass, but simply that their moral considerations come a distant second to what their code, tradition, or law dictates. They typically have a strong ethical code, but it is primarily guided by their system of belief, not by a commitment to good or evil. Lawful neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you are reliable and honorable without being a zealot. Lawful neutral can be a dangerous alignment because it seeks to eliminate all freedom, choice, and diversity in society.
- Respectful of Authority
Neutral alignment, also referred to as True Neutral or Neutral Neutral, is called the “Undecided” or “Nature’s” alignment. This alignment represents Neutral on both axes, and tends not to feel strongly towards any alignment. A farmer whose primary overriding concern is to feed his family is of this alignment. Most animals, lacking the capacity for moral judgment, are of this alignment. Many roguish characters who play all sides to suit themselves are also of this alignment. Some Neutral characters, rather than feeling undecided, are committed to a balance between the alignments. They may see good, evil, law and chaos as simply prejudices and dangerous extremes. Neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion. Neutral can be a dangerous alignment because it represents apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction.
Chaotic Neutral is called the “Anarchist” or “Free Spirit” alignment. A character of this alignment is an individualist who follows his or her own heart, and generally shirks rules and traditions. Although they promote the ideals of freedom, it is their own freedom that comes first. Good and Evil come second to their need to be free, and the only reliable thing about them is how totally unreliable they are. Chaotic Neutral characters are free-spirited and do not enjoy the unnecessary suffering of others, but if they join a team, it is because that team’s goals coincide with their own. They invariably resent taking orders and can be very selfish in their pursuit of personal goals. A Chaotic Neutral character does not have to be an aimless wanderer; they may have a specific goal in mind, but their methods of achieving that goal are often disorganized, unorthodox, or entirely unpredictable. Chaotic neutral is the best alignment you can be because it represents true freedom from both society’s restrictions and a do-gooder’s zeal. Chaotic neutral can be a dangerous alignment because it seeks to eliminate all authority, harmony, and order in society.
Lawful Evil is referred to as the “Dominator” or “Diabolic” alignment. Characters of this alignment see a well-ordered system as being easier to exploit, and show a combination of desirable and undesirable traits; while they usually obey their superiors and keep their word, they care nothing for the rights and freedoms of other individuals and are not averse to twisting the rules to work in their favour. Examples of this alignment include tyrants, devils, undiscriminating mercenary types who have a strict code of conduct, and loyal soldiers who enjoy the act of killing. Lawful Evil characters may sometimes find themselves faced with the dilemma of whether to obey law or evil when the two conflict. However, their issues with Law versus Evil are more concerned with “Will I get caught?” versus “How does this benefit me?” Lawful evil creatures consider their alignment to be the best because it combines honour with a dedicated self-interest. Lawful evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents methodical, intentional, and frequently successful evil.
- Respectful of Authority and Power
Neutral Evil is called the “Malefactor” alignment. Characters of this alignment are typically selfish and have no qualms about turning on their allies-of-the-moment. They have no compunctions about harming others to get what they want, but neither will they go out of their way to cause carnage or mayhem when they see no direct benefit to it. They abide by laws for only as long as it is convenient for them. A villain of this alignment can be more dangerous than either Lawful or Chaotic Evil characters, since he is neither bound by any sort of honour or tradition nor disorganized and pointlessly violent. Examples are an assassin who has little regard for formal laws but does not needlessly kill, a henchman who plots behind his superior’s back, or a mercenary who switches sides if made a better offer. Neutral evil beings consider their alignment to be the best because they can advance themselves without regard for others. Neutral evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents pure evil without honour and without variation.
Chaotic Evil is referred to as the “destroyer” or “demonic” alignment. characters of this alignment tend to have no respect for rules, other people’s lives, or anything but their own desires, which are typically selfish and cruel. they set a high value on personal freedom, but do not have any regard for the lives or freedom of other people. they do not work well in a group, as they resent being given orders, and usually only behave themselves out of fear of punishment. it is not compulsory for a chaotic evil character to be constantly performing sadistic acts just for the sake of being evil, or constantly disobeying orders just for the sake of causing chaos. they do however enjoy the suffering of others, and view honor and self-discipline as weaknesses. serial killers and monsters of limited intelligence are typically chaotic evil. Chaotic evil beings believe their alignment is the best because it combines self-interest and pure freedom. Chaotic evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents the destruction not only of beauty and life but also of the order on which beauty and life depend.
So you want to write a kissing scene, huh? Well, sit down children and allow me to inform you.
What’s the scene?
If you want this kiss to mean anything, it can’t just be thrown at the readers; it needs to be set up. The scene you set will also set the mood for the kiss. Consider the following:
- Are they alone? Around others?
- Depending on the previous question, what’s the importance of the number of surrounding people?
- Are they standing or sitting?
- What time of day is it?
- Are they at an event?
Closing the distance
Alright, this is a biggie. How do these two get close enough to kiss? There are many ways to do this and each one has its benefits. If the closing is slow and steady, this usually indicates a soft/passionate/unsteady kiss. However, if the closing is fast or sudden, this usually means a hard/assertive kiss (possibly from months/years of romantic or sexual tension).
The five senses
Sight: Sight is probably the easiest of the senses; simply write what is seen. If you write from one character’s point of view, write what they see.
Sound: This could be either background noises or a character’s heart beating or anything else. If the kiss continues, you could possibly include soft moans or other noises if they seem appropriate to your character.
Smell: Describe what your character smells. It could be the way their perfume or cologne smells, or you could describe their natural scent.
Touch: This is an important aspect to describing the kiss. You could choose to describe how the character’s skin feels. Or you could describe how the character’s lips feel against the other character’s.
Taste: Taste has a very broad range and is generally not as easy as it sounds. There are many description words and tastes to use. It is important to the mood what description you choose.
Heads: Most people tilt their head when they kiss. Of course, your kiss does not have to happen this way. Usually when characters do not tilt their head it creates awkward bumping foreheads, which could be what you want if you want an awkward first kiss (these are effective for teen kisses).
Eyes: Eyes open or closed? Open creates either an awkward or tender kiss. While closed creates a passionate or pleasurable or just about anything kiss.
Noses: Noses are invading appendages that get in the way of perfect kissing. Henceforth, no kiss is perfect so don’t write them that way. Noses will always get in the way. Even when your characters tilt their heads, noses can still brush the side of their faces. Now, your characters will probably not notice them (unless they’re the type to notice everything) unless they have an awkward kiss.
Lips: LIPS! You’re writing a kissing scene, of course lips will be important to the description. Are they soft or hard, chapped or smooth, is your character even a good kisser? You could also include if maybe they taste like some kind of food, or if they are wearing chapstick. Lips are important.
Tongues: First kisses usually don’t include tongue; neither do quick kisses. Think about what type of kiss you’re trying to convey
Breathing: Your characters are human (unless they aren’t). They need to breathe. But how has the kiss affected their breathing?
Bodies: Bodies are stupid, messy things that bump and rub and bounce. How are your characters responding to the kiss? Are they pulling closer or pushing away? Are they clenched tight or flowing loosely?
Hands and Arms: During a kiss, hands could be floating in the air (awkward or surprise kiss), or they could be everywhere on the other character’s body at once. Possible places to put hands that are not on the other character’s body could be surfaces near the characters, the character’s own body, or they could just be in the air. But if you’re looking for contact, they could be running their fingers through the other character’s hair, holding the back of their head or neck to keep them close, rubbing their back (or further down), or just wrapping their arms around the other character.