Writing Resources.

Continuing this month’s theme of writing, Today’s post is a simple list of links relating to writing.  There are hundreds of different writing resources out there available for those who want to look, but here are a few that either I or one of my writing friends have tried and liked.  Feel free to comment with your own suggestions.

National Novel Writing Month

It seems that NANO definately should not be left out of any list of writing resources.  National Novel Writing Month (NanoWriMo or Nano for short) is a yearly event where writers gather together for a month and try to write 50,000 words or a small novella.  Usually at the end are some good coupons and discounts for those who achieve the goal.  It also has forums, pep talks, and other resources to keep you going.

In April and June, Nano holds ‘Camp Nano‘, where writers gather together to write their own made-up goals (I recently edited mine down to 20,000 due to various reasons).  The goals can be less than 50k (like mine) or more (one of my cabinmates is doing 100,000.).  It’s up to the writer.   Like Nano in November, Camp Nano has forums and other resources for writers.

All is free, although they do have an online store to support costs and a charity they run each year.

4TheWords

4Thewords is a writing game.  It helps motivate you to write more.  You fight various monsters by completing word count goals.  I’m actually writing this post on their website.  MOstly because I need to fight a monster and ran out of creative parts of the story I was writing.  I’m fighting a monster right now that asks for 150 words in 11 minutes, which isn’t too hard.  But the monsters vary in amount of time and word count goals, and the developers are constantly trying out new things to add to the game.  There are also forums and areas for people to read other’s works.  Its really fun, but its not for everyone.   This has a free trial and then a monthly fee of around $4 which is paid by buying in-game currency so you can pre-pay for months in advance, or buy a larger package of currently (crystals) for in-game items and subscription.  its up to you.

Hemingway Editor

The Hemingway Editor is a browser based editing software that allows you to write in your browser window and receive statistics on your writing.  It helps alot with repetitiveness or over use of adverbs.  It can also give you a readability statistics.  This is useful for writing all sorts of types – non-fiction and fiction alike.  Its also Free.

Polygon Map Maker

Ok, this isn’t really a writing resource so to speak.  Someone created a way of generating polygons that look like islands and put it up on a website for those of us who feel its fun to create your own world to make our own island shapes to work off of.  Its fun, and it can be used to help you create a map for your fantasy story, a game, or just to waste some time.

750 Words:

750words has a basic goal: To get you to write 750 words per day.  There are badges to be won for the various goals you reach.  They include writing streaks, time of day, amount of words written, and many others.  It also gives you various statistics on your writing. It also saves what you wrote for the day so if you need to look back, you can.  New members to the website are charged $5 in a subscription fee to help cover the costs of upkeep.

Writer: The Internet Typewriter

For those who like the sound of typewriters,  and or are easily distracted by various things when using the computer, Writer might be a good app for you.  It’s free to register and it has a completely back screen to help keep you focused on what you are doing.  It does have a premium account, but I’ve never tried it.

CharaHub

Charahub is an online database for you to use to create and maintain information about your characters.  This is good for artists too. It helps streamline your information to one place.  Especially useful if you have many characters that you might want to bring back and don’t want to forget what you said about them.

The Periodic Table of Storytelling

Really this is just an infographic that helps you remember the elements of writing.  Its useful for remembering, but also learning.

Fandom Writing: The Importance of Trigger Warnings

WARNING:  This post mentions several triggering subjects in the course of covering Trigger Warnings.  

There has always been a debate on the use of trigger warnings..  Triggers are words and or images that can trigger adverse reactions in people who have suffered trauma or have various anxiety disorders. It also extends to things that people know, without having the anxiety, that they don’t care to see/here because its just not something they want to digest/handle.  People over the years have developed the idea of ‘Trigger Warnings’ to help people who have issues with these things avoid them, or at least be prepared to handle them if they still continue on.

Trigger warnings are important.  The debate on trigger warnings is that some people believe they are over used, and warning about things a person should be able to handle.  Others believe that not using it is showing a lack of compassion against those who have problems with triggers.  I am in the middle on this argument.  I believe common sense warnings about possible triggers is important and should be done.  However, if someone doesn’t write a trigger for something its not right to say they are not compassionate.  Perhaps it something they are unaware of being a trigger.

The common sense triggers are often built into archives.  Violence, character death, etc.  And it is already common to put tags to express when a fic has sexual content.  Its important to put these messages because not everyone is okay with everything.  Even if its not a trigger, some people simply don’t want to read smut, or want fluff only and no violence.  They might not want to read something descriptive in gore, or deals with a particular event or activity that makes them uncomfortable.

One of the generic ones is gore.  Some people don’t like the sight of blood or any other bodily fluid.  Sometimes its because an particular event, and sometimes it is just something the person knows they don’t like to see.  I used to have trouble remembering to tag these on posts because I wouldn’t think something was gorey, but then I would get messages asking for the tag.

If you are writing something that includes a sensitive topic, its a good idea to tag it, or make a warning in your chapter notes.  While you might not have a problem with it, or feel its important to your story, some people may just need to avoid that for their own personal reasons.   I have known people who refuse to tag stuff like this because they feel it gives the story away, but it would make it so much easier for people to avoid situations where they might be triggered.  It’s a courtesy to your readers. At the vary least it allows those who are picky about what they read the time to decide if your story will be one they choose.  It will also help those who have severe reactions to certain triggers to avoid them.

I think the fact that I have an anxiety disorder myself I understand the trigger system.  I am not triggered by anything written, but I can sympathise with those who are.  Sometimes surprise is not a good thing. So just take a few moments when you post your stories to think if there is anything worth tagging, anything that might trigger anxiety in people.  Things you should tag include sexual violence (including dubious consent), fertility issues (like miscarriage and stillbirth), detailed violence and torture.  Respect requests for added tags as well.

 

Ship & Let Ship

This post is actually linked to my last writing post.  The villainization of characters is a common trait among ship wars, and that is a part of today’s post.

Fandom in general is a fun, happy place for people to join together and enjoy something.  Be it a sport, a book, a movie or a TV show. If it’s a collection of fans of something, its a fandom.

However, particularly in the fictional work driven fandoms (Tv, books, movies etc) there is a dark element that pops up from time to time.  It’s called a Ship War. A ship, for those who are wondering, is a term for a pairing you prefer to see in a relationship. Most people have ships and have no problems letting others have their own ships.  Some, however, do seem to have a problem and make fandom less friendly, less happy and less enjoyable.

My first experience with a ship war was in the Doctor Who fandom.  I was late to the game, having watched but not been sucked in till I rewatched season 1 of the second series (or Nine’s tenure if you prefer) after catching an episode of Torchwood and Season 2 of Doctor Who.  I found myself really enjoying it, and immediately started shipping Rose/Doctor. I found that the Doctor Who fandom is thriving and has many little niches and sub fandoms. There was a lot out there, from fanfic, to fan made videos, and academic meta.  You can find a lot.

But one day, while surfing through various social media and fanfic sites, I started noticing something.  A strange undercurrent in the fandom. It turned out there was a division in shippers who prefered Rose and those who prefered Martha, his next companion, as a romantic interest.  I personally love Martha, though I found her season a little hard to watch. I found fanfics where either Martha was downgraded to a women who clung and became obsessed with the Doctor, totally ignoring the kickass character you saw on-screen or Rose likewise turned into a caricature of her characterization.  It just depended on what the author/video editor decided was the ship of choice. People took it further than that, and it made me back off for a while and want to rant about the fandom.

Sherlock, a television series based on Sherlock Holmes, was another fandom I saw this in.  However this fandom war made me completely drop the fandom. It made me uncomfortable enough that I have yet to go back and watch the show after season 2.  In particular one following of a ship decided to not only be horrible to other fans, they were horrible to actors whose character had, in their point of view, got in the way of their ship.

More recently I have come across a shipper war in The 100 fandom.  I came into the show, enjoying it. I liked the show, liked the books.  I was (and still am) a Bellarke (Bellamy & Clarke) shipper. I could argue why I felt they were the endgame couple.  On the screen, Clarke and Bellamy both had various other love interests. In particular, Clarke fell in love with Lexa, a character I didn’t care  for that much due to some writing issues. However I saw shippers on both side go to extremes to fight each other on it. Bellarke fans would exaggerate Lexa’s bad qualities, and Clexa shippers would state that Bellarke shippers were homophobic (whether they are or not as individuals can be debated.  It’s a poor generalization of a ship following however). They threw petty insults towards each other, but not in a fun “we all love each other anyway” sort of way. To the point I avoid the main 100 threads and tags because I’m always finding something happening.  And I’m not alone. I have heard stories from various fandoms where someone choose to leave or just stick to very specific tags because of overall tension due to a ship war.

There is a difference between good-hearted debate between shippers and shipper wars.  I have had conversations with my friends who have had different ships. For example, one of my best friends and I often disagree on shipping Jack & Gwen in Torchwood.  It’s good-natured debate. I have several friends who ultimately hate Trip/T’Pol from Star Trek: Enterprise. Yet when I write it/talk about it, they shrug and it’s the same when they talk about their prefered ship (Trip & Hoshi is a popular one).  The point is – we ship and let ship. We have our ships, our OTPS, our crackships and our “they are cute, so maybe” ships. They aren’t always the same. But we enjoy the same fandom, enjoy our friendships and our mutual love for whatever it is we are fanning.   We don’t go warring against each other over a disagreement with a ship. We don’t attack the actors who are just doing their job for getting in the way. We don’t let our shipping take over our lives, and our fandom enjoyment.

If you do not like a ship, do not read it.  Don’t write it. Treat your fellow fandomers with respect, and let others ship what they want to ship.  Yelling at them won’t change their mind, abusing them certainly won’t, and abusing characters in your writing will just make people avoid it.  It can also make people just peeking into the fandom run away from it.

If you don’t like a type of ship (be it slash, femslash, or het) don’t click on fics that use it.  Don’t target authors who write a ship you hate and give them bad reviews. I actually had this happen to me as a writer.  I saw a review, and got excited that someone had taken the time to leave one. When I opened the review up, I found a rant on how my couple was disgusting and how I should be ashamed to ship them. I was bewildered, and I know of others who have gotten similar reviews.  Once a friend and I decided to do a fic exchange. I wrote (well, am writing as I never finished it….meep!) a Jack/Ianto fic while she wrote a Jack/Gwen fic. She got a review that called her a homophobe for writing a bisexual character with a woman. Beyond the fact that it wasn’t even changing the sexuality of the character, it was confusing as to why this person took the time to seek out a Jack/Gwen fic and berate someone.  

So in the end, enjoy your ships and let other people enjoy their own.  Fandom is supposed to be fun, not somewhere someone is made to feel uncomfortable, or berated.

 

Fandom Writing: Writing the Opposition Badly

One of my pet peeves when reading fan fiction is when a character, usually someone who is the other possible love interest, is villanized to make another character look good or to make a ship seem more plausible.  Not only does it often come with out of character writing for said character, it makes me feel like the person who is writing is not all that sure in the ship they are writing.

You do not have to villainize a character to make your main character, or main ship, look better.  If the character is a villain already, then at least there is canon backing to your character being a villain.

My most recent example of this was in the Arrow fandom.  I am a big fan of Felicity and Laurel, and of Olicity.  However I found way too many fics that villainize Laurel.  Laurel has her own character set-backs, but she is no way a good choice for a villian in an Olicity fic.  And I’ve seen it likewise when people decide that Laurel/Oliver should happen, and make Felicity into a villain or an unhealthily clinging person.  None of it makes sense with the characters we see on-screen, who are in fact friends and strong women.

Another example is found in Doctor Who.  Martha and Rose are alternative villainized depending on the ship choice of the writer.  Honestly if you don’t like a ship, don’t write it.  I’ve found most of the time the ships resolve themselves around each other and you can avoid the other alternative fairly easy without villainizing a character. If you must deal with a ship that you dislike, resolve it between the characters and move on. Most of those reading are most likely already fans of your ship, and you don’t have to prove to them why your choice is better than the alternative.  That is best left to fandom meta essays.

I’ve also seen this with just characters.  Most often female characters, but occasionally male characters.  They will exaggerate bad qualities to the point of OOCness or completely villainize a character to make their favorite look better.  Your favorite character can be awesome all on their own.  That is why they are your favorite.  You don’t have to miswrite a character to make your fave look better. Again, most of your readership most likely already thinks your main character is awesome.

For a good example of how to deal with a love triangle, there is The Hunger Games.  The love triangle in that series is between Katniss, Peeta and Gale.  Peeta and Gale don’t fight each other over her, and both characters are allowed to have flaws and good things about them without comparing to each other.  In the end there is a little comparing when she finally makes a decision, but for the most part all three characters are allowed to exist on the same side.  Neither is completely villainized either.

My suggestion is if you really don’t like a character, have them take a trip, or be otherwise out of the picture of the story you are writing.  If you feel you can write the character well, and not villainize for the sake of making them look bad, go ahead and write them.  Take a look at canon.  Be honest with yourself as to why you are writing the character the way you are.

If you are just writing angry fic about a character you hate, label it as such so fans of the character know to avoid it.  And people who may hate the character but prefer to stick to canon can know that going in. For example, bringing back the Arrow fandom, I have seen people post “Anti-Felicity” or “Anti-Laurel” as a tag, letting me know that their story is not favorable to that character.  So I can avoid those stories.

Even in original writing, take a moment and think about the different features of the character.  Are you writing a well-rounded character or are you just focusing on bad parts so its clear they are the wrong choice?  Are you trying to make a compelling villain or just make your other characters look better?

Consider your characters and your readers before writing a character simply to be the anti-choice.

Spring & Camp Nano

Hope everyone is having a fantastic April.  Spring seems to be a little sluggish in waking up and arriving.  I’m writing this while looking out a window at snow.  Had a brilliantly sunny day yesterday, today is snow.   But that is what I get for living in the Northeast.

This month is Camp Nano, so there is going to be some writing posts.  A while back I did a series of essays on starting to write fanfic, so I won’t be redoing those right now.  But there are some other topics suggested to be that I’ll be covering.  It’s mostly to do with fanfic writing,  but some of it has original fiction writing connections too.  These include using triggers, why it’s a bad idea to villianize a character to make your character look good, and its good policy to ship and let ship.

I also have two bookit reviews coming and every Friday remains my Women of History series.

For those of you who don’t know what Camp Nano is, its a month-long writing challenge.  Every November is National Novel Writing month, where in people try to write a 50,000 word story.  It’s not quite a full novel, but it’s getting there and allows you the pleasure of knowing you wrote something.  In April and June they run Camp Nano, where you can work towards any writing goal.  Some use it to help them prepare for Nano, others for finishing up outstanding WIPs they have (I am one of those people).  But it’s basically up to you whether you write 1000 words or 100,000.  You get to set the goal.  My goal this year is started at 30,000 and I want to complete two chapter fics and a series of drabble challenges I haven’t finished yet.  It’s possible to adjust your word count so I may raise it later on.  On the 18th I have planned an update post, so I’ll talk more about my goals for Camp Nano then.

If you feel interested and or want to learn more, you can visit the Camp Nano Website.

Hope you all have a great month, and that spring finally arrives – and sticks around!

Writing Resources

October has become “Nano Prep” month for me for many years.  I’ve been participating since I graduated from high school (which is longer then I remember, surprising myself each time I actually do figure out how long its been).  So I’ve decided to make a post for some of the places I get help in my writing endeavours for anyone participating in Nano.

I’m including various websites and tools, some of which I use frequently, and some of which I have used in the past and no longer do for one reason or another (in the case of one, I forgot my password).

NanoWrimo.Org

We should always start with the Nano page.  The Original NanoWrimo occurs every November, and its goal is 50k in a month.  NanoWrimo.org also offers helpful links, a forum, as well as offline events as well such as write-ins and community meet-ups.  It also does a yearly fundraiser for Libraries in areas that are too poor to fund one.

(there are also some great coupons if you win for writing services and programs).

Writing Sites:

750words.com

This website gives you online space to help keep up sprints, and daily writing.  The goal is to write 750 words daily.  The longer you go, the more points you get.  You get target rewards each time you meet the criteria.  It also gives stats on word usage and tone which can be useful.

4thewords.com

This is another example of a writing habit creator.  In this particular one, its a subscription service, but only four dollars for what accounts for a month.  You can pay by month, or pay ahead if you want to.  However, it is very fun and so far worth it in my opinon.  However, it doesn’t work for everyone, so the month trial should give you some time to find out.

The basics of it is that you are playing a game.  To fight the monsters that come across your path, you write.  Each monster has a word count goal and a time limit.  You can choose which monster you want to fight.  When you complete the battle successfully you get rewards which go towards accomplishing the Quest goals.  Then you can move on to another part of the valley where there are new monsters to fight against.  It also does periodic special runs of events (particularly during Nano events).

Hemingway Editor

THis is a online editing software (although it does have a desktop app) that allows you to check your grammar and writing as you write, helping you improve as you go along.  I like to sometimes copy/paste my writing into it to see what it says and strengthen the weak spots, but you can just get typing in there.  It has some basic formatting features as well, and a readability monitor to tell you if you are writing for the right age level.  (this is especially important if you are writing for kids. ).

Writer

This is for those who don’t need anything to distract them.  All they need is a plan screen.  If you need the least amount of distractions and just want to write, this may be good for you.

CharaHub

This website is designed to help you with your character building, keeping an online character report for you instead of half a dozen tabs or folders on your computer.  I haven’t used this, but I have been told its quite helpful.  (If you have used this, let me know what you think.)  Its been sitting in my “Writing – Tools” bookmark folder for awhile now.

Word Counter

DOn’t have a word counter built into your word processor?  This site is helpful in that it allows you to check your word count.  Also pretty good for challenges where you have a word goal and/or limit.

I have a whole folder for writing resources, but not all of them are useful as broad tools, and I limited mine to what appeared to at least give a free preview of the service.  I have a selection of generators that are sometimes fun to play around with when you have writers block, and there are millions out there that can partition to your chosen topic/genre.  Also, don’t be afraid to use the same resources you may have used in school to write those papers.  Some of them can be quite helpful when writing fiction (and really helpful if you are writing non-fiction).

If you have any websites/tools you would like to suggest, feel free to mention them in the comments.  I’m always open to finding new things.

Writing Habits

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Source: Pixabay

I think if you asked any writer they would have different advice about habits in writing. About what helps us write.

For example, I like to make character or mood playlists to listen to while I write.  It helps me get into the zone of writing.  It doesn’t always help, but it usually does.  Other writers however like a quiet area to write.  Right now I have no music on, as there is no specific mood I want to be in, and I’m not writing a story so there are no characters or relationships I want to focus on.  Sometimes on days I have had too much noise stimulation (a trigger for my anxiety problems) I write without sound simply because I can’t stand more noise.

But most of the time I have music playing.

Another habit of mine is to write on my laptop.  Some writers prefer a keyboard while others prefer pen, pencil and paper.  The reason I prefer the keyboard (and a regular sized one, not one on a tablet or phone) is I can type as I think.  I don’t write nearly as fast as its coming to my head.  Not that typing doesn’t end up with a few mash up words too. I am always amazed by people who hand write their stories, because to me that takes a lot of time, dedication, and pain as writing for long stretches ends up making my hand cramp up.   I do carry around a small memo pad in my bag to jot down any scene or idea that comes to me when I don’t have easy access to my laptop.  And sometimes I write short stories in notebooks while on breaks between classes or work.

Every writer has habits they keep to help them write, or feel comfortable as they write.  And each writer has different habits.  The trick is to find out what your own are.  Is it playing music while you write?  Finding a nice empty silent corner and writing away in your notebook?  It might be finding a really comfy chair or a cafe or library where the ambient noise is comfortable to you.  Maybe its doing a daily sprint where you do nothing but write for a period of time.

There isn’t just one way to write, so while any writer could give advice on what to do to help you keep writing, it usually just comes down to finding out what helps you.