Where is “The End”

I’m at this point in my life where I am constantly looking back. Back at old videos, back at old photos, back at old posts, etc. So here I am, back at this post. This was the first post I ever wrote and published on my blog. How ironic is it that the beginning was about the end? Want to know what is even more ironic? I preached, repeatedly, in that old post that there is an end. You shouldn’t feel obligated to change things, to keep going, etc. Yet, here I am, going back to posts I thought were at one time finished, and keeping them going.

The reason I chose this post? I changed my mind. Simple as that.

There is an end, but it can always be changed, and here is why I changed my mind:

Fall of 2016, the last semester of my undergraduate degree. I only had my credit hour requirement to fill, so I had a chance to take classes I wanted, rather than classes I needed. I took an advanced creative writing class where the theme was “Ghosts.” Super cool, right? Anyway, we had one-on-one sessions with the professor. We were instructed to bring in a piece we wanted him to look over, and we’d spend the time talking about it. It was super generative and very helpful.

I brought an older piece that I’ve been working on, on-and-off, for the past year or two. He read it over, silent, for a good fifteen to twenty minutes. He stopped and said “It was fun.” I was pleased. I thought the story was done. I was ready to start writing cover letters and send it off to publications. Then, he asked me, “Why did you bring it?” I sat there for a while, mulling that question over. Why? Why not? I wanted someone with experience to look it over? I wanted someone to say “yay” or “nay,” to it? I wanted a lot of things, but I didn’t know how to respond. He clarified, “There’s a reason you’re still looking this over. If it was done, you wouldn’t bring it.”

That was so true. I wouldn’t keep looking at it if I didn’t feel there was something more. If I didn’t feel there was something I was missing, why wait to send it off? I didn’t have a good answer. Then, I remembered this old post I wrote, this post where I said there comes a time that you just need to stop. There is an end, and sometimes you have to force yourself to put it away. While I do think there comes a point where you start over-editing, over-writing, etc. I also think you shouldn’t settle. If you feel like something isn’t right, don’t stop writing. Don’t stop editing. Keep going because you may eventually find a better end than you had ever imagined.

So, I’m going to keep working on this piece. I am also going to go back and edit some of these posts because, let’s face it, they are definitely not done.

Be proud. Keep writing. Keep submitting. Be writers.

Lissy

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Writing Mediums

Hello everyone!

This is technically a repost, but the old content was so useless (in my opinion), that there was no point in editing it or using it in any capacity. Instead, I want to pose a question, and maybe explore how some of the different tools we use to write change the way we write. Maybe multiple mediums can be used in tandem and how that, too, changes the way we write.

The questions I want to pose are: What do you use to write? What do you use to edit?

My answer: A lot. I write with pen and paper, as well as Word on my laptop. I used to be really big into Scrivener, but I find it’s best for editing and formatting. Plus, the hype died for it, so I fell off that train. I guess I just use whatever I feel like when the mood hits. I find I use pen and paper for poetry more than prose. I guess because poetry tends to be shorthand, so it’s just a quick way to get everything down without having to sit and spend a bit of time at the computer.

Another question I’ve always wanted to ask is how many of you write poetry? During my time in undergrad, I found that there were a lot more poets than I initially thought. Poetry doesn’t seem as accessible as prose, so I didn’t feel that poets were as common as they are. I’d really like to know what mediums poets use, specifically, but prose is always welcome.

Let’s start a discussion. I’m really interested in what mediums are out there that I haven’t even heard of. Maybe there are ways of using a medium that I haven’t even thought of. Share any of your thoughts in the comments below.

Thank you for reading!

-Lissy

The Big Question: “Why?”

Hello!

Once again, I’m back with another repost/rewrite/thing. When I wrote this original post, I made it a point to say I was writing for others. I was writing for this selfless reason that made me look like such a giving, thoughtful artist. Yeah, that definitely wasn’t the case then, and it definitely isn’t the case now. I have, and always will, write for myself.

When I decided I was finally going to pursue writing and publishing as a serious endeavor, I sought out as much advice as I possibly could from anyone that seemed even remotely more experienced than me. Don’t get me wrong, I picked up a lot of really great advice along the way, but I also heard a lot of bad. One person I knew, who was writing and posting  his work publicly to FaceBook, was one of those people I sought advice from. I admired his voice and the style of his writing, as well as his confidence (which I had absolutely none of), so, naturally, I asked him for some advice. His advice?

You should always write for your audience. Always write for someone else. Writing for yourself is fun and all, but it doesn’t sell. You won’t go anywhere if you’re not writing for somebody else. Don’t write unless you have a purpose.

I took that to heart back then and did my best to focus on others, rather than myself. He’s not entirely wrong, though. You do have to consider audience when writing as that determines the genre, who will most likely read it, etc. But others shouldn’t dictate why you write. You don’t have to have some great purpose in your writing. There should be plot and structure, yes, but you shouldn’t be forced to write because of some underlying reason.

Sure, if you do, do it. Go for it. Fulfill that purpose to the ends of the earth. More power to you, but I’m not going to pretend that I am writing for anyone or anything. I am not writing for my dad, my brother, my sister, the president, Bradley Cooper, etc. I am writing for me. I like to write. If what I write sounds like hot, steamy garbage, who cares? If it never gets published? Oh well. If I post this repost and not a single person sees it, meh. I am writing for me. It’s cathartic, it’s fun, it’s something I’ve done and crafted for so long just because I wanted to be a better writer.

I write for myself. Don’t be ashamed if you do, too.

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

My Editing Technique

Hello!

This is, once again, an edit and repost of an old post I had. I am beginning to realize these are less simple edits and more just flat out rewrites. You know that feeling you get when you scroll through your FaceBook feed from… I don’t know, ten years ago? It starts off all nostalgic and rose-colored, then it just gets more and more cringey. Everything seems so much better, until you actually see it. Well, that’s what ended up happening to me. I went back, started reading these posts, and wondered how anyone read any of this.

I had a tendency to make everything more convoluted and complicated than it had to be, and the same goes for my “editing technique,” whatever the heck that is… Needless to say, I don’t edit the same way I did when this post was originally made (May 4, 2013, jeeeeez). So, it’s time to update. Here is how I edit today:

– Something that hasn’t changed: don’t edit until you finish.
This is pretty much the only thing I held on to from my old “editing technique.” I don’t edit anything until I “finish” the piece. Now I say “finish” because until you’ve edited the piece a couple times, I don’t think it’s finished. Regardless, I don’t edit any of it until I’ve finished the first draft. I think if anything, I’ve actually gotten stricter on this. Before, I’d do some minor edits as I wrote, like fixing a misspelling, putting in missing punctuation etc. Now, I won’t even fix things like that. I don’t pay any attention to anything expect putting words on paper.

– Finish the 1st draft, then add and subtract.
Even after I’ve completed the first draft, I don’t do any copy editing, which is grammar and mechanics editing. I focus on substantive editing. I add things, I cut things, I move things around… this is the fun part of editing because, honestly, it’s still just writing.

– From substance to mechanics.
Once I think I have everything I want to keep, in the order I want to keep it in, I move on to the nitty-gritty: copy editing. I go through and fix all those mechanical issues, grammar issues, misspellings, etc. This is my least favorite because it just proves the point that you never get anything right the first time, and there are always things you need to improve. No matter how long I write, or how many degrees I earn, I still spend the most time copy editing.

– Let her rest.
After long rounds of cutting, adding, and editing, the old eyes need to rest. The piece needs to rest, but so do I. I let my piece rest for a day or two before picking it back up, then I do another round of copy edits, and from there just proofread daily until I feel confident in my piece.

And there you have it. Short, sweet, and to the point. It’s weird how time sorta edits us, too, as writers. Before, I was very long-winded and tried to sound smart, but was more obnoxious than anything else. I have pared down how much I write (though let’s be honest, not that much), and I don’t feel the need to prove I am well-spoken. But we’re getting away from the point of the post, and I think that means it’s a good time to wrap it up.

So, thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Things Beta Readers Should Know

I’ve already made one post on general beta reading for writers, and now this will be directed at beta readers.

  • If a writer requests a beta reader, that doesn’t mean they will send this first draft to everyone. Often times, I will send it to the first few, then make changes, and send that draft to the next group of beta readers. I want fresh eyes, always.
  • If a writer requests a beta reader, that doesn’t mean they will choose you. It happens, sometimes. Most of the time, it’s nothing personal. We’ve all had different experiences with beta readers, and we all have a certain things we look for in beta readers. If I think I’ve already found what I’m looking for, then I may not send a draft to some beta readers. Once again, it happens.
  • “I like it,” usually isn’t what I’m looking for. It’s nice to hear, but if that’s all you have to say, then it wasn’t worth my time. Sorry. If you want to say “I like it” then the best thing you could do is follow it with “because…” and explain why you like it. It lets us know what we did right.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell me you don’t like it. I’m a writer. I’ve been rejected more times than I care to admit. You telling me you don’t like my work isn’t going to hurt my feelings. If the writer can’t handle it, becomes defensive, and is just plain rude, then that’s their problem, not yours. Don’t beta read for them again.
  • The same goes for the “I don’t like it.” It’s okay if you don’t like it. That’s fine, but I’d like to know why. It might be something I can fix, and if not then it’s good to know why people may not like it. The more detail you can give, the better.
  • I don’t expect you to be an editor. If you wanna mark it up, great, but I don’t expect you to. Feel free to read it, then just tell me.
  • A writer should never give you the only copy of their manuscript. You shouldn’t have to feel obligated to read the manuscript, much less feel obligated to keep up with the only known copy of it. If I receive a paper copy, my first question will always be, “Is this the original?” If it is, I give it back and request a copy. I don’t want to be the person who loses it. Do you?
  • If you find that you just don’t have time, you don’t have to read it. You’re doing us a favor, but please let us know so we’re not just waiting around to hear back. It’s just common courtesy. If the writer wants to be rude, then don’t beta read for them again. Another lesson a writer should learn is that they won’t always receive feedback. It happens.
  • Don’t expect the writer to listen to everything you say like it’s gospel. You’re not perfect and neither is your feedback. It’ll be okay.

These are just general things you need to know if you want to be a beta reader. Writers can learn from this just as much as a beta reader can. Know what you should expect from each other, learn, and form literary relationships that can last a lifetime. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

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Beta Readers – The Ultimate Guide for Writers

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  • What is a beta reader?
    A person who reads a work for context, plot, and continuity. Not to be confused with an EDITOR who looks for mechanical errors as well as context, plot, and continuity. Is usually not paid. Can be done for any piece of writing, including, but not limited to: blog posts, short stories, poems, novels, etc.

 

  • Where to find them?
    Google+, Twitter, pretty much any social media site you can think of. Local libraries may have info. Friends (the honest, brutal kind, preferably), family (also honest and brutal), local college campuses (plenty of brutality there). Take the time to ASK people! There’s no time to be shy when you might be published.

 

  • Are there bad ones?
    Yes.

 

  • Are there great ones?
    Yes.

 

  • How to tell the difference?
    Good give you concrete reasons why they didn’t like it.
    Good are honest.
    Good mark up your work.
    Good give you more than just: I hate/love it.
    Good give you reasons why they like it.
    Good read what you give them.
    Bad will promise to read it, then never will.
    Bad will give you butt pats and sugar coat everything.
    Bad will analyze you as a person, rather than the work.
    Bad will make changes, but won’t explain why.
    Bad will tell you its garbage and that you’re an idiot.
    Bad will comment on your work without reading the whole thing.
    Bad will usually start with, “No offense, but…”

 

  • How to be a good AUTHOR to beta readers?
    Know that you don’t have to use all their suggestions, but you should still listen to them
    Thank them even if they say they hate it. They took the time to read it.
    Never send them a rewrite unless you asked them beforehand. Don’t take advantage of their kindness.
    Don’t argue with them. They have an opinion. You asked for it. Take it, regardless if you use it or not.
    BE. HUMBLE. Stephen King started as garbage, you started as garbage, EVERYONE started as garbage. Your shit don’t smell like roses.
    EDIT before you send them work. Editors and beta readers are two separate things, though one person can be both. Don’t assume a beta reader is also an editor.

 

  • When do you seek a beta reader?
    When you’ve edited the piece to the point of near-publication readiness MECHANICALLY. Edit out typos and ensure grammar is near-perfection before seeking beta readers.

 

  • What’s the purpose of a beta reader?
    To be your pre-audience, audience. These are the people you let read your work before all of society has access to it. See what they say, take it to heart, and then decide what you need to do before publication or sending it off to a judge/final editor.

 

Once again, and I can’t stress this enough, beta readers are here to help you. You actively seek them out yourself and ask them to read it. They didn’t force you to let them read it. They aren’t forcing their opinions on you. It’s your work. You can do what you want, despite what they say, and that’s okay. But remember they are only trying to help (most of the time). Just thank them for their time and effort and move on. What do you think? Anything you agree or disagree with? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

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What I learned about writing from Minecraft

I’m embarrassed to say that only a few days ago I finally bought myself minecraft. I’ve played the pocket edition demo and enjoyed watching my friends and favorite let’s players play it, but never had I played the actual game myself before. I can’t believe I have lived so long never having played it. Better late than never, I suppose.

I knew I was going to love minecraft. It’s creative and exciting, two things I love, and who doesn’t? But what I wasn’t expecting was how much I would learn about writing through minecraft, and, as always, I’ve made a list for it. ONWARD!

  • It’s all about location, location, location
    Where your characters take root or travel to should always play a role in the story. Does it snow? Are the characters acclimated to that kind of environment? What kind of trees are there? What kind of animals? Will there be towns to stay in or will they be forced to shelter in isolation. These are all key in setting up a believable location.
  • Physics, guys. Physics
    If your characters are going underground, and they try to dig, will sand fall onto them? If they’re digging into gravel, wouldn’t it shift depending on the gravity involved? If they stand in a body of water, will the current move them? It doesn’t have to be much, buy don’t make it easy on your characters. The environment can be just as big an obstacle as any other.
  • Please, please, please make your side characters somewhat interesting
    The AI in minecraft can be fun, funny, and extremely interesting to watch as they go about the environment, but the villager NPCs are absolutely dreadful. They make the most awful noises and the only thing they’re good for is trading but they hardly have anything worth trading for. If I find a village, I usually just go on ahead and slaughter everyone (I promise, I’m not a psychopath). Make even the most minor characters into something. If they appear, then they need a personality, too. Make every character appearance meaningful in some way. Otherwise, don’t put them in.
  • It’s okay to write scenes where your characters are alone
    A major part of minecraft is when you’re traveling or just living day-by-day trying to survive. It gets lonely. If you’re in single player, you’re just that, completely alone with nothing and no one to talk to. And hopefully this isn’t just me, but I get majorly self-reflecting when I play. I mourn animals I have to kill, I get tired of killing things, I pray I find a village or that I will find someone or something in the seemingly vast and never ending world. Make your characters self-reflect. They’re humans (or non-humans?) too, and will have moments of loneliness, self-reflection, and in the beginning they mourn having to do certain things to survive. Just something to keep in mind as you write.
  • Even in the most fantastical and paranormal of places, there are rules
    In minecraft there is a mode called “Creative Mode” where you have unlimited access to every material available in the game without having to search for it as you would in the regular “Survival Mode.” You can no longer burn up in lava, or drown in water, and enemies no longer attack you, giving you free reign to build and manipulate the world however you see fit. However, there are still rules. You can spawn any creature, including the boss Ender Dragon, but they’ll still try to escape, they’re still hard to control, and the Ender Dragon will still try to kill you even though it can’t. And if you teleport off the map or try and teleport somewhere, which will get you stuck in a wall, you automatically die. Though this isn’t a big deal and everything is still easy, it is something to think about as you create your worlds. Even though you give your characters free reign and fantastic abilities, there needs to be a limit, otherwise there can be no plot and no conflict. What’s the point of a world with no obstacles?

Most of these are common plot aspects we see in everyday literature and things easily picked up on, but it’s nice to see how they are used in other mediums of creativity. Now for a few questions: What have you learned about writing from video games? Is there anything else you’ve learned in minecraft that I’ve failed to notice? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

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Open Endings

I’ve noticed a trend with my work. Since I’m in the editing process of An Austrian March I have little time and energy to work on another full-fledged novel or novella, and until it’s done and published, I won’t be doing very much novel writing. However, as I mentioned before, I have a very intense need for writing now. A writing habit, if you will. As such, I can’t go for very long periods of time without writing something.

So, I’ve gone back to writing short stories and poems – pieces that don’t need extensive and copious amounts of time and attention to create. And as I’m writing them and doing quick edits of them, I’m also constantly shipping them off to literary journals/magazines. As I’ve been writing them, I’ve noticed a lot of open endings. And once I took notice of that, I also thought back to Apocalyptia and An Austrian March, both having very open endings.

I, personally, hate open endings in the novels I read.

But on that same coin, I love them because I hate them.

I know that makes no sense, but allow me to explain. I love works that give me an intense emotional response, including anger. If a book can anger me because it didn’t give me closure, then it is a great book. To me, when a book is open ended, it gives me the sense of continuation, of immortality. The characters’ stories aren’t done, they have lives beyond the book that I may never know about. Something about having it end with a sense of more just fascinates me. It’s like saying you’ll see a friend later even though you both know it’s good-bye. Sad, but wonderful, and something I want to emulate in my writing, though I hadn’t noticed it until now.

Books with complete endings aren’t bad either. I also have an emotional response to those, but the analogy is much different in this case. At the end of a book (or series) for me, I feel as if I am burying a friend. I’m saying goodbye for one last time.

I love both and it’s up to us as the writers to decide whether our hero or heroines should get their complete ending or not. We don’t have to have them win or lose, live or die, or do much of anything. That’s the beauty of being a writer. We decide how we want it all to end, or if we want it to end it all. Isn’t that a beautiful thought?

How do you feel about open endings? Closed endings? Which do you prefer? Which ones do you tend to write? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

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Screenwriting

I remember the first time I had ever been introduced to the world of script-writing. My mother was reading a small project I had been working on for about three months when she stopped and said,

“Alyssa, you should write scripts.”

At the time, that highly offended me, especially when she went on to comment on how my writing was better suited for short stints of description, rather than full length novel description. I was angry, offended, and I set out to prove her wrong. I have been successful thus far, but just this morning I let my boyfriend read a short story I’ve been planning to shop around. He read it, smiling and enjoying himself. I was beaming, beyond excited to hear his feedback, and as he set down the manuscript with a satisfied sigh, I expected nothing but praise. What I got was not the opposite, but an eye opener.

“Lissy, this would make a great movie.”

A great movie?

Me? A movie writer?

Once again, an inkling of offense creeped up, but then I read over the manuscript again. I googled different ways of getting into the screenwriting business, what was required of me as far formatting and description went. I’ve learned a lot just from a few hours of light skimming, and I’ve even started a practice draft. I’m not sure if this will go anywhere, but I’m sure it will take time. Time and a lot of trial-and-error. We all have to start somewhere, and even if I do find this to be my niche, books and authorship will always be my true passion.

And no matter what, I was born a writer.

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

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Why you shouldn’t be scared of starting a blog, despite your writing level

Yes, people like quality writing. High quality writing skills are wonderful, but they come with time and practice. We’re not all born with the skills of Stephen King, and a blog is a wonderful jump off point. If you were to go back into my archives and read the oldest of the posts, I would hope you found my newest posts much more insightful and well-written. If not, then I apologize. Regardless, there are people who are scared of starting a blog because they fear ridicule from the blogging community. Fear not! I have yet to find anyone cruel enough to bash someone in the comments, but I understand your fear. I hope this post will inspire you to start your own blog (or book! This can apply to both cases),  and that you can better your writing one post at a time. Now, onward to the list!

  • EVERYONE HAS TO START SOMEWHERE
    Like I’ve said before, we’re not all born with the skills of _instertyourfavoriteauthorhere_, but even they had to start somewhere (or at least, I like to think they started with the skills of a five-year-old). And let’s all go ahead and admit it: THERE WILL ALWAYS BE SOMEONE BETTER THAN YOU. That is just a fact of life, and that person probably feels the same way about someone else. You’re never the best, but you’re probably never the worst either. Just try to get comfortable with the idea that you’re starting where you are supposed to start, and that is okay.
  • A BLOG IS PRACTICE
    Writing takes practice. It’s just like drawing. You can only get better the more you do it, and you may want to go through and check out your favorite blogger’s post. Reading helps to subconsciously better your writing. Ya gotta love your brain, for that. But anyway, there is a reason there are so many well-written blogs out there. They post, and they post often. The more posts you write, the more you will progress with bettering your writing. I’m not gonna promise A+ writing will come to you overnight, but it won’t get any better if you don’t try.
  • IT’S YOUR BLOG. IT’S UP TO YOU WHAT GOES UP AND WHAT COMES DOWN
    I’ve deleted posts that I’ve later decided were below my own standards. I’m not ashamed of that. I’m always learning something new, and if I decide a post isn’t up to par, then I can delete it without any problem. Plus, you can always edit a post any time you feel like it. Need to fix a glaring typo? No problem! Want to repost something that you’ve edited or changed? Go for it! Want to make some things private/public? Go for it! It’s under your control and your jurisdiction (and you’re under the jurisdiction of the platform, FYI).
  • A BLOG IS FUN
    Blogging can be a fun place to relieve stress and to post your thoughts. What is there not to like? If you want to start a blog, then start one! Don’t let fear stand in your way of expressing yourself. That’s what a blog is for, to express yourself.

The internet is a scary place with the mass amount of “trolls” and “grammar Nazis,” out there. I myself have fallen victim to them in many other public forums. There’s no harm in trying to learn and better yourself, but first, you must admit that you want to better yourself. People like to read quality content, and if you get comments from people who try to help you, then take those into consideration. Don’t be offended or hurt because someone pointed out a flaw in a post. It’s ok. Like I said before, you can always go back and edit. In the meantime, get your blog going and start bettering yourself. Now, time for the questions.

What do you think of this post? Do you agree? Do you disagree? Do you think anyone should start a blog, even if they are poor writers? Do you think a blog can be solely for the betterment of the writer? Anything you’d like to add? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

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