What “Death Mark” on the Nintendo Switch taught me about writing

What is Death Mark?

Nintendo Switch's Death Mark

Death Mark is described on the Nintendo store page as an adventure game, which it very much is. You play as a man with amnesia who finds himself drawn to a mansion he doesn’t recognize, with a mark, described as a dog bite, on your wrist. You don’t know how you got it, why you got it, how to get rid of it, or even who you are, but you do know that the answer is hidden somewhere in this mansion, and that is where our story begins.

Now, my opinions on Death Mark are pretty neutral. I didn’t love it, and I didn’t hate it. The Nintendo Switch title is pretty run-of-the-mill Japanese, adventure game. It’s text heavy, which isn’t a problem, usually, but the story really drags at points. The whole amnesia thing is pretty played out for me, but the horror is definitely present and well-done. So, it falls into my, “happy I played it, but probably won’t play again” pile. However, even if it wasn’t the best thing ever, there can still be a lot to learn about writing from this title, and here is what I learned:

Just because you can describe everything, doesn’t mean you always should

Death Mark, as I said before, is extremely text-heavy. Again, this isn’t unexpected of the genre, but, even so, the story just drags on and on. As a writer, just because your medium is based on words and the reader’s imagination, doesn’t mean you have to describe every minute detail. Concise descriptions can be just as powerful, if not more so, for a reader, and it allows the reader to fill in the blanks. If it doesn’t move the plot along, I would seriously question if it is necessary.

Horror can, and should, be subtle

The horror elements in Death Mark, I have to say, are excellent. There is a mechanic in the game where you have to point your flashlight around the room to reveal various things you can interact with. Often times I would be searching for something in a room, only to reveal a ghostly figure standing in the corner of the room. It never made a sound, not even when I exposed it. Even so, just knowing these silent figures could be haunting any corner of the room was enough to make me jump. The horror was pretty much all mental at that point. I was questioning myself, questioning how long it had been there, wondering how long it would wait to strike, etc. Just the presence of an unknown entity can be haunting, and not knowing if, or when, they may strike is even more so. It’s all about subtlety.

Amnesia is super played out

This could totally just be a “me” thing. I am super into anime, manga, J-RPGs, and the like, and I feel like this is more common in those mediums than any other: amnesiac main characters. I get it. It adds mystery. The person we are supposed to be relying on in the story is instantly unreliable, knows just as much as we do, and now we have to go exploring for the truth. I really hate this in most things and Death Mark is no exception.

I feel like it is a cop-out for a number of reasons, but the main one being that the main character almost always ends up being underdeveloped and the key to the entire mystery. So, I ultimately end up not learning very much about our main character, and the major reveal is typically super predictable. Now, I say all this, not to say that it can’t be done wonderfully, and I am sure there are plenty of examples out there where it is executed in an interesting way, but I feel that it is very easy to take the easy way out with amnesiac main character.

Characters can, and sometimes should, fail

Death Mark has the element of choice. During key points in the story, the character will be presented with options. Some options will lead to death, others will keep you alive for a while longer. I frequently fall into the trap of piling plot armor on my characters to the point they are untouchable. This is not something that happens to us in real life. Sure, there are such things as luck, chance, etc. However, don’t let that be an excuse. Your characters need to fail to grow, and sometimes they need to fail so hard that the consequences alter them permanently. This is how life works. Give them options, and make sure they make some bad choices.

People die, so if it is called for, don’t be afraid to kill your darlings

Sure, maybe you can’t or shouldn’t kill your main character. However, if the plot calls for it, don’t be afraid to kill people off. Death Mark is full of death. Depending on the decisions you make, you can kill everyone, or save everyone. Often times, I felt the death endings were more interesting than when everyone survived. I don’t know what that says about me. However, I do know that if I find it interesting, it is probably interesting to others. Just because you love a character, doesn’t mean you should keep them alive. Now, don’t just go killing every character all willy-nilly. Do try to keep in mind that this is something that happens in life. Would it also make sense in your story?

So that was Death Mark. Have you played Death Mark? If you have, what did you think of it? If you haven’t, will you now? What do you think of this list? Let me know, and comment below.

Lissy

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What “Terrace House” taught me about writing

Terrace House, if you haven’t heard of it, is a Japanese reality show for people who don’t like reality shows. When I first heard of the show, it was through a friend at work. They described it as six strangers, three men and three women, who live in a house together to seek out romance with each other. It sounded like a dramatic time sink, and I said as such. However, my friend assured it me it was so much more than that. So, I started watching it, and she was right.

Terrace House is focused on romance, but it goes so much deeper than that. Each person in the group has the goal of leaving the show in a relationship, but they also come in with goals for their lives. Some want to be models, others want to be pilots, chefs, hockey players, designers, etc. These strangers come together, forge friendships, and they cheer each other on. They take their new friend’s goals as seriously as their own. Often times they will have one-on-one sit downs where they will discuss, in-depth, how close they are to their goals, what they may be doing wrong, etc. There is drama, but it is a minor part of the show.

If there is drama, they almost always face the drama head-on. They discuss it constructively and will usually come away from the situation closer than they were before. It is really refreshing to see when we are often times surrounded by drama, pettiness, cattiness, etc. Now, you may be asking, what does a Japanese reality show have to do with writing? Well, here were some of my takeaways while watching the show:

Drama doesn’t have to be the focus

I feel, depending on the genre, that drama is typically the focus. Whether it be drama within a relationship, drama between family, drama in life, etc, I have found, after watching Terrace House that drama doesn’t always have to be the focus for it to be entertaining. Watching them sit around chatting about their day, watching them cheer at their friend’s concert. or watching them set up dinner and birthday decorations is often times just as fun as the drama, if not more so. Life is full of drama. Having a little reprieve is refreshing, and I think that can come through in literature, as well.

Romance isn’t all passion

Sure, romance novels with Fabio on the cover have their place in the world, but real romance isn’t always so passionate. It’s good to remember that small things can be just as romantic as large gestures, and it’s also worth remembering that just because there is a large gesture doesn’t mean the person is going to enjoy or love it. There is a major scene in Opening New Doors, this season of Terrace House, where someone has been courting a woman for a while. He has kissed her, taken her out on romantic dates, got her roses, and finally asked her to be his girlfriend. She said “no.” On the other hand, another romance took place. The guy went to dinner with the girl a few times, he went to her hockey games, and there really wasn’t anything past platonic time spent together. He asked her out, and she said, “yes.” Those small, friendly moments are just as romantic, if not more so, than the large, dramatic gestures.

There are rational people in the world

I know it doesn’t always seem like it, but there are people in this world that don’t just storm off at the first sign of conflict. There are people who are willing to sit down and talk things out in a constructive manner. There are people who can reflect on themselves and their actions and apologize when they know they have done wrong. Of course, there are people out there (myself, included) who haven’t reacted to things as appropriately as they should have. However, I’d like to think there are more rational people in the world than irrational. Not every disagreement has to end in a screaming match or in tears. It could simply lead to deeper character development or a new relationship to explore between two characters.

The characters are everything

Reading this post back to myself, I almost feel crazy. I ask myself, if there is no drama, no large romantic gestures, no arguments, what is there to enjoy? What is going to keep the readers reading? I don’t think I would enjoy a book without some of these elements, but then I think of Terrace House. While yes, it doesn’t have a ton of drama, the romantic gestures aren’t always grand, and there aren’t people fighting in the middle of the living room every night, there doesn’t have to be. The people are just so unique, they all have dreams, ambitions, and goals. They have lives outside of the show that you get to hear about daily. I feel like I am watching my friends or family, and I am cheering them on all the way. The characters, they are the main reason I keep watching. Good characters can make up for a lot. That is probably the most important thing to take away from all of this.

Have you seen Terrace House? What do you think? If you haven’t, are you interested? Let me know, and comment below!

Lissy

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The Benefit of Joining a Book Club, for Writers

Stack of Books for Book ClubOne of the first pieces of advice you will ever receive as a writer is to read. Subconsciously, reading helps you learn to write in a variety of ways: you pick up grammar skills, you learn a variety of writing styles, you learn about story structure, character development, etc. All these are wonderful skills that every writer needs to develop. However, reading is a solo activity in most cases, and completely internal. Two writers could read the same novel, and each come away with totally different opinions, skills, thoughts, etc.

One piece of advice I wish I received when I began to pursue writing is to read… and join a book club. Join a book club, start one, whatever… then suggest a book you have enjoyed, or maybe a book from a genre you are interested in writing, etc. Then go into the meetings and take notes. Take note of what people enjoyed, but especially what the majority disliked. Did it line up with what you thought? If it did, great. If not, even better. Regardless, here’s a list of things to learn from book clubs and why:

If they like a book, listen and learn why

Did they like a character? How was he/she developed? Did they like the end? Was it satisfying? What led up to it to, to make it so satisfying? Take notes on what they liked, then figure out why they liked it. Then you can take those elements and apply them to your own writing.

If they dislike a book, listen and learn *harder*

Did they hate the character they were supposed to root for? Was it because he/she was underdeveloped? Did they even finish the book? Why not? Pacing? Were they a fan of the genre to begin with? That last question is probably one of the most important to consider. I am not a big fan of crime novels, so, of course, I am not going to look favorably on it. However, I am a huge fan of fantasy novels. It’s rare for me to dislike a fantasy novel. There must be a pretty good reason for me not to enjoy a fantasy novel, even on a superficial level. Keep that in mind.

Try some new genres

I think every writer kind of falls into a niche. I love writing in the fantasy genre. I love reading fantasy, but I am kind of stuck in a fantastical loop. Of course, there is nothing wrong with having a favorite genre, but I do think there can be a lot to learn from other genres. Use the book club as a chance to explore. Try on a new genre. What makes it different from your favorite genre? Can you use some of the new elements in your own writing? Heck, maybe you’ll end up loving the new genre! Explore and have fun.

Listen to how your book club peers describe a book

This is how the average reader will review your work. Every writer should be a reader, but not every reader will be a writer. I have found there is a distinct difference in how readers talk about books, versus how writers talk about books. Take in that language. Remember how the negative and the positive sounds. If you are serious about writing, you are going to hear those voices a lot. Enjoy it, and learn from it. Heck, use it! Enjoy being a reader. It’s easy to forget that’s how most of us started.

Learn to make friends, lots of them!

Reading is a lonely activity and writing even more so. Use this time to enjoy literature with others. Laugh, talk, read, and write. Enjoy the moment of being in a group. It isn’t often we get to do that.

In closing:

Of course, book clubs will help you grow as a writer, but they can really help you grow as a person, too. I encourage anyone to try one at least once. If nothing else, you may just make new friends and find new books to enjoy!

Thanks so much for reading! What do you think? Have you been in a book club? Did you enjoy it? Comment below and let me know.

Lissy

2 embarrassing reasons why life as an author ISN’T glamorous.

Very rarely do I find things embarrassing. The most embarrassing things are the funniest. So, for the sake of laughter, I share with you two reasons (experiences) that show you why life as a writer (or my life in general) IS NOT glamorous. At all. Not even a little bit.

  1. So, as a full-time student, part-time retail associate, and whenever-time writer, I often find myself creating time where I probably shouldn’t. For example, after a particularly long day of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in class and 5:30 p.m. to 10:45 p.m. at work, I found myself filled to the brim with weary inspiration. The moment I stepped through the door, I was already forming what had to be the novel of this generation (it actually ended up being a jumbled up pile of word vomit, but who was judging).It was at this time, approximately 11:10 p.m., I began crafting my masterpiece. I didn’t get done until approximately 2:00 a.m., which gave me about 3 hours of sleep before I had to wake up for my turnaround shift. I quite literally crawled from my desk to my bed and passed out without fuss. Didn’t change clothes. Didn’t shower. Nothing. As you can imagine, I was a sight (and a smell) to behold the next morning.Bleary and monstrous looking, I grumbled and tumbled out of bed into a fresh pile of clothing I had neglected to hang up the day before. Still half-asleep, I happened to find a fresh pair of khakis and my work polo. Without much thought, I slid both on and went on about my way. I’ll spare you the details on the rest of my “morning beauty routine.”

    I arrived at work, we opened the store, and I went on about my business, putting out freight and assisting cashiers. One of my cashiers, however, asked why I wasn’t picking up the store phone. It was then I realized I had forgotten to even pick it up that morning. So, I rushed back to my station to pick it up.

    However, when I went to slide it into my pocket, I realized I had no pockets. Huh. Well, that’s weird. I had just bought those pants not even two days before, and I swore they had, had pockets in them. I stopped, and I assessed myself. I placed my hands at the front of my pants where my pockets should have been, then dragged them around to my back side where my pockets actually were. With a little more feeling around, I also discovered my zipper was back there, too.

    Just then, my manager walked in. The same one that helped me open the store this morning and probably had seen my pants for the last 2 hours that I had been at work, yet hadn’t said anything. So, I straight up asked him,

    “*InsertManagerNameHere* Why didn’t you tell me I had my pants on backwards?”

    He gave me a shrug, then said, “I figured you were trying to make a fashion statement.”

    A fashion statement, indeed.

  2. This story happened long before the first one, but it involves the same manager. However, he didn’t just assume I was making a fashion statement. Perhaps this incident actually led to his action in the first story, or rather the lack thereof. Even worse, maybe now he just assumes I make these kinds of mistakes.As per usual, I had just gotten out of class at 3:00 p.m. and was heading to work for my closing shift. On days where I went to school, then worked, I tended to just wear my uniform to class. I wasn’t there to impress anybody (and I’m still not). So, I didn’t care if people saw me in uniform, and I was just too lazy to change clothes in the middle of the day. Especially since I’d only be wearing them for a few hours anyway.Well, when I got to work, my manager was standing at the door, just surveying the front end. Then, I walked by. There was a noticeable side glance, then a second take, and finally a flat out stare. Sure, I thought it was a bit strange, but it was just another day of work. Plus, I figured if it were that big of a deal, he would’ve said something. However, he didn’t say anything until I had already gotten on the register and checked out two or three people. Then he came up and asked,

    “Alyssa? Do you have a defective shirt?”

    I gave him a look, and rather than just look at my darn shirt, I asked,

    “Why?”

    He pointed.

    “Your tag is on the outside.”

    Then I looked, and behold. Rather than wearing my pants backwards for a few hours, I wore my shirt inside out to school and to work for an entire day. Yet, they still promoted me a few months later. I think they keep me for the lulz.

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

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How I define my writing style

It’s… contemplative. Introspective. Thoughtful. It is what most would call…

Boring.

Most people wouldn’t dare define their own writing as boring, but I’m doing just that. Why? Because it says a lot about who I am. While we’re told not to take bad reviews personally, and I tend not to, I do find it interesting that when I see a negative review, I automatically begin picking apart my personality before I pick apart the writing in question.

Yes, it’s a bad habit.

Yes, you still shouldn’t take bad reviews personally.

And yes, I’m a complete loon for using a review on my writing to review myself, but I look at it this way:

Writing is a part of me. If there is something wrong with my writing, I need to address why I write this way before I can even begin to address how to fix it. I’m not trying to fix myself. I’m trying to find the source of why I write the way I write.

As I’ve said before, I am an introvert through and through, which makes me a black sheep in my family. My mom was class clown in high school, she’s still a socialite today and is one of the most outgoing people I know. My dad was a football player, won dance competitions, and is so charismatic still today that he could sway the Devil away from sin if he wanted to. Then, there’s me.

I am an awkward potato. I’d rather sit behind a screen and talk to people who I can’t see and who can’t see me than I would actually going out and meeting people. I’m my most comfortable alone. Me, myself, and I, are my confidants and where I find peace. I’m hardly ever lonely, though that doesn’t mean I don’t long for company occasionally. I just like my thoughts, my quiet, and myself. I’m proud of myself, and I love myself. I like spending time with myself.

That’s how my writing is, too. My main characters spend a whole lot of time in their own heads. It’s boring to a lot of people… but the way people think is so interesting to me. I think the most dynamic prose can take place all in a character’s head. Besides, all of our favorite stories came from someone’s thoughts, ya know?

That’s not to say action is boring. On the contrary, action is much more popular and fun. After my last bad review, I’m going to try and deviate as much as I can from thought and add more action. Is it going to be better? Maybe. I won’t know until I try.

I’ve just finally accepted that not everyone is like me. It’s embarrassing to admit it took me so long to accept, but what can you do? Not everyone likes to just sit and mull around in their own heads. Even less like to read about other people doing it, but that’s the reason I write that way.

My style is my personality.

What about yours? I’m curious to see how everyone’s writing style aligns with their personality, or how their taste in books relates to their personality. What do you think? Is it okay that personality and style are intertwined? Or is it a writerly sin? Please, let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

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The teachers are failing. Not us.

I don’t tend to make rant posts (too often, anyway), but while sitting in the lobby of one of my school buildings, I happened to listen in on a conversation between a student and a teacher.

Often times, our teachers don’t meet with us in their offices. Why? I couldn’t tell you, but this particular discussion was probably better placed within the confines of an office.

The student was in a creative writing class with this teacher, and the teacher was discussing her grade within this class. The student was distraught. She had tears in her eyes and was shaking. It didn’t take much to see she was failing.

The teacher presented her with a paper, covered in red marks with a huge red NC (no credit) in the corner. It was her paper.

He reiterated what I assumed was the prompt.

Now, I’m a firm believer in “you earn your grades.” I’m much quicker to take the side of a teacher over that of a disgruntled student. If you fail, it’s because you earned it, but in the case of a creative writing class where most of the work is completely subjective, I have a hard time believing anyone can earn an “F” or “NC” unless they just didn’t do the assignment.

He said, “I wanted aliens. You gave me cyborgs.”

… What?

The girl mumbled something, but I’m afraid I didn’t catch it, too focused on him pointing out his terrible hand-writing on the page.

“Plus, it just wasn’t good. It was too romantic. Too much genre mixing. Cyborgs, though? Really?”

The girl was crying at this point.

He continued, “At this rate, you’ll be lucky to graduate. You’re definitely not a writer by any means.”

And that was it. I couldn’t sit there a moment longer and listen to that man burn every dream and ounce of self-esteem that girl had.

But I didn’t say anything. I just walked away.

I wish I had. I wish I could go back, just wait for that girl to get done with her conference, tell her to drop that class and take a different one next semester. To tell her cyborgs could be aliens. To tell her she could be a writer if she wanted to be, and if she honed in on her craft. To tell her she could do it.

Aren’t teachers supposed to guide us?

Then why are so many of them tearing us down?

You know what, maybe she couldn’t be a writer. Maybe she couldn’t write a full, grammatically correct sentence to save her life.

But that’s when you help her.

Teach.

You’re a teacher, not an executioner.

I hope that girl doesn’t give up. I hope she takes that man’s words and proves them all wrong. I hope she knows there are good teachers out there. I hope she finds one of them and that they guide her the way they should.

I hope she doesn’t give up.

-Lissy

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What I learned about writing from Animal Crossing: New Leaf

It’s been a long time since I wrote a post about what I’ve learned from video games and how that can be applied to writing.

I’ve actually written two others, one about Minecraft another about Ico and Shadow of the Colossus.

As it has happened with so many other gamers, life has snuck up and taken away my lovely game time. Work, internships, and writing have all had their fun with my gaming time, especially console gaming. To make up for it, I purchased Animal Crossing: New Leaf (ACNL) for my 2DS, a clunky throwback to old school handhelds, which I actually prefer over the new 3DS systems.

But anyway…

And did I fall in love?

I fell. I fell straight into a pitfall seed.

I love this game. It’s mind-numbing. Just how I like them, and with a wide array of NPCs, there’s hardly a dull moment.

Granted, this game isn’t for everyone. If you don’t like the following, steer clear:

  • Paying off your mortgage only to expand your home and pay that off, etc. etc.
  • Watering flowers
  • Running errands
  • Purchasing furniture and decorating
  • Taking part in town festivals
  • Being mayor
  • Fishing, catching bugs, etc.
  • Selling said fish and bugs
  • Working at a coffee shop
  • Drinking coffee
  • BALLOONS
  • Fossils
  • Museums / Donating to museums
  • Dance clubs
  • Buying clothes and trying on new clothes
  • Talking animals

Yep. That’s the game in a nutshell. It’s wonderful, and there are some pretty great communities to take part in, too.  Now, what can we learn about writing from this? Well, onward to the list!

  • Separating your voice from your characters.
    Everyone has their own voice when writing. There will always be a certain part of yourself in every bit of writing you do. Whether it’s things you love, things you hate, a character based off a person or kind of person you hate, there will always be a little bit of you in there. The key is to make their voices different. If you give them all your voice, then you’ve basically made clones of yourself. How did I learn this from ACNL? With 33 different villager characters and set villager personalities, I found that even having two lazy villagers in the same town, didn’t mean I would hear the same things from them. For whatever reason, they just felt different to me. They each had their own voice. You can have similar personalities, but you really shouldn’t have the same voice.
  • Rules are rules.
    Just because you’re mayor in a town of talking animals, doesn’t mean you can do just anything. There are rules, time periods that need to be followed. You have a mortgage to pay, work to be done in the town to keep it nice and to further develop it. And who pays for those developments? You. So you have to make money by catching fish, which come at different times of the day, then wait until you pay it off, plus a day, for it to be done before you begin working on the next project. It’s important to give your characters rules. If they can do anything they want at any time, what would be the point? Where is the conflict? What is your story? You don’t have to make them your everyday Joe’s, but give them rules.
  • Men don’t have to wear suits and ties/Women don’t have to wear dresses (Click the link to read more on gender in writing!).
    I’m not going to lie, this is one of the many problems I have when writing up characters. It’s so easy to fall into the stereotypes of women just being women, and men just being men, when I myself have been made fun of my entire life for being the opposite. I was, and still very much am, a tomboy. I hate makeup, I dislike most dresses, and I’d much rather play video games than go shopping. Shopping literally makes me ill. I’ve been called a dike and a lesbian more times than I can recount. At a certain point in the game, I was able to buy men’s clothing and get male hair cuts. It was then I realized, you don’t have to be feminine to be a woman. I am a woman, and I am not feminine. I have a boyfriend, I have friends, I am woman without subjecting myself to all things stereo-typically woman. A woman can be masculine without being a lesbian, and the same is true for a man being a bit more feminine. This pic says it best:

Well, it’s 2014… but you get the idea.

Well, those are my top three. If I think of any more, I may add to this post. The game is still being updated, and I’m still learning as I go along. What have you learned? Have you played Animal Crossing? Any of them? How do you feel about my post? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading!

-Lissy

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How to Write Female and Male Characters

When I am asked this question, I like to refer back to one of my favorite picture sets of all time:

Same goes for men.

But anyway, I know this is a serious question. I’ll give it a serious answer, but first let me reflect on something I’ve recently been toying with. Have you ever thought about writing something without any genders at all? Nothing at all. I’m not saying write a story about a genderless species or aliens (though that is always cool), I’m saying writing a story where even you don’t know the genders until the end. It’s very interesting to see what comes out.

If you’re having to ask this question, maybe this is something you can try. Create a personality, one without a gender or name associated with it. I often pick names of seasons or months just to identify different voices, then at the end go back and see how they feel. Maybe you can try this? See if you like it? Regardless, onward to the post:

  • Personalities aren’t the same as a gender.
    Not all women are feminine, not all men are masculine. Not all women want to be out of the house, some men want to be house-husbands. Not all women like dresses and Gossip Girl, not all men like cars and women, at least not exclusively. Make a personality, give the character likes and dislikes, make a person before you make a woman or a man. It’s much easier to write a character when they have a personality of their own. That way, gender isn’t the only thing that separates them from other characters. It’s easy to say, she’s a woman, he’s a man. It’s much better to say she’s a gamer who likes to read and make fart jokes, and he’s an outgoing socialite. See? Personality isn’t synonymous with gender.
  • Gender identifiers.
    If you have a character with a stunning personality, or shitty personality, whatever, and you still feel like your character’s gender isn’t “real,” then here is a short list of things often associated with men and women:
    This can differ depending on their jobs or personalities, so keep that in mind, too. Don’t sacrifice your character’s personality for these stereotypes. Not all of them apply to every woman or man, and these shouldn’t be considered 100% factual. A lot of these are plain wrong, but coming from beta readers, this has been my experience, which is unfortunately skewed.
    -In dialogue men tend to have shorter sentences, women tend to be more detail-oriented with their speech.
    -Men tend to “worry” less than women. A woman will often times have more nervous body language, men more relaxed.
    -Women are thought-oriented. If you have lengthy expositions of just thought, it is more likely to be considered a woman.
    -Women tend to multitask (i.e. listening to music while reading), while men are often found doing a single task.
    -Women have closed body language (arms crossed or held close to the body, legs crossed), men are more open (arms resting on their knees, legs spread).
    -Men are less likely to touch each other, women are a lot more personable and polite with one another (though neither may feel that way).

In short, just write the character. Everyone’s different, and there is no way you can encapsulate the entire gender within a single character. So, what do you think? Are you as disappointed with the gender stereotypes as I am? Do you agree that personality isn’t synonymous with gender? Anything you’d like to add? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading!

-Lissy

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How to Format a Manuscript

There are plenty of guides on how to do this. Plenty to be found on the internet, but a lot of them, I have found, don’t have examples, which I will be sharing with you all today. If you didn’t already know, there is a general consensus on how to format a manuscript, and this has been done since typewriters, which explains why things are formatted a certain way.

First off, let me disclaimer: Not every publisher will follow these guidelines.

I feel like this is the main problem a lot of people have. They think everyone will follow the same format, but that is just not the case. The majority will use this format, but you should still read their guidelines before sending anything in.

The number one reason for rejection is disregard for the general submission guidelines! Remember that!

Anyway, on to the list and example (which will be at the end)!

First off, if you have Scrivener, a lot of this will be done for you and is set up as default, so you may not have to worry about this. For those of you who don’t, Courier (any of its varieties), is the most accepted font. Times New Roman, Arial, and Garamond are also very popular so make sure to check the submission guidelines. So,

  • FONT
    Most common: Courier (any varieties)
    Other possible: Garamond, Arial, Times New Roman
  • COVER PAGE
    Name (Real, unless otherwise specified)
    Address (Mailing preferred, billing may be requested later, unless otherwise specified)
    Email address
    Phone number
    Agent’s name (Omit when necessary)
    Agent’s address (Omit when necessary)
    Title (Formatting example at the end of post)
    by Name (Pseudonym here if applicable, formatting example at the end of post)
  • PAGE NUMBERING
    In the top right corner on the second page, put the following in formation in the format:
    LastName / StoryTitle / Page#
    This should appear in the header portion of the manuscript.
    Not every publisher will want this, as some prefer anonymous submissions to promote a fair review, so once again, check the submission guidelines before submitting. On the first page, in the same spot you placed the LastName / StoryTitle / Page#, you’ll put your approximate word count.
  • END PAGE
    At the very end of the manuscript, skip a line, then put: <<<< >>>>
    This will signify the end of the manuscript.

Now for the example PDF: This is an Example

I hope that helped! Did it? Is there something else you’d like to know? Anything that didn’t make sense or that you wish I had covered? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

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Writing Goals

With the start of summer break, my new internship, and my job, I’ve had a lot of trouble keeping up with my writing.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been majorly slacking on a lot of things. Sure, I have excuses:

Tornadoes ripped through my state and my town, the great snowpocalypse, general anxiety… but writing is something that has always made me feel good. It comforts me, and to have avoided just because of sheer laziness is unacceptable. So, in order to keep myself on task, I have set up writing goals for myself so as to start the next school semester fresh and productive.

ONWARD TO THE LIST!

  1. Have my three short horror pieces beta read…
    I have already somewhat started on this, and a lot of these will pretty much be continuations of what I’ve started, but it needs to be out in the world. If I post it publicly, I will definitely feel more obligated to do it. If you’d like to help out, please fill out the contact sheet and let me know how much you’re willing to read and when.
  2. Send my short stories out to as many publications as possible…
    I am extremely lazy. BEYOND lazy. I desperately need to sit down, go through some journals and magazines, and filter through the horror market. I need to see where I can fit in, where I can’t, etc. I don’t want to burn bridges by just spamming my work, but I do need to make a more conscious effort to get out there. I’ve already sent one out. We’ll see what is done with it, then edit, edit, edit, if necessary. Then, send again.
  3. Write for some themed journals…
    I’ve never been in to those journals that only publish for a theme. I understand a genre, but themes have just never appealed to me. If I want to get out there, I need to be able to expand my horizons, so to speak. I need to be more willing to write for something else. It’ll increase my productivity immensely, and I will be able to test myself. I need to at least try.
  4. Finish Ice Over, then go back to writing short stories…
    I love writing long pieces. I love it more than anything else in the world. Apocalyptia and An Austrian March were fun. But I need to become a better writer before I can continue to be a novelist. Short stories are just that, short. They don’t require too much time, though time is necessary. I can write a large amount, send them out, get critiques from a lot more people, and better my writing so I can eventually get back to novels. Ice Over will probably be the last long work I write for a long, long time.
  5. Test the waters with my poetry…
    This year, I thought, would be the year for my prose. It has actually been much more fruitful with my poetry. I’d like to explore my poetry a bit more and expand my skills in that field, too.

I, in general, just want to be more well-rounded as a writer. I thought I had found my place in the writing world, but I’m finding that there is so much more still to explore. Writing is a journey, and I’m taking it one step at a time.

Now, if you’ve made it this far, I want to ask you, what are your writing goals this summer? Anything special you’ll be working on? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
Want to guest post? Want to trade posts?
Same goes to you! 
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