Red Lettering

Stories will not be written easily. A story without a heart is dead, and the only place it will get a heart is from the author.

Archive for the month “May, 2014”

Writing Prompt: 05-30-2014

Fire Within Me by AF-studios

Origin: Fire Within Me by Ana Fagarazzi. (As usual, I don’t know this artist. Please use caution if you look up any more pictures by her.)

Caiti Marie wrote an awesome story snippet here  inspired by a one of the writing prompts from a few months ago. I really appreciate it, Caiti, and I know everyone else who reads your prompt stories do, too.

Does this picture seem inspiring to you? Do you feel like writing something from it? Do comment!

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Blankly Staring

The writer has been writing for years. The computer screen and paper have become normal to the writer, and when the writer is ready to sit down and write, that is what happens. And yet, as the writer sits in front of the computer screen, an empty document accusingly staring back, the writer knows quite suddenly that the writer had no idea what to do.

It’s a trend among writers. Some people call it writer’s block. Some people don’t call it anything, they just look desperately toward their computer screen and hope that something will come into their head. Some say that it’s just laziness; some that it is the worst thing to ever befall a writer. In the end, most people admit that it does exist. The monster that plagues writers is, unlike some other things connected to writers, not a fantasy, and it shall bring terror to all writers at some point in their career.

What most people don’t care to mention is that that’s okay. Of course there will be times when you would want to try sweeping your lawn free of all dirt over writing your novel. You will almost certainly find that on some days you would rather categorize every item in Wal-Mart according to the expiration date. And that’s not unusual; it’s even normal. Yet there comes a time when you might be suffering from writer’s block, and you need to write. It does not matter the pain that shoots through your body with every word, for it simply must be written.

And then, what must be done?

There are so many things on the internet telling you how to combat this terribly malady that spreads through the writing community’s system one person at a time. Looking through them might show you ways you never thought of to help you write past the block. Then again, it might not.

What some people don’t seem to understand is that when some writers say writer’s block, they don’t mean that they don’t have the energy to write, or they can’t seem to find that perfect word. Most of the time when writers use the dreaded term, they mean their creativity has run dry. We feel we have lost connection to the story, whether it manifests itself in a morbid fear of returning, or being unable to find what to do next. With writers of fiction, creativity is vital. Stories cannot live without it.

The best way I have found to keep writing through writer’s block is to think and find what the problem is. To quote Professor Hamilton, from Bryan Davis’s Circles of Seven: “When you recognize an enemy’s weapons, they are easier to resist. If you are caught unaware, however, they are much more effective.”

Whether it truly is procrastination or something worse, when you find what causes you trouble, you can combat it more easily. Finding what made you be able to succeed in the first place and relying on that or finding a way to revive it to fight the block helps immensely.

Or, in reference to Donita K. Paul’s Dragon Keeper ChroniclesWear pink. It confuses the enemy. *

Confuse yourself; confuse the writer’s block. If you write Young Adult books, try your hand at books aimed for young readers. If you write Historical Romance, try a Space Opera. If you write High Fantasy, write something about Secret Agents. For a few minutes, try something entirely different that will make your head spin. If you hate it, you’ll be glad to get back to your novel. If you like it, you might find yourself revived to go on with your novel.

There are so many ways people say they avoid or combat writer’s block that I could not write them all here. Find the way you do it. Don’t let it conquer. Find a way to keep writing, and keep enjoying it if you can, and you won’t regret it.

Do you struggle with writer’s block? How do you handle it?

*I’m afraid I don’t, at the moment, have the book on hand to quote.

 

Character Interview: Enna

Happy Tuesday, readers! Today I have the pleasure of introducing to you Enna, who I had the honor of speaking with in a live interview, from Katie Grace’s work-in-progress, Faith. 

Villages are getting raided in the kingdom of Calarel.

People are losing their homes and loved ones. All Alynn wants is her family to stay as

it is, safe and content, without the threat of the raider’s attack hanging over her head.

Everything is going perfectly fine until one day her worst nightmares come true.

Raiders attack Alynn’s village, leaving nothing but a few stray animals. In the midst of

confusion, Alynn loses her parents and is left alone with her sister Enna in the ominous

forest of Calarel. Their food supply is growing scarce, and the fight for survival leaves

them scared and distressed.

Join Alynn and her sister Enna in a story of adventure, courage, love, and suspense; and

how they must rely on one thing through God:

 Faith.

Hello, Enna! It’s an honor to have you on Red Lettering. To start with, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Enna: *Nods politely with a big grin* It’s hard to describe myself. I’m seventeen years old with brown eyes and dark brown hair. My sister would describe me as outgoing and enthusiastic, always trying to make the best out of hard situations and find humor in them.  I suppose she’d also call me stubborn… I prefer the title, “tenacious.”

Tenacious sounds like a good title. You mentioned your sister…Do you have a family?

Enna: *Bites lip* I do… It’s hard to explain. My mom and dad were taken by raiders, I think. We’re searching for them right now. I really hope we can rescue them, for they mean the world to me. Otherwise it’s just me and my older sister, Alynn.

Oh. I’m sorry to hear that. Does your country have a lot of trouble with raiders?

Enna: *sets jaw in a firm line* Yes, unfortunately. They come from a kingdom called Driscoll. They’re raiding villages all over the country of E’Lenor. They have destroyed thousands of houses and families. *wistfully* I wish I had the power to stop them.

Do you know why they’re attacking you?

Enna: *clenches fists* No. There has to be some reason behind their attacks, but I have no way of knowing. They could be looking for something, or someone. I just want them to leave us alone.

I hope they do. …Moving to more pleasant topics, what’s the first thing you remember?

Enna: *stares blankly* Well… I can’t remember the first memory I ever had, but I have a lot with my family. We always ate together on the small wooden table in our dining room, it was always such a good bonding time.

That sounds like it would be so nice. You must miss your parents a lot. Is there anyone you would die to save?

Enna: *Quiets, but answers quickly without hesitation* My family and friends. I would be scared, but they have done so much for me, and I would feel honored to let them live a longer life serving God.

Are you a Christian?

Enna: *Smiles and bobs head up and down quickly.* I am, and so is the rest of my family. My parents have taught me a lot about God and helped me progress in my faith. There are still situations I struggle with, but I know God is doing everything for a reason, and he has my path in his hands. *Perks up* Are you?

Yes, I am! It’s great to meet another Christian who has something to light their way when they’re going down a dark path… There are so many who don’t know God, and don’t have anything to rely on when they lose what is familiar to them. Are a lot of people Christians where you come from, or is your family one of the few people who are?

Enna: Where we used to live, there were several families who knew the Truth. But as Alynn and I travel through different villages trying to find our parents, it’s something people are turning away from and serving the kingdom of Driscoll instead. *chews lip* I don’t think it will be too long until we are the only ones though. I’m hoping to try to lead some people to Christ as we travel, or at least plant some small seeds.

Maybe that’s the reason this quest happened. You used Driscoll as the name of the kingdom that’s attacking… Do they serve a false deity by the name of their kingdom?

Enna: *wrinkles brow* Driscoll is so secluded from the rest of the country that it’s hard to figure out what’s going on in their land. Whoever they’re serving, it’s not God. Rumors of their ruler are very dark, which is frightening for me because we believe that our parents are being held captive there. At least that’s what other people are presuming. *Shakes head* We’ll see how everything turns out.

I’ll be watching for word of the outcome of your journey. …Well, we only have time for a few more questions. What was your favorite thing to do in your free time before your village was attacked?

Enna: Thank you, I hope we’ll be able to meet again after this is all over… I love spending time with other people. I spend time with all of the other villager girls, and sometimes with Alynn, but she is always reading.

Well, reading is good! Sometimes, it’s better to spend time around other people, though. What does your family do for a living?

Enna: I guess. *Shrugs* I don’t enjoy reading as much as my sister. We own a farm and take care of different sorts of livestock. The pay is not great, but is enough to take care of ourselves. The animals drive me crazy though. Their constant noise is something that I do not enjoy the sound of.

Being someone who has plenty of chickens and dogs, I understand about the noise. Final question–if you could change something in the past, would you? What would it be if you would?

Enna: While our village was getting raided, Alynn and I got separated from our parents. Even if I couldn’t have stopped the raidings, I would want our family to be a whole, solid part. But like you said before, there might be a greater reason in this. *grins* I got to meet some friends on the way! It is nice to have more company than just my sister and I.

It must be hard to have your family separated. But God does know what He’s doing, even if we don’t understand… Even when it gets hard, and it doesn’t look like anything good will come of this, don’t lose hope. Of everything you have to lose, hope is one of the things you’ve got to be careful to keep. Thank you so much for being here. It was really a pleasure talking to you.

Enna: *smiles widely, evident joy spreading across her face* You’re so sweet! I’ll keep your words in my heart, it meant a lot to hear them. I had such a fabulous time with you, it was a nice change on this tasking journey. I hope we’ll meet again!

Thank you so much. I’ll be listening for news. Watch out for enemies, and avoid short-cuts. Thank you again for being here!

Enna: No, thank you! *Giggles* It was my pleasure… And I will, I don’t plan on falling into the hands of evil. Thank you so much.

 

Katie Grace is a fourteen year old teen, happily writing her days away and hanging out

with her close friends. She’s a lover of Jesus, babysitting, reading, and music, while

homeschooling with her mom and younger sister. 

You can find more about Katie on the blog she shares with her cousin, Cousins in Christ and Pinterest.

Writing Prompt: 05-23-2014

 

Origin: Jjoven: photography. 

If anything about this picture is even vaguely inspiring… That’s the point of these posts! Tell me so! There’s a neat little comment box below. I hope you have a great weekend.

Villains

There is one rule of writing that is very necessary, and yet very simple.

Your hero wants something. Put something in the way of their getting it. 

This is typically titled conflict. Conflict is what drives your plot onward, and your character toward change. Conflict comes in many shapes, form or fashion, from the rain-clouds keeping the protagonist from going on a photo-shoot, to the villain trying to take over the world. Conflict is most often brought about by the antagonist who, in turn, is most often a villain.

People, especially younger authors, often tend to forget to develop their villain. Whether they forgot to ask the ever-needed question of “Why?” or they forgot to remember that their villain is a human being, capable both of failings and successes and, indeed, hopefully less likely to make unintelligent mistakes than the hero (I refer to the previously stated rule), villains tend to be left out of the list of important things to work on.

There are some people who make their villains evil beings with no motives, and then there are others who raise the cry of, “Villains are people, too! They were caused to be bad by their early lives! The poor things!”

Villains are people. They have their hopes and dreams and, yes, even fears. They might not fear your heroes; they might fear fire, or water, or being alone. Yet God gifted humans (and other sentient creatures!) with the incredible gift of free will. Animals respond to how they are raised and taught, but humans always have the choice to hate, or to love. Villains are those who chose the first.

So I ask you the questions: Why does your villain do what they do? When they were a child, what were their hopes for their lives? What do they fear? Who do they love, whether now, or in the past? What causes them pain? And, for a fun option, is there a song that makes you think of your villain? Comment!

Writing Prompt: 05-16-2014

Origin: The definition from the dictionary; I couldn’t find who made the picture.

 

If you’d like to write something from it, or it matches up with something in your writing, or it’s inspiring in any way, comment! ^-^

Keep Reading

One piece of advice that people in the writing community will often hear is just write. Listen to music until your eardrums are gone, drink astronomical amounts of tea or coffee, and eat however much chocolate you can manage (and can afford! No exciting bit of writing research for a scene involving a police chase, please,) but whatever you do, don’t stop writing.

This is one of the best pieces of writing advice I have ever heard. Like people need to keep running or their running skills will rapidly degenerate, when a writer stops writing, they lose the skills they took the time to develop.

But while you’re writing, don’t forget where you first found your love of stories. Don’t forget to keep reading.

Symptoms of Lack of Reading in Writers

  • Readers find that characters in a new story seem strangely familiar. Could it be that they’re the same character with a different name?
  • Plot devices keep coming back. One might find a drought in one, and, a few years later in another story, another drought.
  • Authors find their inspiration draining away, and every word starts to feel like a rusty nail driven into them.
  • All complex story-lines and beautiful sentences mean nothing. The reader can tell that there’s something wrong with the story, even if they can’t seem to find what the problem is.

Recently, those in my family who read have been doing so nearly obsessively. For a while, we read very little fiction. Now, after the Clive Staples Awards, we found several new authors that we’re following the books of. Strangely enough, while I liked those novels (some of them quite a bit), I found very little inspiration from them. Some, certainly; but not a large amount. Nothing worth mentioning.

Oddly, it was reading A Tale of Two Cities, and re-reading Lord of the Rings that gave me the most inspiration. The first book, one that I’ve heard a lot of negative opinions expressed on, I read for school. I was not expecting to enjoy it very much, as I’ve heard several unflattering things about Dickens. Yet the characters seemed strangely familiar to me, even though it was the first time I had read the book, and I found that I have characters similar to a few of them. In spite of the slight difficulty reading it produced, I found myself enjoying it more and more as I went along. The plot lines were intriguing, and, as I neared the end, they were astounding as I realized that there had been nothing misplaced or irrelevant; everything tied in to the conclusion. One of the scenes stole my breath for a whole afternoon.

Lord of the Rings I have read several times before. Even so, I found things that surprised me. At one point I paused to do something and stepped away from the book for a moment; when I returned, I resumed at the beginning of the paragraph I had read before leaving the book.

‘Alas! I fear we cannot say here longer,’ said Aragorn. He looked towards the mountain and held up his sword. ‘Farewell, Gandalf!’ he cried. ‘Did I not say to you: if you pass the gates of Moria, beware? Alas that I spoke true! What hope have we without you?’

(Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R Tolkien. Chapter entitled, “Lothlorien.”)

All of a sudden our battered and bruised copy of The Lord of the Rings surprised me with the amount of emotion to be seen there. Aragorn stopped just outside the mountain, raised his sword and screamed his words to an empty sky and to a man he knew could no longer hear them. That book is known as an epic filled with heroism, a great quest, various deep characters, and plot twists. Very rarely is it mentioned the amount of emotional turmoil the characters must have had to go through. It’s not explicitly stated, but if you look deeper, if you engage your imagination, you would find emotion and fear and pain.

Both of the books surprised me. My respect for Charles Dickens was raised several notches. My firm belief that Lord of the Rings changes every time you read it was reinforced.

Both of them gave me more inspiration than I was expecting.

Old books aren’t often recommended for writers, especially young ones. Yet I’ve found that there’s a hidden wealth of emotion, of inspiration, of epic things, in older books.

For fast energy, read new books. The action-packed adventure stories with upfront emotional drama, sometimes deeper than expected, sometimes shallower, will bring you to your feet again. But when you’re ready, don’t be afraid to pick up a dust-covered old tome, blow the fragments of old history from its cover, and open it again.

Look deeper. It might just amaze you.

Character Interview: Rolf Hermann

Summer comes with nuclear bombs raining down on US cities.

Even though his granddad taught him to prepare for the apocalypse, Rolf is helpless to save Granddad from men with military style weapons and vehicles. Having no other place to go, he heads to the Walls’ ranch in Beaver County. To his dismay, only Ivy, the Walls’ teenage daughter, is at the ranch, leaving no adults to take charge. The rest of the family are trapped in Russia, unable to make it back to Montana because of the Bombing.

Rolf and Ivy will be no match for the looters who are sure to come. When the first wave of looters is about to overwhelm them, their prayers for help are answered in the form of genetically modified animals.

At first, the animals’ help is enough to protect the ranch, but an enemy even more dangerous than the looters drives into the nearby town, threatening the ranch and everyone in Beaver County.

Betrayed by their human allies, the two teens and animals are forced to fight for freedom against a powerful enemy.

Country in Chaos is an 88,100 word young adult novel set in the near future where genetic mutation and government conspiracies are no longer secret. It will appeal to fans of Partials, Ashfall, and Ship Breaker.

 

Happy Tuesday, readers! Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you Rolf, from Jessi L. Robert’s novel, now completed and in the editing stage, Country in Chaos. 

Hello, Rolf! Welcome to Red Lettering. I’m honored to have you here today, and I hope that I shan’t be putting you or anyone you know in any unnecessary danger by delaying you. I won’t take long. In spite of the fact that I’ve been told this is the hardest question I ask (presumably because of how vague it is), could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Rolf: I’m Rolf Hermann. I’m seventeen years old.

Nice to meet you, then. Do you have a family?

Rolf: *Clenches fists* It’s just me now.

I’m very sorry to hear that…What do you believe about God?

Rolf: Um, I’ve never been asked this before. I’m a Christian. I guess I believe that God doesn’t normally interfere with the world. He lets it go the way man wants it to go but when I die, I’ll get to go to Heaven and see my family again 

That makes sense. If you’re not expecting Him to interfere in the world, though, don’t be surprised if there’s a miracle when you’re not paying attention. What makes you laugh?

Rolf: I don’t have much reason to laugh. I used to, when Granddad told a funny story but they killed him. *Looks away.*

Oh.I know this is a rather personal question, so I hope you don’t mind… Have you ever been in love?

Rolf: No. I’m only seventeen. Besides, it’s stupid to get romantic in the middle of an apocalypse.

That is the best answer to that question I’ve ever heard. Seriously. That answer needs to be widely publicized. If you could change one thing in the past of your life (not before you were born) would you do it? If so, what would you do?

Rolf: *Looks at his hands* Probably be less of a brat for Granddad and Grandma.

I think that all of us have our times like that; when we lose someone, we wish we could have been better to them. I doubt it would ever be enough though. Have you ever killed anyone? What did you feel like when you first did?

Rolf: *Shrugs* Not yet but considering the US got nuked, I’ll probably kill quite a few if I don’t get shot first. I don’t think it will bother me much if they deserve it.

I wonder if that’s just a guy thing. I know it would bother me. Is there anyone you would die to save?

Rolf: Not really. I guess I’d sacrifice myself for someone innocent but there’s no particular person.

I see. What is your world like?

Rolf: *Flatly* It’s pretty bad. It just got nuked. Most likely, there are people starving in the cities. I’d bet that within a year, seventy percent of the US population will be dead and that’s being optimistic. It’s probably going to be closer to ninety percent mortality. In the cities, it will be even worse since they won’t have any food at all.

That knowledge must be hard to live with. There must be something you can hold onto to make it better. What is your fondest memory? Why do you cherish it?

Rolf: I guess it would be when my Granddad taught me to shoot. He worked a lot with me and we had a really good time. Knowing to shoot makes me feel a bit safer in this world. *Looks away and wipes his eyes.*

Oh. I’m… glad you feel safer.

Thank you for being here, Rolf… I’m sorry to have asked such hard questions for you. I hope to be able to hear the rest of your story someday. Don’t ever give up hope.

 

Jessi L. Roberts

Jessi L. Roberts lives and works with her family on a cattle ranch in eastern Montana. She has her own flock of chickens, a crazy turkey, some cows, and a few horses. For supplemental income (and to access more books), she works part time at the local library. Jessi enjoys fantasy and science fiction and plans on publishing more books in the future.

You can find more about her on Twitter and Pinterest.

Writing Prompt: 05-09-2014

 

trinischultz7

Origin: Trini Schultz, artist. (I know very little of this artist, so caution is advised in looking up other photos or things of that kind.)

This picture I actually put on my Pinterest board for one of my stories, as I have a scene resembling this–only, instead of a man standing, there’s a boy sitting, and no snakes or trees. If you’d like to write a few paragraphs, or if it inspires you, comment!

On the Longest Fortnight Ever…

Sitting on the floor with her knees up, a notebook propped against them, a girl stared blankly at the near-white paper in front of her. A purple mechanical pencil lay unmoving in her hand as her head whirled, trying to think of what to write, but keeping stubbornly empty. Taking a deep breath, the girl leaned forward and looked forlornly at the paper. It looked back at her, expectancy filling its eyes, strangely non-existent though they were.

She had never meant to stay away that long.

Apologies, she had found, seemed only to make people feel awkward and uncomfortable, but this time, she would give one. They deserved one.

She leaned forward, set her pencil lead to her paper, and began to write.

I’m sorry.

When we moved, I did the best thing I knew to do; I paused in the maintenance of this blog. Yet moving became more complicated, and the crazy idea (yet epic and most appreciated) of doing Camp NaNoWriMo in spite of moving was suggested. When the move was completed, I continued steadily working my way up to the 50,000 word mark, but every time I opened a blank document to write a post for here, or ran my options for posts and interviews through my head, my mind seemed to come across a brick wall. How was I to start again after the slightly-longer-than-expected absence?

And there I made my first mistake; I let the matter rest.* I moved on with life and ignored the constant whispers of the blank cyberspace pages begging to be filled, ignored how they were reminding me of my dedicated readers.

As Camp NaNoWriMo ended, I found the obvious staring me in the face: I had been away too long. It was far past the time I should have posted again.

When a friend asked a question, I found myself on the blog page, and it pulled up the statistics page for me as it usually does when I open the website. Staring at the bars to indicate the views on my blog, I was astounded. Though I could see to the fourteenth of April, there was only two days that I could see to be void of views. Amazed by the dedication of my readers and thoroughly chastised for my abandonment, I came to my senses and a decision: within the week, there would be a post on this blog, no matter what happened.

And so, fair readers, you have found the circumstances surrounding my suddenly lengthened disappearance. What say you? I hope that you will not hold against me my mistakes, and I know that I will have to build up your trust again. My hope is that you will never again be unsure of when the next post should come, and instead you should know that I will regularly post. Forgive me, please, for my tardiness; I will not disappoint you in the future.

A new house, an exciting few weeks, and fifty thousand more words later, I have returned. The word “fortnight” was for a moment longer than it usually is. Hopefully the meaning will go back to normal now.

 

* If you got that reference, that’s awesome. You can probably guess what I’m reading.

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