Category: Writing

Beatrix Potter: Finding Inspiration in God’s Creation

Beatrix Potter: Finding Inspiration in God’s Creation

I don’t know about you, but I tend to think that great writing inspiration comes from something amazing. Something spectacular. Something so out of the ordinary that it hits me over the head, screaming, “HI THERE, I’M YOUR INSPIRATION!”

But not all inspiration comes like that. Sure, there have been a few times that I’ve been “struck by inspiration,” but most of the time, ideas spring from ordinary things.

The famous children’s author, Beatrix Potter, got her inspiration from the natural world around her.

Growing up, she and her brother Bertram were mostly left to their own devices. They owned a wild variety of animals, not limited to: lizards, birds, bats, mice, and rabbits. They even owned a snake named Sally.

Beatrix loved to draw and paint with watercolors. Her most common subjects were her pets.

She also had a fascination with mushrooms (like me) and studied them intensely (unlike me). She painted many of them, even finding a few rare species.

At age 37, Beatrix bought a farm in the Lake District—the very northernmost part of England, just south of Scotland. She called it “Hilltop Farm.”

She loved country life, returning to her land every chance she had. She raised sheep and pigs, planted gardens, and walked the countryside.

Here, she found much of her inspiration for some of her later books. The villagers loved finding their houses (and cats) in her adorable illustrations. I imagine it became quite the competition between them.

 

“But,” you might be saying, “Beatrix Potter wrote children’s books. I’m writing for teens. I’m not writing about bunnies. How does this apply to me?”

Everything we write about flows from God’s creation in some way. Even fantasy creatures.

Think about it, if I asked you to describe one of your fantastical creations, you’d describe it as “dragonlike” or “a combination of a tiger and a shark.”

Aren’t dragons, tigers, and sharks all animals from God’s creation?

It is worthwhile for us as writers to study the natural world around us. Even if we aren’t outdoor people.

Sometimes, the greatest inspiration comes from a walk in the woods, or even just down your street!

Just look at Beatrix.

🐇🐰🐇

Fun Facts about Beatrix:

  • She began her career by painting Christmas cards. She was paid six pounds. (About $8.)
  • When she tried to publish The Tale of Peter Rabbit for the first time, she received six rejections. Back then, there weren’t as many publishing houses as there are now.
    She was determined to get her little book printed, so she “self-published,” hiring a printer to make 250 copies, most of which were bought by her aunts.
    She paid eleven pounds ($14) for them to be printed and received about thirteen pounds ($17) from selling them.
  • She hated drawing people. Once, her brother mistook Mr. McGregor’s ear to be his nose! She much preferred her furry friends.
  • In 1910, she created her very own Peter Rabbit doll. She struggled to find a company to make them, but eventually found one.
    Reminds me of Glendale. Maybe she had a section on her website called “Where’s Peter?” 😋

 

Allison Grace blogs at allisongracewrites.com

Where’s Glendale? Flashback!

Glendale reads a book
Glendale discovered Beatrix’s books at the library a few months ago.

 

Special Thanks to Beatrix herself!

Allison Grace and Beatrix Potter
Thank you for letting me take notes on your presentation for this post!
That’s The Ballgame–A Poem

That’s The Ballgame–A Poem

I wrote this poem a few years ago. It’s still one of my favorites.

 

 

Bottom of the ninth,

Home team down by two.

 

Bases loaded,

Two outs.

 

The first pitch,

Graceful curve,

Low, ball one.

 

The next throw,

Fast and quick,

Swing and miss.

 

A high ball,

Slow and just outside.

 

In the dirt,

Then a swing,

Full count.

 

The crowd is on its feet,

Jumping,

            Roaring,

                        Screaming,

                                    Stomping.

 

The batter grips the bat,

Heart pounding,

Hands sweaty.

 

This one swing,

Just one more,

And the game could be over.

 

The pitcher winds up,

Deep breath,

Flying high.

 

Swing.

Crack.

Foul.

 

The crowd is louder,

Whipped into a frenzy,

Clapping,

                        Shouting,

                                    Waving,

                                                Staring.

 

The pitch,

The batter swings.

Contact.

 

Soaring high,

Into right field.

Up.

Up.

Up.

Past the foul posts,

Past the outfielders,

 Over the wall,

Out of the park.

 

Grand Slam.

 

And because I love baseball, have some photos.

 

Francisco Lindor stepping up to bat. Progressive Field 2017
Francisco Lindor stepping up to bat. Progressive Field 2017
Francisco Lindor again. Progressive Field 2017
Francisco Lindor again. Progressive Field 2017
Jose Ramirez at Spring Training. Arizona 2018.
Jose Ramirez at Spring Training. Arizona 2018.

 

Where’s Glendale?

Meet Rebekah, Avendor's rightful queen.
Wait! That’s not Glendale! May I present to you, Rebekah, the rightful queen of Avendor. *cue applause* I adore her gown, and I’m not a clothes person.

 

Allison Grace blogs at allisongracewrites.com

 

Talk to me!

Do you like baseball as much as I do? Did you miss Glendale this week? What’s your favorite snack to eat while watching baseball (or any sport for that matter)? 

 

On Baseball and Writing

On Baseball and Writing

Baseball season started on Thursday! My favorite team is the Cleveland Indians.

I can be incredibly loud and cheer over the littlest things when I really get into the game.

I’ve also been known to refuse to give up when they are obviously going to lose.

Why am I writing about baseball?

Great question.

I don’t know. 😋

Writing and baseball have more in common than you think. And it’s not just pitches. (In writing, a pitch is when you propose your idea to an agent or editor.)

But without further ado, here are five ways writing and baseball are alike.

 

You have off days

You know those days when you’re watching baseball and your team is on fire? When they win 17 to 3 and your pitcher strikes out 15 batters? It seems like they will win the World Series, doesn’t it?

But then there are those days when they lose to the worst team in baseball. When it looks like all they do is drop the ball or throw it way offline. Then you wonder why you even cheer for them. Because they suck.

But, if you are a true fan, you stick with them.

You know those days when you are writing, the words just keep flowing, you can’t type fast enough, you might even skip dinner to finish the chapter? Those days you declare that the best job in the world is to be a writer. The days when you can’t stop smiling because it’s just coming together. You’re going to take on the world.

Then there are the days getting 100 words on a page is hard. When you just don’t want to write. You’d rather clean the bathroom than open your Google Doc.

I know what that’s like. I’ve been there. I’ve wanted to throw my work-in-progress against the wall. I’ve wondered why I even bother writing because it sucks.

Then I’ve had the days when I can’t stop writing. I write three chapters in a morning (granted, short chapters). I have the days when I dance around because THE CHARACTERS ARE SO AMAZING AND THIS WHOLE BOOK IS BETTER THAN NARNIA AND LORD OF THE RINGS PUT TOGETHER TIMES FIVE!!! (Those are the days everyone backs away from me and gives me weird looks.)

 

It’s a team effort

You can’t play baseball by yourself. You need three basemen, a shortstop, three outfielders, a pitcher, and a catcher. Plus you need an opposing team. And fans. What’s baseball without fans?

And what’s writing without readers? What’s writing without a team of people to cheer you on?

Baseball players have coaches. Writers have mentors.

You can’t write without other people. This might seem counterintuitive at first. Aren’t most books written by one person? And certainly not everyone wants to or can co-author a book.

I’m not saying you have to write a book with someone else. I’m saying you need a community. You need your own crazy fans who come to every home game. You need people to cheer you on even when you’re behind 8-1.

These people can be your friends, siblings, parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. They can be anyone who love you and genuinely care about you, even when your writing sucks.

 

It’s a solo effort at the same time

But even with the greatest fans and coaches, baseball can’t be played without individual players.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if all the fans are yelling and all your teammates have scored before you, it all comes down to you. No one can swing the bat for you, no one can put the words on the paper for you.

You might have a prestigious degree. Maybe you went to the best writing conference in the world. Your writing mentor could be a New York Times Bestseller.

But it all comes down to you. You’re the only one who can write your story.

 

Every player is different

What do you think would happen if an ace pitcher started to doubt his skill after watching another pitcher throw fire? He probably would fall apart.

That’s what happens when you compare yourself as a writer to other writers.

One of my best writing friends submitted to an agent not too long ago. And I’m so proud of her!

But at the same time, I was discouraged because I hadn’t finished my first draft of my first novel ever. She’s right where I want to be some day.

But my writer mentors reminded me of what I have done. And when you look for your achievements, no matter how small, you will be surprised.

Because you’re a better writer than you think you are. You’ve done more than you think you have.

Just take a look.

 

It takes practice

Contrary to popular belief, writers don’t sit down with the perfect novel just pouring out of their fingertips.

No one expects a baseball player to be phenomenal the first time they step up to the plate. But for some reason, people seem to expect that from writers. What’s worse, we writers seem to expect it from ourselves.

You don’t know how many times your favorite player has swung the bat to perfect his stance. Pitchers throw countless pitches in order to perfect their curveball.

Writers write drafts and more drafts and even more drafts. We write things that never see the light of day, and honestly, don’t deserve to. Many writers have “practice novels” no one has read just so they can learn the craft.

Writing, just like anything else, requires practice to become a master. Lots of practice.

 

Here’s to a new writing season of cheering fans, homeruns, and practice. You’ve got this. Someday you will accomplish your dreams if you just keep working. Never give up. ❤

 

Your Turn!

Do you like baseball? Who do you root for? Can you think of any other ways baseball (or any other sport) is like writing? 

Allison Grace blogs at allisongracewrites.com

 

Where’s Glendale?

 

Glendale roots for the Indians!
Glendale poses with part of my mini bat collection. He’s never seen a baseball game, but thinks he would like to… as long as the balls aren’t as big as his head!

 

“Inside Me” A Poem

“Inside Me” A Poem

I’d like to share a poem with you that I wrote a while ago. It’s called “Inside Me” and it’s about our Christian witness.

I hope it’s a blessing to you! <3

 

If I asked you to define me,
Would you see what is inside me?

Would you say I’m just a shy girl,
Or a writer,
Or just another face in the pew?

Would you see Who is living inside me?

Click here to read the rest! 

 

4 Things Every Memorable Character Needs: Guest Post by Bella Putt

4 Things Every Memorable Character Needs: Guest Post by Bella Putt

Today, I have a guest post by a friend from YWW, Bella Putt! Enjoy!

 

Characters are complicated. For some people they come easily, for others they’re more difficult. But no matter how easy or hard they are to create, characters are always complicated.

So much goes into shaping a character’s personality, his life, and the way he thinks. We strive to create the perfect character, wanting him to be as memorable as the characters we read about in our favorite books.

But while we work hard to perfect our characters, it’s often hard to figure out everything that must go into making our character memorable. Today, I’m going to share four things all characters need to be memorable.

 

1. A Goal

Our characters must have a goal. In fact, this is one of the most important things a character needs. We have to figure out our character’s deepest desire. This desire—this goal—will drive the story forward. After all, the whole point of the story is to follow the character as he tries to achieve his goal.

Maybe your character’s goal is to prove himself to others. Maybe his deepest desire is to become powerful. Maybe it’s to save someone he loves. It could be anything, but the main thing to remember is that without a goal, there is no character.

 

2. Motivation

This is what drives your character toward achieving his goal. The best way to find your character’s motivation is to ask yourself, “What is at stake if my character doesn’t achieve his goal?”

For example, let’s say your character’s goal is to save a loved one. What’s at stake? What will happen if he doesn’t save his loved one? His loved one will lose his life. This stake will motivate the character to save his loved one.

Without motivation, there’s no reason for the character to want his goal. A character can’t want something just to want it. There’s got to be a deeper reason. The character must have strong motives.

 

3. Deep Backstory

Your character’s backstory is necessary to the story. After all, the character’s backstory is what influences his decisions. This is often what encourages his goal.

For example, if a character’s desire is to prove himself to others, he might have this desire because he made a terrible mistake in his past and is now looked upon with disappointment. Thus, backstory plays a vital role in the development of your characters.

 

4. A Relatable Personality 

If you want your character to be memorable, he’s got to be relatable. If your character isn’t relatable, no reader is going to like him. The easiest way to make your character relatable is to make him realistic. Don’t make him do things people wouldn’t really do. That said, the character’s desire should be one living people often have. With a realistic goal and realistic motives for wanting his goal, a reader can easily relate to him.

I’ve learned that the best way to make your character relatable is to give him flaws. No one is perfect. All people are flawed in numerous ways, and if your character doesn’t have flaws, no reader will be able to relate to him.

Just like when giving your character realistic goals, you must give your character realistic flaws. Maybe your character is prideful and has a hard time loving others. Maybe he doesn’t respect authority and does only what he wants. Whatever his flaws are, make them realistic. And when your character has realistic goals, motives, and flaws, your readers will easily relate to him.

I hope these four things I’ve mentioned will help you when creating the characters for your story. With a goal, strong motivation, a deep backstory, and a relatable personality, your character will be on his way to becoming a character that your readers will never forget.

 

-Bella

 

About Bella:

Writing is one of Bella’s favorite things to do, along with running and reading. At fourteen, she’s been writing for about six years and hopes to someday be a published author. Her writing projects include a novel and writing on her blog. You can find her blog here, where she writes poetry, shares tips on writing, does book reviews, and more.

https://bellaputt.wordpress.com/

She’s also celebrating one year of blogging, so be sure to stop by and congratulate her!

 

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The Lego Movie: The Hero’s Journey In Action

The Lego Movie: The Hero’s Journey In Action

If you’ve been writing or reading fiction (particularly fantasy) for a while, you’ve heard of the Hero’s Journey storyline or at least are aware of it (even unconsciously).

Most of the writing books I’ve read that talk about the Hero’s Journey use either Star Wars: A New Hope, The Hobbit, or the Lord of the Rings trilogy for their example. I’ve always done pretty well with Star Wars illustrations, but I’m not that familiar with the plotline of Tolkien’s work. (Until recently, as I’ve begun reading them.)

So today, I’m going to use The LEGO Movie as my illustration.

Please note, I’m talking about the first movie that released in 2014. There will be spoilers. Lots of them. But don’t worry, they’ll be awesome. (It’s a batpun.) 😋

 

If you do a Google search, you can find the basic outline on thousands of sites. I used the outline here for creating this post.

Most sources divide the journey into three parts, the three act structure some writers like to talk about. I’m just going to list the points.

 

Ordinary World

At the beginning of most Hero’s Journey stories, the hero is shown living his normal life.

The LEGO Movie starts in Emmet’s (our hero) ordinary world. We see him following the instructions, going to work, and singing “Everything is Awesome.”

This is his life. Everything is normal. He’s content to stay right where he is. There’s no desire to change.

 

The Call

At this point, the ordinary world is disrupted with a call to adventure. A wizard comes to your door or your uncle buys a pair of used droids.

Emmet is on his way home from work when his instructions blow away. He chases after them. In the process he scares a trespasser on the construction site. He chases after her, but falls into a pit, discovering the “piece of resistance.”

 

The Refusal of the Call

After receiving the Call, the hero usually will refuse to take action. He’d rather stay home and continue living his life as he has been. Why would he disrupt his routine to go on an adventure of all things?

When Emmet wakes up in prison, he realizes the piece of resistance is attached to his back. The trespasser from the construction site comes to rescue him. As they are fleeing, Emmet realizes in order to escape, he’ll have to break the instructions for the first time in his life. He refuses to answer the call.

 

Crossing the Threshold

But by then, it’s too late. They have already crossed the threshold (literally) from Emmet’s ordinary world into the adventure. There’s no going back now.

At this point, the hero is going on the adventure whether he wants to or not. Things have changed too much for him to go back to his ordinary life.

 

Meeting the Mentor

Sometimes, the hero meets the mentor before crossing the threshold or the mentor will issue the call. But in this case, Emmet meets his “mentor,” Vitruvius, after entering the adventure world.

 

Traveling Companions

Heroes always have friends or allies on their quests. While at the beginning, they might not be actual friends (often they’re thrown together), but by the climax, they have some sort of camaraderie. In Emmet’s case, his allies are: Wildstyle, Batman, Benny, Unikitty, and MetalBeard.

Besides helping the hero accomplish his mission, the traveling companions often provide comic relief and are foils for the hero. Foils show the main character’s flaws or virtues by contradiction.

For example, Batman is cool, smart, and everyone loves him. Emmet, on the other hand, is super ordinary, sometimes stupid, and most of the time, someone is mad at him. Batman’s arrogance and popularity act as foils to Emmet’s dull, ordinariness.

 

Tests, Trials, And Obstacles

At this point of the story, the hero and his companions face many difficulties. These challenges can take many forms.

  • Being chased by Bad Cop
  • Lack of support from the Master Builders
  • Destruction of their submarine
  • Failure of their plans
  • Death of Vitruvius

Note the last point. Many Hero’s Journey stories involve the death of the mentor. In Star Wars: A New Hope, Ben dies. Gandalf “dies” in The Fellowship of the Ring. (“Do you see the quotation marks I’m making with my claw hands?”)

This tragedy forces the hero to make his own decisions and face his fears. Alone.

 

Dark Moment

When the hero must face his fears by himself, he has reached the dark moment. This is his lowest point. He’s ready to give up, to throw it all away. He’s lost his mentor, maybe some of his friends, his entire ordinary world, the villain is about to win, and there’s nothing he can do.

This (and the next section) is my favorite part of the Hero’s Journey. There’s nowhere for him to go but up.

I think Emmet’s Dark Moment comes in the Think Tank as the computer counts down to self-destruct. He’s rubberbanded to a battery, his friends are all going to die, he’s not The Special, and Vitruvius is dead.

 

Epiphany

As the hero is wallowing in his despair, he realizes there is something he can do. But it will require either a great sacrifice or facing his deepest fear.

This is his epiphany. His “Aha” Moment.

Emmet’s epiphany comes right after his dark moment. The countdown is nearing its end. But after Ghost Vitruvius delivers a final message, Emmet is ready. He realizes he can save his friends, that he has the power to be special. He jumps into the endless void in order to detach the battery and prevent the self-destruct.

 

Final Battle

The hero is now ready to defeat the external villain since he has conquered his internal antagonist. If he can face that, he can take on anything.

After Emmet wakes up in the human world and retrieves the piece of resistance, he returns to Bricksburg, ready to defeat President Business. While there is no actual battle, he defeats the villain by using the “power of The Special.” He uses the knowledge he gained in his epiphany (that everyone can be special) to convince President Business to stop using the Kragle.

 

Return to the Ordinary World or to a New World

Now that the quest is done, the hero may return home, to his ordinary life, family, and home, like Bilbo does at the end of The Hobbit. Other times, the hero cannot return or chooses not to. In A New Hope, Luke can’t return to his ordinary world, even if he wanted to. He must live in a new world—the world of the Rebellion.

This part isn’t really covered in The LEGO Movie. It ends with a promise of more adventure. Poor Emmet doesn’t even get to catch his breath!

 

I love the Hero’s Journey. Even thought it’s very common, there are so many stories and twists you can put on it!

 

Allison Grace blogs at allisongracewrites.com

What About You? 

Can you think of any other stories with the Hero’s Journey plotline? Do you like the Hero’s Journey? Have you ever gone on an adventure?

 

 

Where’s Glendale?

Glendale being eaten by a T-Rex!
One day, Glendale decided to go for a walk. Suddenly he found himself being eaten by an ice T-Rex!

 

 

Rose of Shannon: A Short Story

Rose of Shannon: A Short Story

Every year I could remember, five people were sent invitations to meet the faerie queen. One morning I found mine under my pillow, perfectly folded with a wax rose for a seal.

I clutched it to my chest, my sweaty fingers smearing the elaborate curlicues on the front. “Don’t you see, Mother? I have to go. This is the chance of a lifetime.” I scrunched my bare toes in the damp grass behind our cottage—more like a hovel, if you asked me. “Everyone says that she’ll grant anything ya want. I could wish us away from this…this dump.”

“Shannon! Watch your mouth, your sister is right there.” Mother glanced at my baby sister who was playing with her rag doll in a mud puddle.

Brea continued mumbling in her toddler talk. Noticing we were looking at her, she squealed, showing her adorable gap-tooth smile. She dropped her doll and wrapped her arms around my leg.

I scooped her up with one arm, being very careful to keep the invitation out of her reach. “I could get Brea a pony. Or ya a new spinning wheel instead of that creaky one. Athair has been wanting a new plow horse too.”

“Horsey!” Brea added as if in agreement. She pulled on my tangled mess of red curls.

Mother plunged her hands into the soapy water and rung out a worn apron over a blooming rose bush. “Ya know the stories. No one ever returns.”

“But,” I began, but she cut me off.

“We McCoys don’t get involved in this kind of foolishness. When I received an invitation, I burned it. My sister was not as wise. And where is she now?” Mother held the apron out to me and pointed to the clothesline, signaling the end of the conversation. “Ya are not going to any castle, invitation or not.”

I shoved the invitation into my pocket and flung the apron over the clothesline next to another worn-out frock. It used to be blue. Now it looked gray. Like storm clouds. Brea pulled the apron off the line before I could pin it up and it fell into the mud.

Perhaps my aunt had wished herself far away from this rotten place. Maybe I’d do the same.

Because I was going. No matter what Mother said.

 

That night, after everyone was asleep, I shoved some bread I’d saved from dinner into a knapsack along with my best dress. I was going to meet a queen, after all, so I might as well look presentable, though I couldn’t do much about my freckles.

I tiptoed past the sleeping forms of my parents and stooped to kiss my Brea’s cheek. “I’ll miss you,” I whispered, brushing a coil of red hair from her forehead. Even asleep, she was as beautiful as an angel straight from heaven.

I opened the door just enough to squeeze through, careful to not let it creak. Without looking back, I took off down the beaten path to the faerie castle, my bare feet kicking up little puffs of dust under the starry sky.

As I skipped down the path, I imagined all the things I could ask for. Jewels, a castle, love, beauty, oh, so many things. To be entirely honest, I hadn’t really thought about what I wanted. I never dreamed that I, Shannon of Éire, would receive an invitation to meet the faerie queen.

After a while, I decided I would be queen of the whole, entire world. When one is queen, what does wealth or beauty mean to you? You have the whole world at your fingertips. No one will mock you for your freckles or too short skirts. And if they would dare, you could throw them in the dungeon.

Perhaps, when I was queen, Mother would see she was wrong all along. Maybe I’d even invite her to my castle. She’d sob at the foot of my throne. “Oh, Your Majesty, I was ever so wrong. Could you ever find it in your benevolent heart to forgive an old woman?”

Then I’d reply, waving my bejeweled hand, “Yes. You can even have a whole wing of the castle to yourself.”

I tripped over a rut in the road and lost my daydream. Stupid carts and horses. When I was queen, I’d outlaw them.

 

A few hours later, the land began to come alive. Sunbeams lit the hills and the dew glowed on the scarlet roses now lining the road. I must be getting close, for three faeries about the size of my palm in green dresses flew across my path, chattering and twinkling like fallen stars.

The faerie castle came into view as I came to the top of a little rise in the road. The spires reached like fingers to heaven, pointing to the brilliant sunrise. The path to the door was lined with even more dew-kissed roses, the petals reaching for me. I tripped on a root of some sort, but the guards didn’t seem to notice. They let me in without question, not even asking to see my invitation.

This is really happening. My heart thumped so fast I pressed a hand to my chest for fear that it would jump out.

Two young men and two young women clutching invitations already stood in the grand foyer. They stopped whispering when they saw me.

“She has been waiting.” Another guard opened an elaborate door. “Proceed one at a time to make your wish.”

The others went ahead of me in silence. I heard a soft buzzing near my ear. Assuming it was a fly, I swatted. It dodged my hand, then alighted on my shoulder.

“Wish for anything but beauty. Or do not wish at all,” a small faerie whispered in my ear, her musical voice tinged with a warning.

I scoffed and brushed her off. “I shall have no need of beauty when I am queen. I shall have anything I want.”

As she fluttered away, she whispered, “Remember.”

I smirked. Who did this faerie think I was? A foolish girl who only desired good looks and love? Ha, I’d show her, when I was queen.

The guard motioned for me. I walked down a long hall lined with scarlet carpet so deep my bare feet almost disappeared. Mirrors lined one wall, reflecting my frizzy red hair, an extra generous helping of freckles, dull gray eyes, as well as the massive windows opposite, which overlooked a rose garden. I noticed I had forgotten to change into my good dress. Oh well, when I was queen I would have finer gowns than that old rag.

My stomach clenched as I saw the throne. It towered over me at the far end of the hall. Two guards stood at the bottom, dressed immaculately in deep red. Even more roses and vines surrounded the throne, leaves open in a desperate plea.

The woman on the throne was larger than most faeries, even than most men, but I guess when she could grant wishes, she could be as big as she wanted. Her black hair fell in a waterfall down her back and her green eyes glistened like dewy grass in a face so flawless it nearly glowed.

“What is your wish, dearest?” Her voice was smoother than warm honey, but with a tinge of vinegar, barely noticeable, yet still there.

I opened my mouth. “I wish for…” My eyes caught a glimpse of my tangled red hair, sunburned cheeks, scattered freckles, and gangly limbs in a mirror behind her throne. The words died on my tongue.

How ugly. 

The roses seemed to plead for me to run away. I could have sworn they whispered to me.

No, no, no.

I swallowed. What queen ever concerned herself with beauty? I started again. “I wish for…” My mouth wouldn’t form the words running through my mind. Instead, I blurted out, “I wish for beauty.”

“Your wish is granted.” The queen smiled and extended her golden scepter.

I felt a change come over me, starting in my chest and spreading outward like vines.

I looked in the mirror—no freckles, no red hair, no gangly limbs.

Only a rosebush with tiny red buds.

“Guard. Take this new rose to the garden.” She paused to give a cool smile. “She will look quite beautiful there.”

 

 

 

Plantsers

Plantsers

Today I’m going to wrap up this blog series with my own “outlining personality.”

If you’ve missed the earlier posts, you can read them here:

Pantser

Planner

 

Now I’m certainly no planner, but I’m not a complete pantser. I’m what is known as a plantser—one who grows plants. 🌵🌱🌷

Actually, that’s not the technical definition of a plantser. (Though I have an affinity for growing and killing 🥀plants.) I’m not even sure there is an official definition.

So I shall give you one.

A plantser is someone who both outlines and writes by the seat of their pants.

Plantsers seem like a paradox, don’t they?

But it’s entirely possible to do both. I’m living proof!

 

How I Plan

I’ve tried to do formal outlines. I’ve tried The One Year Adventure Novel.

Something about detailed outlines drives me crazy. It takes the fun out of writing for me.

I’m more of a “let me scribble a bunch of important stuff on a legal pad, then forget about it” kind of outliner. At the very most, I might even write out a few bullet points.

My mom had me try to outline Checkmate, which was good in some ways (it showed me that I do have a bit of a planner in me and that I had way too many traps 😅), but after I finished it, I totally disregarded it.

The majority of outlining that I do I call “head-writing.” That basically means I write the scene in my head before I write it out on paper.

Partially because I get all my good ideas while washing dishes or taking a shower and water + paper = not good. Partially because I think it’s really fun.

It’s like watching a movie in your head on repeat until you know it by heart. I’ll go over the idea until I have little details worked out (such as how someone is standing, the location of the knife, the layout of the building, etc.). That way, when I actually have a good sized chunk of time to write, I can get a lot of words out. Mostly because I’m really excited about the scene that’s been living in my head, but also because I have somewhere to start instead of staring at that evil blinking cursor.

 

How I Pants

I love pantsing!

When a little plot bunny comes sneaking around, I’m more than happy to follow it down winding trails. Most of the time, it ends up better than I had planned. Other times, I have to do more re-writing because it changed a bunch of stuff.

For example, one of my main characters (My personal favorite. Shh, don’t tell him.) was simply supposed to be a “spear-carrier”—in other words, an extra. Just there to fight the bad guys and probably die like side characters always do. Then one day (while doing dishes), it occurred to me, “What if I give this guy a POV? And what if he has this backstory?” The rest is history. He promptly took over the last half of Draft 1 and 2.

One thing I’ve learned with my little bit of writing experience is “trust your gut.” If you think it’s awkward it probably is. So if you think you should follow a plot bunny, you should.

 

So, now you know about all about planners, pantsers, and plantsers.

It’s important for every writer to understand their writing process. No one way is better than another. There are also differing degrees of each process—some outline every scene, others only do bullet points.

Your process might not fit the patterns we’ve talked about over the last three weeks.

 

Your Turn!

What’s your writing process? Are you a planner? A pantser? Do you have houseplants?

Allison Grace blogs at allisongracewrites.com

Where’s Glendale?

Glendale rides a squeagle
Glendale has returned! While he was away, he had many adventures, one of which was riding a squeagle–a man-eating (and elf-eating) bird of prey. And this picture is actually to scale. He is lucky he lived to tell the tale! And no, squeagles aren’t typically made of ice. 😋

 

Outlining: Guest Post by Kate Korsak

Outlining: Guest Post by Kate Korsak

Today my friend Kate Korsak is going to talk about being an outliner!

 

About Kate

Kate Korsak

 

Kate Korsak is a seventeen-year-old fantasy writer, who found her love for writing the she was eleven. Now homeschooled and living in Florida, Kate spends most of her time working on her current writing projects. A love for reading, writing, and God keeps her moving forward and working hard in hopes of one day publishing her works!

 

Planning (a.k.a. Outlining)

Plotting a story is time-consuming, and can make some writers uneasy, but outlining a story is the most organized way to write, and if you’re like me, it is well worth your time.

An outline is defined as, “a general description or plan giving the essential features of something but not the detail”, which means a plotter or ‘outliner’ is a writer who plans the important parts of their project before they begin, and add the detail as they go. You’ll spend hours, days, or even weeks planning out your project before you even begin to write. This may sound tedious at first, but for some people, we prefer to know exactly what we’re doing before we start to do it, and outlining your project will give you a path to follow as you write your story.

The first step to outlining your story is starting with an idea. My novel began with the idea of a young boy who accidently becomes king. I sat with the idea a bit until I had a bit of a story thought up. The boy finds a stone that makes him king and he travels around his world to earn the right to be ruler. I liked the idea, but I wasn’t ready to start writing yet.

With an idea of what kind of story I wanted to tell, I sat down and wrote out different ideas for where I wanted the story to go. Where does the boy travel? Who does he travel with? Who is he fighting against? With questions down, I began to pick the ones I thought would best fit the story and put them in order. I gave him companions of his journey and a good reason to fight against the current rulers. My story was beginning to come together, and I liked where it was headed. From there, I moved on to the next step.

After putting together a rough plan, I began working on the details. I started by spending a lot of time with the characters and their world, learning places, personalities, and backstories before I began on the story itself. When I was comfortable with my characters and their setting, I went back to my rough idea and started the outline. (I used an outlining method from Young Writers Workshop.) When I was finished, It looked something like this:

Opening Scene

In Gumbee Forest, Baldwin has his map, his brother, Hadwin, takes him to the caves

Inciting Event

Baldwin finds the stone but tries to take it back

First Plot Point

Baldwin leaves with Areli, Bagus, and Hadwin to Igozi forest

Midpoint

Battle with the Dragon Queen, Baldwin can’t destroy her staff, he gains her powers as ruler

Third Plot Point

Go to Volrod for help, find Bagus stole his stone from the princess of Volrod

Climax

Leave Volrod and are met with the Elitar army, Hadwin is sent home with the dragons

Conclusion

Loose to Elitar and are taken prisoner

 

As you can see, this story will continue in another book, but for now, this is the outline for the first book. All of the major points are written down and I know where I am going with the story and how I’m going to get there.

With your outline complete, you are ready to begin writing your story! Just start with the opening and work your way down the outline, connecting each plot point to the next until you reach the conclusion. It’s important to remember that, as you are writing, you may find that you don’t like the direction your story is headed and that’s okay! Just re-adjust your outline and continue writing. Your outline is flexible, and as a writer, you have every right to change it as needed.

Plotting a story isn’t for everyone, but it may be exactly what you need to get your story going!

 

Be sure to check out Kate’s blog! https://katekorsak.wordpress.com/ 

Pantser: Guest Post by Rebecca Reed

Pantser: Guest Post by Rebecca Reed

Today begins a new blog series! We’re going to be talking about the different writers: pantsers (those who write without an outline), plotters (those who outline), and plantsers (an interesting mix of both pantsers and plotters).

Our first post is about pantsers, written by my friend Rebecca Reed! Before we get into the actual post, she made the perfect meme for this series!

Pantser vs. Plotter

 

About Rebecca

Rebecca Reed

Rebecca Reed is a former jockey and current Spanish teacher, track coach, drama director, and lover of God, animals, music, travel, and all things word-related. She lives in rural Indiana with her husband, Brad, Ziva (her huge, fruit-loving dog), and a multitude of cats, rabbits, and cows. She has 6 children (2 of whom are exchange students from Ukraine), and 2 grandchildren. Occasionally, athletes will adopt her as their “track mom.” She is addicted to audiobooks, is genuinely weird at times, firmly believes that words have power, and is blessed to have been given the gift of using them to communicate in multiple languages, and create stories designed to break chains and encourage positive choices.

 

Pantsers

I am a new writer. No. That’s not quite accurate. I am a long-time writer new to the “writing for publication” world. When I first felt God calling me to do more with my writing than simply write, I thought I knew what I was doing. Now that I’ve been at this for about a year, I realize I know next to nothing. That said, I am defining the term “pantser” as it applies to the way I write. Others, more experienced than me, may have a different bent to the definition, but this is how I see it.

 

A “pantser,” or “seat of the pants” writer, is a writer who begins a story or novel with little planning. Some people begin with a character, and build the story around her. Others begin with a setting or perhaps the basic idea for a plot. What would happen if a giant gorilla invaded New York City? Still others will plan the basic plot with a concise outline or map, write out details about their characters, maybe even plan out a small character arc. But when they actually begin the story, the characters take on a life of their own and the plot may take a complete left turn. That’s okay with a pantser.

 

Pantsers enjoy the pure thrill of sitting down to a blank computer screen and filling it with words the characters dictate. They may feel that an outline limits the flexibility and spontaneity they value. My first novel was written for a contest. I had never been trained on how to write a novel, so I did not intentionally sit down one day and decide I would write it as a pantser. I wrote that way because I didn’t know any other way.

 

Since then, I have discovered my ideal style may be that of a “plantser,” which is a hybrid between the true pantser who never outlines or writes out their ideas ahead of time, and a “plotter,” who plans each scene (or at least each major scene) prior to writing the first word.

 

My second novel began in the pantser manner, but not knowing the ending, created a really long and meandering saggy middle. I began to jot down ideas for scenes that would get me to my desired ending. I’ve tried to follow those ideas, but find that my characters refuse to go the route I’m asking them to take. I guess that means, at least for the time being, I remain a pantser.

 

The true joy of a pantser is that freedom to go wherever the words take you. Many of my best scenes have been ones I could never have foreseen when first conceptualizing the story and the characters. Characters are living beings inside a pantser’s head, and they do, indeed, take over at times. Yes, many times, a pantser is required to go back and rewrite, revise and edit more than a plotter, but it is up to you as a writer to decide whether you wish to spend the time up front in plotting or after the first draft in revising. In my opinion, a mix of the two is probably the most effective, and while I may become a plantser, it is unlikely I will ever become a plotter.

 

To find out more about Rebecca’s writing journey or her thoughts on other topics visit https://rebeccareedwrites.com/