BOREDOM

It’s summer, and I’m done school! (sorry to those of you still stuck in exams)

However, it’s sad to say, I’ve been done for about three days, and i’m already bored out of my mind.

I mean it’s supposed to be summer! You know, you sit around doing nothing, doing whatever you want. Yeah, uh, I don’t do very well with that. All throughout the school year, I had lots and lots of homework, and I  just never(or almost never) had the time to do something I wanted to do, especially the last couple of weeks with exams and summatives and other fun stuff like that. So now that I don’t have that to occupy my mind space, I have to find something else. My problem though, is that the stuff I would do during the year was really superficial, give-my-mind-a-break kind of stuff, whereas now my brain is being a couch potato and doing nothing. It’s sad.

So what to do when boredom threatens to drain your life of everything that is fun in life?

I like to write. I’ve expressed that before on this blog, and I’ll say it again: I like to write. I like writing what I read; fantasy/sci-fi, historical and Christian fiction. I’ll sometimes dabble in poetry but that really doesn’t work that well…

However, lately I haven’t been able to come up with stuff, and it has been easy to see me just staring at my computer with maybe one or two lines written, and a full empty page in front of me. So what do I do?

I really don’t know. I think the best thing to do is just pick something that’s going through your head and just start writing, even if it’s nonsense. If that doesn’t work, then just go do something else for a bit, but if you’re plagued with that boredom (like I was) that no matter what you do, nothing is fun, well, I’m not sure I can help you. The way I conquered it for today was I found something was fun to do, and then the rest of the things kind of work easier now. For the first thing, I’m writing my first blog post in like a month or more, and for the second, I’m actually having a lot of fun doing it.

So my recommendation, if you’re stuck with that soul-draining boredom that slowly eats away at any kind of pleasure you may or may not have, keep trying things, eventually you’ll find something that helps. If not, just go eat chocolate. It does seem to help.

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TCWT Blog Chain Post

This month’s TCWT blog chain post prompt was:

“How does music relate to your writing?” 

THANK YOU to John for picking a much easier topic this month than last month. This is going to be so much fun. Here we go!

I’ll start off with a quote by Victor Hugo:

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent.”

In this way, are writers and music not alike? As writers, we come up (hopefully) with these amazing ideas and concepts that can’t be explained to anyone directly. They’re a mystery to everyone around us, but in our heads, they’re their own world. But don’t try keeping it shut up or locked away in a silent corner. Each time, it’ll burst out and yell “Pay attention to me! I’m important!” Most of the time, they’ll burst out at the oddest moments. Sometimes, it’ll be because you see something related, but other times it’ll come up out of nowhere, bursting in, dragging along ideas to add to it, make it better.

So if writers and music are so alike, there are two possible scenarios that happen when they’re combined. One, they become the best of friends and are inseparable. The writer soon has earbuds in about 24-7, and they often draw inspiration from their music. Two, they’re too alike and push each other away. The writer can’t concentrate with the music surrounding them constantly. They turn it down, turn it off, push it away.

There are both types of writers in this world, with a majority of the first type. Personally, I’m the first type. If I’m at my desk working or at school doing independent work, I’ll often have music on. I have music on right now. It helps me focus by drowning out the outside noise, and especially if it’s familiar music, it gives me something to do, whether it be humming/singing along/tapping my foot, while writing/working which actually helps me concentrate. However, if I’m doing things like studying for a test, or doing something that requires deep thinking, the music distracts me. However, I often have vocal music on, so maybe just having instrumental would not induce the need to shut it off. So maybe I’m a little in between types one and two.

As to what I listen to while writing, well, that’s another question. I haven’t really got a list of what I listen to specifically while writing, though there’s a great series of more instrumental writing music on YouTube (type writing music into the search bar, and it’ll be one of the first that comes up, it’s got a galaxy background). I’m not trying to promote anyone’s stuff, it’s just what I found to be amazing. It has different genres of music mixed in, with some almost haunting things, lots of movie soundtracks (I’ll talk more about those later) and other higher energy music. Apart from that, I listen to whatever I’ve got. I’m listening to a playlist of a bunch of music I have, and according to iTunes, it’s a mixture of rock, pop, alternative, inspirational, and religious. Yeah. It varies from time to time what exactly I’m listening to.

Currently, my favourite artist/band is Switchfoot. They have a very interesting range of songs that cross several genres. My favourite full album is Nothing is Sound, and I don’t have one favourite song. There are so many good ones. While they won’t attract all audiences due to the fact that they are a Christian band, but still appeal to many, because they appeal to things everyone faces: loneliness, hurt, betrayal, happiness, being yourself, not changing for others, etc. they say themselves that they are “Christian by faith, not by genre”.

Because of their diverse city in melodies and beats and all around tone and musicality, they fit for lots of different writing types. Some have a much more indie feel to them, others are more rock, others are bordering on pop. Their lyrics are some of the strangest I’ve heard, one line sometimes making no sense in the context of the last. But altogether each song is a masterpiece.

Some of my other favourite artists: TobyMac, Tenth Avenue North, and Group 1 Crew.

MOVIE SOUNDTRACKS have got to be writer’s best friends. They have such differing sounds, yet are recognizable. One time, I was listening to a mix of soundtracks for writing, and one came up, and I knew that it was from the Narnia movies just from listening to it. And while this may be because I’ve seen the movies too much, which I doubt, it was immediately recognizable. In short. I LOVE MOVIE SOUNDTRACKS. I love listening to them for writing.

To all you writers out there, keep at your task of showing others the amazing worlds hidden inside your heads, and enjoy music from time to time. Try something new you haven’t heard before.

(Kudos to all those who found the reference to TobyMac in this post)

Enjoy the rest of these posts on music

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6thhttp://jasperlindell.blogspot.com/ and http://vergeofexisting.wordpress.com/

7thhttp://novelexemplar.wordpress.com/

8thhttp://www.juliathewritergirl.com/

9thhttp://www.freeasagirlwithwings.wordpress.com/

10thhttps://ramblingsofaravis.wordpress.com/ (you’re here)

11thhttp://butterfliesoftheimagination.wordpress.com/ andhttp://www.pamelanicolewrites.com/

12thhttp://randommorbidinsanity.blogspot.com/

13thhttp://miriamjoywrites.com/ andhttp://whileishouldbedoingprecal.weebly.com/

14thhttp://kirabudge.weebly.com/

15thhttp://lillianmwoodall.wordpress.com/ andhttp://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/

16thhttp://theedfiles.blogspot.com/ andhttp://fantasiesofapockethuman.blogspot.com/

17thhttp://irisbloomsblog.wordpress.com/ andhttp://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/

18thhttp://semilegacy.blogspot.com/ and http://from-stacy.blogspot.com/

19thhttp://horsfeathersblog.wordpress.com/

20thhttps://clockworkdesires.wordpress.com/

21sthttps://stayandwatchthestars.wordpress.com/ andhttp://arielkalati.blogspot.com/

22ndhttp://loonyliterate.com/ andhttps://www.mirrormadeofwords.wordpress.com/

23rdhttp://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/

24thhttp://themagicviolinist.blogspot.com/ andhttp://allisonthewriter.wordpress.com/

25thhttp://missalexandrinabrant.wordpress.com/

26thhttp://awritersfaith.blogspot.com/ andhttp://thelonglifeofalifelongfangirl.wordpress.com/

27thhttp://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/ andhttp://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/

28th – https://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ 

TCWT Blog Chain Post

This month’s TCWT blog chain prompt was:

“What is something you feel is generally written well in fiction?What is something you feel is generally written poorly?”

I’m going to focus on just the first part, what I feel is generally written well.

Warning: Spoilers will be given for Light of Eidon and Lord of the Flies

So when I was first given the 9th as my date, I was confident that it would be quite simple to write about. However, as the days passed and I started to truly think on the topic of what I was supposed to write, I was a little scared. This kind of post was outside my comfort zone; I didn’t get to pick the topic myself, and I didn’t know what to write.

Then I asked myself Is there anything in a few books you’ve read recently that you really enjoyed? Didn’t like?

I thought about this a while. I was grasping at straws. I was coming up with nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. I was kinda starting to panic, because I had two days to write it and edit and I still had no idea whatsoever what I wanted to write, and I knew I’d be getting homework assigned soon, so i wouldn’t have much time.

Then I thought back to one of my favourite books of all time (see description here), Light of Eidon by Karen Hancock. It’s pretty much centered around this huge battle between good and evil or light and dark if you will. All of a sudden, all these examples popped into my head of books wherein take place good and evil. Most, if not all fiction is centered around one thing: conflict. And what is conflict? Here is Dictionary.com’s definition: a fight, battle, or struggle, especially a prolonged struggle; strife.  Light and dark, good and evil, are in a constant battle. It is mostly the protagonist’s role to battle the evil and overcome it.

This conflict is found everywhere, not just in literature. From The Creation of Adam to The Hunger Games to Julius Caesar,  it is visible in any aspect of our society. But today, I’m going to look at the aforementioned Light of Eidon. 


In this book, the battle is fought against good and evil on both the physical and spiritual planes. The main character, Abramm Kalladorne, a prince who has given up his titles and inheritance to join a religious order, is sold into slavery by his power-hungry brothers. He is put into the Games, gladiator-like fights, and is forced to fight for his life. He escapes, and goes to a canyon-ous landscape, where he is instrumental in delaying the dark forces, and he fights the emperor of the dark country.

Abramm, representing the force of good, has to fight against physical and spiritual manifestations of evil throughout the entire book, from a false religion that seeks to ensnare him in its clutches and demonic possession, as well as “shadowspawn” physical manifestations of evil spawned by the evil desires of man who inject people with spore that can make them sick.

Abramm’s entire journey and character arc is based on his transition from the false religion, which served the same god in name only, truly it was something altogether different, to the true one, and overcoming his preconceived notions about said religion. He warms to it, then jerks back, horrified with himself for what he’s doing, because he’d been taught all his life that the followers of that religion were heretics, and they tortured people like nobody’s business.

Both the forces of light and dark are grappling to pull him over to their side, as he is to play a very important role in the future of all the countries surrounding them.


Another, more well-known example of the struggle between light and dark, good and evil is William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. For those of you who don’t know it, it’s about a group of English schoolboys who are sent away from England because it wasn’t safe anymore, as they were experiencing Golding’s WWIII. Their plane crashes on an idyllic island, and it all seems like a great adventure. But they soon struggle to fight against the “beast”, later named the Lord of the Flies, which is the evil and savagery that is inside each and every person.

The beast is, in this book, the dark side. The boys all fight it at first, following Ralph and Piggy, the last remainders of civilization on the island. When Jack and his hunters drift off, however, they give themselves over slowly to the beast, to the dark and savage impulses that lie in each and every one of us. What Ralph and Piggy, represent, civilization and rational thought, suppresses the beast. But when the boys are freed from the civilization, the beast is unchained, and out comes the savagery.

Ralph stays the “good guy” throughout the entire book, pretty much just sticking to laws and common sense and rationality. The beginning of the book sees him calling the other boys out from the jungle to the beach, pulling them out of the shadows into the daylight. The end of the book finds him running for his life, the boys who have given into their savage impulses are chasing him, smoking him out of the jungle to the beach where they can kill him and stick his head on a stick like they did with the sow’s head.

So to overview, in this book the dark side (savagery(beast), Jack) clashes with the light side (civilization/rational thought, Ralph). And, considering it’s a classic, it has achieved more than a superficial fight between two groups of boys; it has shown us what human nature can do when let loose of all constraints.

*Lord of the Flies analysis based on the analysis from Litcharts.com

Though these are just two examples and I’m not the best explainer ever, I hope you understand what I mean. Light and dark or good and evil are very prevalent forces in almost any story you can find, whether it’s written or drawn or painted or told. It is a deciding element wherever it is present.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed this. Don’t forget to read the other posts of this month’s TCWT blog chain.

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TCWT: teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com

Blog posts in January:

5 http://whileishouldbedoingprecal.weebly.com/
6 http://jasperlindell.blogspot.com.au/
7 http://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/ and http://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/
8 http://www.miriamjoywrites.com/
9 https://ramblingsofaravis.wordpress.com/ (You are here)
10 http://semilegacy.blogspot.com/
11 http://kirabudge.weebly.com/
12 http://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/
13 http://maralaurey.wordpress.com/
14 http://dynamicramblings.wordpress.com/
15 http://theedfiles.blogspot.com.au/
16 http://horsfeathersblog.wordpress.com/
17 http://juliathewritergirl.com/
18 http://butterfliesoftheimaginationa.wordpress.com/
19 http://gallopingfree.wordpress.com/
20 http://alwaysopinionatedgirl.wordpress.com/
21 http://deorahcocheleau.wordpress.com/
22 http://irisbloomsblog.wordpress.com/
23 http://clockworkdesires.wordpress.com/
24 http://introspectioncreative.wordpress.com/
25 http://wanderinginablur.blogspot.com/
26 http://anotefromthenerd.wordpress.com/
27 http://randommorbidinsanity.wordpress.com/
28 http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/

Acronym vs. Initialism

SCUBA, FBI, CIA, LASER, AA, NHL, KFC.
There are a multitude of these short forms all over the place. They’re all acronyms right?
Nope, sorry. They’re not. Most of them are actually initialisms. They are quite similar, but they are still different.

Initialism

Initialisms, if you didn’t guess already, are when you pronounce each single letter of the short forms. For FBI, no one says “febie” and no one says for CIA “sia”. One thing I’ve noticed is that Americans are very good at coming up with initialisms: I can think of at least 30. (If you don’t believe me; government agencies, universities, sports leagues, they all have them)

Acronyms

Acronyms are much more well known by the general public than initialisms. SCUBA (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) and LASER (Light amplification by the stimulation of emitted radiation) are acronyms, cause we say them all as complete words, and not as their individual letters. I find scientists are quite fond of these.

Hopefully you won’t mix them up anymore. To be honest, I don’t mix the two up, I mix up acronyms and anachronisms (an object or expression in the wrong time and/or place). It’s really quite annoying, because most people know what an acronym is, but not many people know what an anachronism is. So I’m talking to someone, and we get into a conversation like the above post, and it goes a little like this:

“So did you know that FBI is actually an Initialism and not an anachronism?” Cue the strange glances and questions of my sanity. I meanwhile thought I said acronym, and so I don’t have a clue as to why they’re looking at me so strangely.
“Uh okay, but what’s an anachronism?”
“What?”
“You said that FBI was actually an initialism and not an anachronism.”
“Ugh. I’ve done it again. Sorry, anachronism isn’t the word I want. What do you call words like SCUBA or LASER?”
“Acronyms?”
“Yeah that’s it. Thanks.”
So yeah, that’s kinda annoying.

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Pantsing: Pros and Cons

The first thing that pops into my head when I hear the word pantsing makes me think of standing in a middle school cafeteria lunch line, waiting for my turn, and someone coming and yanking my pants down. In an instant, without preparation.
This is what pantsing is in the literary world too: not stopping to plan out an idea, but just going for it and writing it out. Some people like this method, others don’t. There have been books published on both pantsing and plotting, praising one and denouncing another. for example, one of my favourite authors, Steven James, much prefers the pantsing method, but other authors prefer the plotting method. Today’s post is going to focus on the pantsing method, and its pros and cons, and later this week I’ll do one on the plotting method.

Pros

Instant writing gratification: start writing right away, you don’t have to slog through all the planning steps that make your story seem so much less attractive than it did at the beginning.

Freer writing: no constraints to a script, so when a better idea comes along, just go with it and fix it later.

Cons

Many drafts: If you want to change something (e.g. a character or points in a plot, you often have to rewrite the entire draft to fit these changes. If 300 pages into your book you look back and realize your character has no motivation, you’re much more likely to shrug it off and keep writing than rewrite the entire 300 pages.

Plot tangles: Often, as mentioned before, a better idea comes along than the current one, and then you start off on that tangent, and you find that your first half of the novel is totally wrong for the second, better half.

I know there are only two points for each, and there are plenty more, but I didn’t want to make this one too long.

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Montreal: Similes, Metaphors, and Analogies

So this past week I got the privilege of spending some time in Montreal. After being in Paris for a couple days this past summer, I can see why they call Montreal the Paris of the North. The narrow cobbled streets, the apartment buildings with many windows, and even the Notre-Dame Cathedral are much the same as in Paris. Of course, they are different, with Montreal being at least 1000 years younger than Paris, but walking through the cramped streets of Old Montreal, you felt like you were transported to Europe. It was interesting to make a comparison between the two cities.

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Above: Buildings in Paris (left) and Montreal (right)

Below: Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris (left) and Montreal (right)

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In writing, we have special expressions to describe these comparisons. Most people will know them, of course, but I figured I’d explain about them and about a couple others.

Simile: a comparison between two things using the word like or as. These are possibly the most used yet most unrecognized expression in the English language.

Examples:
He roared like a lion.
My heart beat as fast as a gazelle

Metaphor: A comparison between two objects, similar to a simile, except there is no use of like or as. A metaphor can be stated outright “He is a rock” or it can be subtly implied. A famous metaphor is created by John Green in his bestselling YA book, the Fault in our Stars. Augustus Waters, the secondary character and love interest of the protagonist, has a very interesting metaphor: put a cigarette in your mouth, but don’t light it. You put the thing that kills you between your teeth but you don’t give it the power to kill you. Read more about this book here.

Analogy: a comparison between the features of two or more things. (e.g. school is a prison, the students are the prisoners and the teachers the wardens.) Related to a metaphor, but not quite the same. This is comparing parts, where a metaphor looks more at a whole.

These are all called literary devices, and are used greatly in the English world, a lot of the time without people realizing it. They are often used in essay and commentary writing, and high school teachers love it when you can identify them.

They are used in all kinds of works, and there are even several in this post. I wrote them in by accident, and they’re rather deceptive. They sneak in when you least expect it.

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Novels… (Part Two)

So with yesterday’s post about how my novels never really end up all that great, I figured I’d do a post on what I find makes novels better.  It’ll cover things like structure and dialogue, and  and I hope it helps.

Structure

While it’s true that there are different kinds of writers in this world, those that outline and those that do many many drafts, every novelist, if they want to get published, has to follow a story structure. At first glance, it looks very rigid, but really it’s quite flexible, and it reinforces your story; it’s the skeleton frame upon which you add the muscle and flesh of your story, but it can move to do the things you want it to.

A quick summary of the structure

Story Structure

It might be kinda blurry… sorry. This is just a quick diagram of story structure. If you want to learn about it more in detail, I recommend going to the website of a great author who has an amazing collection of advice and tips. It’s where I learned most of the stuff I know about story structure and storytelling in general.

Description

Description is an amazing tool, and without it there wouldn’t be much difference between reading fiction and academic reports. However, it is a tool that is to be used in moderation; dumping too much description on a reader causes your story to drag along, perhaps causing them to put it down and pick up something else. Not something we want as writers. We want to capture the reader with enough description to allow them to picture what you’re describing, but not without a little imagination.

Creativity/Originality 

Simply put, original and creative ideas are a must. Just copying someone else’s work and adding a couple new words or paragraphs doesn’t make it yours. I mean, sure, if you want to write a modernization of an old novel, like Steven James’ Celestia, a modernization of A Pilgrim’s Progress, that works, but change it up. Set it in a different setting and time, change the characters. Make it your own. But don’t just copy an idea off of someone else.

Dialogue

Without dialogue, a novel would be very uninteresting. The characters would fall flat, and the story would feel like it drags along the street behind a one year old learning to walk, AKA very slow. Dialogue is what breathes life into characters, showing their unique personalities and missions. If done right, it pushes the story ahead, providing many opportunities for foreshadowing and plot twists.

Hope this helps a little bit. For anyone wishing to learn more about these things, click here.

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