What to Do When You Hate Your Story

When You Hate Your Story - Chaotic Deluge

As writers, we often have a love/hate relationship with our stories. One minute they fill us with excitement and give us a reason to get up in the morning. The next, we’re pulling our hair out because they make us so angry. Sometimes, you can jump between these two feelings by the minute. I’ve done that before! And at the worst times, it can feel like there’s no point to your story — like you might as well stop now and get a new hobby.

We’ve all been there, believe me! You’re not alone! In fact, it’s so normal that I’d worry if you didn’t feel that way from time to time. I don’t think you need to spend your whole time writing with a sour look on your face. No! It’s just important to feel like you’re helpless from time to time. After all, writing isn’t an easy task. So hating your story is an important part of the writing process. It gives you a chance to do something about it and make your story even better.

But it’s not healthy to stay in that place. Sure, it’s a good idea to feel those feelings from time to time. However, letting them take over is going to cripple you and stop you from writing anything at all! That’s why it’s so important to strike that right balance. And here are the best tips to getting back on your feet when you hate your story.

Read moreWhat to Do When You Hate Your Story

3 Weird Ways to Improve Your Characters

Art model covered in paint - weird ways to improve your characters

When it comes to planning your characters, it’s best to think outside of the box. No one likes boring, over-done and repetitive characters! That’s why you need to put a lot of thought into what you make. If you can think of weird and unique ways to improve your characters, you’re going to have an edge over everyone else out there. You’ll have new things to write about and lots of material to think about when you have writer’s block.

In this day and age, there are so many different things we can use to make our stories great if we put some thought into it. So why wouldn’t we take the time to use what we have? It only seems natural to me! I don’t know about you, but I’m so bored of using the same old character creation tools. I expect to be blown away by them every time! And it doesn’t happen. It’s time for us to shake up the way we look at things.

That’s exactly what we’re here to do. These methods are going to be strange, but will really help you if you give them a chance! Keep your mind open and take all of these tips on board. Of course, they are going to be weird. That’s the point! But give them a chance. I promise that they will really help you improve the way you write your characters.

Read more3 Weird Ways to Improve Your Characters

What Sells on Episode?

If you tap into the romance genre, you can sell as well as Episode

If you want to write something that will get lots of views, you’re not alone. Yes, some people might call it selling out, but I beg to differ! It is fair enough if you spend time thinking about your readers and what you can do to make them happy. After all, who wouldn’t want to get reads for all of their hard work? So all of you authors probably want to know what sells on Episode. I mean, there’s no harm in knowing! Even if you decide that making popular stories isn’t for you, it is great to know your competition.

To be honest, I don’t even see it as selling out if you add a few tropes that you know will get attention. You just need to make sure that you care more about making a story you love. It’s only selling out if you let your money-making needs take over the plot and quality of what you make. It’s all about taking some of the story points that sell and making something new and unique that hasn’t been done before. I’ve spoken about “the same, but different” in my post on writing Episode stories, and this is the best way to do it. Make stories that people will recognise, but make them new and fresh!

So sit back and relax. It doesn’t matter if you end up using these selling points or not! Knowing the things that sell helps you to use them and avoid them. If you’re keen on building your audience, you could start with a story full of cliches, then move onto something more you once you have loyal readers. You can always learn something from the popular stuff in stories if you keep your eyes open.

Read moreWhat Sells on Episode?

Waste Not Want Not: Hold Onto All Those “Bad Ideas”

So you’re in the shower, scrubbing away when a fantastic idea hits you. It consumes you like wildfire, leaving you with a fervour for writing that you may have forgotten you had in the past few weeks. You think of the intricate plot and allow individual scenes to flood your mind. Vivid images of your new characters walk in and out of your head. You’re hooked on this idea, and you rush out of the bathroom, towel trailing awkwardly after you, in pursuit of somewhere you can scribble down your notes before everything leaks out of your head. You do just that and survey your work with a look of utter triumph on your face. It’s been a long time since you felt so satisfied, and you’re ready to dive right into your new world… once you’ve dried your dripping hair and put some clothes on, of course.

The problem is that when you get back to your desk, armed with a pen and a sense of determination, you start to notice the holes in your story. It seems to have reduced in quality significantly in the time it took you to dress yourself. Now you realise that the characters’ motivations seem to be off… there doesn’t seem to be any point to anything, and everything just seems… well… bad. You spend a few minutes, hours, or even days trying to correct it, but you can feel a deep sense of revulsion growing in the pit of your stomach, working its way up to create a lump in your throat. This idea is just no good. You don’t even know why you thought it was in the first place. You wasted all that time you could have spent doing something else… like having a longer shower. You pick up your notes and, shoulders sagging with defeat, rip them into as many pieces as you’re strong enough to muster, then throw the whole thing in the bin.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? I’m sure we’ve all been there. Such is the woe of being an amateur writer, after all.

close up photography of crumpled paper
Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

Well, I’m sorry to tell you this, but you’re all wrong. What you did was stupid. All those good ideas – yes, they were probably a lot better than you’d led yourself to believe – thrown into the bin! Shame on you! So I’m here to tell you what you should do in the future to make yourself a much better writer.

Read moreWaste Not Want Not: Hold Onto All Those “Bad Ideas”

My New Godsend: The Ultimate Planning Resource!

So, over the years, I have been looking for a story planning resource that will help me formulate and compile all my complex fantastical stories in a way that is understandable, accessible and removes the time-consuming elements of planning a whole universe. I would sit there with thousands of ideas, and they would remain in my head, only to slowly leak out again because I didn’t have the patience to write down all of my thoughts and I found the ones I had written down really difficult to sort through when I’m looking for small details. I gave up attempting to plan my stories before writing them, sticking to a short 2000 word summary of what I wanted to happen at the beginning, middle and end. However, what that meant is that all the beautiful ideas I had in Chapter One would either have to be put into the story there and then, or I would have to see if they would survive the passage of time and the slow leaking of my memories, so that I can place them in Chapter Ten instead.

So what the hell was I supposed to do? I tried so many different apps and ended up spending a fortune on Persona, Timeline 3D and MacFamilyTree 8 for my MacBook Pro in the vain attempt to compile all my data into timelines and family trees and character profiles. It did somewhat help, but having to use three apps for planning stories caused so, so many issues. There are too many of them, so I’ll just mention a few that really affected me.

For one, I was forced to work on four documents when writing down the original draft of a chapter to keep my facts straight. Sometimes I would employ my iPad on the side so that I didn’t have to keep opening app after app and feeling a little bit lost.

Secondly, there was the problem of the fact that each app only had one function. One could help me understand the elaborate makeup of the Royal Family, but it didn’t help me to cross-reference this with who was in charge of the country when a specific war was going on and how they would have contributed to the growing tension, for example. That would involve me going back to the timeline and cross-referencing it with the Family Tree app, then looking at the character profile app to have a little delve into their character.

The worst issue, in my opinion, is the fact that using three apps at once can cause so many discrepancies to appear! On one particularly frustrating writing session, after I had decided that it was stupid of me to not add all the Royal dates to the Timeline app and spending three hours doing that, I realised that I needed to know how old Princess Evanna was when she was captured. I went to my Family Tree app and had a look at her birthday… hold on! The story starts in the year 2206, and I had established her as seventeen! So why does the Family Tree app say that she was born in 2190 while the Timeline app says she was born in 2189?! Uh oh. I had to go back and cross-reference once again to make all my dates match. What a palaver!

Do you know what would be useful? An app that does a lot more than just the character profiles or locations or magic systems or different races that I have in my story. An app which compiles a lot of data that would possibly serve as super useful to me when I’m trying to sort through my ideas and actually use them in my writing. Something that can link characters via their relationships like a family tree app, whilst also allowing me to explain what the differences are between the various fantastical humanoid races I have used. Something that looks pleasant, cuts down the planning time, and has a search feature so that I can remember what the hell I was talking about when I wanted to add in a special plot point back in February 2017.

It has taken me almost two years, but I have found exactly that! And I don’t want to keep it to myself!

Read moreMy New Godsend: The Ultimate Planning Resource!

“God did it”: the Problem with Deus Ex Machina

You may or may not have heard this term thrown around a lot when you’re writing and reading. It’s actually a massive problem in a lot of stories, published or otherwise, and can leave a reader feeling frustrated, unfulfilled and lost when it comes to tying up the loose ends of your story. Deus ex machina takes away the ability of the reader to immerse in the action, while simultaneously making you seem like a lazy and unskilled writer. But what exactly is this weird Latin term and how can you avoid it?

In Latin, ‘deus ex machina’ means something along the lines of ‘God from a machine’. It refers, in short, to when Greek plays would have a God character suspend from the stage on a crane and swiftly solve all of the remaining problems at the end. No mess, no fuss. God did it. No questions asked. Now it’s come to mean any character that pops out of nowhere to solve a problem (or all the problems) without any prior warning or mention. It can be quite a tempting tool, frankly: when you’re stuck with writer’s block and don’t know how to conclude this elaborate tale you’ve concocted, what better way to solve the glaring plot holes than to plaster them up with a new, unknown character?

Well, I say no. Euripides may have been a fan of that style of writing, and it may have worked for him, but does no one else remember that “what the hell” reaction when a seemingly impossible (and therefore massively intriguing) problem is solved with the wave of some random person’s wand? It’s lazy and useless most of the time. You’re cutting corners and robbing your readers of a genuinely good ending.

Read more“God did it”: the Problem with Deus Ex Machina

Writer’s Block

I’ve got writer’s block.

It’s probably one of the most frustrating feelings for a budding writer: you’re the only thing preventing you from churning out award-winning stories at factory speed and ‘winning at life’. There’s no quick fix and no one to blame but yourself.

It can be pretty easy to give up right now. There have been times when I’ve felt the sudden urge to throw my laptop across the room and rip my hair out in an exasperated sigh, vowing to never type a fantastical sentence again. The only thing that really prevents me from throwing in the towel is asking myself a few questions: what good would it do? Who would win if I gave up? No one. Absolutely no one. I don’t even think the people who dislike me in real life know I’m writing amateur stories online, so I actually don’t have anyone who’s out to see me fail. It would be the most useless thing in the world to quit.

 

Artwork by Chaotic Deluge

 

So what do you do when you’re going through a creativity drought? How exactly do you remedy sitting in front of a blank word document, writing and rewriting the same sentence for hours on end? I don’t know how to answer that question other than to tell you to wait it out. Preoccupy yourself with other activities. After all, you can’t make the creativity-rain fall on command.

Read moreWriter’s Block

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