Description Series: Part 3 – Nature & Terrain

Welcome to the last part of a three-part series on description!  If you are just getting on board right now, you need not read the first two parts to understand this one, but you can, of course, find the other two parts on my blog.  The introduction (posted on Sunday evening) can be found at this link here.  The first post (posted Monday) can be found at this link here.  The second post (posted Tuesday) can be found at this link here.  That about covers all the posts and we shall begin without another moment to waste!

The last item on the list of the three large categories that I would talk about when describing environment is Nature & Terrain. I realize how excruciatingly broad this can be, but I much prefer it that way so that the blog post can not only relate to writers of literary fiction, but as well as fantasy writers and other genres that may have a different nature and terrain as literary fiction writers.

How important is the nature and the terrain to our story?

That will depend, yes, on the content in your story.  There are stories of mine that I’ve written where I rely heavily on the nature around my characters, but there are some well it will do you good to describe it a little bit and leave it there.  But I want to talk about those nature-heavy stories here.  I want to talk about those stories that will describe the nature around the characters more than once because it won’t just be there for the decoration, but because it serves so much of a purpose that it almost seems to be its own character.

I am rather obsessed with mountains.  Almost every story that I write that takes place in nature––meaning not a city or an urban area––has mountains.  I don’t seem to write about flat areas; I’m too in love with mountains and valleys.  So I will go on for a while describing the mountains, giving them names, making up false myths in real religions about them, etc.  (I believe this comes from an infatuation with the Misty Mountains).

But what purpose do these mountains serve to the story?  We are looking for practicality, right?

I mean that’s great that I can go on for pages describing a specific mountain range and talking about its real history while making up its fictional history, but at some point that has to mean something to my character or to the story itself.  It can’t just be a huge paragraph going into serious depths about the mountain, but then never mentions the mountains again.  It is like in yesterday’s post how I discussed describing places in thorough detail without them being important can be a bit too distracting and confusing.

The best writer that I have read that can describe nature seamlessly, especially since it’s fictional, is J.R.R. Tolkien.  In The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, he brings this world to life.  That serves many different purposes.  First, it makes it more believable, which I believe I’ve repeated enough times.  Description will make the world jump off of the page and avoid having your characters live their lives in a white (or black) void.  Secondly, the description of the elements propels the story forwards.

The descriptions you add to certain places are either going to foreshadow to your reader problems or solutions that are going to be given by whatever you have described.  The Misty Mountains in The Hobbit become rock-fighting giants in the middle of the storm.  But is that just for a fun fact?  No, it comes to create problems for our main characters.  The description is so rich and vivid that you remember it when it comes time for that element to become a problem.  The nature that is introduced in the story sets the scene for the story that is going to take place in it, but it also tells of what may happen or hints towards its larger role later down the line.

In a story where the nature around the character is important, the descriptions of that nature help to propel it forward.  By not only creating a sense of believability to the story, as well as creating an imagery that sucks the reader into it, it can also be used as plot device for metaphors for what may happen in the story, it can be used for foreshadowing, and it could also be used as its own character.  The nature described can lead the character to do something, it can teach the character something.

The descriptions of the environment create a dynamic scene and a dynamic story.  They are one gear, but a crucial gear, to the working of the whole machinery of the scene.

Well this brings us to the end of the description series!  Thank you so much for having read all the way through, and a bit thanks to all of those who have stuck with it from the beginning.  It means a lot to me that people out there care what I have to think haha.

If you liked what you read, please subscribe!

TAKE NOTE: The blog is being changed over to a new hosting website, so by the next blog post, we will have a new website and everything for the blog to be on!  I’m very excited about it and I hope to see all of you there.  Thank you for the wonderful times on WordPress and I will see you all on the new blog.

Take care and have a wonderful evening,

Jacob S. Tucker

Description Series: Part 2 – Buildings

Hello everyone.  Yesterday I discussed the importance of weather in a story as part of my description series that I am doing for three days consecutively.  It began on Sunday with an introduction into the three parts of describing the environment which, if you missed it, can be found here and then Monday began the description series, which you can find here.  Without further ado, let us jump into the second part!

Next on the list that was featured in the Sunday blog post is buildings.  Now, this can be a rather broad term, but stick with me because I am hoping to cover all of it in this blog post.  First of all, when I say “buildings” I am talking more about the urban part of it, such as the city or the buildings that are within your story.  And when I am talking about them, I am taking into consideration the interior, as well as the exterior.  There is importance in all of it.

Like yesterday, how I said the weather can affect the mood of a scene, the building can as well.  The descriptions of buildings matter, not only for the believability of the scene and a more beautiful scene, but also because they can affect the way the scene feels.  This launches us into exterior.

If your main character is walking into a castle, your description of that castle will tell the reader if the castle is either a good place, or a place of evil.  Of course, you can just say that in your story, but I’ve found that it feels more like telling that way rather than showing.  Then, with the description of that castle that will either dictate its good or its evil, then it will set the mood. Should the reader feel scared for the main character?  Should the reader feel relieved because the main character finally found his way into a safe place?  Your description of that building’s exterior will dictate how your reader is going to feel about the next scene.

Rather than having a movie set-like building where you describe only the exterior and there is nothing inside, the interior should be just as fleshed out as the exterior.  The interior gives us context, an insight into what the scene looks like, not only to the observer, but to the characters that the reader is reading about.  It keeps the scene from having just white walls with nothing on them and turns that scene into a real, honest room with trinkets and its occasional “unusual” feature.  The interior helps us to imagine the events better because it brings us further into the story.  It is hard to imagine two characters sitting in a blank room talking about life or having a duel in a room like that; it makes us feel disconnected from what’s going on.  You describe the room in good detail* and suddenly your reader is more engaged in what is going on.

Why the asterisk?

Because there, like everything out there, can be overdone.  In the Sunday post, I brought up the man we all love to groan at, but can not deny his genius: Charles Dickens.  Master of excruciating detail if there ever was one.  There are some novels I appreciate it in.  For instance, in Hard Times, his description is wonderful; I feel that it’s a rather dynamic part of the story.  But on the other hand, like in Great Expectations, it bores me to death.

This is personal preference, of course, but I feel that there is a point where it can be done too much.  It’s nice to let us know that the only source of light in the room is a lamp in the corner by the window, but we don’t need to know the make of the lamp or what material the lamp is made out of.

Also, as I sit here and talk about describing scenes, but also, take that with caution.  There will be places––for instance, your main character’s home––that will come up many times in the story, so a description will make it easier for the reader to picture it and remember it every time it comes back up.

BUT there will be places that will never be in the story again and only appear it for a moment or two.  Like the character is passing through a bakery, literally passing through.  The character isn’t taking much time to look around, so there should be no need for thorough description because by the time the first sentence of description is done, the main character is already outside.

There is a balance between too little description and too much description, and I have no idea where it really is.  I am no master at this at all; all that I have told above is what I have learned and what I have been told by other writers.  It is simply regurgitated information.  But find the balance that works best for you.

This ends the buildings segment of the series!  Stay tuned for the finale of the series tomorrow talking about Nature & Terrain. Take care and have a wonderful day!

Sincerely,

Jacob S. Tucker

P.S: I am announcing right now that my blog will be making a shift over to Squarespace on Wednesday October 15, 2014.  The blog will continue as usual and the domain name should remain the same, but it will look different and certain features that are specific to WordPress will no longer be available on the new Squarespace site.  But I am very excited for the new website and I hope to see you there.  

Description Series: Part 1 – Weather

Yesterday, I left off with the introduction to this new series that I will be doing for the next three days.  I laid out the three main points that I will be talking about when describing the environment.  If you missed the post at all or would like to read it again, you can find it below or click right here.  The first section that I had named was weather and here we are going to discuss the significance of weather upon your story.

Now I know there are some rather self-explanatory things when it comes to weather, but still I am going to talk about them here because important things like this can never be said too much.  Weather in a story is one of the most important elements. While of course you have things like plot and characters, weather will play a large part on how your story is received and what mood it will set.  The element that weather mostly brings to the table is mood.  Mood, as I describe it here, is the emotion that is pervading throughout the entire scene, not the tone, which is how the author feels about it.  Mood will be talking about the emotion of the characters in the scene and the type of scene that it is.

To begin, when you have weather in a story what does it do?  Is it simply just there like a flower on a porch, simply just for decoration and beautification?  Sure, it is a beautiful thing and when described well can be absolutely gorgeous, but is that simply the only purpose it serves?  I, personally, don’t think so.  I think weather is important not only for making the scene more realistic and believable, but also for foreshadowing the events that are going to occur (however, I break this sometimes because on personal preference I love rainy days).

A sunny day will make the scene seem happy or content.

A rain day will make the scene appear morose or saddened.

A cloudy day can appear as a caveat of future upsetting events.

Odd weather can make the scene…well…odd.  (Looking at you, Tatooine.)

The great thing about weather here is you can also use it to your advantage.  Weather, whether we heavily notice it or not, will force our reader to expect certain things.  If it’s a wonderful sunny day with a nice temperature, the reader is not expecting much to happen because the weather is setting the scene as peaceful.  Yet, if it’s scorching hot, it makes the reader think that perhaps something has been boiling under the surface or something is about to burst.  The weather we put in there controls how our readers look at the scene and what they expect to happen.  And when I talk of advantage, you can use it to completely make the reader think nothing/something will happen and then come in from left field with a huge unexpected event.

Also, I have seen in some stories written by peers of mine and some that I’ve read in collections, magazines, etc, the weather can be a second character or even the enemy.  For instance, in the Old Man and the Sea, the old man in the boat is constantly battling his hunger as well as the scorching sun above him that is giving him blisters and burning his skin.  The sun is one of the main antagonists here, and although it is not characterized, it can be depicted as evil or devious enough to really cause trouble for the protagonist.  Sometimes, the weather can be the immediate causer of events like rain falling down heavily can make a young girl trip at a very specific moment and the love interest will then run to help her and pick her up off the ground. (Yes, I know that was cheesy, but it was just an example)

When you include weather in your stories and make a point of being aware of it during your major scenes, it can really make that part dynamic.  As we know from what we have been taught either in our own travels or in classes about creative writing, scenes are made up of many different gears like a watch.  Each gear serves a purpose and helps to drive the next one until we have a completely working contraption, aka our scene.  Weather is just another one of these gears, and although it may seem small in the grand scheme of things, even the smallest gear can set off the entire operation.  It’s important to pay attention to that gear and make sure that it is well updated.

This concludes the discussion of weather, but stay tuned for tomorrow we talk about Buildings.

I hope you enjoyed this first part of my description series and I wish you a wonderful day.

Sincerely,

Jacob S. Tucker

P.S: I am announcing right now that my blog will be making a shift over to Squarespace on Wednesday October 15, 2014.  The blog will continue as usual and the domain name should remain the same, but it will look different and certain features that are specific to WordPress will no longer be available on the new Squarespace site.  But I am very excited for the new website and I hope to see you there.  Take care!

The Surrounding World

There are many writers out there that warn against describing a lot of the area surrounding a certain scene or giving a lot of detail to places.  To an extent, I believe that this is true.  I believe that areas that are only going to be in the book once––for instance a cafe that’s faraway from your character’s home that he’ll probably never go to again––don’t need to be thoroughly sketched out or detailed because we’ll never see it again.  But I do believe that at some point, there should be a lot of detail and this blog post will be exactly about that.

First of all, we should divide certain areas of detail into their own categories.  We have:

  1. The Weather
  2. The Buildings
  3. The Terrain

In some novels/stories, these categories will matter more than others.  For instance, in a story about Paris, one is not going to typically concern themselves as much with terrain as they are with buildings.  The surrounding streets and the buildings along boulevards are going to matter much more to the reader and the writer because they are definitely more present than the terrain.  But in a story about a small village, you’ll probably take all three elements into account, using the surrounding terrain, the weather above, and the quaint buildings that make up your village.  It all depends on your content.

But now that we have the three categories drawn out, there are so many other subcategories and I will do my best to sketch them all out here for you.

  1. The Weather (This one may be a bit self-explanatory)The temperature
    1. The winds or lack thereof
    2. The sky/clouds/sun
  2. The Buildings (These will be a bit more detailed)
    1. Interior
      1. Layout of Floors
      2. Rooms
      3. Contents of Room
      4. Meaning attached to things in the room
    2. Exterior
      1. Type of architecture
      2. Placement among other buildings
      3. View from different sides
      4. State of building (new or crumbling, etc)
      5. And, of course, Colors!
  3. The Terrain
    1. Type of Terrain
      1. Desert
      2. Forest
      3. Fields
      4. Mountainous
      5. You get my drift
    2. Elements of that Terrain
      1. Plants
      2. Trees
      3. Soil/Sand/Dirt

So you can see from here that there are many elements to really consider when you are detailing and describing the areas that are around your characters.

To really preface this, there can be an amount that would be considered “too much description” or “exhausting” and I think that the best person who characterizes this is Charles Dickens.  While this is up to personal preference, Charles Dickens can, without fail, get lengthy with his descriptions.  He loves to really detail his areas.  Some areas this works and some areas this does not.  Some areas, you just can imagine what he’s talking about beautifully and then there are places where it takes away from the story and takes the reader out of what is exactly going on.

Yet, there can also be an amount of description that works beautifully, almost magically.  My best example, and once again this is purely of personal preference, would be Tolkien.  His descriptions of the Shire and other places like Rivendell and Minas Tirith, etc. are just beautiful, so much to the point that it’s mystical and magical to me.

For the next three days, I will be taking each of the sections that I described above (Weather, Buildings, Terrain) and really fleshing out the important versus the unimportant with those.  Then I hope by the end of that description series I have another series that I can take care of!  

Until then I hope you have a wonderful Sunday!

Sincerely,

Jacob S. Tucker

Complex Themes

We all hear that dreaded question at one point in our writing careers: What is your book about?  I, personally, hate that question and refuse to answer it any time that someone asks me it.  Why?  Because my books are never just about one thing, and for me to simply just say, “it’s about a man who runs away from his life” or “a man loses his wife,” is to be partially right, but to do the story idea close to no justice.

But why is this such a difficult question to answer?

Simply put: Our books are never just about one thing.  (Of course you could just take the route and say “Life,” but we aren’t here to simplify things; we’re here to really complicate them, so much so that we make a novel)

When we write a novel, we take on a lot of subject matter.  We have characters who experience tragedy, people who go through internal conflict, some of those characters also go through external conflict.  They experience real life issues and while Woody Allen and Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein in “Midnight in Paris” said, “the artist’s job is not to succumb to despair, but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence,” we also discuss very real things in life.  Our characters deal with the emptiness of existence, but we deliver an antidote to our readers through that.

I found that in my novel I tackle a lot of different things.  For instance I have:

  • A character who lives with alcoholism
  • A character who has a sexual orientation crisis
  • A character who loses his wife
  • A character who watches her husband destroy himself
  • A character who gets tremors because of a scarring path
  • A character who runs away from his life
  • A character who feels that finding love is more important than himself

When we write novels, we find that no matter what the main plot line really is, we don’t just write about that.  Someone asks us what our novel is about and then the only thing we can say is tell our very skeletal synopsis of our plot line or we just say, “It’s rather complicated.”

But I feel that it’s a good thing.

I feel that when we take on a lot of subject matter, we really dive into more real things.  When we begin to tackle people who have gone through sexual abuse or people who live with alcoholism, then we begin to make our characters more relatable, more real, and we make our stories better.  I hate to say that tragedy is a good thing, because honestly it isn’t, but when our characters experience severe tragedy in some of the worst ways possible, it makes our stories work.  It’s what drives the plot along.

I suppose the point of this post is to tell you that if you are ever asked the question, “What is your story about?” and you can only answer with “I can’t really explain,” you are not alone.  I think it’s a completely natural thing.

Anyone agree?

––Jacob S. Tucker

Journal of a Novel: A Steinbeck Inspiration

Have any of you read Steinbeck’s East of Eden?  If you have (or if even if you haven’t) have you read Steinbeck’s Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters?

No?  Well that’s okay.  If you have then you can skip down the next paragraph.  

The book is a collection of “letters” that Steinbeck wrote to his editor and friend Pascal Covici.  The reason I put quotation marks around the word letters is because they’re letters that weren’t actually sent to Pascal himself.  They were put into a book that Pascal bought for him (I think) and were used as a journal for the novel he was writing.  While for some writers (like myself) writing in a journal takes time away from writing and energy, but for Steinbeck, writing in a journal got his gears working and he was able to get back into writing mode.  Through his letters, not only did he work out some things about his characters, but as it was published, it became a Reader’s Companion for the East of Eden novel itself and helps the reader to understand each character more thoroughly as well.

So, I am now quite a ways into the Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden letters and I became inspired.  No, this is not going to be a review of the book itself, but I do hope to review it when I finish reading it.  Instead, this is going to be an explanation of what inspired me and what that inspiration has led me to do.

What I have done as a result of reading this book is I have decided to keep a journal of my novel as well.  Now while I don’t think my journal will ever be published or even reach half the popularity and skill Steinbeck’s did, I was inspired to be able to write to myself creatively as well as to someone else, explaining certain events, certain actions, and keep it in the form of an everyday journal.  I have tried it a couple of times and there is a method to writing these letters that gets the mind working and the creative juices flowing again.  I believe it was Wordsworth who would go on long walks when he felt the effects of writer’s block.  Well for me (and what I can gather from Steinbeck) writing these journal entries seem to be helping me with doing that.

Instead of writing letters to someone that exists within my reality or an editor (partially because I don’t have one) I decided to go ahead and write it to my main character Stewart Seawright.  In the journal I am using the time to ask my character questions, not only so I can understand them, but so he can understand them and then I can use our mutual understanding to communicate the point to the reader effectively.  I’ve also done it to work out passages, to figure out certain things I want to say, the theme of the book as a whole, and just about everything else I can possibly think of that’s novel related.

So that is what I am up to. 

Does anyone else own a journal?  Somewhere where they write letters to a character or to themselves or to someone else?  Or do they just keep a diary?

Lemme know!  I would love to hear from you guys.

Have a good evening,

Jacob S. Tucker

The “I’m Alive” Post

Hey everyone!

I don’t actually have much to say on the blog tonight, partly because I still have a lot of homework to do, but also because I’m just worn out for the day.  College certainly keeps you busy.

But I wanted to let you all know:

I am, indeed, very much alive.

I hope this finds you all in good health and take care,

––Jacob S. Tucker

Your Writing Space

I experienced a rather big step today in my life: I moved into my college dorm!  I’ve been on a blog hiatus for quite a while due to the fact that I was packing and getting ready to really consolidate my life in California and move it to the opposite coast on the East Coast.  I now am attending Trinity College, with hopes of being here all four years, and everything is already quite fantastic as it is.  

A Couple Trinity Facts

  • Trinity College is located in Hartford, CT
  • It’s a Liberal Arts College
  • The campus was founded in 1823 and is now entering its 191st Academic Year
  • Home to some of the coolest people ever.

The Dorm Room

There’s a lot of things you have to consider when you’re moving into a new place, not only in a dorm-room, but everywhere really.  At first, you’re given these bare places with about three pieces of furniture (or not even any furniture at all) and you have to think about how you want to go about setting up your stuff.  Luckily, my roommate and I both agreed we wanted the room to be symmetrical, so we did our best in having our desks figured out that way.  As you can see to the left of this, you’ll see our room, and although it isn’t a picture from the front, you’ll be able to spot the attempt at symmetry.

The Dorm Room (Common Area)

The Dorm Room (Common Area)

We had to set up our desks, then we had to figure out our own configurations atop those desks, then what we wanted to do with the TV, then the xbox, and then some of the other stuff, including a mini-fridge, a microwave, a small bookshelf, and––of course––the coffee machine.  It’s been really interesting debating on certain things to set up, but perhaps the most interesting thing was to try and figure out the flow of the room.  People enter behind the photo you see here, and they pretty much walk and see my roommate’s desk first and then mine.

And now you’re wondering, does all of this have a point?  I mean, Jacob, you’re not just going to drone on about your dorm room and the ups and downs of planning with a roommate, right?

 

You’re right!  I won’t just drone on about having a roommate and setting up my dorm, I promise.  There’s a point to all of this.

The most important thing to consider (if you’re a writer) is:

Your Writing Space

This is crucial.  For me, I really like cluttered areas, including unorganized desks, being in the middle of high stacks of books that close me in, etc.  When I suddenly get thrown into an open area, I get nervous and I really don’t write anything.  This can perhaps be attributed to the fact that I really like feeling separate from the world, not in the middle of it.  So a corner is perfect for me.  Well, both my roommate and I set up our desks in opposite corners, and he’s near the window; that worked out well for me because then I didn’t have the window and I feel more removed from the world so I can write without feeling like I always have eyes on me.

My Desk/Writing Space

My Desk/Writing Space

Some simple questions I suppose you have to ask yourself about your writing space is:

  1. Can I see myself, if I stand back, sitting here and writing for hours at a time?  
    1. If you can, then you should be able to write here.
    2. If you don’t, there may be a few things wrong with it, such as the chair, the size of the desk, the amount of space, etc.  Or, in some cases, it’s just too modern or old-fashioned for your tastes.  Just rearrange it then 🙂  It’s your room!
  2. If I experience writer’s block sitting here, will I be able to bounce back?
    1. This is a difficult question to ask yourself.  First of all, what if you have white walls?  I have white walls in front of me and although I write with a typewriter and am able to avoid having to stare at a simple white screen, all of a sudden the walls in front of me seem like the blank computer screen.  So that sucks.
    2. Are there too many things around you?  Like too many distractions?  Like, I have a TV next to me with an Xbox One attached to it.  That, my friends, is a MAJOR distraction (but luckily, it isn’t hooked up to the internet yet).
    3. Third, is there perhaps something for you to do that’s tedious or mindless while you try and figure out what you’re going to write about?  I remember posting something a while back that offered up a solution of having a tennis ball at your desk to just bounce around or toss up while you try and think.  Go ahead and try some other tedious things, like perhaps you were drawing a picture, or maybe you were organizing notes, or even setting up a binder for a class.  Mindless things like that will distract you, but in a simple way so that you’re still thinking about your book. It’s a bit like the “shower effect”**
  3. Is the coffee machine close enough to me that if I want a cup of coffee, I won’t have to go too far and risk being distracted?
    1. This is one of the most important questions.  I know for us as writers, although we love our novels and our stories so very much, we get distracted easily.  I don’t think it shows our commitment as writers, I just think it shows our human nature.  There are a million things in the world; we’re bound to be interested in a few of them.
    2. Coffee is important to writer (or tea if you’re a tea drinker, or even soda) so I guess this question is really asking if your productive beverage of choice is near enough to you that you can get some and still keep your thought process going.

One of a writer’s most important weapons in their arsenal is their writing space.  We can have the ideas, we can have the inspiration to do it, we can have the 1,000+ apps to make sure we don’t browse the internet and we can play rain sounds, while we listen to Spotify, and also make it sound like a coffee house.  But at some point, these things can only go a long way.  Our surroundings really make a difference to the way we write and how well we write, too.  If you aren’t feeling inspired, it might be the area you’re working in.

Remember, if you like the area you write in, then you’re more likely to go over there and write in it!  I certainly like my area and writing here 🙂  It’ll get me to be more productive.  I only hope it does the same for you.

Hope you enjoyed this post and take care, you wonderful people.

Best,

Jacob S. Tucker

100 Followers!!

Hello Everyone!!

Quick, but BIG, announcement here!!

I have officially reached 100 Followers

Thank you to MikMob for completely rounding that out and I’m glad that I can no longer put my followers in just one room.

This has been a wonderful ride and I look forward to continue writing on the blog.

Take care,

Jacob S. Tucker

The Twilight Zone

This was recently brought to my attention on a certain blog that I’ve enjoyed reading the past couple of days.  It’s a blog called Coffee. Write. Repeat and I suggest if you’ve got a few minutes after reading this post, you go ahead and give her blog a look.  It’s a great blog.

She mentioned something called the “Twilight Zone,” talking about that dreaded middle part of a book where you begin to convince yourself that you’re running on fumes.  I feel that every writer goes through this.  You begin to:

  • Wonder if you’re writing is any good
  • Wonder if your characters are actually dynamic
  • Wonder if your plot is actually solid
  • Wonder where it’s going to go next

    twilight_zone_door

    Come On In

  • Wonder if you even have another scene beyond the one you finished

If this describes you, I want you to STOP right now.

Stop doing this to yourself!  This is what stops writers from reaching the end and actually finishing a manuscript.  The greats out there didn’t become the greats because they stopped about midway and decided it wasn’t good enough.  They’re the ones who slaved over their work, teary-eyed and perhaps even hating their story at some times, because they believed at the beginning that what they had come up with was good.

I have gone through this more times than I would ever care to admit to anyone (so I won’t), but I’ve managed to get over it quite a few times.  I’ve gotten past that point for a certain manuscript (one that’s gathering dust) at certain times in the past.

Some people offered some great advice.  For instance:

  • Create an outline of your plot (sort of scene-by-scene) using notecards.  Write a keyword for a that scene on the front of the notecard and a description on the back.
  • Put your characters in a different situation, one that won’t be in your book, and see how they develop.  Perhaps their voice will show you where they should go next or what they should do next.
  • Write a different part of your story, one that you’re excited to get to, and then once you have two major scenes written in the grand-scheme of your novel outline, then you can sort of connect the dots with some smaller, less-big scenes.

When we enter this TwilightOutline Note Cards Zone, unfortunately Rod Sterling isn’t writing out what’s happening, nor is he narrating it, but it’s a very important part in our writing career.  These are the moments that dictate if we’re strong enough and believe enough in ourselves to actually become writers who complete things.

We are all writers!  We finish stories, not stop in the beginning.  So keep working on that manuscript, ignore that little voice in your head that questions, and remember that you thought this idea was so good, it should be a book.  Never forget that.  Your book has a good idea; don’t tarnish it with your insecurity.  Keep it shiny with your trust and passion for it!

Write on, you wonderful people 🙂

––Jacob S. Tucker

8AOP Update #1: Chugging Along

I realized something rather important about this blog and me as a writer operating on this blog.  I realized something that may seem very odd to you when I point it out to you, but it’ll make a bit of sense when I explain it.

I have realized that I never update this blog regularly about the progress on my novel!  I mean, what kind of writer does that?  I’m always here talking about writing A novel, but I’ve hardly ever mentioned MY novel that I’m currently in the process of writing now.

It has traveled the road of multiple rewrites of the first chapter, trying to perfect it, but now I’ve found a way to move along from that.  I’ve managed to get to somewhere near the 4th chapter I believe (varying in length, but being close to 8k-9k words a chapter) and it’s moving along very nicely!  I’m feeling very inspired when I write and it’s been happening frequently!

I’m not sure at all what my word count is for my story, though, unfortunately.  This is because I’ve been writing it on My Typewriter and can only count pages according to the typewriter.  But on the typewriter, I’ve managed to get down 30+ pages of my story done!  And I’m very very happy with how that’s going.

That’ll do it for this update!  It wasn’t very eventful, but I am sure I will have more eventful ones in the future.

––Jacob S. Tucker

My Typewriter

I own a typewriter.  People call it hipster, people call it dorky, people call it nostalgic; I call it finding my inspiration.  It’s a 1940s Royal Deluxe Portable typewriter, in amazing shape, and just a fantastic piece of technology.

Now you may be thinking: Jacob, what the hell are you doing?  We have word-processors now and computers to do all of this on.  Think of all the pages you’ll have to redo because of the typewriter.

Well, nay-sayers, too bad.

My favorite authors like Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ford Madox Ford, TS Eliot, all used a typewriter and they wrote (in my opinion) the best literature that this world has ever seen.  So, with my typewriter, it allows me to channel them, to understand how they worked, and to feel the inspiration at my fingertips as the clack clack clack of my typewriter echoes in the room like their voices telling me I can do it.

One of the most amazing things about my typewriter is that it helps me to really think of the words I’m going to use.  In a word processor, you can write a paragraph, absolutely hate it and delete it at the tap of a button.  I do not have that luxury (I mean, I do, but I choose not to) and I have to really think of what I’m going to write on my paper.  It helps with trying to craft the sentence in my hand before I go ahead and type it out on to the paper and 9 times out of 10, I’m actually very happy with my result. It even helps with thinking before speaking in any other regular case (haha). 

Is there anyone else out there that’s as crazy as I am to still be using a typewriter?  Or is someone writing it by hand, going even more old school than I am?  

I’d love to hear from all of you, I really would!  My comment section is barer than tree branches in the winter.  So come on, people, let me know you’re listening!

––Jacob S. Tucker

Killing Your Darlings

It’s a rather common thing to kill of a main character, or, at least, an important character in a book, and typically at the end.  Perhaps it gives people a sense of finality, or it just seems to be the only way to end a book.  However, there should be a cautious approach when doing so.

I saw the new Spider-Man movie yesterday, and after the two hours of action-packed awesomeness that was that movie, at the end of the movie I came to the consensus that I will not be seeing any future Spider-Man films.  Why?

SPOILER ALERT!!!!

Because they killed Emma Stone.  I understand that in the comic book, Gwen Stacey dies and it’s a tragic death and it’s supposed to happen that way, but I never thought I would have to see Emma Stone die!  She is my favorite actress and she’s undeniably adorable and wonderful, so her death made me upset.  Never want to be reminded of that again.

That is probably a more personal issue than an issue with storytelling, which I apologize for, but it got me to thinking about killing off important characters.

In novels, there are wonderfully amazing characters that the reader grows attached to, learns to love, and may even be reading the book solely because of that character, and the last thing we want is to see them die.

Sometimes, it’s a great way to the end the story.  If your story has taken place over decades, then a death at the end of your main character, possibly, might be a good ending because it’s his time.  Sometimes, even abrupt deaths are good because they’re unexpected, but they made sense to how the rest of the story turns out.

BUT, there are novels with unnecessary deaths and that can be a major turn-off I found out from some of my friends about reading.  They told me they really enjoy when their characters make it to the end or, at least, die a death that can help the story along and contribute something, but when a character dies for no specific reason (or not a seeable one) they may choose to not read that book or author again.

It is a sad thing that killing off a character like that can stop people from reading our books, but isn’t that the point?  The characters we’re supposed to be creating are supposed to seem real, supposed to exist to the reader and to ourselves, and for the reader to fall in love with them just as we have when we wrote about them.  Killing them like that can ruin a good story quicker than the blink of an eye.

Ever killed a character off and it bothered some beta readers of yours?  Have you thought about killing off your character because it just seems like the right thing to do or you just want to have it end that way?

Until next time,

–Jacob S. Tucker

Writing >

I’m believing more and more that my writing is deeply embedded in my life. For instance, some of my closest friends ask me how writing is going and they want to know everything. Then there are a couple that don’t even ask me and I find that it really bothers me, because if they know me, then they know that writing is my number one priority and takes up most of my time.

As writers, I feel that our work is more than a hobby, more than a passion, and more than a job (to some of us); it’s a lifestyle: we live and breath our writing. Am I right?

I feel that there comes a time when the only thing we want to talk about is our writing and then there are the times that we want to talk about ANYTHING ELSE more than we want to about writing, because we’ve just had our mind on it for too damn long. Unfortunately, I feel it makes us fickle people in conversation with people who know us and who we are.

I got into a fight with someone recently about how I didn’t feel appreciated for how hard I work to make them happy and that I didn’t feel wanted in that sense. One of the things I cited as not feeling cared about was that they never bothered to ask me about my writing or what I was doing with writing. Truthfully, that began to become a deal-breaker more and more for me. And now, I have friends who don’t ask me about writing, and that’s perfectly fine, but my close friends are the ones who ask me. That’s no coincidence.

I’m sure this makes me seem like a sour person, but writing now is so important to me and I feel that when people care about me, they’ll ask me about the biggest thing in my life.

Maybe this is just me, I’m not sure. This is just my inner-thoughts right now, everyone, and I tried to write them down uninhibited.

Someone tell me if this isn’t just me?

–Jacob S. Tucker

When To Write

Good Evening,

Tonight, I wanted to discuss writing schedules for all sorts of people.  In the years that I’ve been writing, I have noticed writers with all sorts of different schedules.  From the blocks of time granted at the same time each day to the writer all the way to writers who write whenever they feel like it, I can’t say one is better than the other.  However, one is better than the other for a specific writer.  Meaning, I know the schedule that works for me has some structure to it.  I have a friend who needs no structure and he works at the same rate I do.

We are all busy people.  We all go to school, have jobs, have kids, have hobbies, are parts of clubs, organizations––there is a great deal of things we are all busy with, but perhaps the most time-consuming and time demanding is our writing.  That’s because we haven’t only adopted it as a hobby, as a job, but as a lifestyle and frankly, this may only go for me, but if I go for too long without writing, I actually become physically ill.  I might be weird.  But with our busy schedules, writing becomes difficult, so we create schedules.  Once again, this isn’t true for everyone, I’m just speaking about what I’ve seen.

The first schedule I’ve seen is more uniform than military drills.  You wake up at 6:00 AM and write for three hours, on the dot.  When the clock strikes 9:00 exactly, it doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of a sentence, you stop.  This horrifies me.  But it works for a good amount of others, giving them a lot of structure to their writing time and being able to meticulously plan around it is a great benefit.  If you stop at 9:00 on the dot every single day, you can easily plan something else for 9:15 because you know that you will not go past 9:00 no matter what.  It’s actually wonderful for those who have a heavy schedule and are careful at planning their day.  I am not one of these people.

There are those who write at certain times of the day, with no set period of writing time, but usually around the same part.  This is me.  I write after work every day at the coffee shop where I have friends working behind the counter and I know quite a few people that are regulars.  It’s a wonderful place for me to write and by the time I get there (usually 6:00) the place has quieted down a bit and I can really get the creative juices flowing.  I will write for an hour or three, depending on how well it’s going and just how much time I have, but there is no set time.  I have no time that I HAVE to stop writing and there’s no amount of words I must write.  There are those that do this in the morning when they wake up and I even know a guy who does this in the middle of the night.  He sets an alarm for 1:00 AM, wakes up and does his writing.  Lord knows why.

There are some who have a writing limit.  Simple as that.  “I’m going to write 2300 words today.”  Boom, done, over.  Nothing more to it.  In the words of Mr. Gump, that’s all I have to say about that.

Then there are the “schedules” (I hesitate to call it that) where the writer will just whip out a pen or pencil and begin scribbling down on paper at any given moment.  More random than anything else on the planet.  They can be walking down the street one moment, and then the next they are leaning on a telephone pole with their paper pushed against it and writing the sentence they thought of.

Like I said above, there is no one schedule that works more than other, but there is a schedule that works best for us individually.  For me, the one for certain times of the day works beautifully.  For my scriptwriter friend, working with a uniform schedule works.  For a friend who likes writing comics, the spontaneous writing works best for her.  There are all schedules that work for us the best and I’ve found that when you find the right one, you get the most amount of work done.

So if you can’t decide on a schedule, try each one individually and see which ones gives you the most output, but not only in quality but in quantity as well.  The schedule where I had a word limit forced more words out of me yes, but writing with a spontaneous schedule got better words out of me.  The schedule I have write now meets halfway between the two and so it’s best for me.

What schedule do you have?  Go ahead and share below!  I’m always interested to hear what other writers have got to say.

Stay tuned for next wednesday and happy writing!

Jacob S. Tucker