One Writer’s Evolution

A thought struck me as I was rereading passages from some of my older, unfinished works:  “Wow.  I’ve certainly changed in the last decade.”

Rereading old works can be both cringe-worthy and heart-warming.  Cringe-worthy because, hopefully, if you’ve been working to improve yourself, you’ll be thinking, “Good grief, I had NO grasp of pacing,” or “My magic system in this story made NO logical sense,” or “AHHH!  SO MUCH FORCED CHARACTER DESCRIPTION!”  (I’ve always been über-descriptive in my writing, so that’s always been a problem of mine.)  But the cringing will hopefully be followed by the realization that, “Hey, I’ve come a long way since then.  All those problems seem so obvious to me now and I know how to avoid them.”

I don’t know about you, but I also always get a warm, slightly nostalgic feeling when I reread my old stories.  I’m like a parent amused and indulgent with her children’s finger painting and story-telling antics.  They might not make sense in the adult world I now inhabit, but there’s a great deal of old-fashioned charm in the nonsensical-ness.  Horses used doors and buckets, magic was thrown in willy-nilly to make up for a lack of opposable thumbs and tornadoes were a perfectly acceptable method of transportation.

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A Few Words on Character Deaths

PLEASE NOTE:  

This entry may contain spoilers!  Proceed at your own risk.

I recently watched the anime Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam and loved it.  The story was interesting, the characters engaging, even the secondary characters (a trait the early Gundam shows are famous for), and a great mix of comedy and melodrama.  I followed the characters on their journey, through trials, tribulations, daring plans, narrow escapes, joys, sorrows, and maturation through 48 amazing episodes.  Then, the final episodes 49 and 50….everything fell apart.  Within those two episodes, half the cast was killed off and one was left alive, but rendered absolutely flippin’ insane.  And the story ends.  Just like that.  No time for me or the survivors to mourn, just stare at the rolling credits going, “What?!  That’s it?!”

I sent a text to my friend Fullmetal, who had lent me the series, that said:  “Well.  I just finished watching Zeta Gundam. The show was AWESOME…up until the last two episodes.  Those last two sucked.  An unresolved cop-out!”

His response:  “But everyone dies.”

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Everything Old Is New Again: How Not To Be Afraid of Clichés

Cliché.  Perhaps the most dreaded word in the history of writing.  The last thing any writer wants to hear about their work is, “This story is so unoriginal.  It’s riddled with clichés!”

The dictionary definition of a cliché is:

  1. a trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse, such as “sadder but wiser,” or “strong as an ox.”
  2. (in art, literature, drama, etc.) a trite or hackneyed plot, character development, use of color, musical expression, etc.
  3. anything that has become trite or commonplace through overuse.

It’s a word, phrase, stereotype, character type, or even storyline that is way, way, WAY overused.  I’ve heard some people accuse Shakespeare of using too many clichés.  Little do they realize that he came up with half of the expressions that were so witty and original at the time that everyone wanted to use them until society got sick of them.

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Handling Dry Spells

Every writer goes through dry spells.  Some people call this phenomenon “writer’s block,” but I think writer’s block and dry spells are two different things.  Writer’s block is when you are working on a story and keep hitting a brick wall.  You have a scene you need to write, or an assignment to finish and you just sit and stare blankly at the screen.  You want to write, but the words just don’t come.

In contrast, I think of a dry spell as a time when your very creativity dries up.  It’s not that you don’t know what to write or how to write it, but rather you don’t even feel like writing.

Personally, I find dry spells far more terrifying than writer’s block.

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A Quick Apology

I apologize, but I’m afraid that there will not be a more substantial blog entry this week.  I was away at Otakon in Baltimore, Maryland this weekend and I’m still catching up on sleep and dealing with a severe case of Post Convention Depression.  I’m very sorry to disappoint any of you who were looking forward to an entry this week, but I promise to make it up to you next week.  Stay tuned!

(Here’s a consolation prize to show you what my brother and I were doing this weekend🙂

"Team Rocket is blasting off again!"

“Team Rocket is blasting off again!”