How to Stop Going on Autopilot

“I’ll bet a fiddle of gold
Against your soul
‘Cause I think I’m better than you”

You had a five-page assignment due and managed to squeeze it in in a solitary day. You feel proud that you’re so efficient and are one click away from turning it in to your professor or employer. You feel as confident as Johnny taking on the devil on the fiddle. You reluctantly give your work a quick skim and even more reluctantly come to the realization that writing has to be original to be impressive, not just speedy.

The paper is full of cliches and fillers and doesn’t even flow smoothly. Looks like you went on autopilot and just thought you were having a creative streak. It’s a great realization right before a deadline.

Satisfying the Word Count VS Writing

There are no less than five paragraphs in your paper that all say the same thing. When a paragraph ends, the small point should be over. If the reader arrives at the same conclusion multiple times, it’s dull and a dead giveaway that the author does not care about the material.

Genuine Interest

This is the key factor in writing well. You have to engross yourself in the writing. Always make sure you are putting effort to feel something, anything about the topic before you begin. If your interest is being shy and you are tempted to expand contractions to meet your word count, there are a couple go-tos to help make yourself interested.

Compare Statistics

Statistics is a magical world. There’s nothing that sparks interest quite like inferring conclusions from numbers. It is difficult to explain, but you know when an article is backed up by real statistics that that article just came to life.

poowpyouw

Relate Personally

Remember something related to the material that personally happened to you so that you can evoke real emotions to use for solid writing. This goes back to the days when you thought your third grade teacher was very interested in your personal life but really just wanted to prompt you to write well.

Add further ideas in the comments!

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Writing for Video Games

It isn’t difficult to see why there might be a need for a writer for video games. There is often a story that needs to be written for the game, usually with character dialogue. The joining of two hobbies, writing and gaming, seems like the perfect pair for many.

How much of a demand is there for video game writers? At the time this post was written (July 4th, 2016), Ninja Division Publishing LLC is seeking one position as a game developer and studio writer in Garden City, ID. The requirements seem easy for the average creative writer: good communication skills, knowledge of basic programs, good organization (arguably the hardest one for creative types) and good customer service. The applicants only need a high school education as well. Just send a 500 word prompt for a specific choice in their game and your resume and cover letter.

As most applicants will quickly realize, writing video games is a competitive field. Yes, yes, most jobs are. Even your local restaurants have people fighting over dishwasher positions the moment one comes open. However, video game writing is on another level. The closer a field is to a popular hobby, the more difficult the jobs are to obtain.

Always apply anyway. Do not get discouraged if you get rejected/ignored by every single opening you apply to. Just move on and keep writing and playing video games. Rejection is the most frequent response even the most successful people get. You’re not a failure just because you haven’t achieved getting paid for your ultimate passion. Remember my previous article about fame-seeking?

And for the sake of your self-esteem, measure your success realistically. If you fail at being a video game writer, welcome to the majority of the population that succeeds in other fields. It doesn’t really mean anything to be rejected. I doubt I could bird watch for a living, but I can still do it my way on my downtime.

birdwatch

For any video game writers who may be reading–how did you break into the field? Do you still enjoy it?

“It was a Dark and Stormy Night…” Part II

Part I for those who missed it

Maybe you have decided that if people just want cheap thrills in their reading, you are going to cater to that. The following points are something you should consider before stringing cliches like beads to create a new story.

It Has Probably Been Done Before

You won’t be the first person to create a thrilling murder mystery, a forbidden romance, commentary on a political situation or a summary of interesting content. For every thrilling idea that occurs to you, there are probably thousands of books and articles already using it.

However, readers seem to greatly enjoy reading several books or articles with the same plots of premises. I know I do. I can read a hundred articles online about certain types of birds because I have owned them as pets. But I’m not going to read the same set of facts over and over. I like it when writers bring in their individual stories to help explain points or add a dash of humor.

Don’t underestimate how a focus on details can make a reader want to be carried along through what is essentially the same hill he’s gone over many times before only with different scenery.

Look at the News

There is a reason why journalistic writing is plain; the pure, newsworthy plot moves everything along and keeps readers engrossed. Despite this, most journalists are still taught to avoid cliches, because people also appreciate a touch of creativity. If a piece with an exciting plot that has the added benefit of being real avoids cliches, that should tell you something.

You Can’t Go Too Crazy

In the pursuit of creating something no one has ever seen, you may get very wild with your story. There are two major points to recognize before trying this.  This mainly applies to fictional works.

Readers Will Lose Interest in a Totally Wild Idea

In a world where anything can happen at any moment, people are not as invested in wondering about what happens next. Additionally, people want to relate to what they read to immerse themselves. That’s why fantasy is a difficult genre for a lot of people to be successful with. If you write a story where a talking eagle rides on the backs of dolphins searching for a sacred pine cone disco ball floating out in sea, you better be one hell of a writer.

eagle

It’s Probably One of the Same Recycled Ideas Anyway

Chances are, no matter how wild your plot gets, you can put it in one of many boxes filled with others of its kind. That eagle story is just a jazzed up version of a classic adventure story in pursuit of an artifact.

These points are why writing skill matters!

The Real Allure of Being a Novelist

A lot of writers want to write fiction books for a living. A disproportionate amount do. Despite this, most people who write a book will never get it published. In this elite club, 50% of books you see in stores will fail to make any profit. Most are never reprinted.

Publishers want books that they believe will sell. It’s that simple. If don’t want to please the masses, don’t plan on making a living off of being a novelist. I am speaking about fiction here.

turkey

It takes years for the people who do make it into the published world to get there…the traditional published world, that is.

If you’re depressed about this, than you are probably thinking about this the wrong way.

You have very likely defined yourself as a novelist or book writer or fiction writer…But why do you have to get your novel distributed to be a novelist? The key part of being a fiction author vs many other types of writing is about fame. And fame is not something that is easily attained or predictable. Many novelists can spend all day writing, have a day job paying the bills, but still chase what is essentially fame by trying to get published.

Just to be clear, I am not saying not to ever try to get published. (Who am I to dream of telling people that? This is the Internet. You could be Stephen King.) It’s just easy to lust too much after the fame.

Nothing stops you from exploring other types of writing while you’re developing plots and creating dialogue and basing one of your characters off that weird guy at your local gas station who is always drinking an orange soda when you walk in and chews on cigarette filters. And who knows, you may discover that writing for websites soothes your soul…or something like that.

A Set of Tips for the Storytellers

Fiction writing is fun for most of us. The option is there to create a set of characters that interact just perfectly with each other to move the exciting plot along. It’s an amazing experience to inject every location, repertoire, description, etc. into the most customized piece of entertainment for yourself.

blue_jay

Here lies the danger. Ever visit reddit.com/r/writing? (I know, I know, the first rule of Reddit is to never talk about Reddit.) The writing section is almost wholly dedicated to fiction writing. And don’t get me wrong; I am not trying to make anyone feel bad. I know most of us write fiction because of the feeling of having our adventures customized. That said, most of the shared stories are simply awful. Below is a list of my personal pet peeves.

When writing fiction, do not:

  • Over-describe

    Instead of loading down your sentences with adjectives, how about picking a stronger noun? Wouldn’t it be easier on the reader to picture a golden, gleaming braid than a braid pulled and wrapped with no stray hair, showing the shine on every pale wheat-colored bump? Maybe it’s the copywriter in me, but using fewer words helps to deliver the idea more efficiently.

  • Give people artificial dialogue

    Read it aloud. One of the most frequent offenders in my opinion is “brother” or “sister”. I don’t address my siblings like that, and neither does anyone I know. In a similar vein, another one is making people sound very proper. People just don’t eloquently get a message out every time.

  • Forget context

    Many writers forget essential information that clue the reader in on what is happening. Experienced writers can use this to their advantage to make the reader question if they have missed something or it’s all part of a plan to pleasantly surprise the reader with the missing information down the road.

Fiction is not really my forte, but I hope you enjoyed my advice nonetheless. Some subreddits I have discovered that fall in line with my interests are /r/SEO, /r/webmarketing, /r/socialmedia…There really are so many at our fingertips!

 

Ever Written an eBook?

I know somewhere there is someone who just snorted very sharply. Of course, you’ve written 12 1/2 eBooks. You’re a writer.

This has been my personal experience with the ebook world, and if you can excuse my naivete, I have only written one that I think others would enjoy reading, and I have only published on one site.

Where is this book now? It is still available. I can make the changes if I feel like, and I hated the ending of that story, so I will get around to it. Making people get married at the end a work of fiction makes me cringe, and I did it. I’ll fix that eventually.

verycliche

The site I used was Smashwords. My old profile is still up with me posing with the late and great Plumpkin the rooster. Anyway, like most eBooks, it has not really been marketed, and the tags have been swallowed up in the tag ocean. As a side note, the cover art is atrocious, but I’m no graphic designer.

So what can you do to make your book sell? Obviously not what I’m doing. I am not going to pretend to be an expert. (I sold two or three copies). It’s a combination of hot keywords (tags) that are still popular by the time you get done writing, the skill of your writing, the quality and eye-catching nature of your cover art and taking advantage of appropriate marketing platforms.

It’s basically luck though. One popular blogger might find your book, and the next morning you’re upgrading everything in your life. This scenario is fairly unlikely, so I like to recommend writing eBooks for other reasons. It’s a good way to make a positive online presence, and that is extremely important.