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Being married is like writing a book

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Being married is like writing a book.

And I absolutely love it.

It’s an incredible rush, a careful negotiation, a perfect balance of creativity and rational thinking, a massive dedication. It’s the reason I want to get up in the morning, a leap of faith, the thing that keeps you company, an occasional frustration that has you banging your head against a wall until you sit down and use your words in the best possible way.  It’s a story to be told, a lusty encounter, a conversation partner that never leaves your side.  It’s an unbelievable adventure, a joyful process, a structure for your otherwise chaotic mind.  It’s that wonderful feeling of knowing you’ve accomplished something, the nerve-wracking thrill of putting one foot in front of another.  It’s a promise kept, an oath maintained, a deep desire to get it right and create the most meaningful moments imaginable.

Being married is like writing a book.

It’s awesome, scary, lovely, sweet, hard and completely worth every last word.

I absolutely love it.

Happy anniversary Ben, you are the best husband ever.

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Write as you love

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Today’s blog post was supposed to be about rules.  Am I for them or against them?  So, to illustrate the only relevant point I have regarding rules, I am going to write about something completely different: writing what you love.

I am an emerging writer, an aspiring to be published writer.  I have faith I’ll get there one day, but in the meantime I’m learning to write what I love.  This is by far the most important thing anyone can possibly learn to do.  Why?  Because writing what you love is like falling in love, it’s dizzying, dazzling and beautiful.  It makes you excited about putting fingers to keyboard, pen to paper.

Now, by writing what you love, I don’t just mean mystery novels or epic poetry, it goes well beyond genre or format.  Writing what you love is about the base elements of the art, the magic of the craft.  It’s about the words and the concepts and the soul (if there is such a thing).

So what do I love?  I’ve been working on the answer to this question and I think I’ve narrowed it down.  I love abstraction, absurdism, lists, feelings, rituals, elemental magic and the suggestion of something deeper.  I love quantum writing, ideas that feel as though they could have a million meanings but only take shape when you read them, in the exact form you choose to perceive them.  I love rhymes and interjections of poetry, I love metaphor and good, quirky similes.

I find the best way to access the writing I love is to allow my mind to wander.  I like to reach out into my memories and the fringes of what I know to gather ideas and bring them back.  In order to do that though I have to be brave and let go of my fears and preconceptions.  Stilted writing comes when I’m thinking too much, worrying too much about this word or that sentence.

So how to write what you love?  Write as you love, with wild abandon, an open heart and a slightly reckless spirit.  Read books and pick out the words you love and remember them.  Study turns of phrase you admire and allow yourself to be free.  Listen to songs and watch TV and movies and pay attention to the words.  Some of my favorite writers are musicians.

Rules be damned, sometimes it’s just time to write what you love and worry about the details later!

What do you love to write?

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This is a post for www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge.  One blog post a day for all of June!  Check it out at the website or on twitter: @sofluid or #wpad!

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A Good Read

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I read a lot.

I guess that makes sense, because they say a writer ought to do that, but as much as I read, I’m also pretty picky.  I want a lot of things from a book and I have my preferences (just like you do I’m sure) and I’ve lately been finding what I’ve been able to get into and what I haven’t interesting.  For example, despite my love of urban fantasy, I just can’t get through ‘American Gods’ (by Neil Gaiman), I enjoyed some of his short stories in an anthology of his I read, but there’s just something about American Gods I don’t like.  ‘Gone Girl’ (by Gillian Flynn) however caught me and kept me reading until late in the night and there’s not a hint of magic in that book.

So what is it that keeps me reading and makes me loathe to put a book down?

Let’s see here…

Emotional over physical

I like a style that gives more personal and emotional information than information about the environment and appearance of the characters.  I often try to do that in my stories and I’ve been told in the past that I don’t put in enough physical detail (someone told me once they didn’t like that they had to work to imagine the environment), but I like to use my imagination.  If I’m drowned in detail I get bored pretty fast because it slows down the pace and does all the work for me.  I also like to know what the characters are thinking and feeling as well as their emotional history, this gets me involved and makes me feel like they’re real.  I want to feel like the characters have an impact on the world and the story isn’t just taking them along for the ride.

Cheese factor & exposition

Contrary to popular belief, it is easy to be cheesy.  Exposition and info dumps are the bane of a good story’s existence.  I don’t like a story where things are constantly explained or dumbed down.  Cliche also falls into the cheese factor camp.  Unfortunately things are cliche for a reason, because they are true or good ideas, so sometimes one can’t avoid it altogether but it’s best to try wherever possible.  The stories that keep me up all night are the one’s with high amounts of realism (this can be achieved even in fantasy) and low exposition.

Keep moving

I love a story that moves swiftly.  I want to be pulled along on an adventure, I want to get lost in other worlds and learn new things.  Good pace is essential to keeping my attention.


Defying expectations

I’m currently trying to read Game of Thrones.  It’s a bit of a slog for me because it’s so rich in detail.  High fantasy has always been a tough nut for me to crack because of that, but what I love about the concept of Game of Thrones is that Mr. Martin writes with the specific intention of defying expectations.  I like that.  I want to be surprised, shocked and even horrified.  I want to experience things and think about things in ways I never would have thought of myself.  Because that’s the joy of reading to me, exploring the depths of other people’s minds and lives.

Solid Characters

If a character is solid enough I’ll care about them even if they’re sitting there eating cheese and playing solitaire.  Good characters are the foundation of a great story.

A little love

I like a little love.  If it’s all war and politics and business it eventually gets boring to me, and unrealistic.  Love is all around us, it motivates us and permeates the fabric of our existence.  Without a little love in our lives, things tend to fall flat.

Those are a few of my thoughts on what makes a good read…tell me about yours.

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This is a post for www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge.  One blog post a day for all of June!  Check it out at the website or on twitter: @sofluid or #wpad!

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The Importance of Words

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I love words.

I fucking love words.

Isn’t it wonderful how the two sentences above mean exactly the same thing but feel so different?  It’s all thanks to one word.  Just the addition of one little word can make a sentence feel different, it can tell us something about the writer and change our entire perspective.  It’s a bit like magic, isn’t it?  By adding the word ‘fucking’ to my love of words, I’ve increased the boldness, maybe added a little shock and told you I’m not afraid of using words some people might find offensive or distasteful.  That’s a lot of information crammed into seven letters.

Here’s some examples of more words that change meaning:

Murder vs. Slaughter  

I love the word slaughter.  I think it’s so evocative and tells us something more specific about the death in question.  Murder is almost mundane, it’s the tame sibling of slaughter.  Murder is broad and sweeping, less perverse and savage.  To me, slaughter evokes images of a killing floor, a sociopathic, willful and gruesome act.  It adds to the gravity of the death and makes it something more than it would be if it was simply murder.

Making Love vs. Having Sex vs. Fucking

This is an exciting trio because each choice can say so much about the individual.  If you have two people and one refers to sex as making love, while the other calls it fucking, you immediately learn about both personalities and even the status of the relationship.  The dynamic possibilities are so rich despite the brevity of the terms.

Dirt vs. Earth

Earth is epic.  It’s vast, elemental and evocative. Dirt is small, local and simple.

“I can’t” vs. “I can not”

Words can also make a massive difference when it comes to dialogue.  The difference between an abbreviation and two separate words can tell us so many things about the speaker.  Perhaps it’s education or social status, maybe it’s time period or situation.  The choices we make for our character’s speech patterns can vastly restructure their personalities based on the smallest tweaks.

I fucking love words.  They are so important that just one (or the lack of one) can change the entire meaning of a story.

Tell me how you feel about words.

What are your favorites?

How do you use words to change meaning and character?

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Let’s talk about Sex (baby)

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Sex is awesome.

It’s dynamic, sexy and it makes things more interesting pretty much every time.

I have recently been writing an novel/la that involves a bunch of sex and I’ve been learning as I go about the ways in which I want to approach it.  I don’t read a lot of erotica or romance novels or even loads of stories in which there is a lot of sex, but I’ve still read enough to know what I like and what I don’t.

So here’s Star’s Dos & Don’ts for sex in stories:

Don’t

Don’t use terms like throbbing member or glistening folds or heaving bosom.  I’m sure the first time someone wrote that it was novel and maybe even evocative (probably not though) but by now it’s just dumb.

Don’t make sex sound pedestrian or clinical.  Anyone can use the words penis and vagina and tits and ass, but if you use the words too much they’re excessive and if you use them only once in awhile then they can be jarring.  There are always exceptions of course, like if you’re meaning to be shocking or you’re writing about medical kinks.

Don’t make sex a toss away.  Don’t just throw it in to be evocative, make it mean something.  Even if that something is that it means nothing, that’s better than just sticking it in where it otherwise might not belong.

Do

Remember your most exciting sexual experiences, what do you recall?  Was it the tension of the moment before the electric union?  Was it the thrill of a glance across a room?  Was it a subtle gesture?  Was it the fun after a particularly cerebral relationship?   Don’t be shy, use your experiences and your fantasies to your benefit and focus in on the things that matter most.

Think outside yourself.  Now that we have you thinking about your own experiences, think beyond that (unless of course you’re sex connoisseur and have tried everything imaginable).  Don’t be afraid of experimenting with orgies and same sex partners, kinks and fantasies.  Don’t go overboard (unless you’re writing erotica) but don’t be afraid to add a little extra.

Use sexy language.  I don’t mean dirty talk ‘ooh ooh you are such a sexy beast’, I mean find the poetry in the moment.  Think about metaphor and rhythm and try to match your tone to the pace you want to achieve.  Remember you are a wordsmith and you have free reign over the language, explore it, get sexy and have fun!

Finally and most importantly, investigate the relationships and how your characters interact.  Explore more than their physiological feelings in the moment and see what happens.  Sometimes the best sex is with someone you’ve known and loved for years, other times that could be fraught with problems.  Find out what motivates the sex and that will set the tone.  It doesn’t always have to be super passionate and steamy, it can be lonely, painful, meaningful, joyful, fun, desperate.  All of this depends on your characters relationships with themselves or others though, so dig in and go wild!

Have I missed a spot?

Let me know!