Posted in writing

The Writing Diaries pt. 10 – The Art of Letting Go

One of the hardest things in life, is knowing when to let go. When to accept that it’s time take a step back. When to admit that something in your life is leading you in circles. Coming to that realization can often feel like failure, like giving up. But in reality, taking that step shows you are of a strong mind, and adept enough to meet those difficult realities head on. This is something that has been on my mind a lot lately, and has caused me to face some of my innermost struggles about myself and my writing.

Not my photo.

The novel I am currently working on, a.k.a., the “Big One” as I’ve come to think of it, is a story that has been very near and dear to my heart for years. I’ve mentioned from time to time on my blog, how this story has grown and evolved along with me, for several years now. The current word count is just over 80k, making it the longest project I’ve written to date, but also the slowest. I’ve watched as the word count crept higher and higher, (at a snail’s pace), and it is nowhere near done.

For the better part of four years I’ve worked exclusively on this story, and it’s been even longer since the idea first sparked in my mind. But out of the hundreds of hours I’ve expended on this story, most of them were spent agonizing over it in my head, instead of actually writing. I’d held off writing it for years, because I didn’t feel ready yet. And as the weeks turned to months, and the months into years, I’ve learned that I am still not quite ready for this story. And that’s okay.

Not my photo

It’s been hard. It feels like I’m failing, or like I’m letting somebody down. After spending the last four years of my life pouring so much time and energy into this project, the thought of abandoning it is quite painful. But I’m not really abandoning it. I’m simply putting it on hold– because I want this story to be “right”. I want to tell the story that my characters deserve, and I want to tell it well. But the time to tell that story is not yet.

If my story were a block of clay, to be intricately carved and sculpted, then at this moment my story is very much shapeless. There may be hints of a sculpture, in the way it curves here, or casts a shadow there, but it is still just a lump of clay. So, for now, I’ve made the choice to put a sheet over my unfinished sculpture and stow it away for safekeeping. And one day when my vision has cleared, and I can look at it, and no longer see an obscure form– but flesh and bones and a beating heart– then I will return to it. But in the meantime I will be patient, and I will wait until I feel a true sense of purpose for my story.

I wanted to write this post, to recognize and commemorate all of the time I have spent on this project and acknowledge that it has not been in vain. I have learned more from this novel, than any other writing project I’ve worked on so far and this novel will always mark a pivotal point in my writing journey. By allowing myself to take a step back from this project, I am free to work on other, new stories that have been waiting patiently in the wings. And though the future of my writing endeavors may seem a little murky right now, I am excited to face the challenge and see where it takes me from here.

So here’s to love lost, lessons learned, and the great unknown. Let’s never give up on our dreams, you and I. For only when we step off the familiar path, will we learn of all the possibilities that lie ahead.

Yours truly,

Lady S

Posted in writing

The Writing Diaries pt. 9: On the Outside Looking in

There are moments in all of our lives when we feel like outsiders. Times when we feel like an outcast, or the odd man out– watching from a distance, as everyone else seems to get along so easily. I’ve realized that in the world of writing, those instances happen quite a lot.

The other day I was thinking about the novel I’m currently working on, as well as a few other stories that have been occupying my mind-space, lately. I wondered if anyone would want to read them. I wondered if anyone would find them interesting, or boring or too weird. I wondered, what if my stories just don’t fit in anywhere?

It’s sort of like that feeling you get in school, or when you’re hanging out with friends and you hear that little voice in the back of your head that whispers doubts and fears to you. What if no one likes me? For a while I entertained that thought– worrying that not everyone would like my stories. But then I had a sort of epiphany, and I said to myself– so what? So what if my stories are different? So what if my stories aren’t like the ones on the shelves at the bookstore today? I realized that my entire life has been going against the metaphorical current– so why would the stories I create be any different?

I know that there are trends in publishing, just like there are trends in fashion. It makes sense that publishers would publish books that fit into that popular trend, and that writers would write stories that fit into that same trend. But here’s the thing, not everyone has to fit into the trend. I realized that I would be doing a great disservice to myself, and to anyone who might read my future work, if I tailored my stories simply to fit into the current mainstream trends.

The world has enough, nay, too many books that fit into the mainstream mold(s). I would dare to say that it is time for the modern book market to have a bit of a shake-up. As I was wrestling with all of these ideas, I remembered the quote that says, “Write the book that you want to read.” I think that is one of the most valuable quotes for any writer to remember. Especially if, like me, you spend much of your time wading through books that you hope to love, but don’t. Maybe it’s time for us, for you and for me, to write the books we want to read.

Creativity comes in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t always have to come in nicely packaged boxes, ready, and waiting for the taking. Your story might not have the typical main character, or the typical list of obstacles standing in their way. It might not be strictly YA, or middle-grade, it might be something in between. If you feel like your story doesn’t fit in, then here is your sign, your signal, to embrace it. Embrace what makes you and your story different. If you don’t love your story first, why should anyone else like it? And if you feel like your story doesn’t fit into the popular shape, then break out of it. Write the story that is carved onto your heart; the one inside of you that is begging to be written. People gravitate towards genuineness, and honesty, and your writing will show that. Though it might not appeal to the masses, that little spark of truth you sew into your story, may well resonate in the hearts of many a wandering soul.

Remember, stay true to yourself always, and don’t ever forget why you first chose to write. Thank you for visiting, and sharing in my thoughts today. I hope that you found this post encouraging, and I hope you never give up on writing the story of your heart.

Your truly,

Lady S

Posted in life, writing

I’m Back! NaNoWriMo & Other Things Too

Hello friends, I have returned at last from my unintentional blogging-break during the month of November, and much of December. Things in my life got a little hectic over the past few weeks, and in November I was completely consumed by NaNoWriMo. I thought I’d be able to squeeze in a post before now, but as you’ve probably noticed, I couldn’t make that happen. Before I fill you in on all things NaNo, let’s have a little chat about the weather, shall we?

I was under the impression that we were going to have a very cold winter this year. Autumn was chilly, and so I thought that as November and December rolled around it would be frosty and cold. But so far we’ve been having very mild weather and the sky is blue nearly every day. This weather does have its benefits, but these endlessly blue skies in the middle of winter are making me wish for snow.
There, I said it. I’m actually longing for snow, though I say it with some apprehension, for if I wake up tomorrow with sub-zero temperatures, and a foot of snow, I’ll wish I had held my tongue.

If you’re wondering how my very first NaNoWriMo attempt went… I won! I reached my goal of 50,000 words with a day to spare. I kept my expectations low when I went into this challenge, but consistency was key for me. It was very difficult, and most days I really didn’t want to write at all, but I persisted. Honestly, my writing was very bare, and the draft feels more like an extremely long and detailed outline. But at the end of the day, it’s 50,000 more words than I had before, and now I have something tangible to work with, to reshape, to improve. Not to mention, I received a ton of experience points along the way. I’m not sure I want to attempt this every year, but I’m happy that I pulled it off at least once in my life.

Oh, and by the way, I wrote it all by hand! In my last post, I mentioned that I was going to try writing it completely by hand, and I did. I think that’s one of the main reasons I was able to complete this challenge. I didn’t have to face that cursor blinking back at me on a blank screen; there was no deleting, no editing and for the most part, I didn’t even worry how my words came out. I was forced to commit my story to the page, be it good or bad. It was a very valuable experience, and I’m so glad I chose to write this story by hand.

Thanksgiving came and went. It was a nice, quiet day, though very unlike the holidays I’m used to. Due to a number of reasons, my family wasn’t able to gather together like we normally do, but given the circumstances, I was still grateful for the day. I made eight pumpkin pies, and I watched my first Hallmark Christmas movie of the year. Despite what the naysayers may think, Christmas simply isn’t Christmas without watching a few cheesy, Christmas movies. Right?

In November, I wasn’t able to read much of anything, or do any of my normal activities, but I did manage to listen to a great audio book, Six Crimson Cranes, to be exact. (Thanks for the rec, Alicyn!) Now that NaNo is over, I’ve jumped back into reading with both feet and I’ve read two books so far this month, and hopefully I’ll get to a couple others as well. And I have a couple half-read books that I want to finish before the year ends, so I can start the new year with a clean slate.

Christmas is right around the corner, and I can hardly believe it. Christmas always sounds so far off, until you realize it’s just days away. Luckily, I did all my shopping early, so I don’t have to worry over shipping delays, or anything like that. So far, this Christmas season feels different, and strange. But I guess after a weird year, it’s to be expected, right? Though it has caused me to intentionally seek out those little moments, and little ways to celebrate. I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas music, or Christmas decorations, but when everything was feeling sad and dark, I found a little spark of Christmas spirit. I decided to be fully immersed in this season, even if it was simply a mindset. I worked on Christmas cards with joy when, in years past, I did it with drudgery. I strung lights on my house to add color, and brightness to these long winter nights. I did small things, but it was those little changes that had the biggest impact on me, and others, too.

The season isn’t over yet, and I’m hoping to cross a few more things off my list; like going downtown to see the big Christmas tree, and all the decorations. I’d like to see the Christmas light display at my local botanical garden. I want to watch more Christmas movies, drink hot cocoa, and eggnog and spend time with loved ones. I want to do the things you can’t do any other time of year, and I want to enjoy these last few weeks of 2021 with peace, and joy. Because if Christmas time offers you anything, it’s a chance to quiet your soul, and listen closely to the truth that is often just a whisper, in the midst of all the ruckus.  

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Christmas Star Gif posted by Sarah Mercado

It’s been a while since we last spoke, what have you been up to? Did you participate in NaNoWriMo? Have you read any good books lately? What are you looking forward to this Christmas? Let me know, I’d love to chat with you down below!

Merry Christmas,

Lady S

Posted in life, writing

The Writing Diaries pt. 8: A Writer Rambles

Greetings fellow humans, how goes things? How have your days been? Are you busy with work, school, or writing? Has the autumn chill crept in yet? Have you dug out your collection of fuzzy knits, or woven wools? We had our first freeze a couple weeks ago and it’s been a little colder than it usually is this time of year. But that means it’s the perfect sort of weather to get some use out of my extensive sweater collection, and that makes me happy. My days have been pretty well occupied by a number of things lately. I’m not working at the greenhouse through the winter, and my list of to-do’s is much shorter now that we’re nearing the colder months. That gives me a little more freedom so I decided that it’s the perfect time to enroll in an online class. I haven’t mentioned it here on my blog, but herbal medicine is something I have become very passionate about. I love the study of herbs, the amazing qualities they have, and the ways they can improve our health in gentle ways. This will be my second online herbal medicine class, and I’m feeling pumped to learn all the things.

On the other end of the spectrum, I’m considering participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time. For those that don’t know, NaNoWriMo, stands for National Novel Writing Month. A yearly challenge, where writer’s from all over the world take on the challenge of writing an entire novel during the month of November. The goal is to reach 50,000 words, (roughly 1,600 words everyday), which is the technical length for a novel. Every year I watch the excitement and hype leading up to it, from afar. I’ve been much too intimidated and unprepared to even attempt such a feat. But this year, I am happy to say that I’m a lot more confident in my writerly abilities and I already have a decent outline worked out. I even went to a coffee shop, like all of the posh writers do, and hammered out some of the important details. I have no doubt that it will be a huge challenge, but it’s one I’m ready to accept. Oh, and I’m also planning on writing it all by hand.

Over the summer, I wrote a short story, and as I mentioned in a previous blog post, I wrote the first draft entirely by hand. (Prior to that, I wrote mainly on the computer.) I was amazed at how different the writing experience was. Writing by hand, seemed to lift the invisible pressure I had placed on myself, though one would think the opposite to be true. And writing by hand actually brought back a joy to my writing, that can be so easily lost. Needless to say, for this new project, I am prepared with a shiny new notebook for a shiny new story.

I’m still in the editing phase of my short story and am hoping to finish it very soon. Maybe I’ll even let somebody else read it. Truth be told, I’m one of those writers that hordes their writings and guards them with their life–not even letting a single sentence be read by prying eyes. I’m trying to break out of that habit, but it’s easier said than done. I’m also still working on the sci-fi novel I started last year. I’m actually really close to the climax, but progress is still slow-going. As with my previous novel, I again, hit a wall near the midpoint. It seems that that is the most difficult hurdle for me to get over with my stories, but if I can make it through that midpoint, I can make it through all the other parts too! At least that’s what I tell myself. That’s one of the main reasons why I’m going to write my next novel by hand, and try not to follow any of the same patterns I usually fall into. I’ve accepted the fact that this story is just going to take a little longer than I had planned, but I have faith that I’ll get to the end in good time.

Besides all of that, I’ve been making the most of the fall season. Fall is really the shortest time of year and winter seems to swoop in all too soon. I love the cool air, and deep colors of fall, and it’s an almost mesmerizing effect. It’s always so sad when I have to see them go. This year, I started celebrating early, by doing a spooky photo-shoot in a corn field with my sister, visiting a haunted house with some friends, and I’ve had some form of pumpkin spice drink, nearly everyday. In short, I’ve been embracing the quiet calm of the season–the here and now, and trying hard not to think too much about what is ahead. So often I can get preoccupied with thoughts and worries and plans for the future, that I end up missing all of the special moments right in front of me.

So here’s to peace and goodness, right now. I hope you’re living wholehearted today, and worrying less about tomorrow. May we all have faith that tomorrow will take care of itself. I hope you have a blessed fall, my friends. Stay well.

via GIPHY | Nature stickers, Powerpoint background design, Backdrops  backgrounds

What’s your favorite part of autumn? And are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in writing

A Story in Song | Inspiration for Your Next Story

If there was ever a show of hands, I’m sure everyone in the room would admit they love music. Music is an incredible, magical, phenomenon that has the ability to spread light and love in an otherwise dark world. Some people love to make music with instruments, or even their voice, and others, like myself, love listening to it. Music can inspire more than just happy thoughts or fuzzy feelings, however. Many songs can instantly spark a story in your mind. After all, songs themselves are a form of story. Worthwhile songs are filled with thoughtful words, feelings, and ideas. I thought it would be fun to collect a few songs that have a particular feeling, or an ability to tug on our emotions, and possibly even inspire an entire novel. Let’s get started.

  • Erik Satie – Gymnopédie No.1
Once Upon A Time In Paris | Travel Between The Pages

Lately I’ve grown a deeper appreciation for classical music. This composition in particular has such a nostalgic, melancholy, yet whimsical feeling, and I often listen to it on repeat. If I close my eyes, I can just see someone walking alone in the rain. Maybe they’ve forgotten their umbrella, or perhaps it’s late at night, or maybe they’re just going for a leisurely stroll in the afternoon. Whatever it is, this song is perfect to set the mood for your writing, or maybe even inspire an entire scene.

Listen here.

  • RM – mono.
RM 'forever rain' MV - YouTube

I’m cheating a little here, since this is an album, not just a single song– but I had to include it. I’m not sure how many times I’ve listened to this while writing. Somehow, it’s always the perfect soundtrack to the scenes I’m working on, and I’ve become very attached to each of these songs. Again, they have a slightly melancholy, lonely feeling, which often fits in well with the struggles my characters are experiencing.

Listen here.

  • The Civil Wars – Pressing Flowers
The Civil Wars - Poison & Wine - EP - Amazon.com Music

If you are writing a story that’s a little creepy, or mysterious, then this song is just what you need. Filled with haunting harmonies, and soft melodies, everything about this song makes me want to know more. What’s the meaning behind the garden? Why must they meet secretly? Maybe someone out there can write a story to answer all of these questions.

Listen here.

  • Seori – Running Through the Night
Breakthrough Korean artist Seori set to make her mark on the world stage

I really like this next song, and in fact, until I added it to this list I had nearly forgotten just how much I like it. Seori’s voice, accompanied by the strange tempo, and the visuals in the music video are the perfect combination of science-fiction and fantasy. This song, along with the others in this album are very much a story all on their own. The album art, and theme of the lyrics makes me want to write a sci-fi story about a lost princess on a faraway planet in some distant galaxy. If such a story calls to you, I think you’ll enjoy this song.

Listen here.

  • twenty one pilots – Leave The City
Leave The City/Two/Truce/Two - twenty one pilots (Flash Warning) - YouTube

Twenty one pilots are the kings of dark, and moody music, and if you’ve never given them a listen, I would highly recommend you do so. This song in particular is achingly sad, and beautiful at the same time. The lyrics play out like a movie script, and I can picture the scenes so clearly in my mind. This song is the epitome of dystopian, or fantasy tales, and the inspiration this song provides is just waiting to be called into action.

Listen here.

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That’s it for my short list. You may have noticed a theme in each of these songs. None of them are very cheery or happy, but I think that is why they spark so many ideas in me. These songs evoke questions and mysteries in my mind, and they make me want to climb into their world and discover the story within them. I hope you enjoyed this little collection of songs and I hope they even inspired you in some way. Do you find inspiration in music? What’s one song that you think could inspire a novel? Let me know, and we can chat in the comments.

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in writing

The Writing Diaries pt. 7: The Dragon Called Hogwash

Once upon a time, there was a young writer who discovered a mystical element called “theme”. The little writer learned of the great power this element held and its ability to transform story craft. The notion of “theme” did in fact seem logical but the wide-eyed little writer paid no heed. The little writer surmised that by the process of osmosis, or more accurately, diffusion, this very important element would somehow take root and settle naturally into her little writer mind. But alas, the little writer was soon met with the great big dragon called, Hogwash. This great and terrible dragon was too fierce a match for the writer and it sent her packing, all the way back to the drawing board, where she pulled out her dusty old books and began her study anew.

I hope you enjoyed that little allegory about a certain writer and her misconceptions regarding theme. And in case you had any doubts about the true identity of the little writer, well, it’s me. Theme is something I have struggled with throughout my writing journey and for a time I thought the idea of theme was even a little exaggerated. I knew theme was important and I knew every story had one, but I failed to understand how to implement theme into my own works. I had assumed that my subconscious would weave together a coherent theme into my story and things would all work out in the end. But as I was trudging deep into yet another writing project, many of the same issues began to crop up on the page as they had in most of my previous projects. I had a niggling suspicion in the back of my mind that the root of my problems was theme, or the lack thereof.

I examined all of my notes on the subject and reviewed what other writers had to say on the topic and it all began to make sense. All this time, above all else, theme had been what was hindering my writing process the most. To be honest, I think the entire notion confused me a bit. With so many technical terms and methods discussed by writers like, experiment in living, and poetic justice, not to mention, story theme, in contrast to story idea/message, my understanding became murkier and murkier. It was also a little embarrassing, since theme is reinforced so rigidly on writing advice websites, like Story Embers. I’d even read entire books discussing it.

I think I’ve finally reached a point where I can comprehend the idea in a more straightforward, if somewhat simplistic way, (which is how people like me tend to think, per K.M. Weiland’s teachings).

Theme, is the unifying subject or idea explored via recurring patterns–what ties everything together. (i.e. Power Corrupts)

Another way to think of it is by the definition of synchronicity:

The simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.

Theme has always been hard for me to grasp because when I first begin to work on a new story, my ideas are generally very broad. In the plotting and planning phases, my thinking tends to be too big when I should be thinking much smaller. With world building, and character arcs being developed, I find it extremely difficult to narrow my focus to the very essence of my story. I began to ask myself, if all of the scenes, and dialogue were stripped away, what would my story really be about? What message would remain? For a long time I agonized over this problem. So I tasked myself with a challenge, what if I had a clear theme in mind from the very beginning, would it change or affect my writing process? You may recall the experiment I talked about a few months ago, when I endeavored to write a first draft entirely by hand. What I didn’t mention back then was that I also used that same story to test out my new understanding of theme.

I had a few of the basics down. I had an intro, a few characters in mind, and a few names and places to begin with. But I did not yet have a theme. I was at a loss on how to condense this broad story idea into a single, cognizant message. So I did what any writer in doubt does, I went to google. I couldn’t really believe that I was scrolling through lists of generic themes to carve my story around. But to my surprise I found just what I was looking for. I found a theme that worked with my story and in fact, was exactly what I needed to fill in the gaps and join everything together seamlessly. Never had an outline come together so quickly or easily before.

At first it felt like cheating to use a theme I had found on the internet, but I realized that tons of other people probably do that as well. I don’t mean to say that google is the ultimate cheat-sheet to solve all of your problems, but I am saying that theme doesn’t have to be something so abstract or unique only to one story. There are actually a finite number of themes and truths to express in your story, but there are infinite ways to deliver them. What matters most is the way you deliver your truth.

I’ll close with a bit of advice I wish I had known a long time ago and that is, theme matters, a lot. But your theme doesn’t have to be so complicated you can’t articulate it with a few words. You can have a simple theme and still have a broad and expansive story to express it. It’s better to develop your theme before you begin your first draft, as I have learned the hard way. Also, don’t get caught up in all of the technical jargon thrown your way while you’re still figuring things out, you can worry about that stuff later. Google can be a friend, (sometimes) so don’t be afraid to use the resources at your fingertips.

16 Cute little green dinosaur emoji gif – 🔥100000+ 😝 Funny Gif Emoji  Emoticons Box 😘 Free Download 👍

I’m still trying to figure things out for myself, and just wanted to share some of my thoughts on this subject. If you’re also trying to make sense of all of these writing terms and elements, try not to worry, lots of us out here are right beside you treading those very same waters. And if you’ve already braved the rapids, perhaps you could share some of your thoughts and experiences with the rest of the class? We would all appreciate it.

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Helpful Resources:

Story Embers – Guiding and Inspiring Christian Writers

Writing Your Story’s Theme, by K.M. Weiland

Posted in writing

A Lesson in K-Drama | 5 Tips for Writers

If you know me, you know that I love K-drama, a.k.a Korean drama series. It was a few years ago when I first became curious about these foreign films and TV shows. I decided to give them a go and it didn’t take long before I was hooked. I never knew I could become so attached to characters on the screen or root so hard for them. And in many ways they surprised me by their depth, complexity, humor, and ability to draw you so deeply into a story. The more I watched and became familiar with the genre, the more I found certain elements that I wanted to include in my own stories. And after watching hours upon hours of content, I realized there were a few things many of them had in common. I compiled my notes and came up with five key elements that make K-dramas so darn good.

1: Vicious Villains

If there is one thing K-drama does best it’s villains, or at least the opposing force. There are times when the villain will move against the protagonist and I find myself filled with a burning rage, and other times when the villain feels so real and so honest, that I’m often empathetic towards them. When any work of fiction, (books or film), can get you to feel so intensely toward a villain, you know that character is done well. And when villains have realistic goals and/or purposes their impact is much greater than a character who is simply bad in order to cause friction in a story. I’ve also learned that a villain doesn’t have to be an evil Overlord, reigning terror upon innocent citizens. Sometimes it’s a classmate, a neighbor, a brother, someone who wronged you years ago. What matters most is the emotion and the selfish motivations driving them forward. (My recommendation: Tale of the Nine-Tailed)

Good Ol' Review: While Fun, "Tale of the Nine-Tailed" Falls Short of Epic  Potential - DryedMangoez.com
Hmm…. Who could the villain be?

2: Tropes Done Right

Whether we admit it or not I think we can all enjoy a good trope, when it’s done right. I’m sure you know the silly, sometimes cheesy stereotypes often found in film and books. A common one you’ll find in K-dramas is Rich Boy/Poor Girl. As often as I think I’m going to get tired of this trend, I don’t, because the character development isn’t so shallow as to end there. The personalities, motivations, and emotions are more real and affecting than the character’s job description. I have found myself able to relate to the billionaire, C.E.O. of a conglomerate company, from the humble walls of my suburban house. K-drama has the ability to remind us that we’re all human, no matter our social standing. (My recommendation: My Shy Boss)

Club Med Cherating Beach (Malaysia) – Korean Dramaland

Another common trope you will find, is love triangles. (Cue the cringe.) Not everyone can pull this off, but it is through K-dramas that I was introduced to the term, ‘Second-lead Syndrome’. Which means exactly what you think it means. It’s a strange and often painful phenomena where you find yourself rooting for the second lead instead of the main lead. Going down this road will most definitely end in heart-break, but it’s oh-so worth it. </3 (My recommendation: True Beauty)

Webtoon Artist Yaongyi Says She Fell For SeoJun In Drama "True Beauty" |  Kpopmap
“Nice guys finish last”

3: Internal Struggle External Conflict

Another aspect that K-drama does exceptionally well is internal conflict. Typically within the first episode you will catch a glimpse of the inner struggle the protagonist is faced with on a daily basis. Each character has a very real and often relatable challenge that most people can understand. K-dramas are mainly character-driven stories but that isn’t to say the outer conflict isn’t just as deep and pertinent. Trying to predict the twists and turns of a K-drama is almost as complicated as brain surgery. Okay, maybe not that complicated. These two different forms of conflict will surprise you when they culminate in an often epic clash at the end. (My recommendation: He is Psychometric)

He Is Psychometric - Episode 5 | Rakuten Viki

4: Moral of the Story

The moral of the story or what the writing world refers to as theme, is never left out of any K-drama. Most K-dramas are fraught with drama, as their name implies, but by the end of a series you’ll come away with a valuable life lesson or even a tough moral question to ponder. Many of them have a strong family element woven into the storyline with complicated relationships and consequences for all peoples. Sometimes they will focus on positive character transformations, and other times they will highlight the consequences of allowing darkness to take root in one’s life. So next time someone asks why you’ve been watching a K-drama for four hours straight, you can tell them it’s not just entertainment, you’re also learning some very important life lessons. For example, maybe the friendly neighborhood assassin down the street is just misunderstood, and his actions are actually justified? Hypothetically speaking, that is. (My recommendation: Kill It)

Jang Ki Yong | Kill It | Selebritas, Fotografi, Aktor
Still not over this one. </3

5: Laughter is Medicine, Too

If you’re ever feeling down the surest way I know to lift your spirits is a little K-drama pick-me-up. When you’re feeling gloomy or just want a little distraction from the world, humor is the best remedy. Just press play and you’ll soon be laughing, (or crying), along with the characters on the screen. Sometimes comedy can be over-done or even cringe-worthy, but when you find the right drama your belly will soon be aching from all the laughter. But even the seemingly lighthearted and cute dramas can be quite complex, and serious at times. It’s easy for jokes to fall flat in film or TV, but K-dramas sure know how to make you laugh, or at least smile. (My recommendation: Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo)

Currently Watching; Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo (역도요정 김복주) –  Kdramasanonymous

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I could go on and on about why I love K-drama so much, but I’ll end it here for today. I find it hard sometimes to classify K-drama’s as a thriller, or comedy, etc., because they also have the unique ability to bend genres. They will take you on a roller-coaster of emotions and plot twists as you follow the characters along their journey’s. I have learned so many story-telling techniques from K-dramas, that I think it’s safe to say that all those hours invested might just pay off in the end. And if you’re not too intimidated to cross the threshold into the territory of subtitles, I don’t think you’ll regret it. You might even find a new way to spend your free time.

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in life, writing

Turtle vs. Sloth – A Writing Update

Hello there, how are you? I hope your spring is getting along well. You may have noticed that I’ve been absent for a bit. I’m still here, just fell behind on posting because I’ve been so busy with work and life, that everything else has gone out the window. I’m another year older, and maybe even a bit wiser. The years come and go, whether we want them to or not, and hopefully we continue to grow and blossom, just like the plants and gardens we tend. The weather here is warming up nicely, or so it seems, until winter swoops back in and reminds us that it’s not ready to move on just yet. Spring is strange like that though, almost like a battle of the seasons. Reminds me of myself too, hot and cold, summer and winter all at the same time. But before I blather on any longer about the weather, or my own existential crisis, let’s move on to the topic at hand– my writing progress.

I’m in the middle of two projects right now, and they are coming along nicely, for the most part. Sometimes I feel really motivated to write, and I make good progress, and other times I don’t feel up to writing anything for several days. I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself, but at the same time, I have that nagging feeling that I should be. I’ve been working on my short story and it’s up to 4k words. I’m quite pleased with how it’s turning out, but progress has been slow, and I feel the need to give myself a little push. Be it my job monopolizing all my time and energy, or procrastination, or writer’s block, or all of the above, I’m not entirely sure, I just know that I can do more. I’ve been trying to remind myself of the words from the author in The Right to Write, by Julia Cameron. After reading numerous essays, the point she’s driven home the most is–just write, and the words will come. I tell myself that often, but somehow I always have a very good excuse not to heed her advice.

As for my novel, don’t tell my characters, but I’ve been avoiding them. Due to many of the previous reasons I mentioned, but even more so because I’m getting very close to the midpoint. I can feel myself bucking under the weight of concerns that I’m not going to do it justice, or I won’t be able to pull it off. I know that’s a silly thing to worry about but I can’t quite shake it. I know that this novel is not going to be perfect, and that no novel ever is, but the pressure is starting to pinch a little. The good news is, I’m still very excited about the story. I love the characters, and the world, and I really want to explore it more deeply. The bad news is, it’s turning out to be quite hefty. I haven’t even reached the actual midpoint, and I’m already passed 50k words. If my math is correct, the final story should be in the range of 100k words. I’ll probably have to dig out my axe, and do some serious trimming in later edits. Or maybe a chainsaw would work better.

Me at work!

Beyond those two stories, I’m fairly bursting at the seems with excitement about my next projects. I have two in particular that I can’t wait to work on. I’m not sure when I can start seriously working on them, but I’m slowly gathering information and inspiration for later. One is a fantasy trilogy, and the other is a paranormal short story. Hopefully I can begin the short story sooner rather than later but only time will tell. Overall, I’m happy that I haven’t run out of ideas or inspiration, but again, I’ve come to realize that I need to be a little more strict with myself. Or at least try to find a routine, and practice more self-discipline.

So that’s where I am lately in terms of writing. And if you’re wondering about my reading habits…let’s just say, they’re even worse. (I am blaming that all on bed-time procrastination.) Work has been busy and long, so I don’t have much time to read during the day and all I can manage is a page or two at night before my eyes drop shut. It took me about four whole days to get through one chapter. But progress is still progress, no matter how small, right? Isn’t there a saying about eating the elephant, one bite at a time? Some days, are tough but keeping a positive mindset and continuing to aim towards improvement, can help to see us through the rough patches.

Where are you, with your writing these days? Have you been accomplishing much, or maybe just taking things one day at a time? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in writing

The Writing Diaries pt. 6 : A Handwritten Letter

When was the last time you sat down with a pen or a pencil, and just wrote? Allowing the words to guide you across the page, instead of a rigid outline? It could be in the form of a letter, a journal entry, or anything in between. If you’re a writer, then it might not be so long ago. But in the age of modern convenience, we likely don’t “write”, by hand as our forefathers once did. I know that I have given in to the kings of convenience, despite my fondness for simple, pen and paper. Technology has managed to sneak its way into nearly all forms of writing, and even reading for that matter. For today’s post, I want to consider the different ways that writing by hand, or through a computer might affect the writing process.

In the early stages of the story process I always opt for a pen and a notebook, to capture those first few details and snippets, as they unfold inside my head. I’ll use sticky notes to jot down random names or topics needing more research. I might even write pages and pages of backstory that will likely never make it into the final work. But when I feel ready, I leave the paper behind and open up a “Pages” document on my computer, and let the real story begin. It’s exciting to start filling the empty space with words, and quotation marks, and chapter titles. To me, that’s when the real story begins and it starts to look and feel like a proper book.

Occasionally though, as time goes by and the story begins edging towards its climax, I can feel discouragement set in and the flow of writing can come to a halt. I become frustrated and feel that my efforts no longer look or feel like a “proper” book. It might start to feel like a jumbled mess, and I can experience great disappointment. It feels like all the hours and days poured into the project have resulted in nothing more than a wilted bloom, barely clinging to life, instead of the vibrant flower I had first envisioned.

Lately, I’ve been asking myself this question: “Does writing the first draft on a computer add more pressure to my writing process?”

On one hand, I can say that writing the first draft in a word document is genius. It’s easy to pound scores of words out by the minute, it’s easier to make changes, easier to recognize mistakes, and most of all, it’s easier to read computerized fonts than the scribbled chicken-scratch on paper. You can send a snippet to a friend for feedback, or even delete an entire section if you so choose. But could that be where the trouble lies? On a computer, nothing is permanent, and anything can be altered or changed at any given moment. Instead of plowing ahead with the story, it might be tempting to work backwards, and edit as you go. Perhaps a bit of permanence is helpful, or dare I say, even needed.

I’m reading through a book right now about the “writer’s life“. In it, the author shares many writing exercises to practice. One of them is to sit down and write three pages of longhand everyday on any topic you choose. She calls it “morning pages”, but it can be done at any time of the day. The idea is to cultivate a habit, and commitment to writing each day. And to show yourself that you can indeed write anywhere, anytime, anyhow. It doesn’t matter how messy or mixed up your words come out. The exercise is meant to allow your words to flow freely, and uninterrupted.

In the past, I have tried many times to write the first draft by hand, but I inevitably give up after only a few pages. Quick and convenient, always seems to trump slow and steady. I know that many authors write their first draft entirely by hand, and that has always astounded me. Writing by hand takes a lot of time, and to me, the story feels closer to being done when I can see it all typed out on a screen, (even if it’s very far from actually being done).

Recently, I’ve decided to try something different, an experiment if you will. For starters, I’ve decided to write a short story–something I haven’t done for quite a while. I’ve felt that my writing habits needed some livening up, so why not turn my usual routine on its head? I pulled out a new notebook, filled up my fountain pen with ink, and simply began writing. I’m not worrying too much about when I should write, or even if I feel like I’m in the right mindset to write–I’m simply writing. So far it’s been fun, really fun. Granted, I’ve had to stop myself at times, from the “not good enough”, thoughts that try to interrupt my progress, but for now, I’m trying to tell that part of my brain to stay quiet.

I’ve found that writing by hand takes away much of the pressure I usually feel when writing. And I’m learning to write without the imaginary critic hanging over my shoulder, and to simply write to tell the story that wants to be told. And that notion, for me, had gotten misplaced somewhere along the way. Until I complete my little experiment, I may not know if my writing habits will forever be changed, but for now, I’m enjoying the process and I think I may be converted. (Which means I’m going to need some more notebooks.)

What about you? Do you like to write on a computer, or are you more old-fashioned, preferring the pen and paper method? Tell me your thoughts.

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in writing

The Writing Diaries pt. 5: Let’s Have a Conversation

As humans, we are blessed with the capability to have conversations with one another. Some of those conversations may be dreaded, others may be eagerly anticipated — and some conversations may be unexpectedly fascinating. Given the right circumstances, even the most introverted of introverts can find themselves invested in deep conversations at times. And whether we think so or not, the words we say, and the way we say them, say a lot about us. Tones, inflections, and word choice all play a huge role in how others perceive us. And that is especially true when it comes to novels.

Here’s a transcription of an interesting conversation I had, with my three-almost-four-year old nephew.

(Cat enters the scene.)

Nephew: “Can I pet him?!”

Me: “Sure you can!”

Nephew: *pets cat* “He’s so soft and crunchy!”

Me: “Um, yeah.”

Nephew:*pets cat again* *sniffs hand* “He smells like some kind of problem.”

Ouch. Sorry Rusty, you’ve been called out.

This conversation tells us a bit about what’s going on inside of my nephew’s head. He doesn’t dance around his words, but gets straight to the point, and tells us exactly what’s on his mind. (I’m kidding. I just thought the conversation was funny, and wanted to share it, lol.)

Back to the topic of today’s post which is — conversation, a.k.a., dialogue.

Dialogue is one of my favorite parts about stories. But what makes good dialogue? Inner monologue, thoughts, and prose, can tell us a lot about the characters or the story, but dialogue is how our characters interact with one another. And it can be tricky to write dialogue that feels authentic. I know we’ve all read the books with cringy, or overly-witty dialogue that no real person would say aloud. And then there are the long-winded lectures, usually found in older works. But among them all, thoughts and feelings are expressed. Just as in real life, our words carry weight, so it stands to reason that, in fiction, our words should be just as carefully chosen.

There are many ways to have engaging, and interesting dialogue; such as tones of voice, or a sense of sincerity behind the words. In one of my favorite books, The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater, there is actually very little dialogue, but when a character speaks, it usually matters. Each character has a unique, and distinct voice, and you almost always know who is speaking without having to be told. Much of this has to do with word choice, or certain phrases. But this approach of less is more, is greatly due to subtext, a.k.a. the unspoken implications in books. (This element is something I’m still trying to grasp fully, to put to use in my own novel). When a character is depicted vibrantly enough, readers don’t need things to be over-explained and there is an understanding between the reader, and the character on the page. When your characters are well developed, and words aren’t necessarily spoken explicitly, we can still have empathy and understanding of the character, adding another layer of depth to the character’s interactions.

Something I’ve learned from my own projects, is that I must listen very closely to my characters. Until I’ve actually begun writing the story, I may not know if my character is one of few, or many words. One I may have thought more subdued, might surprise me, and end up being the comical one. And a character I may have thought more talkative, may end up being reluctant to give too much away. Another thing we all should be doing, is taking note from real life. When we’re talking to our parents, our friends, or listening to the way others are talking to one another, we should pay close attention. Try and listen for the subtle cues that keep the conversation flowing, or the ones that stifle it or turn things awkward. In other words, the best way to craft authentic dialogue is to take from our experiences in every day life.

Dialogue is probably one of the funnest parts of your novel to write, but it’s difficult too. Being a person of few words myself, I sometimes struggle to keep the conversations on the page flowing easily, (kind of like in real life, too). So I have to really dig down, and get deep into my character’s heads. While I may be the one writing out their words, I have to remind myself, that I’m not the character on the page. I think the best way to write great dialogue, is to become familiar with your characters so as to be true to their voice. I love to read honest conversations between characters, and see the way they interact with one another. One of the hardest jobs of being a writer, is to find that connection with your characters and to be honest and sincere on the page.

In closing, dialogue is something that can be overlooked when you begin working on a story, but it has the ability, and potential, to be a master tool in crafting deep, and impactful stories. So I just wanted to share some of my thoughts, and have a little chat on the subject. What is your approach when it comes to writing dialogue? Do you have any tips or tricks to share?

Thanks for reading,

Lady S