Writing 101 Day Six: The Day Everything Was Interesting

writing-101-june-2014-class-badge-2I’ve been drifting around the blogosphere since roughly 2006, when I joined LiveJournal. Before that, I was involved in fandom-related message boards and before that there were AOL chat rooms. Yes, I know I’m dating myself.

I started on LJ at the encouragement of my best friend. She was into Supernatural, and encouraged me to watch it. I tried, but the show never held me. I’m glad she convinced me to join LJ, though. Some of my closest friends are people I met in the Stargate fandom. I was heavily involved in that fandom in the mid-to late 2000s, and while most of the acquaintences I knew there have moved on, I still have friends like Natacha, Hannah, and Jess who are daily parts of my life.

I blogged for a few years on Blogger but never made many connections there. It was a niche blog and I struggled to find enough regular content in between bouts with migraines. When I started on WordPress, I expected a similar experience. I didn’t plan to use this blog much. I just wanted a place where I could post the occasional opinion piece that didn’t fit in with my fan culture musings.

I didn’t have a plan or care very much about whether or not the blog gained a following. Sure, it would’ve been nice, but that wasn’t what I was after. Well, my occasional opinion piece turned into a daily blog about stories, finding inspiration, and connecting with people around us. I post about my experiences in fiction writing, and if you are a writer, you’ll find a lot of tips and goodies here. For me, the main thing that makes this blog special is how much of it is written in response to (or in support of) other bloggers. I never set out to do that, but I’ve been lucky because I’ve met lots of folks with interesting and diverse points of view. My favorite part of blogging here is joining in their conversations. Somewhere along the way, I’ve gained over 200 followers.

Given that some of my friends’ blogs have followers in the thousands, I guess that might not look impressive, but 200 people is enough to fill a plane and it’s more than I envisioned when I began on WordPress in November 2013.

I think I’ve met more people this year than I have in the previous four years combined, and most of them are people I’ve met from WordPress or social media accounts associated with bloggers here.

So, I’m at a loss about today’s Writing 101 assignment. How do I pick the people I find most interesting, and how do I describe them when I don’t give a crap about their appearances and mannerisms? I decided that instead, I would put together a little thank you.

First and foremost: thank you to every person has followed this blog. I appreciate you, and if there’s ever anything I can do for you or to help make your blogging experience better, just ask.

Thank you to those of you who regularly read, like, and comment on my posts. Alex I haven’t forgotten about when we were talking about Sailor Moon. Still going to get back to that (one of these days.) Trent, Natacha, Natalie, I always look forward to posting Star Wars because I know you guys will have interesting comments. Karen, I always enjoy your reviews and seeing your trains of thought on various things. I’m happy to see your avatar show up in the like box.
ROW80 bloggers like Denise, Eden, Shan Jeniah, and everyone else who’s visited (I can’t possibly link to everyone, sorry!) thank you as well.

And of course, thank you to the folks who oil my brain and keep the wheels and gears turning with all of their thought-provoking and fun content. Natacha, Hannah, Gene’O, Diana, Suzie, David and Holly Shannon, Yolanda, and anybody else I’m forgetting.

This week I started reading some new blogs, and I haven’t gotten to know those folks yet, but they definitely get some interesting points as well! Check out fantasy author Kat Clemens, former Olympic Athlete Amy Gamble and fellow geek Christine.

And as I’m closing, if you’re a storyteller interested in diversity and representation for people with disabilities, check out my post from last night.  I have a new project in mind to help authors create strong positive characters with disabilities and feedback will help.

Blogging 201 and This Week’s Maintenance Overhaul

I had to take an unplanned breather from blogging shortly after Blogging U got started, but I’ve been following along with the Blogging 201 assignments and using them to focus some improvements I’d been planning to make.

I was wondering if some folks would be kind enough to take a look around and give me some feedback.

My blog is pretty diverse — more so than I had planned for it to be when I started. It’s grown up around connections I’ve made with other bloggers, shared interests, and discussions.

 

  • I’ve restructured nav bar, simplified my categories and added several pages.
  • I’m using my theme’s sticky post slider to highlight key posts and regular features; I’ve added the top posts widget and plan to start doing a weekly “favorite posts” instead of compiling a static best of page.
  • I have a plan to start incorporating my social media profiles and integrating them with my blog over the summer.

 

My questions are:

  • Can you find your way around the blog/find the content you want without trouble?
  • Does the look/feel of the blog seem cohesive to you?
  • Does it help or hurt for me to use the section header images as featured images in my posts? (those little pictures on the left.)
  • Is there anything that seems counterintuitive or that still needs improvement?
  • Is there anything missing?
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Herding Muses: On My Crazy Outlining Method (with examples)

Fountain Pen and notebookLast month, I posted about my character development process. Check out those posts here and here.I have some more examples of that, but I also want to talk about outlining. I can hear the groaning start already. I know that there some folks who hate outlining and feel stifled by it. For a long time, that was me.

I used to use a pretty traditional outline format with Roman numerals as key points and then a progression of letters and numbers. Sometimes I used the lower levels to detail what I was thinking/planning. Most people I know would stick to a few words or a line for each outline point, but that never actually helped me. Here’s an exerpt from a (very old) version of a novel outline. None of this is canon anymore.
I couldn’t get the formatting/spacing of this one to work on WordPress, so I uploaded it to a mediafire account associated with my design blog.

When I outlined like this, I would end up with pages and pages of detail for each chapter that either left no room for growth or were so hard to move around that every time something changed, I would have to make a whole new outline. I also had to wrestle with the sense that my story was “finished” before I had even sat down to write. I knew what had happened, and in my brain, it became ancient history, so part of me was off creating the “next” story or the “next” generation of characters when what I needed to be doing was actually writing the story I had just outlined.

Some of my friends and blogging acquaintances use Post-it notes or Scrivener. Neither of those methods work for me. Post-It notes make me feel like my brain is melting because there’s too much information at once. Scrivener probably would work, but I have a tendency to get distracted/carried away trying to set up the environment of special programs like that and by the time I have it the way I think I want it, I’m afraid to DO anything. I prefer to use Wordpad (not even MS word, just Wordpad) for outlining because it’s simple, there are few distractions, and it saves in .RTF format, which I can open easily in just about any other word processor.

I use WordPad for most of my early development stuff, and I’ll be doing another post to show how I organize the gobs of .rtf files I and up with.

WordPad

About three years ago, I decided to give up traditional outlining and develop my own outline format that actually approaches the story in the same way that my brain does.

Usually, by the time I start to outline a story, I know my characters and the important events in their lives pretty well. That’s because the first step in my creative process is usually the kind of stuff I talked about in my character development post. World building happens concurrently with character and plot development, but most of the time “plotting” starts with picking an event I know about or a problem I know the characters are having and just writing it out (along with a solution/resolution) in a logical order.

That’s the first level of my outline process. When I start, the scenes and events are usually sort of a jumble in my mind. Putting them in a loose order with bullet points helps me get a handle on the story in a way that’s easy to follow but not overwhelming.

Sometime after I’m done with that (usually after a break to let things settle and think about what I have) I create a more detailed version of the same outline like this. This is the part where the scenes really start to take shape in my mind, where I can visualize what’s happening and begin to grasp what the characters are thinking and feeling.

Because my first level outline is so loose, there’s room here for the scenes to grow and change, but there are still events (which I refer to as “anchor points”) that really don’t change. The outline is basically a winding path that leads from one anchor to the next.

The outline examples that I’m using for this post are from a short story idea, but I’ve used the same process to outline novels and serials. Each project is different and I tailor the level II outline specifically around the needs of the story. There are some constants, though. The further I go in a long story arc the more vague my descriptions and plot paragraphs become, but no matter what, there are still some anchor events. Those are what I hang a story on. For a short story like the one in this example, I can put a level II outline together in a day. For a longer story or a novel, it might take a week.

My third level outline is probably better labeled as a very rough draft of the story. For the purposes of this post, I made an example that only contains the first scene. I have sketched longer works this way, and I find it very helpful because it allows me to see which parts of the story work and which ones don’t make sense or need to be changed without having to spend all the time and effort to write a draft. It certainly helped me with the example story, because it made me realize that the tone of the piece was a lot darker and more angsty than the two stories I had previously written in this set. Although I did like some aspects of the example story, overall I wasn’t interested in writing a dark, angsty story just then, and if I hadn’t completed the level III outline, I would have been hip deep in a story I didn’t like before I realized what was going on.

I think the short story in this example took a day and a half for me to outline to the point that I realized it wasn’t working. It probably would’ve taken me several weeks of writing to realize that if I had gone straight from a basic outline to formal prose.

I hope that you find this post helpful. What are your experiences with putting a story or a writing project together? What are your favorite methods or tools, and how long have you used them?




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Domestic Violence: When It Isn’t That Simple

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Last night, my neighbor’s boyfriend grabbed her around the throat  and threatened to strangle her.

She says she’s fine now. She says she’s safe.  She’s upset with me for being nosy and calling the police. That’s pretty much what I expected to happen, but I had to call anyway.

It makes me sad.  It’s terrifying. I am an abuse survivor.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve heard them fighting. It isn’t the first time that I thought I heard one or both of them beating on each other, but I couldn’t be sure. I called the police a handful of other times, and usually they come, get an “everything’s fine” and go away again.  Then I get angry neighbors.  They know it’s me every time, because I’m the only one who’ll get involved.  The other tenants are elderly, or families with small children, and they’re afraid of reprisal. 

I don’t blame them.  I’m afraid too.

We talk about domestic violence, but we don’t like to talk about what happens when the police leave and the abuser doesn’t.  We don’t like to talk about the reality that restraining orders aren’t worth the paper they’re written on or how co-dependent abusers and victims can be.  We forget the campaigns of terror that can be waged without lifting a fist or a finger, and we forget that victims have to want help.

Every time I hear those sounds, there is a part of me that wants to fall apart and hide in a closet.  There’s another part that wants to grab my big-ass butcher’s knife or a hammer, go over there and take care of business because somebody has to.

The sane part of me knows I’d get myself killed. I’m not Christian Kane.  I’m  single, live alone, and have a disability.

The sane part also knows that the violence will probably be worse the next night. Because now he’s feeling threatened because someone called the police, and she’s afraid to say “Yes, this red stuff on my shirt is blood.”  He’ll find a way to blame her no matter what she does.  And he’ll be on the lookout for ways to get even with me.  That’s the way it works.

I will call the police again. What else can I do? What can anybody do?

***

 

Today’s Zero to Hero assignment was to make a round up post. I did that yesterday, and I don’t have enough to do another one, so I decided to explore WordPress image galleries.  I’d been planning to post a few galleries, including one with inspirational images for survivors.  As it turned out, I am having a hard time with the lack of tools for organizing my media files on WordPress and I don’t want to have to wade through that many image uploads. So, I changed my mind, and have decided to link to my Pinterest board for the time being.

I’ve been toying with the idea of this particular gallery for a while, but after last night, I finally decided to get off my butt and do it. So, I’ll leave you with my Pinterest board

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Zero to Hero Day 22: Blogging Events and Interesting Post Round up #3

Today’s Zero to Hero challenge was to draft a post for another blogging event. I made a post the other day for

the blogging events that I’m planning to participate in. I think I will leave it at that, but I will be browsing WordPress’s event listings for more things I might want to join when Ruth Snyder’s Blog Hop for Writers is over. For right now, my goal is to work on those posts and spend some time reading and commenting on the other participants’ blogs.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/tumblr/ I’ve been on Tumblr for about a year and a half. I joined to follow some artists I like there, but I don’t utilize my Tumblr blog for very much. It’s mainly reblogs of content from my design and resource blog. I’ve been considering closing it (and my twitter account) because I have a hard time managing/coming up with interesting things to say across a zillion platforms. This post highlights some ways that bloggers are using Tumblr and WP together, which is a concept I’d like to try.

http://natachaguyot.org/2014/01/19/revisiting-indian-traditionalism-in-shabd/ I’m interested in Indian culture and traditionalism for a variety of reasons. There are indirect indian influences all throughout my fiction, and I am not above shamelessly plugging my friend’s publication.:)

http://emilykarn.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/the-stars-are-lies/ neat poem I found in my travels. I’ve written on this concept before as well.

http://lamentsandlullabies.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/a-plea-to-the-women-who-know-girls/ I’ll be honest. The first thing that attracted me to this post was the image of the author and her daughter. The author’s thoughts are poignant and relevant to a discussion on aging, role models, and body image.

http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/the-art-of-being-interesting-scandalous-sandwich/ I thought this recipe looks… Well, interesting. Heheh. The Novice Gardener is such a pretty blog, I could look around there all day.

http://hannahgivens.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/digital-history-online-archives/ I write about the idea of gathering, preserving, and advancing knowledge (including historical knowledge), as well as concepts related to control of information and how that affects culture. So, the idea of digital archives is important to me, and again it doesn’t hurt that this is my friend’s blog.

http://parttimemonster.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/on-teaching-our-children-white-privilege-ageism-and-maintaining-and-open-dialogue/ I am trying to stay away from re-blogging a bunch of Freshly Pressed articles in this feature, because I think they are already probably getting plenty of exposure, but this post just stunned me and I felt it was important.

http://denisedyoung.com/2014/01/22/when-the-people-in-your-life-dont-support-your-writing-career-plus-an-row80-check-in/ A little encouragement for my fellow writers, from a fellow writer. I’m all for spreading positivity on the internet.
http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2013/10/special-needs-in-strange-worlds-jacqueline-koyanagis-ascension/#more-84472 I want to read this book. The whole “strange worlds” column is pretty cool.

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An Update on My Goals.

A few weeks ago, when Zero to Hero started, I made a post about how I started this blog, and some of the goals that I had for it in 2014.
I’ve been exploring the WordPress community a lot this month as I do my Zero to Hero Assignments, and I’ve found a few things that I think will help me meet them.  First, to recap:

I’m not in a position to commit to a strict posting schedule right now.

Welcome!

 

Hello there! I’m Rose Fischer.

You can read more about me below or in the site’s “About” section.  I’m a speculative fiction author and this is my personal blog.  I talk about a little of everything.  History, culture, writing tips, fashion, social issues, anything that’s on my mind.  Sometimes I share my own visual art or link to artists who inspire me, because I don’t see writing as something separate from the rest of my life.  This page is a collection of sites updates, news, and messages.  You can reach me by commenting here or using the contact page.

__January 2014: From the About Box__

This Blog in Cliff Notes

What You’ll Find Here

  • Herding Muses — This is how I like to describe the art and craft of writing. This section of the blog features writing tips, suggestions, prompts and other resources for your inspiration.
  • Fandom Bouquet — Here you can find my fannish musings: commentary on media and fan culture, reviews, and general geekery.
  • Free Reads — Have fun browsing my original short stories, poetry, and snippets. The genres vary, but I mainly write speculative fiction.
  • Personal—more about my own life, who I am, where I come from, and the occasional (or not so occasional) Op-Ed.

Regular Columns and Features

  • Are You Stuck? — Tips for getting your stories and other writing projects unstuck, topic ideas, and general free goodies for you to use with no strings attached.
  • 100 Things I Learned by Writing Fanfiction — an ongoing blog series about my experiences in fan culture and how they have helped me become a better person and a better writer.
  • Other Blog Series— every so often I do shorter topical series that tend to run over three or four weeks. Topics vary, so check back often for something you may enjoy.

__December 2013: From the About Pages__

I started this blog because I’m a loudmouth.

I have a lot of opinions, and try as I might, I haven’t been able to keep them to myself. When I began blogging on Fandom Bouquet in 2009, I wasn’t interested in talking about current events or having an author blog. I just wanted a place where I could write about my experiences in fandom, because I’m also a geek, and I wanted to talk about some of the ways that fan culture, the Internet, and broader popular culture are intersecting to change the way people look at the concepts of story and storytelling.

I kept finding other things I wanted to talk about.

Things like body image and disability, gender roles, spirituality and science, chronic illness,  marriage equality, perceptions of poverty, and dogs.  Yes, dogs.  I love dogs.  I also love music, cornbread, honey mustard, and blueberry muffins.  (Not all at the same time.)

Then I discovered that author blogs could be cool and interesting, even though I’m very strange for a fangirl and I don’t like hearing “behind the scenes” stuff about my favorite media franchises AT ALL.

  • I realized that writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
  • It isn’t something separate from the rest of my life.
  • Every other part of my life, every other thing that matters to me is part of how I write, and how I LEARN about writing.
  • The reverse is also true.  Writing helps me discover new things, learn about the world, learn about myself and the kind of person I want to be.

So,  you’ll find all sorts of things here: social commentary, reviews, writing tips, and anything else I happen to be interested in at the moment.

I have a standing policy of positivity. My posts are meant to be informative, entertaining, and to promote respectful discussion.  I write about things I like, things I support, or things I’ve learned that might be useful to others.  I won’t make a post specifically to rant, disagree, or list off reasons I don’t like Twilight.

__ORIGINAL CONTENT: November 2013__

So, I’m sure everyone will agree that what I need right now is another blog. I mean really. I spend so much time updating the ones I have, and I never run out of things to say or freebies giveaway. Especially since I haven’t been able to type in months and I’m relying on text speech software to make my posts. This is the perfect time to start a new blog on a new platform.

Well, I guess that’s the point. I want to do a comparison between WordPress and Blogger the same way I did my comparison between Paint Shop Pro and Photoshop CS 6 last year. The only way I’m going to be able to do that effectively is to actually use WordPress and see what I think. So here I am.

No, I’m not leaving Blogger and I’m not going to become one of those people who starts on WordPress, decides to port her content over, and then never has another nice thing to say about blogger again. I just want to check this platform now, and I have some content coming that really doesn’t fit on Fandombouquet or on Encompass Rose, so here I am.