Alternative Types of Writing

What the Hell is a Blovel + Freebie alert!

Posted by on Aug 8, 2014 in Alternative Types of Writing, Pen and Muse Summer School, Writing | 3 comments

What the Hell is a Blovel + Freebie alert!

I suppose I should start out by explaining the basics. What the hell is a blovel? To put it simply…. a blovel is a novel that you write on your blog. It is normally done daily, or every couple of days. Some argue that each post should be no more than 500 words. Why would anyone write a blovel? Put yourself out there. Many will do it to “put themselves out there.” I mean, really it seems no different to me than putting your work up on Authonomy or Wattpad as you write it. Except this blovel is located right where people can find out more about you — your blog. However, I suppose if you wanted to work on a new novel as you would a blovel on one of those sites, the same rules would apply. Do it for fun! I’m the first one that will admit that for my favorite television shows or serial books such as the Untamed series, I wait anxiously until I can see what happens next. When you write a blovel, your followers have no choice but to eagerly wait for the next installment. It helps build anticipation and eagerness, and if you’re like me with Wild At Heart (Untamed #4) (which is not a blovel, it’s a serial), you’ll get super happy and pissed simultaneously that you have to wait. Build an audience and a following. When I discovered my first blovel a few years back, I never anticipated that I would get so wildly addicted. I wish I could remember the name of the blog or the blovel now, but it was a hilarious tale chronicling a girl and her office woes, who happened to be secretly in love with her out-of-her-league co-worker. (If anyone remembers this one, let me know what it is in the comments because it’s killing me.) My point is, I found myself stopping by her blog often, subscribing to her website, and checking her Twitter feed to make sure I didn’t miss what happened next. If the author’s original intention was to build an audience, boy did it work. Where do I start? To start a blovel, you only need three things. 1. An idea 2. A blog 3. Fingers, toes, a nose, or a friend for typing. Tips and Tricks 1. Since you have roughly 500 words (remember that is the average installment size, but there’s no law saying you have to stop there) you need to try and leave the reader with a cliffhanger, or something clever, or something the main character is anticipating / dreading / looking forward to. You want to leave it for the readers to come back for more. Do not tie each entry up neatly with a bow. 2. Give it time. You’re not going to start a blovel and have one million readers the very next day. I’m not saying it isn’t possible, but it’s not likely. Stick with it and you’re bound to get followers. 3. Write what you want. If you’re passionate about it, it will show in your writing. Especially if you’re just starting out, you may be writing largely for yourself at first. Living the story or the characters will make it fun for you no matter what. 4. Edit what you write before you post. Just because it’s on a blog doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fact check, edit, and do spell check. 5. Have fun with it! Writing a blovel and hitting publish on that blog post means your characters have to live with their choices– there’s no taking something back when you’re editing...

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Screenwriting: Ways Into Plot by Tellulah Darling

Posted by on Aug 7, 2014 in Alternative Types of Writing, Pen and Muse Summer School, Writing | 2 comments

Screenwriting: Ways Into Plot by Tellulah Darling

It’s so tempting to dive right in to story. But really, the hard work is all in character. Without character there can be no plot, because a story can be told in a million ways. It’s the specificity of character that determines direction. Two elements I focus on before figuring out my story are: 1) start and end points of my character and 2) want/desire/need. If I know where my character is going, I know where I need her to start. For example, if I want her to realize that love is worth risking all for, then it makes sense that the place she needs to start is believing the opposite. She’s closed to love. Maybe she’s a player. Maybe she refuses to date at all, burying herself in work. Maybe she finds reasons to run from every relationship she gets into. Show the audience where she’s at and, ideally, what has gotten her to this point in her life. Was it growing up watching her parents’ bitter divorce? A cheating ex? Find creative ways to set this up at the top of act one. Now you’ve created a total picture of a character out of balance. The fun is forcing her through a love story to reach that end goal. This is where #2 comes into play. Want/Desire/Need – You can use these 3 ideas as a way to both focus your protagonist’s journey and shape her character arc (the way in which she changes at the end of the film because of the dramatic action.) Want = protagonist’s goal. (Note that want/desire/need can be applied to all your characters, not just your protagonist, and the films that do that, I believe, are stronger for it.) Want drives the story. It’s specific, tangible – the audience can track its success or failure as the protagonist moves through the story. There are stakes attached. ET WANTS to go home. Marlon WANTS to find Nemo. Simple and clear. Remember, that they may want this goal but won’t get it until the end of the story (if ever). All conventionally structured films include a “want” for the protagonist because that is what drives the A plot. NOTE: Goals or wants can change. For example, in Alien, at first the crew just wants to go home. After landing on the planet the wants/goals continue to change as we get deeper into the monster’s lair and having to survive. This is okay. While it is much simpler if you only have one overall goal (in terms of writing it) you can change your goal as long as it is ALWAYS clear what that goal is, why that goal exists and that there was a clear progression that led to that goal.) Okay, so “wants” are “goals”. Why, though, do does your protagonist have that “want”? That speaks to motivation and creating character at a more complex, deeper level than basic want. This is where DESIRE and NEED enter. DESIRE is also something that the protagonist wants but can’t YET have. However, it is intangible. The boy WANTS the girl. WHY? He DESIRES love and companionship. Desire delves much deeper into character. It answers WHY and speaks to theme. NEED is that which the protagonist needs in order to get their want/desire. They don’t realize they need this (at the start) and this propels change. The character arc of the story. The Bad News Bears WANT to be the little league champs. Why? They DESIRE to be winners for once in their lives. In order to hope to do this, they NEED to come...

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Writing a Serial by Jinsey Reese

Posted by on Aug 6, 2014 in Alternative Types of Writing, New Adult, Pen and Muse Summer School, Writing | 1 comment

Writing a Serial by Jinsey Reese

Early in 2014, I noticed how well serial stories were doing in the ebook market, and in talking to my lovely writer friend Victoria Green, who’d also noticed the trend, we started saying things like “I should try writing a serial. You should too.” “When I finish this book I’m working on, I’m going to have to do it.” Because people were selling MILLIONS of books in serial format. After studying the market and the people who are doing well, I realized there are several factors that make serials successful. 1. Most are written in the romance genre, and romance readers are voracious. They also want more, More, MORE, so giving them more story than just a typical-length book makes them happy. Of course, there were things we were worried about. So many serial authors get criticized that they’re just cutting up one book into pieces. And there’s good reason for that…it’s often true. Not in the sense that the author has written an entire book and then chopped it up. Most serial writers we know of write the story one installment at a time, but each installment is only a small piece of one story. We didn’t want to do that. So when we dreamed up our premise and main characters, Dare Wilde and Reagan McKinley, for the Untamed Series, we decided to write complete stories—with a beginning, middle, and an end—in each book, crafting the plot line into a climax that would resolve…and then end each book on a cliffhanger. Because of that, our books ended up being longer than most serial installments. At a little over 40,000 words each, they’re short novels. Once the final book in the series is released mid-August, we will have plotted, written, polished and published over 200,000 words in five months. One of the most surprising things about writing the serial, has been how fun it has been to write an epic story. Because of this format, we’ve told a more expansive story than we ever would have dreamed up if we’d just written a normal 350-page novel. We’ve be able to show incredible growth of our characters because so much more happens thanks to the serial format. We liken each book to an episode of your favorite TV drama. Just like each hour-long episode, each book in our series gives a complete story that is a part of a much larger, epic saga. We made these decisions because as readers we didn’t like the idea of getting only a little piece of a story, and so we wanted to make sure we were delivering good value. Giving our readers plenty of story to keep them hooked. 2. Serial spin-offs just make readers happier. Readers get attached to characters. Even minor ones. And they get deliriously happy when secondary and tertiary characters get their own books/series. So we planned that aspect out from the beginning—companion serials—and make sure our readers KNOW they have more to look forward to once we wrap up the Untamed Series. Our male lead in this first series is Dare Wilde, who has two brothers and a sister who’ve had cameos in several of the books. They are total fodder for companion serials, and so we dubbed the entire (future) set of serials The Brothers Wilde Collection. With this first series we’re creating a loyal following who are already hounding us for series about the other Wilde siblings, as well as books starring the members of (Dare’s older brother) Dash Wilde’s band, who all appeared in Escaped Artist (Untamed #3). We’re opening up our options to give...

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So You Wanna Make a Webcomic by Ron Tucker

Posted by on Aug 5, 2014 in Alternative Types of Writing, Pen and Muse Summer School, Writing | 2 comments

So You Wanna Make a Webcomic by Ron Tucker

Thanks to Jolene and Kristen for letting come back and talk a little more about comics!   Webcomics have actually been around a lot longer than many people realize. If you’ve thought about doing a comic book, putting it on the internet as a webcomic is a great way to go before publishing it either traditional or digitally. And it’s actually really easy to get started. I’m my previous post, “How to Publish a Graphic Novel”, I covered a lot of points that apply to webcomics also. From genre to choose, artist and writers, and even publishing in black and white or color. For today’s topic of webcomics, I’m going to focus on just three areas; page layout, hosting, and updating. Many webcomics started because the creators got tired of submitting and re-submitting their comic strips to newspaper syndicates, and decided to branch out on their own by putting them up on the web. For that reason, most of the early webcomics were all done in the “comic strip” layout. As time has gone by though, many webcomics have adapted and decided to go the “tradition” comic book page layout. Even newer webcomics have incorporated gifs and animation into their comic. It really all depends on the type of story you’re aiming to tell. Are you going for a gag-a-day style webcomic? Most likely, a comic strip layout would work perfectly. One of my favorite webcomics, Girls With Slingshots, works from the strip layout, as do webcomic pioneers Penny Arcade and PVP. If your story has more plot or action to it, a comic book page layout might work better, because you’ll have more panels to work with and tell your story. The webcomic Gunnerkrigg Court and Questionable Content, both have used this page layout, most likely because of their story content. As a side note, there are single panel webcomics out there, and if you want to start a webcomic in that form, for say, a single joke like the traditional newspaper comics Bizarro or Family Circle, that can work too. XKCD and SMBC, while both use strip and comic page layouts, have used single panel layouts in their webcomics. The subject of your webcomic should be a subject you WANT to write and/or draw about. The genre of webcomics are just as vast as genres are with tradition books, and all of the webcomics above prove anything and everything can be done as a webcomic. You’ll want to pick something you WANT to produce, because you have to update your webcomic, and sometimes that can be taxing. The difficult thing for some webcomic creators, is picking an update schedule and sticking to it. You’ll want to have a routine of scheduled updates that you can commit to. Unless you already have a fan base, starting and updating a webcomic just once a week, while it may be easier to produce, can be very difficult to get noticed. Maybe that’s okay and you just want to tell a story. That’s great if you do, but if you’re just starting out and want to build a fan base, updating at least twice a week, preferably three times a week, is a must. The reason being, is that with each post, you’re building your back catalog. If a new reader stumbles upon your site and it catches their attention, they can go back and catch up on the rest of the story or other jokes you’ve made. If you’ve been updating your webcomic once a week for a month, all they’re going to find are four strips, but if you’re...

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