diyMFA book club, For Writers

A Writer’s Reading List – diyMFA book club

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Today I’m doing my final post for the diyMFA book club. (If this is the first time you’ve heard about diyMFA, you can find out all about it here.) One of the prompts was to share your reading list.  I enjoyed the reading section of the book, and I loved the way Gabriela broke the writer’s reading list down into three categories. The great thing about it – you tailor it to your genre. The three categories are:

Craft Books: These are the books that deal with the craft of writing –  books that help you improve your writing.  Currently, these are the craft books I have on my TBR list (some of them I’ve read parts of, but I haven’t read any of them in their entirety):

    1.  diyMFA by Gabriela Pereira

    2.  Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin

    3.  Story Genius by Lisa Cron

    4.  Self-Editing For Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King

    5.  Social Media for Writers by Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine 

(You can add me as a friend on Goodreads, where I have a bookshelf full of these books 🙂 )

 

The Classics: These are the books that are classics in your genre. I write YA – which doesn’t have as many classics as some other genres. Widely considered the first YA book, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, was published in 1967. I’ve already read this classic and loved it! Here are some more YA classics on my TBR list:

1. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

2. A Wrinkle in Time by Ursula Le Guin

3. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

4. Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly (Written in 1942, some people considered this to be the first YA book, as opposed to The Outsiders, so I’ll have to give it a look)

5. The Grey King by Susan Cooper

Comp. Titles: These are books that are comparable to the book you are writing. I write YA fantasy with a fairytale twist (some are retellings, some are just stylized like fairytales), so I read a lot of fantasy, especially retellings. I don’t have a specific list for this group, because I am always on the lookout for these books and am continually adding to my TBR list. This month I have selected several books to read for the #fantasticfeb reading challenge, and several of them fall into this category. You can see my #fantasticfeb list here.

Another diyMFA book club prompt was to share a picture of your writing space.

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I write a lot of different places, but I do have a desk where I do a fair amount of that writing. There’s a window on the left side which lets in lots of natural light. I find this energizing and motivating.  Also, I’ve hung a lot of inspirational pictures above it. 🙂

writing space

I love this desk! I’ve had since I graduated from college. One day, my grandpa (the same grandpa who helped inspire me to become a writer by telling me his stories) and my dad helped me comb through garage sales to find a sturdy desk. We found this one for a dollar.  It needed some cleaning, a little sanding, and a new coat of stain, and then it was ready to go. Pretty awesome, right?

 

So how about you -What’s on your reading list? Do you have a favorite craft book? Where do you write? Let me know in the comments.

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diyMFA book club, For Writers

diyMFA Book Club – Characters and Story Type

Today I’m responding to a couple more diyMFA book club prompts. Both of these two prompts were particularly interesting to me, because I feel like they given me some insight into my current WIP.

First, is which supporting character type is your favorite to write?

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There are five supporting character archtypes discussed in the diyMFA book:

The fool – This is the character who tells the MC the things he or she needs to hear/face, but won’t face on his or her own. Often this character seems shallow in the beginning of the story,  but as the story progresses you see that is not the case.

The love interest – This one is pretty self-explanatory. This is the MC’s love interest. Sometimes there can be more than one, creating more conflict in the story.

The mentor – This is the character who takes the MC under his/her wing and often tells the MC things he/she wouldn’t otherwise know.

The BFF – Again, pretty self-explantory. This is the best friend of the MC. This is another case where having more than one can help create more interest in the story.

The villain – This is the person who is out to destroy the MC, and this is my favorite supporting character to write. I love seeing how the villain came to be, and writing at least little of his/her origin story. I also like comparing the MC to the villain – hi-lighting the choices the MC makes that keeps him/her from going down the same path as the villain.

When talking about villain stories, I have to mention Heartless by Marissa Meyer. This is an excellent origin story about how the Queen of Hearts came to be. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

The next prompt moves from characters to story. Just like with character types, there are several story types.

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There are three basic story types:

1. The protagonist faces a more powerful antagonist. 

2. The protagonist faces an antagonist of equal power.

3. The protagonist faces himself.

 

My favorite story type is the first one – the underdog story. I love writing about characters that triumph even when it seems unlikely that they will. Even in real life, I always root for the underdog.

Just like with many of things, your story can be a mix of these types. Often the protagonist is going to have to confront him/her self. These scenes are fun to write. I like discovering why characters make certain choices and seeing how those choices are going to change their journey.

What is your favorite character archetype? What about your favorite story type? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

I’ve really enjoyed participating in the diyMFA book club, and I will be posting about it once more later this week. Though the book club is pretty much over, there are a lot of great resources available on the diyMFA website.

And if you’re on Instagram, check out the giveaway I’m hosting @charityrau.

 

diyMFA book club, For Writers

Creativity and Storytelling Superpower

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This is my second post for the diyMFA book club, and I’m responding to two different prompts. 🙂

The first prompt: What is your storytelling superpower?

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I got disruptor.

Disruptor – You’re drawn to larger-than-life characters who rebel against the status quo. Your stories champion people who will do whatever it takes to change their societies, overcome all odds, and defeat tyranny. Whether your character makes a small but significant personal choice or starts an all-out revolution, at the core your stories are about sharing your ideals with the world.

I do love to write about characters who overthrow evil tyrants 🙂 , so I think this fits. This quiz is pretty fun, and gives you some insight on why you might be drawn to certain characters.

If you want to take the storytelling superpower quiz, you can do so here.

The second prompt: What feeds your creativity?

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So many things!

I find inspiration in art, nature, family and friends, people watching, books, and movies, to name a few. One thing that I found really helpful in Gabriela’s book is the idea of having an ORACLE (outrageous ridiculously awesome creative literary exercises). An oracle is a box or container filled with things that inspire you. Whenever you’re having an uncreative moment, you go to your ORACLE and look through it.

Up until this point, I had just been keeping a notebook with ideas, but I realized how helpful an ORACLE could be. So many times I forget things that have given me a moment of inpiration. So I have decided to start my own ORACLE.

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I found this box which I think is perfect. I love the color and sparkly mermaids! They fit fit right in with my genre (fairytale/fantasy).

Some things I’m including: inspiring pictures (a folder for character images, and a folder for setting images), story cubes, and a jar of writing prompts. I’m also including the my Writer’s Digest magazines, because they always provide inspiration. 🙂

oracle contents

The thing I really like about the ORACLE is that it can grow with me. As I find more inspiring things, I can add them into the ORACLE. This is going to be great for my creativity!

What’s your storytelling superpower? Do you have an ORACLE? What kind of things do you keep in it? Let me know in the comments.

 

 

 

diyMFA book club, For Writers

My Origin Story – How I became a writer

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As I mentioned in my last post, I am participating in the diyMFA book club, and this is my first official post for the book club. 🙂 If you want to join the book club, all the details are here. The first prompt Gabriela gave us was to write out your origin story – the story that led you to become a writer.

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As long as I can remember, I’ve been surrounded by books and stories. My parents are both teachers, so they understood the importance of exposing children to books at an early age. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment that I decided to become a writer, but there are several personal experiences which led me here.

Some of my earliest memories include the stories my grandpa told me, my siblings, and my cousins. They starred a heroic coon dog named Cady. She defeated bears, took down mountain lions, and conquered evil humans, and I loved her. Soon I was making up stories of my own and telling them to my siblings. This was my first step into the world of storytelling.

Not much later, in about second grade, I discovered the book Little Women (the great illustrated classic version, which I still have). I carried that book everywhere with me and read it too many times to count. I even fended off a boy a grade above me who claimed I was too little to read such a big book.

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Jo March was my favorite character, and I wanted to be just like her, including becoming a writer when I grew up. And Jo March was only the first of a long line of characters (including Anne Shirley, Rory Gilmore, and Jessica Fletcher) who continued to inspire me to become a writer.

As I got a little older, I still continued to tell stories, often incorporating them into play. My sisters and I just didn’t play house with our Barbies. Our Barbies were on the run from an evil stepmother, solving murders, or trying to survive on their own.

(Scroll over the pictures to see the captions. 🙂  These are my actual Barbies from when I was a kid.)

But it wasn’t until middle school, when I took a creative writing class, that I began writing my stories down. I also started keeping a journal then.

My senior year of high school, I was editor of the school newsletter. I went to a small private high school, so it was actually pretty cool that I had this opportunity. I began contemplating a career in journalism, but really liked writing fictional stories best. However, I knew it would be difficult to make a living solely on writing novels.

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Once I got to college, they had already prepped a course schedule for me (based on the elementary ed major I had initially written on my application) and rather than go through the hassle of changing it, I decided to accept the schedule they had already set up. Lazy, I know, but I still had those doubts about not being able to make a living by writing.

I did add an English minor, and that proved beneficial as I learned so much in those classes, and there were several inspiring English professors who encouraged me to follow my writing dreams. I began writing my first novel while in college, but ended up shelving it because it was not good.

After graduating, I continued to write on and off. I had times when I was productive and other times where I didn’t write much. It was several years before I decided to take my writing seriously and start treating it like a job. I started this blog, created social media accounts, and began building my brand. Now I have four manuscripts with complete first drafts, but in various stages of the editing process. I am putting the final touches of one of those manuscripts and it will be published later this year!

What was you journey to becoming a writer like? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

 

 

 

#authortoolboxbloghop, diyMFA book club, For Writers

The diyMFA Book

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Today for the #authortoolboxbloghop, I wanted to share one of my favorite writing resources. It is the diyMFA (Do-it-yourself Master of Fine Arts) book by Gabriela Periera. The title says it all – this book is set up to help you complete all the things you would do in a Master of Fine Arts program without the price of a university program. Not only is it perfect for the writer who wants to work towards a master degree, it’s also filled with tips to help any writer. There is also a website with even more resources for writers, and you can check it out here.

The book is not a typical craft book. It focuses on writing with focus, reading with purpose, and building your community. It is designed to help you finish your novel, and has been an excellent motivator for me.  I’ve also met some great people through the book’s community.

One of the things I like most about the book is the way you can tailor it to fit your needs as a writer. Gabriela has created a guideline to follow, but you choose the resources and customize the exercises to fit within your realm of writing, be it fiction or nonfiction.  You can even take it a step further and make it genre-specific.

Right now Gabriela is hosting a book club, and I’m really enjoying it. She sends out prompts that help get your creative juices flowing. (I’ll have more on that in a later post.) There is also a facebook group where you can connect with other writers. If you’re interested in participating, you can sign up here. I recommend it for anyone who’s working to finish up their manuscript, or for anyone who wants to connect with other writers.

Have you read the book? If so, what did you think? Are you already participating in the book club? Let me know in the comments!

You can follow along with the #authortoolboxbloghop, or join in if you want. All the details are here.