Revisiting Old Books

I did a little bit of cringing today, while looking at my old writing. My sister told me it really wasn’t that bad…and I do agree, for the time it was good. The stories I told were engaging, it was merely the old idea I had, where I thought I had to use sophisticated words in my writing. I didn’t use the words incorrectly (thank God), however it gets pretty annoying after a while…like…people don’t actually talk like that.

Oh well…I’d better go. I have some editing I need to do.

Books, Editing, Books.

So last night I wrote my final exam of the school year. Thank God. I was ready to be done with my courses back in March. It felt like the year just kept dragging on.

Now that that’s over with I now have time to edit my novel and work on my own projects. My goal is to complete this first edit by next week. I’ve already finished a good chunk, and I figure if I create a schedule I’ll be able to finish by then.

Setting deadlines for myself is extremely helpful, because when I first began writing I couldn’t stop. It was as if no matter what I had to write. Ever since I put my first novel on hold, I’ve been writing in a more…staggered pattern. Usually bouncing between projects, or suddenly choosing to do work out of the blue. It may also have to do with the fact that I’m an English major and I’m being forced to read and write versus doing it because I find it enjoyable.

I’ve recently been asked if I’ve been compiling a list of beta readers and editors. At this time I have a very rough idea of people, however it isn’t set in stone. I decided early on that I wouldn’t ask until I was satisfied with my own edits. Once that’s done I’ll let other people review it.

My Mom attempted to peak at my writing during Easter. I don’t believe I have ever shown her my writing. I’m not sure if it is her taste, and also she tends to prefer reading non-fiction. I think I’ll let her read this novel…since honestly it is a hundred times better than the six book series I’d been working on back in the day…yikes.

Anyway, at this point in time I feel like I’m in the very early stages of editing. I’m trying to tweak the first half of the novel which was written in 2013 to fit my current writing. It can be a little tricky at times, because there are sentences I really like and then there are sentences that I completely tear apart and rearrange. I think when I had started the novel I was trying to work on being more descriptive. This was before I realized that I really enjoy writing dialogue, and began using that to push the story along versus dragging out scenes where I described the colour of the wall. Don’t get my wrong, I don’t dislike lengthy descriptions but unless describing the scene is significant to that particular passage I don’t see a point in making my readers go through “Charles Dickens–like” descriptions.

I’m not bashing Charles Dickens, I just scored one of his novels the other day for only a buck. I have a little collection of his work. Oliver Twist is still my favourite so far, but it might just be because I used to rent Oliver and Company from the library every Friday with my Mom when I was in kindergarten. Those were the good old days. How did my parents not see this coming? I mean, I preferred reading Curious George and Cat in The Hat over going to my swimming lessons. I’ve had a journal since the first grade. I started writing stories when I was like five years old…very interesting ones. Mostly about animals…and occasionally “zoom-bies” but hey, we all start somewhere.

Not to mention my Nana is a book lover, and so are my aunt and uncle on my Dad’s side. I’ve been exposed to people who love to read, and my Dad shares the same name as a well known author (yes he’s been asked to sigh books before).

Yah…how did they not see this? Then again it was my neighbour who told them to put me into music. I Guess the only thing they really noticed was my love for drawing. My Nana actually made a scrap book of drawings I made as a little kid. They’re not terrible.

Well…I have a few things I’d like to do this morning. They’re not exactly work related but I just wrote an exam last night I want to relax for a bit, before I decide to suddenly jump into editing. I’ll probably do a few chapters this afternoon. I also want to do a bit of sketching this weekend.

Well bye for now,

–R.

 

The Girl – By O. Ryder

She wished that she could fade away,

Like the petals that decay

And become like dust

Upon the shelves of homes

And through the pages she would roam.

A lingering scent she might be

Amongst secrets of the wardrobe,

or within the old Curiosity Shop.

From each one she would hop,

And find herself on a train

That would run and she’d wonder

If I stay will they notice or remember?

Will my story be told if I hide in the pages?

Shall I be swept away by many imaginations,

Only to lose sight of reality,

And forget how paper cuts once made me bleed?

Then that longing to be evanescent,

Faded along with the thought

And the girl found she’d rather her story was not forgot.



Poem By O. Ryder.

March 16th, 2016.

 

School and the Cost of Books

Taking a break is nice. I like to relax for a little while and let myself recharge. Especially when it comes to school, since early February can be a very busy time for assignments and such.

I hate to admit it but I spent more time goofing around and reading comic books, than getting ahead in my work. Honestly, I wish I had made the decision to get ahead in my readings but I didn’t like the books we were currently doing for school, and I wanted to take a break from reading novels. Being an English Major takes the fun out of books. A large majority of my classmates agree with me. There is a difference in being allowed to choose what you want to read versus being told what you have to read and not only do you have to read it, you have to tear it apart and find all the possible metaphors, and focus on the ideas behind the text…. Let’s make reading fun again? Can’t we do it where we study a book for a month, and really go into depth with it? Rather than cramming an entire novel in one week? I had books I was interested in reading, but couldn’t get to because I had to read a book I absolutely hated for an essay due the same week. The thing with English is that as long as you’re attending class, you can get a rough idea of what the book is about (depending on your professor).

Thinking about reading shouldn’t make me cringe. It should make me excited, like it used to when I was a kid. I still love to go to Chapters and browse, but now I find that I’m leaning more towards buying comics because it doesn’t drain me. Most of the time I finish them within a half hour. It doesn’t bother me that I finish them quickly, but I don’t feel the need to rush my reading, and I don’t feel as though I am obligated to continue with a book that I’m not enjoying.

I have several novels that I’ve either bought for pleasure or that have given to me as gifts, and I haven’t had then chance to read any of them.

Sometimes if a book for school doesn’t interest me, I don’t even bother purchasing it from our bookstore because it costs too much money. I can’t justify buying a novel that is $30. I have bills to pay, and I need to eat. I try to find some of the books at Chapters and for some reason they never have them in stock. I find this a bit strange…and of course, I have more own theories as to why this is, but it is possible that it is just that these books are unpopular.

At least when one is studying Shakespeare, it is easy to get access to his work online, as it is free to the public domain. It doesn’t cost a penny. If I don’t already own the play, I can pull it up and read it, or watch/listen to a performance on YouTube. I don’t have to worry about missing anything, and I don’t feel any sort of stress because I didn’t have the money to spend on the play.

I can’t understand how they can charge so much for books? The textbooks that my sister purchased are around $100 each. She needed about four of them for the entire year. With English and Language studies, they make you purchase several books between $20 and $30, weekly and or biweekly, in order to get the same amount of money out of you that they would with someone in Business, Psychology or Mathematics. It’s ridiculous the amount that they charge us for books on top of our classes, and for many first year students, on top of their residence fees.

As students, we shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not we should spend our $100 monthly budget on food or books.

The reason that myself, and many other students that I have spoken to about this, have stopped purchasing all of our books at the beginning of the year is because one cannot guarantee whether or not they will get their money’s worth out of the book. Why am I going to purchase a $60 Anthology on 20th Century British Literature, when I only need to read 3 pages of the entire textbook? Why would I spend $25 on a novel that I have will not have time to read, and may possible dread if there will be approximately 15 novels throughout the entirety of the course and I will have to option to write on at least 10 of them for the exam? Of course I’m going to choose buying food and paying my rent over spending a ridiculous amount of money on books that I may not read.

This is why it is easier to buy one or two books at a time for my courses, versus getting all of them at once. On top of that, you don’t get you $400 back. I attempted to return my books to our school bookstore last year, and got $42 for them. Many of the books they wouldn’t take back because they weren’t sure if they’d be used next year. For books that I had spent over $20, I may have only received 10 cents for them. Some I got a $1 or $2 for. It was ridiculous. From now on, I feel as though it would be better if I sold my books elsewhere or if I donated them. The majority of the books I’ve been forced to read for my courses, I really haven’t enjoyed. There are a few gems that I plan on keeping in my collection, but the remainder I’d rather get rid of. I don’t have a need for them, nor do I have the space. Still, it would be nice to earn back some of what I had spent on them, as they weren’t cheap.

I didn’t plan on writing this, but it has been bugging me all year.

I hope you’re all enjoying the weekend,

R.

My Favourite Insomniac

I’m currently feeling exhausted…which makes me want to write about my favourite insomniac, who has so far received 30 pages of sleepless nights, pizza and Lacrimosa on repeat. However this is a rewrite/expansion of a short story I began back in high school. Actually I entered it into a local competition. Obviously I didn’t win, or else I would have shared that story here on my blog. I hadn’t mastered the short story then to be honest. I’ve managed to get the hang of it though, thanks to years and years of practice.

Maybe I’ll sleep. Maybe I won’t. I mean…I just got back to my place, but I’ve been tired since yesterday. It is weird how every time I feel sleepy I feel like working on this novel. Its sort of something I’ve been writing on the side, so I don’t necessarily know when it will be complete, but I actually really like the characters. Ha…I end up loving all my characters, even the jerks. Eh…I think I will take a nap. I don’t have anything else to do right now. Not going out anywhere.

— R.

Fourteen Pgs. of Character Notes…And Writing Tips for Detailing Characters!

Fourteen pages of character notes. Wow. I don’t know how that happened but I’m glad it did.

I always try to give as much depth and detail to my characters as I can. I believe that the more I invest in a character, the more attached I will become and that attachment is what makes that character seem more real (that’s a lot of mores). Its great because my characters go from being an idea to becoming like a close, life-long friend (until you know…that scene where they get silenced by the pen aka they die).

It’s a fun process honestly, even though I’ll admit it takes time. Despite the time it takes to do it is a lot more fun than just naming a character and throwing them into your story. A name is only a fraction of a person, there are many other things that make us who we are.

A lot of the time I like to draw pictures of my characters: the facial expressions they might make in different scenario’s, what clothing they might wear, what their hair looks like, their height, the colour of their eyes.

It can be really helpful, but of course I know that not everyone likes to draw. What I used to do on my drawings was create a list beside my character. The list usually looked like…

  1. Name: Bob Robert Bobbinlee
  2. Age: 22
  3. Likes: cows, cats, cookies and cake
  4. Dislikes: anything that doesn’t start with the letter C (is for cookie)
  5. Family: Mama Bobbetta, Father Bobert, Juliettabobo Boblee, Bobafett
  6. Friends: Cookie Monster, Elmo, Pinkie Pie and Ash Ketchum (yes I was talking to my 4 year old niece recently…any watching Pokémon)

What I’ve begun doing now is creating this same list in a table on Microsoft word.

Its pretty easy to do, you just go to insert, then click table…etc.

So now I keep my images and my charts separate, giving me more room to add written details about my characters. This is especially helpful when I have side characters. Usually I don’t know the personality of a side character. Some times I might just have some character who until named is called “Book Store Clerk.” The first thing I like to do is to draw this character out (or imagine what they might look like), then I take that image and I create a detailed character chart, similar to the list above but in chart form…and because it isn’t on the same page as my drawing I can add even more detail.

Using the same example from above:

Name Bob Robert Bobbinlee
Age 22
Appearance Hair: Crimson

Eyes: Crimson

Height: Average

Special Features: Tattoo of the letter C

Personality Hot-headed, sweet-tooth, perfectionist, crazy about cats and cows, creative, incredible cook
Family Mother: Bobbetta

Father: Bobert

Siblings: Juliettabobo, Boblee and Bobafett

Friends Cookie Monster, Elmo, Pinkie Pie and Ash Ketchum

 

Partner (or partners for them playa’s) Cloe Ver
Pet Cactus the Cat and Carver the Cow
Hobbies Reading, eating and baking cookies and cake, chillin’ like a villain with his squad…I mean crew.

 

Occupation/Education Book Store Clerk

 

Fears The letter Z…because he isn’t sure if it should be Zed or Zee even though he’s Canadian. He just…doesn’t know.

 

Dreams Publish a Children’s Cook Book

See, its that simple, and even though some of these details won’t end up being in you story, they are details that are significant to who your character really is. Once you know this much about your character they begin to take on a life of their own, and as an author I have to say that is one of my favourite things that happen while I’m writing.

Whether you like to draw or not, this is a method that I highly recommend. It’s easy to set up and once you get going it can be a lot of fun. Before you know it you’ve got fourteen pages of characters and this amazingly long chart!

Also, if you are a tech-savvy person you can even scan a drawing of your character and place the image into the appearance box on the table. I’ve never done this but I’m definitely going to give it a try. The idea just came to mind.


 

I hope that this post was helpful!

If you’ve never tried to do this sort of detailing with your characters I highly recommend it. Its both fun and rewarding.

If you have any different ways of detailing and developing characters (or you’ve written a post with another writing tip) feel free to share in the comment section. I’m sure, myself and many people would appreciate it!

Happy writing everyone!

— R.

 

First Big Writing Assignment of the School Year…Yikes!

So this week my class is starting our first big writing assignment, which is our short story assignment.

Now I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before on my blog but short stories aren’t my strong point when there is a limit as to the number of pages I can have or the word count. I’m stronger when it comes to novels and writing lyrics. Actually many of my novels have songs written into them so that when they’re adapted into films there will be an awesome soundtrack. I’m being serious. I actually have soundtracks for my novels of songs that I’ve written about characters, chapters and if my character is a musician then I actually record the songs that my characters perform in the text. I go all out. It is not just a book. It is…like…a living breathing thing. I guess that sounds over the top.

My sister thinks it’s kind of cool but she also gets annoyed when I record these songs while she’s trying to sleep. I’ve had things thrown at me and no, I’m not a bad musician. I don’t suck! My sister just has to hear me all the time. We actually write a lot of music together and perform it. I’m teaching her to sing because our voices automatically complement each other. She’s the one person that I enjoy harmonizing with because the sound it makes… I can’t even put it into words. Whenever we sing together and harmonize perfectly off the bat we both react like this

Me: WHOA!

Lil Sis: That was…AWESOME!

Me: REPLAY THAT! REPLAY!

And then we have to stop the recording because we usually interrupt our flow due to the fact that it sounded good. It also has to do with the fact that my sister thinks she’s a horrible singer.

ANYWAY back to talking about the short story thing. So the first big assignment is a short story assignment. It’s a story on whatever I want it to be which is great because I get to be creative with it. However, as I just said short stories aren’t really my go to thing.

I do like to write children’s books but those to me are sort of…well they’re for my nieces age group. That’s who I’m writing for. I write those for her. She’s in kindergarten (age’s 4-6 in Canada).

To me, short stories and children’s literature are in two different sections. Perhaps that’s simply because I separated them in my own head but because children’s books tend to have pictures, are not too lengthy and are geared toward a specific audience I place them under their own category outside of the short story category. Does that make sense? I hope so….

I’m not sure of how I want to approach this assignment. I have readily made written material for novels, however I don’t want to have to convert that material into short story material. It’s almost like…I have to plan out the format based off of the idea and if I’ve already decided on a format that I would like to present my idea in then it’s difficult to change it. I mean… that’s why we have different forms of writing. Not all films should be adapted into novels and not all novels should be adapted into screen plays. They were written a certain way for a reason. Now most books make great films, but of course for those of us who read the book before seeing the film it can be pretty difficult to separate them.

I had an interesting discussion with an upperclassman about it the other week actually. I’ll share that another time though.

Well…as you can see I’m stressing over an assignment that should be fun. Hopefully before I have to bring in my rough notes on Friday, I will have come up with something. I might see if there’s any guidelines for my assignment before I make any notes. My professors are being extremely loose on the formats and guidelines as this is a creative writing course. They’re just awesome like that. They’re really…fantastic. I’m so happy I took this course.

— R.


Yes, that is the Pharaoh. Yes, his hair is pretty awesome. Yes, I do watch LittleKuriboh.

If someone actually styles their hair like this with the different colours and everything that would be really cool. Someone needs to do this. They would look like the coolest kid in all of…well the world. Okay I’m done. Got some writing to do…obviously. Can we just…admire his awesome hair. I always wanted cool hair like that but nope I got stuck with my plain generic black hair. Oh well…I’m thankful I have hair. Better not complain. I don’t wanna go grey early like my dad did. Ha….yah. I love you hair…but still…his hairs so cool.

My Sister and the Books

My sisters class is reading Hamlet and Catcher in the Rye. Two of favourites! Holden and Hamlet. Gotta love ’em.

Catcher in the Rye is currently my favourite novel, next to Oliver Twist, Among the Hidden, The Boy in the Striped Pajama’s and Steel Trapp (I go by my age group for these favourites as well).

So excited…luckily for her I’ve read Hamlet several times and own Catcher in the Rye. Plus I have all my notes from High School and University…so I’m pretty much set. I don’t even have to do her homework for her now. I can just say “Read this” and she can figure it out. She likes to try to get me to do the work for her because she knows I enjoy English. What a kid. She doesn’t like to read anything but comics and video game storylines. Yep…what a kid.

I’m trying to convince her to start a blog. I’ll be sure to let you all know when she does.

Hey, it’s Friday

So… I’ve been having an allergic reaction to something. I think it’s something at work. I don’t know what’s causing it though…this has never happened before. It really sucks…and the medication is making me super tired. I don’t want to go to bed yet but I can’t stop yawning. It’s hard just keeping my eyes open. Yah…

I’ll post my story soon. I’ve just been too tired to add in the final touches… there’s something I really need to add.

Happy Friday everyone.

Writing Update: Online Series Coming Soon!

I’m very happy to announce that after a little more editing I will be posting my first online series. Since it originally started off as a short story for a competition I entered a few years ago, rewriting it was a bit difficult and I’m still trying to work out exactly what direction I want this story to take. However, I’m having a lot of fun working on it!

Stay tuned!

— R.