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Sunday, October 10, 2010

RowMar: Part 5 - Fuel to Write


So those of you who follow this blog will catch something pretty familiar on here.

::drum roll::

My testimony!

A while back I posted this video and it received a great response. And so, naturally, I'm excited to share it with you all again.

Except now it's for a school project. Much more official-like.

As with the previous posts, this is all in response to questions my Language Arts teacher asked me on this blog. And this post's question is:

Describe yourself on your quest - what tools, skills, previous experiences do you bring with you (excluding your previous triumphs and accolades).

Well obviously my testimony is a huge proponent to my writing. Hello, I write Christian fantasy. That all hinges on my faith in Christ. And so this transforming experience is very important to my writing. It defines it.

Enjoy.



Some of the things touched on in the video can't really be elaborated down here in any more detail. Pretty much every experience is a source of writing material. If you've written for any amount of time you know this. And the ones that provide the best material are the really hard ones.

And this one tried the very ground upon which I stood.

I screwed up. And it brought into perspective the direction my life was headed, my identity in Christ, and what this faith really meant. And that fuels my writing.

For example. When I write about abandonment or about loneliness, I can do it really well. Why? Because I've been there. I've lived there. I've experienced that. I was dragged away from my friends several different times. I've had family members betray me. I've had strained relationships that eventually fell apart.

What makes me a writer is that I can channel that emotion into a story and make my readers feel the same way.

When I write a character that is searching for meaning, I can do that because I've been there. I've searched. I've cried out in desperation for something to hold onto.

A rebellious character--been there done that. I stared my God in the face and said, "I don't care what you think." And ran the opposite direction.

A servant--been there.

And this is the skill that makes writing come alive. Experience. The ability to take the life you've been given, the life you've screwed up, and turn that into an emotional thrill ride of a novel.

Some things, obviously, I have to fake. I've never been physically abused, for example. But sometimes a story demands I write such a character. So because I have these other experiences, I can guess what that must feel like and create a realistic character.

What experiences help you to write?

Let's chat.

To the end,
Nathan

RowMar: Part 4 - The Christ Figure


EDIT: I lost a paragraph while writing this. Excuse any bumpiness. I had to try to guess what I wrote. Enjoy.

Four more posts left in this series and I'm still going strong! The next questions get up close and personal. For those of you who haven't heard my story yet....stay tuned!

These questions come from the first post of the RowMar series and I'm gonna jump right into them. If you hadn't noticed...I'm getting tired :-)

Do you see yourself - the hero - as a Christ-like figure?

This project is designed to view ourselves as being the hero in our own Hero's Journey. If you aren't familiar with this literary term I'd suggest you read the previous link. Basically, it's the pattern that most questing stories follow.

In my personal quest, do I see myself has a Christ-like figure?

Depends on the context. I'd like to think of myself as Christ-like in all situations. I certainly strive to be the image of Christ in all that I do. Does that mean that I write just like Christ would? Uh no. Not so much. I think he'd be a better writer.....oh wait....he wrote the number one bestselling book of all time <_<

Once the book releases, though, I can start viewing myself as more of the Christ figure. I am writing this story, after all, for the lost and to encourage the believers.

I can't wait for the release. I can't wait to see how God's going to use this work to change people's lives. I can't wait to read the emails from new creations. New family members in Christ. I can't wait to read how this work encouraged a believer and he shared it with them and that opened communication lines and now he's born again. I can't wait to hear the stories.

Am I cocky? Maybe. I'm pretty confident that The Chains of Hethra will dramatically effect people. The idea is just so....perfect. I'm praying that God will dictate the words I write so that people read it and their lives are changed for the better.

I'm praying this book effects believers' lives enough for them to step out and start living their faith. And what I really hope happens, is that the teen Christians that read this will share it with their lost friends. And then use this to lead them to Christ.

How cool would that be?

As I'm writing, however, I see myself more as the characters I'm writing about. I'm the lost man that denies Alvar. I'm the captive that refuses tot be freed of his chains. I'm the Damans. I'm enchained. I scorn the light and love the darkness.

And I desperately need Alvar to set me free.

However, once he frees(ed) me my response needs to be in following with Alvar's words:

“Wait here, child.”
He shook his head. “Why?”
The man inclined his head toward the threshold of the chamber. “There are captives that are yet bound. Damans that hunt the shadows.”
“I cannot free them.”
Alvar smiled playfully and shoved Barron forward. “Alone you cannot. Bear your sword and you may release them of their chains. Tell them to come to this Tree. I will free them of this world. And when I am ready for you, I will come.”
“I will stay as well.”
Barron turned as a man, sandy blonde hair blowing gently in the breeze, stepped out of the crowd. The man ran to Alvar’s feet. Clasping his hands he knelt before his deliverer, head bowed.
“I will serve you in rescuing the captives.”
May this be my response.

To the end,
Nathan

RowMar: Part 3 - Focus


Welcome! Ladies, gentlemen, dragons, and the occasional yodeling dwarf to Reflections with Mrs. Ring (or "Rowmar" for short) Part Three!

Welcome, a fore mentioned people, to the longest blog streak I've ever had. 6 posts in a day. This is Petrie insanity at its best!

On my Frantic Perfectionist - Editing on the Fly post, my teacher left the following comment:

So who's guiding this horse Don Quixote?

Writers write - everyday. They work it into their schedule and they do it like a job.

Do you ever have trouble focusing?

Reflect on that for me.


And reflect is exactly what I plan on doing.

I've never read The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha so I'm not too keen on that reference. Anyone wanna help me figure that one out? :-)

I'm going to tackle these questions one at a time.

Writer's write everyday

This is something you'll hear from just about every successful writer. If you want to write, the first thing you've got to do is....(hello) write. And not only that, but write frequently. Most even say every day.

And this is great advice.

However I have yet to be able to follow this.

Some aspiring writers would likely feel like a failure if they couldn't follow this most basic piece of advice. But I honestly don't think it's needed to write everyday. At least writing on one project.

I have an issue with writing on the same project for extended periods of time. I think most writers do. Eventually, the mind tires of plunging through the same rabbit holes. And writing takes a lot of mental effort. So I cannot feasibly write a good story and do it everyday. It's just not a possibility yet. I need my stories to sit.

Sure, I can write every day for a week or so. But once I peek 10,000 words....I'm dead. The story needs to sit. It just does.

However, this does not mean I toss out creativity and "writing".

If I'm not writing on my project, I'm writing another project. If I'm not doing that, I'm reading a book, watching a movie, etc. All of which aid in my writing ability. I rewrite movies in my head, analyze plot structures as I read, etc. And I steal ideas :-)

Or I outline my projects in my mind.

And I'm not alone in this. Wayne Thomas Batson has the same problem. And Scott Appleton as well I believe. And look at them, signed with AMG and still going strong :-)

So for me, I can't write everyday. It's hard to work it into my schedule, and it's hard to find the mental keen-ness. Which leads to my next topic....

Do you ever have trouble focusing?

A resounding yes.

To write well, I need to be in this certain mood, with this certain excitement, etc. And if something's missing, I either knock out 200 words and quit or I knock out 1,000 and it's garbage.

However, I fix this pretty quickly by outlining. The better the outline I have, the easier I can focus and connect with the story. Why? Because it's half written already.

So I'm half and half on the focusing....I mean really.....LOOK SOMETHING SHINY.

To the end,
Nathan

Reflections for Mrs. Ring: Part 2

As with my previous post this Q and A is between my language arts teacher and myself. See the previous 6 posts for more information on this project. Hopefully you can get something out of this.

If you were the hero of your own quest and the best selling novel were the goal for you to reach, how would the story unfold?

Well that's an interesting question. And my answer goes something like this. Ask Frodo how he thought his life would unfold and I"m sure you'd get a very different answer than how it actually happened. Ask just about any hero from any story and see how much that differs from the result.

So my "quest"?

Well first off we'd need to establish my goal. And I wouldn't say that it's to sell a trillion copies of my books. Writing is a tool, selling books is a tool. I just want to reach into the hearts of this generation and watch God move.

However, doing that requires sales. Selling ten books or a trillion. (Be nice to sell a bunch though lol. Plus....I'd need to to make a living). And the goal for selling is uh......

I honestly have no idea how it'll unfold. But my plan follows something along the lines of....
  1. Finish writing my novella/novel
  2. Submit to FPP novella/novel
  3. Read FPP's glowing response (I'm not biased :D LOL)
  4. Sign novella/novel
  5. Sell billions of copies (er...make that thousands)
  6. Sign with large company
  7. Sell millions
Impractical. Radical. Crazy. But stranger things have happened right?

Currently I'm floating between the first three. I know the publisher likes the story idea. I know he likes the original characters. I know he likes the last half of the plot. Now I've just gotta write the beginning and sell it to him.

Big time.

Easy enough right? (I wish haha).

So let's dream a minute. If your vision for your stories came true....how would that unfold? Dare to be crazy. It's pretty nuts for me to say I intend to sell thousands just out of (or during) my senior year of high school. But you know what, I'm going for it anyway.

In fact, it's nuts to think I could be published.

But I know I'm not the only dreamer out there. So let's hear those radical thoughts.

To the end,
Nathan

Friday, October 8, 2010

Reflections for Mrs. Ring


Well you've all seen a dramatic rise in the number of posts per week lately I'm sure. It's all for this school project that I mentioned in a previous post. So bear with me as I answer some questions my teacher wants me to answer. And hey, you aspiring writers like me out there (and the awesome people waiting for The Chains of Hethra), you might actually enjoy some of this :-)

Mrs. Ring is my Language Arts teacher for this assignment, if you hadn't guessed that already. Feel free to stop by her blog for an example of what my project is supposed to look like LOL

Anywho, here are her questions for my original post:


What are the challenges for you specifically in taking on this particular "quest"?

The biggest challenge for me here is time management. I've never been particularly good at it and this was something I was hoping to gain from this assignment. To be able to do all my activities to the best of my ability and then make sure my writing is top notch, plus tossing up a blog every night, is pretty challenging. And so My biggest problem with this project has been time management.

What makes this any different from any other story you've worked on before?

The Outside, and I suppose we could include TCOH in this as well, is a fairly unique story in the fact that it is allegory. The vast majority of my stories haven't been straight allegory until lately. Once I got the The Chains of Hethra idea allegories have been flooding my mind. It's pretty awesome. TO isn't all that different from my other stories to be quite honest. It maintains the strong light and darkness contrast, follows a lost character as he seeks redemption and meaning, and eventually pours out the magnitude of the power of Christ. Same goes for The Chains of Hethra. The only difference here is the Christ-figure. In TO, the Christ-figure is simply a light and portrays the freedom and purpose of a Christian life. In TCOH, I focus on the salvation aspects of God.

What do you expect to gain from this journey?

I expect to gain a few things: a drive to finish these projects, the ability to manage my time, and I expect my people-skills to stretch ( ;) lol).

That's all for now! Be back later tonight!

To the end,
Nathan

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Frantic Perfectionist - Editing on the Fly


So today was actually pretty exciting writing wise.

I got out of my second period class as there was a play of sorts going on that I was unable to attend. Since class was practically canceled, I jumped at the chance to write for about an hour and a half.

As I'd written on Chapter Ten of TCOH ("Imaginary Chains" is the tittle if you care lol) earlier in the week and forgot to move the file to my jump drive I decided to knock out some of this short story I've been wanting to write.

I sat down, flipped open the outline, decoded my horrible handwriting, and started to write.

I busted out about half a page before the story stalled. This is pretty typical for me when I'm writing a story that I don't have a detailed vision for. Basically, if I don't know the next few chapters, I stall pretty often. My un-stucker is pretty simple--read through what I just wrote.

This is a pretty effective strategy or me, and I know for many of you as well. Just reminding myself of where the story is going, what the pacing actually reads like, etc really helps boost my creativity and drive. It really gets the gears turning. I start seeing new things in the scene, where it could go, what's actually happening. The only downside is....

I start writing wherever I feel like.

Basically, I'm an addictive editor.

I must have added around 200 words before I got back to my original "stalling" point. And after I knocked out a few more paragraphs, I redid the cycle and added a couple hundred more through edits.

I get advice from writers all the time: don't edit on the fly, it slows you down, etc etc. But I disagree. For me, this tactic works.

Now, obviously, I don't go through and fix every grammatical mistake, every vague description, etc. Save that for the editing rounds. But I do go back and smooth things out, add plot details here, mostly I slow things down.

Maybe I just want the story to be perfect and am not willing to wait til it's all finished :-)

What about you? Do you have a problem editing on the fly? Is this effective? Or are you better at just throwing it all out there and sifting through it later?

Let's chat.

To the end,
Nathan

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Brain Storm + Sugary Tea Storm + Cold Storm = Writing Storm


Ladies and Gentlemen I have a semi-important announcement that belongs on your Not-Important-At-All-To-My-Life List. Are you ready?

After three and a half months, I finally wrote on The Chains of Hethra.

Can I get a round of applause?

I'd put the novel off for so long because I was frustrated with trying to turn The Guardian's Tree novella into The Chains of Hethra novel. I had 16,000 words for an introduction/inciting incident and I had about the same amount of words to wrap the story up. But I was having extreme difficulty connecting the two segments of the story, especially with the huge 70K word count goal looming above my head.

So yesterday on my bus ride from the Grant County band competition to the Loveland competition (most tiring day of my life by the way lol) I chatted with a friend of mine about the story.

So, it'd be cool if I could say that I got an idea for the middle portion of the story and now everything's happy and I'm excited to write and that the book will be released in two weeks.

But I can't. :-)

In fact, I didn't get an idea for the middle portion at all. LOL

But I did get a drive to finish the story back. FINALLY.

I had an outline for one more chapter sitting in my notebook so I broke it out. Turned out I'd already written half that chapter and just needed to finish it. So I did, and I feel really good about myself.

So today before church starts again I'm going to plow through this story if it's the last thing I've got. I've got some peppermint tea, a notebook, and a pen sitting beside me. And awesome cold air outside to wake me up. I'd love to get 2,000 words today but with the plot issues I could settle for 1,000-1,500. Already knocked out 600 though!

So this is my writing formula for life: Friends + tea + winter = Bestselling novel.

:-)

To the end,
Nathan
"Stand tall now and proclaim what you have seen, speak in whispered roars..."