Creative writing

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Camp NaNo Update

Published April 26, 2017 by Ashley Townsend
Do you like how I start a blog series, do one post, go on a writers’ retreat, and then post weeks later with a completely different topic? 
captain picard face palm
Well, I am down on my knees begging your forgiveness so I can share how Camp NaNo is going so far and give you April updates. I also solemnly swear that I am up to much good and will shortly resume the Fangirl’s Guide to Navigating Life series, and I’ll be sharing some exciting news about the Rising Shadows Trilogy in upcoming posts. There’s a little teaser on this news about four posts back on my Instagram (click here!!!).
Now, onto business!
April has been AMAZING! It was compete craziness at first, prepping for Camp NaNo, working on Jungle Princess, preparing for my writers’ retreat, and remembering to breathe. And caffeinate, definitely caffeinate. But the Realmie Roomie (w)Riting Retreat was the perfect way to kick off Camp NaNo, thanks to my lovely Realmie Roomies, Nadine (follow her inspiring blog here), Tricia (Deliver just released!! *flails*), and Katie (this girl writes approximately 4,786 words per minute. No joke). We had missed each other like crazy since Realm Makers last July and decided to gather together in Michigan for a refreshing time of motivation and inspiration.
Having our writing team together was a huge push for all of us to reach our goals, spending countless hours during the day Word Warring, being startled by terrifying timers when we were in the zone, and hitting some word counts that we had never managed before. I was pretty jazzed to reach over 60,000 words in my current work in progress by the end of the trip, so WIN!! These Three Writing Musketeers are such a constant encouragement and inspiration, and I know I never would have been so motivated to keep writing if it hadn’t been for these amazing friends and writers. 
I feel like I should say that it was nothing but work and that I wrote seven novels during the trip, which is nice and all . . . but we had way more fun than that! 
holtzman fire dance.gif
“What, precisely, did you have fun doing?” you might ask. A few things that kept us distracted when our eyes were burning from staring at a computer screen for too long were:
-floor swimming and dance-athons (because exercise helps the mind)
-PIZZA!!! 
-CHAI!!!!! (a reward at the end of each night)
-OREOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!*%$@#@!$ (because exclamations aren’t enough)
-tromping through Tricia’s yard like Hobbits exploring the land with Gandalf
-waking up and writing with Tricia, morning coffee with Katie (after late night writing), and giggling with my soul-sister, Nadine
-Hot Dog Fry Saturday (and S’MORES!!!!)
-book chats/singing all the songs
-running across a rope bridge in heels . . . for book research
-swinging on “vines” (a rope swing) for jungle research
-watching The Legend of Tarzan for *cough* *cough* research ^_~
-laughing until we got abs like Alexander Skarsgard
-giggling until 2 a.m. about dog props and “the smolder,” a conversation inspired by my blind love of Pierce Brown
-turning a disastrous gate change in Chicago into an adventure and the funniest sprint you will ever see three girls make across an airport (after getting pulled over by security because apparently they have a thing against delicious teas and saucepans).
As you can see, our retreat was not only productive, but a total blast and just what we all needed. It definitely helped me to get a jumpstart on my productivity for the month, and as the end of April approaches, I am so close to my NaNo goal that I’m feeling pretty good right now. That’s not to say it hasn’t been hectic lately, but I think we’re going to get there with our sanity intact.
So here’s to the last few days of NaNo, my fellow campers. Whether we win or lose Camp this April, just remember that there will always be Oreos, pizza, great friends, good books, and Tarzan. 
Harley Quinn reading .gif

Part 1: Plotting v. Pantsing

Published January 29, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

Writing is an Art, I Tell You!

Part 1: Plotting v. Pantsing

WARNING!

messy

Ah, writers. We can be curious creatures, each having different writing talents and habits as we pound out our creativity on the keyboard, praying that the tangled story that seems just brilliant in our minds will appear on the page with even a modicum of clarity (sometimes with very little success). But to make this curious bag of creative minds a little easier to explain—indie and sci-fi and fantasy and YA and non-fic and historical and middle grade *sucks in a breath*—I have divided the types writers into three general groups.

Types of Writers:

The Plotter

plot

This type of writer loves to plot out their entire manuscript, in vivid detail, generally before they sit down to write a single morsel. The process of a Plotter involves a lot of organization, forethought, notecards, and perhaps strings linking images from one side of the room to the other (although I have always wanted to try this method, I have yet to prove if this method exists outside of TV). They enjoy creating a word count goal for the final product and designating what events should occur in each chapter and each. Blasted. Paragraph!

Pros: After weeks or months of plotting out their entire novel/series to a T, the result is a fairly smooth writing process, and all their intense preparation leaves room for very few plot holes and little to no rewrites.

Cons: Nobody puts Baby in a corner! There is absolutely no margin for error in the tale or creative rewrites because your entire story fits into, essentially, a single mold that reaches a single conclusion. So if you want to eliminate/add a character and/or scene, good luck!

The Pantster

random

*rolls eyes* Yes, we all wish we could be a total Pantster and have an incredible idea for a beginning and end to a story, and then just magically write an entire middle with absolutely no storyline errors or issues with how the plot suddenly evolved. I said we’d like to do that. The truth of the matter is that being a Pantster can be hard, like, really hard. Some writers can pull it off, and this was basically how I wrote my first novel Rising Shadows. But because I went this route, I spent a couple years playing around with my first book, doing countless rewrites and total plot conversions. It. Was. A. Hassle.

            Pros: You have tons of creative control over your story and will never get fenced in by your pre-constructed plot structure.

            Cons: You have absolutely no pre-constructed plot structure and therefore can write yourself into a hole that you have absolutely no idea how to write yourself out of because there was no real story structure to keep you on track in the first place!

The Plotting Pantster

surprise

I am proud to lump myself in with this category. This type of writer does not like to be fenced in by a specifically designed and action-by-action plot that is already completely detailed out, with no room for creative shifts or changes. But they also acknowledge that flying by the seat of their pants all the time can hinder their progress and that they need some creative structure. What I did for Chasing Shadows and Defying Shadows was create a general plot structure for the stories—big plot reveals, events that had to occur before another instance, important character revelations—that helped to keep the stories on track and events in order, but it also allows room for a ton of creative freedom and surprises for me along the way. I hate making a writing project seem like schoolwork and having zero freedom, so the culmination of the two techniques works for me (plotting and flying by the seat of my author-pants!). It also helps to have a couple big events jotted down on notecards because then you can put a little checkmark beside each one once it’s written, which means you won’t have to flip through half your manuscript trying to figure out if you’ve already addressed something. And trust me, you will at some point. Plotting out certain big events really helps you to keep your focus, but you’ll never lose that creative freedom to have fun with your story. That’s the most important part!

         Pros: see above description

            Cons: N/A (I thought that should be obvious)

So, are you a Plotter, Pantster, or a little bit of both? The creative choice is yours, my fellow bibliophiles!

This post is sponsored by,

A Plotting Pantster

Stop by for Part 2 in the “Writing is an Art, I Tell You!” series. Coming soon!

 

 

 

Spotlight Saturday with RHL!

Published September 5, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

Romantic Historical Reviews is one of my favorite historical book review sites, and so I was preeeeeety excited to be featured on today’s Saturday Spotlight. (Two seconds for fangirl shrieking, aaaaand I’m back)

Follow the link below to check out the spotlight on Chasing Shadows, read an excerpt from one of my FAVORITE scenes I’ve ever written–and probably will ever write–and enter the giveaway for a free copy of Chasing Shadows. And, as always, be sure to share the links and don’t deprive your book loving friends of free books. Nobody likes a cookie/book monster who doesn’t share!

http://www.romantichistoricalreviews.com/saturday-spotlight-chasing-shadows-by-ashley-townsend/

The Drama in Writing

Published August 17, 2012 by Ashley Townsend

Some people might think that being an author is one of those easy jobs—sit on your backside whilst fabricating stories to entertain your readers. But there are so many issues that come along with a career in writing that no one ever really thinks of. I decided that it’s my job to tell you just how “hard” my life is because I got to live my dream of being an author.

Okay, so first off, being an author makes my life very difficult at times. This trauma has nothing to do with deadlines or even writing the stories, but no one ever explained how awful it is write the sequel to a book and not be able to share it with my readers! I am simply dying to give you a little taste of what I’ve been working on after “Rising Shadows.” I want to ask your opinions about the plot, share the profiles of the new characters, spill the beans about where I want “The Shadow” trilogy to go, shock you with who’s going to end up dead in the sequel, explain the repercussions of time travel and how I’m introducing new legends, and maybe, possibly whisper about what will happen to Will and Sarah because of it. Every time a new idea or scene pops into my head or I spend hours writing plots and scenes that surprise even me, I immediately want to share it with my readers and friends to get their opinions. But, alas, I cannot spoil too much as of yet. I told you my life is difficult. *sighs*

Issue #2: Life is a story to me. Everything I see, touch, and experience are usually a little more dramatized in my head and always seem to come out in my stories. When I get excited over something, I wonder how a character might respond to it—would they share in my joy and want to join me? Sit in the background and long to experience life? Or if I can’t fix something or don’t have an answer to it, I want to see if my characters can figure it out, and sometimes we help each other along; I offer some advice and give a little push, and then see where they go and what they discover. Also, my writing-inclined mind keeps me from just falling asleep at night. Generally, that’s my “quiet time” where I finish out a scene in my head that I was writing earlier and develop new characters and ideas. Sometimes I even just make up a simple scene and characters that I play with until I have something. I would probably fall asleep much faster if I just closed my eyes and shut off my thinking machine, but what fun is that? I’ve done this ever since I was little, and though it hasn’t necessarily mellowed out in the passing years, it has led to some pretty entertaining stories and amazing new discoveries.    

……. Okay, so maybe these really aren’t even issues, per say, and they may, actually, be good things because it means I’m excited about these current projects and working on new ones for you guys … Oh. Then does that mean there aren’t any problems with being an author? Oh, my! What a revelation! I take back what I said—I love my life. ^__^ AND I did want to give you just a little taste of what I’ve been working on and get your opinions on a little something I’m doing with the sequel to “Rising Shadows.” Please, please, please take the poll below and share it with your friends, regardless of whether or not they’ve actually read “Rising Shadows.” I am so curious to see what readers are looking for, and I will make sure to add this newest poll to the “Polls” page on the top left of my site. Feel free to take it as many time as you like and leave a comment!

CURRENT GIVEAWAY!!!

Kirkdale Press and Vyrso are giving away a Nexus 7 tablet and 27 free ebooks (including mine!) Enter here: http://vyr.so/N0n9iI

 

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