12/22/12

Writer's Review: The Urban Muse



Today is the review of a website that I follow on my blogger blog roll. It's called the Urban Muse.

The Urban Muse is written by Susan Johnston and is professional in style and content, helpful and concise. Those days that I just can't scroll through a long article, I take myself over to Ms. Johnston's page and it's a quick and easy read: but often, eye-opening. 

Not always eye-opening such as "Oh My GOD, That's revolutionary!" No. More like, "Wow, that's such a simple but effective idea." or perhaps like, "I knew that, why was I doing it differently? I'm going to go back to doing this."

Mostly a focus on content/copy writing, her concepts are great for businesses, freelance writers and small to medium sized project managers that work in document writing and creation.

Here's a snap shot:






With articles such as:

"5 Low-Cost Ways to Market your Freelance Business"
 "Creative Ways for Writers to Earn Extra Cash"

Not only is her work well laid out, the answers to her headlines and the subtitles are all enlarged so that you can easily read the answers if you're in a rush. It makes it great for content scanning when you're in a line up at the grocery store...or, where ever you find two minutes of time.

The only thing that bugs me about her is sometimes her articles are a little too simple for experienced writers and freelancers and can miss any content that would be new to my own eyes. I find her more a reminder of how to keep it simple. 

12/19/12

Mastering the Static Character: the difference between static/dynamic and uncharacteristic/characteristic

Mastering the Static Character

Last Sunday was a writing prompt on my other blog about choosing stereotypical or stock characters and revealing characteristics that were not typical of those stereotypes.

Ironically, the day afterwards I did something very uncharacteristic for me: I wore a dress to work. It wasn't just a skort, a skirt or any other hybrid, it was a well and true dress.

I should also add here that I don't mind wearing skirts in the summer for example when it's warm, but I hate doing so in the winter as it requires leggings, tights or nylons to keep the legs a tad bit warmer. I hate tights. Really, really, hate tights. Problem is this. The legs always fit but for some reason, even if I buy the biggest set of tights possible, the waist on them are always too small to get around my hips.

When I was very early pregnant, I bought a pair of pregnant tights in a size too big, and at the moment of truth-they didn't fit. It's always a horrible feeling.

Last week, I wore a pair of tights and dress, and the tights fit! It left me wondering about characterization and the times where characters can be a set (static) character defined by who they are and the role they play, or are often changing (dynamic) characters who make decisions based on the past that has been established about them.

In review of some of my favourite books, series and short stories I have noticed a trend. The static characters are those that are required to be reliable throughout the story. Here's the rub-a character that the reader relies on to be static can change through the story to become an antagonist.

If you're writing and require some extra conflict in your story, this might be just the place to start. Take a look at the characters you have in your story and find out if there's some action they could take that would be surprising but not necessarily out of character.

Example: 


Perhaps our protagonist in an office setting relies on the gal who always brings coffee in, she's decaffeinated, having a bad Friday and is hoping that her day will get better when she drinks her usual Friday morning joe. That morning, however the "static"-ish character is in a great mood. She's been proposed to the night before and thus doesn't bring in the usual coffee because she forgets in the excitement. In addition to forgetting the coffee, she's having a good day, which rubs our hypothetical protagonist the wrong way.

Has the static character done anything "uncharacteristic?" No, her generous and upbeat nature -obvious because she brings coffee into the office every Friday morning continues, but her actions change because of a real and possible event in her life. In addition, these changes create conflict in our protagonist's story. Does she become jealous, forgive the lapse in coffee, or is it the straw that breaks the proverbial camel's back on this particular day?

12/16/12

Writer's Review: 5 Authorship Websites

Some of you already know my feelings about authorship websites, afterall, I did review the Smashwords and Wattpad here HERE. I was tried out both of them and decided I'd try a few more...

1) Smashwords: First and foremost, Smashwords is a location where you can sell your work in ebook format for a variety of markets such as Kobo, Kindle and even the iStore. A neat and added bonus are the built in retailer options. You can release more than one version, put out a coupon code for free copies and you can have short term releases.

The interesting thing about Smashwords is that it's both an authorship website, a platform for sales and it's also got writer profiles all in one place. Finally the interesting thing about Smashwords is that you can get ISBN's from Smashwords for your books so that others can look up the ISBNs and find exactly your book.



2) Story Bird: This authorship website relies less on the writing and more heavily on the picture. It's a picturebook website. A really unique ideas, I think it's a great opportunity for writers to explore because the images become opportunities for story telling and can act as prompts.

My dislikes is that if you select a visual artist, you are confined to working only from their portfolio when creating a story from their art. If they have one image you like, and only three more with the same theme, it leaves the writer stuck for discovering where the story can go. In the same vein, the art is also limited by what's been submitted. The writer must tell the story with the images that are there, including if the images are great but not quite relate-able.



3) Wattpad: Probably my favorite of the simple authorship websites. It is a location where you post your story, your information, and others come, read, "vote" and may or may not like your stories. I use Wattpad for my Writer' s Prompt Book Blog. Whenever I post a writing prompt, I have a "Practice what you Preach," section which links to my own interpretation of the writing prompt. Wattpad has been a good platform, but I haven't really done much with it really.

The problem with Wattpad is that there are writers who go on asking others to like them. Then there are forums where other writers and readers tell you that they will read your story and post their honest comments if you post your story there. The problem is, most of these authors will only post if you read their work.

While there are a good percentage of writers there to write and make honest readership from there work, there is quite a bit of drama that goes on with the "voting." I tried to get a few at first and the immaturity and lack of reliability left a bad taste in my mouth. In addition, the quality of writers pales in comparison to the talent on Smashwords. You see, on Smashwords, there is an autovetter which will flag your book for bad grammar or improper use of certain literary devices. On Wattpad, what people post is what you see. Unfortunately, a lot of people want to write without learning anything about skill and will actively seek out other writers and harass them if they received comments attesting to any lack of skill, or attention to detail.

One young writer used many cliche's including "a dark and stormy night," and when a rather polite commentator said that the story idea and characters were interesting but he found the use of cliches distracting, she sought out his page and ripped each of his stories apart unfairly-in my humble opinion! (Speaking of cliches.)



4) Protagonize: Not much different than Wattpad, slightly different in its organization. I personally find the colors a little easier on the eyes as well. Problem is, by the time I found this site I was already well situated in Wattpad. Upon review of the authors and comments on works, however-I find there's a lack of immaturity that is more prevalent on Wattpad.

Finally, I find that the writing subjects are organized better and there's a mature section. Sometimes I write mature stories and there is less acceptance for eroticism and violence on Wattpad. So, if you are a reader of these genres, then you might want to try a read through of Protagonize.



5) Writing.com: Last is writing.com, which-if I am honest with you, is the least of this list. The website claims to have writing articles and "classes," but when you review the information you are brought to a page with class lists of courses at a NYC school of writing that cost upwards of $200.00! In addition, the website is an eyesore and is hard to navigate. 

I didn't see a whole lot of action going on at the webpage and there were some "new" entries that were as old as 2011. I don't think the information provided is very up to date either.


So here's the list of what I call Authorship websites, in essence resources for the creative writer to create platforms and introductions to new readers.

Agree, disagree? Leave a comment!