Posted in better writing, online class, online writing classes, writing, writing better

Online Course: Busting Through Writer’s Block

Here is my newest course Busting Through Writer’s Block. This course is near and dear to my heart because I have spent a large part of the last fourteen years of writing battling with writer’s block, or a lack of motivation to write.

I compiled all that I learned in that time to create this course to help fellow writers battling this same thing.

In this course Busting Through Writer’s Block, I will be talking about the many ways a person can block themselves from writing and some ways to over come them.

The first seven lessons are dedicated to understanding possible blocks. The titles of these lessons are What is Writer’s Block, You Deserve This, Write About What Excites You, Are You Over Thinking It, Skills Practice, Workshops, and Networking, The Five Stages of Writing, and Distractions From Writing.

The last five lessons will talk about some tools that can be used to help move through writer’s block or to keep it from happening. These lesson titles are Using Writing Prompts to Get You Started, The Benefits of Free Writing, Doing Things to Boost Your Creativity, Play, Have Fun, Experiment, and Using Visualization to Get You Writing.

Don’t keep being stalled in your writing. Learn more about what’s blocking you, so you can get back to being the awesome writer that you are!

Posted in inspiration, inspirational, online class, online writing classes, writing

Online Course: Journaling Your Way To Success

Here it is! My first online course is available today. I am proud to present Journaling Your Way To Success. I was inspired to write this course because I realized I have done a lot of work on myself, especially through journaling, and felt the need to share my process. A process that has lead me to a significantly better life, and I believe all people deserve a successful and fulfilling life. So I want to share with as many people as possible. Maybe that’s you too.

In Journaling Your Way to Success, you can take the powerful tool of journaling to help create a new and better you. This is a great way to jump start your personal journey in discovering the clarity needed to bring more success and happiness to your life.

This is a dedicated 21-day course, to give you the boost you need to take steps toward your success. Lessons include topics such as Why is Journaling Important, What is Success, Cultivating Awareness Through Journaling, A Daily Routine That Works For You, Using Journaling to Retain the Mind, and more.

Are you ready to journal your way to success? Then do something your future self will thank you for and sign up for this course today!

Posted in A Writer's Life, beginning writer, learning about writing, lots of writing, online writing classes, taking time to write, The Writer's Toolbox, the writing journey, the writing process, workshop, writer, writers, writing, writing advice, writing collaboration, writing journey, writing workshop

Writing Groups: Not for All Writers All of the Time

One of the first pieces advice I received as a young writer (about eight or nine years ago now) from multiple sources (mostly from writing books and sage advice from published authors) was that to be successful at writing one must join a writing group. I was told writing groups would make me a better writer by giving me a place to talk and learn about writing as well as put me around other like-minded individuals for the support I needed to keep writing.

I took that advice to heart and joined a writer’s group two years after I began my cool hobby of writing, because I wanted to take my cool hobby to the next level.

It was the best decision of my life.

Until that defining moment of joining my first writing group, writing was a fancy. Something I did in my spare time. I had big ideas of being published, but it was a pie in the sky kind of thing. Joining a writing group made me realize that writing isn’t as romantic as I first thought. It’s lot of hard work (and a building of strict discipline and great effort), but work that had a hell of a pay off in the end (and I’m not talking about being published).

Through the help of my new writing friends, I learned that writing was not just something to do or some passing fancy for me, it was a way of life… my new way of life. And for two years, I went to every single writing meeting religiously (every other Saturday afternoon). And no sickness or excuse would keep me from going (okay, so if I was running a fever I wouldn’t go, but you get the idea).

Then I started getting restless. Something was wrong, very wrong and I didn’t know what it was. The meetings weren’t as fulfilling anymore, and more times than not I would come home from a meeting totally frustrated, wondering why I’d wasted hours talking about writing and other things that had nothing to do with writing (because my writing group did love to get off topic a lot).

Continue reading “Writing Groups: Not for All Writers All of the Time”

Posted in Blood Feud, how to write, Michael Knost, online writing classes, Other Writing Stuff, The Writer's Toolbox, writing, writing advice

The Truth About Flashbacks

This post is another result of one of Michael Knost classes. This most recent class I took was all about flashbacks (and backstory, but that’s a different post). I found a few “light bulb” moments in the class that just had to share, but this post really is only the tip of the iceberg of what I learned.

The most important thing to remember… Flashbacks should not be used unless there is absolutely no other way the story can be told. Flashbacks carry a built-in disadvantage to even the best of written stories, because it stops the story. A flashback is about something that has already happened. It’s over and done with so the flashback lacks immediacy.

There are 3 advantages to having a flashback in a story…

  • helps establish character motives
  • fills in events of how the original current story came about
  • fills in critical information that happened years earlier

If a story must hold a flashback there are 3 ways to maximize the advantages of a flashback…

  1. Time travel done right
    Every flashback should follow a strong current story scene. Flashbacks should never start a scene. Before dropping the past onto the reader, the current story must be established first; otherwise, the reader will become invested in the flashback and not care about the current story.
  2. Orient the reader at the start of the flashback in time and space
    Make sure that it is made clear that the story is moving backwards in time. Give a clear indication at the very beginning what is happening to avoid throwing the reader into confusion and frustration. There’s nothing worse than reading a story and not being able to figure out where in space and time the story is supposed to be taking place.
  3. Use verbal tense conventions to guide the reader in and out of the flashback
    Conventions through verbal tense can be used to “signal” both the start and end of a flashback. This sort of thing is subtle and may not be noticed by the conscious mind of the reader, but is very effective in guiding the reader properly in and out of flashbacks. This is the best way to help eliminate flashback confusion.

Example: Let’s say you are writing a story in pasted tense (that’s my preferred style of writing). That means the first few verbs (usually the first 5 verbs) used in the flashback should be perfect past tense (had, had been). Then switch back to pasted tense. When you are ready to end the flashback switch back to perfect past tense for another 5 or so verbs. Once back in the current story, you return to using past tense verbs.

Are you confused yet? Here’s a shortened version I made to help me keep it straight…

current story (past tense) + beginning of flashback (perfect past tense 5 verbs) + middle of flashback (paste tense) + end of flashback (perfect past tense 5 verbs) + return to current story (past tense)

What if a story is written in present tense? Then you would use past tense verbs instead of perfect past tense verbs.

Here’s an example of a switch from a present tense story to flashback from Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games...

“We don’t speak. Our real interaction happened years ago. He’s probably already forgotten it. But I haven’t and I know I never will…
It was the worst time. My father had been killed in the mine accident three months earlier in the bitterest January anyone could remember. The numbness of his loss had passed, and the pain would hit me out of nowhere, doubling me over, racking my body with sobs. Where are you? I would cry out in my mind. Where have you gone? Of course there was never any answer.”

If flashbacks are used, it should be done sparingly. Flashbacks should never occur back to back. Strong scenes should separate each flashback scene.

There is an acceptable form of story that uses flashbacks to tell a story and that would be a “frame story”. This story can be any length (from short story to novel), which begins after all the action is over. The protagonist or author announces that they are going to tell a story and may even give out the entire outcome at the beginning of the story. Example of this type of stories are True Grit by Charles Portis and Water for Elephants Sara Gruen.

Update June 26 2019: I wrote this blog post many years ago, since then my position on flashbacks have changed. I do believe flashbacks can be used as often as a person wants within reason. I published my first book Blood Feud and it has numerous flashbacks that, in my opinion, work very well. But I spent a lot of time trying to get them right and making sure they were necessary to move the story. Sometimes in order to move forward and bring more depth to a story flashbacks can be quite useful.

It is also worth mentioning here too, that just because a writer gives you advice on how writing should be, does not mean it has to be. Use your best judgement. Every writer and every story are unique. Know what is true for you as a writer, and let the rest go. Happy Writing!