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August 2014
30
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Writing About the Apocalypse

fictionwritingtips:

Television, books, and movies seem to be overwhelmed with stories about the apocalypse, but why has it become so popular? Obviously, these types of stories have existed in the past, but it has exploded in the past few years. I started thinking about what the fascination could be and why we’re so interested in the apocalypse. Why is there such a big draw toward stories about the end of mankind?

At first, I assumed that maybe people are feeling unsatisfied with how the world is now, so the apocalypse would sort of give us the chance to “start over”.  Perhaps people are bored with their jobs, annoyed with paying bills, etc. and they want to live in a world where all you had to focus on was your survival. Maybe the apocalypse would give most people an equal chance to be happy. Then I started to think that’s a bit morbid and there must be more to it than that. Worrying about your loved ones’ survival, fighting diseases without medicine, and living without technology wouldn’t exactly be paradise. We’ve evolved to live this way because it gives us the best chance of living a happy and healthy life (although not everyone benefits from this). However, the idea that we could live in a much simpler world is something that could be appealing to readers.

From a writing standpoint, penning a novel about the apocalypse provides incredible creative freedom. I started writing one because I wanted to see myself as a main character. I wanted to see what I would do if I was in a situation like that. How would I survive? What would I do? Where would my boundaries lie? Writing about the apocalypse allows us to explore mankind’s deepest issues. Thinking about how far people would go to survive is fascinating and thinking about what YOU would personally do is sometimes frightening. I think readers also like to put themselves in the minds of the main characters of these novels.

Exploring creative freedom further, through apocalyptic novels writers are able to create a whole new world—even if it has to be somewhat based on our own world. We can turn our world into something different and explore different themes. Even if an apocalyptic novel has villains like “zombies”, the antagonist often becomes mankind in general. Fantasy provides this element, but apocalyptic novels feel more real. They usually feel like they could actually happen. That’s appealing to readers because it’s also terrifying. Technically our society could end at any time, so it all seems possible.

Now that we’ve hopefully starting thinking more about our own novels, here are a few tips on writing a great apocalyptic novel:

Pick a theme

Many apocalyptic novels or post-apocalyptic novels revolve around some sort of theme. You still shouldn’t preach to your audience, but you should try to have a point-of-view. Think about what you’re trying to say with your novel. Is your story a commentary on how people treat each other? Are you talking about violence? A good theme will help people relate to your story on a deeper level.

Choose your monster

These types of novels can be overwhelming if there’s too many “monsters”. Decide what you want to be the main antagonist. Disease? Other people? Zombies? Vampires? Weather? There are many factors that could lead to a post apocalyptic situation, so take the time to figure out where your story is going.

Know the rules of your world

Whatever rules you make for your world, you need to stick with them. If it’s in the future and there’s different technology, make sure it’s all the same throughout. If your zombies contracted a disease somehow through a specific way, keep it that way. Know your world just as well as you know your story.

Don’t forget your characters

The weakness of many post apocalyptic novels is usually character development. I know the situation of your novel is interesting, but you need to take the time to figure out your characters and what they want. Survival will probably be one of their worries, but you need to develop it further. Where are they going? How will they get there? Character development is always important no matter what the premise of the story is.

-Kris Noel

August 2014
30

TWH Discussion Room Open!

Here is the link to join the discussion on heroism.

August 2014
30

Anonymous asked

So I'm a new writing blog and I'm saving my stories as drafts because I'm nervous no one will like it.. Is there a good way to advertise your blog without seeming annoying? Oh and I love your blog it's super helpful so thanks :) x

On the advertising point of view, do what some of our other followers have done and just send an ask/submit with a link to your blog. Probably do the same with some other writing blogs. As long as you don’t send tons of messages asking for people to promote your page, you should be okay.

Saving your stories as drafts: firstly, what’s the reason behind your writing blog? If it’s mainly for giving others advice, maybe ask your followers if they would like to see your work? If your blog is for promoting your work, the only way to do that is by posting your work. I can guarantee you that there will be at least one person who will like your work, but even people who don’t like it will be able to give you pointers as to how you could improve it, which gives you something to work with to create a story everyone will love.

It took me a few months to let any of my friends see the fanfiction I was writing, and they were the ones who convinced me to post it online for others to see, so if you are still unsure about posting it online, find a friend or family member you trust to read through it for you, so they can help you with any problems with it.

Hope that helps!

~DP

August 2014
30

cylonspring asked

I'm working on a story in which the protagonist has synesthesia. While I've found some information, I wonder if you might have some sources I haven't thought of? Thank you!

It’s great that you’ve already found some information! Synesthesia is really interesting. 

I’m so glad that you asked this question because a really great podcast called Stuff You Should Know did an episode on this a long time ago. Listen to it here. (Sidenote: Josh and Chuck, the guys who run SYSK, are so awesome. They’ve got hundreds of podcasts on everything from history to the brain to religion to drag culture. Please check them out. I’ve practically grown up with these guys!) 

Neuroscience for Kids has an article on synesthesia, too. I always love starting off my research with kid-friendly sources because everything is explained clearly and concisely and that’s just nice in the midst of big kid, big words research, you know?

Here are a few other things I found just by googling. (I’m sure you’ve already looked through this part, but in case anyone else wants to start off some research, here you go!) 

Good luck! 

-Tabatha 

August 2014
30
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compoundchem:

Following on from yesterday’s post on gunpowder, here’s an updated version of one of the earliest posts on the site, looking at the cause of the colours in fireworks: http://wp.me/p4aPLT-1t

compoundchem:

Following on from yesterday’s post on gunpowder, here’s an updated version of one of the earliest posts on the site, looking at the cause of the colours in fireworks: http://wp.me/p4aPLT-1t

August 2014
30
Via   •   Source

Ask a Teacher Series: Eight Questions from Writers to Teachers, Back-to-School Edition

writeworld:

1. What class or classes do you teach?

I’m in my fourth year of teaching Junior English (American Lit and Composition) and Literature of England. This year I also get to teach Media Literacy for the very first time, which is exciting and horrifying all at once.

2. What type of writing do you deal with most often? Essays? Short answer? Outlines?

A little bit of everything. One of the awesome parts about teaching high school is that we get to experiment with a little of everything. In 11th grade our big focus point is the argumentative essay, but we also write screenplays, short stories, memoirs, poetry, ACT test essays, etc. 

3. How important is good grammar and spelling to you?

In a finalized, published piece it’s super important — noticing an error will immediately take your reader out of the piece and stop caring. (Which makes me hope to God I’ve done an alright job proofing this.) In drafts and revisions, though, it’s alright to be a little messy. 

It’s also important to know your purpose for a piece of writing. Creative pieces have a lot more leeway for weird grammar and sentence structure than a formal essay does. Personally, the best advice is that, in all walks of life, you need to know the rules and have a purpose for breaking them. Laziness doesn’t count.

4. Which style do you prefer students use in your class (MLA, APA, CMS, etc.)? Why?

Most Humanities teachers still roll with MLA, and I’m just fine with that as I’ve been using it for 10+ years through undergrad and high school. I’m just starting a Master’s of Education program which requires APA for everything and the differences are subtle, so knowing how to switch is also an important skill. Most of the time I’ve found that, since I know MLA pretty well, I can switch between formats with minimal pain. Regardless of your familiarity, resources like Purdue OWL are essential for students. Use them!

5. Do you have any tips for doing research?

Start early, use a system that’s comfortable for you, and dive right in. Many teachers require steps be completed in a certain order (research question, then thesis, then outline, then notecards, etc.) which can really trip up some students. My high school English teacher, for example, required that we take notes on index cards and use a complicated numbering system to keep track of which source the evidence came from. It was a nightmare. I’m just not wired to organize or process things that way. I’m a mental pre-writer — I don’t have notebooks filled with outlines or mind-maps or anything— so I usually start mulling over a topic or two in my head for a week or two before I start researching. After I’ve got my idea, I’ll comb through databases and articles to see what others say about my idea, then posit my own claim, and start writing to see where I end up. A lot of my initial writing is revised to hell by the end, but to me this process makes sense: the end result is the same, I just take a different route.

If your instructor is having you follow a specific research or note-taking process that doesn’t work for you, talk to them! Come up with an alternative. Same thing if you’re having difficulty finding sources or putting an idea into words. Teachers and librarians have been at this stuff a long time, and we’re here to help!

6. What are your biggest pet peeves when it comes to students’ writing in your class?

I have a few, but the biggest one is assuming that I’m too dumb to catch plagiarism. I’ve spent nine months reading everything you’ve written, so when you all of a sudden sound like a completely different person it’s fairly easy to catch. I know how to use Google. Most of the time catching a plagiarist is no more complicated than entering a few key phrases and seeing what pops up. 

Also, it’s bad karma. Writing is tough work, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. Passing off someone else’s sweat, pain, and spiritual breakthroughs as your own will catch up with you even if you don’t get caught right away. Don’t be a dick.  

7. What are some writing mistakes that you make that you’d like to caution your students against?

Finding the purpose, audience, and tone for a piece of writing is really difficult for a lot of people. Memoir and persuasion should read differently, just like a tweet and a resume will read differently. It’s up to you to ensure that your formal writing stays formal. Over time your voice will grow to a point where you sound like you no matter the genre or format, but even then you have to be very deliberate about the words and phrases you choose to include based on who will be reading the piece and what the expectations are. Knowing when to switch between voices will make your life so much easier.

8. What do you think is the most important thing students should know about writing in your class?

Your first draft will always suck. Probably your second draft, too. Then the third, then fourth, fifth not so much but then you’ll break it again for the sixth. If you keep at it, though, and ask for feedback from instructors and writing groups, read other authors you admire, and revise until your eyes bleed, after a while it will start to grow into something you’re really proud of, then excited about, until finally you’re sitting in front of a piece you can’t believe you had anything to do with. And I will be so pumped to read it.

Thank you to Jake for his shrewd acumen and advice! We hope that you’ve learned something, even if you haven’t seen the inside of a classroom in years.

If you are a teacher and you’d like to be a part of the Ask a Teacher Series, please shoot us a message! We’d love to have you!

August 2014
29

TWH Discussion: Heroism HipChat Info!

Since a few of you are interested [and maybe I can snag more into the idea!], I’ll be hosting a HipChat at 12PM [noon] EST. That link will take you to download the client [which has is free and will allow you to join the room and chat. The only thing paying for it does it add video, which you don’t need.] I’ll be posting the link for the room tomorrow.

We’ll be discussing what makes up a hero, who a hero really is and what that means, along with a whole other slew of character-building questions. Also, keep in mind this will be a discussion — which will allow you to share, respectfully challenge and explore the topic and what it means in your own writing.

I look forward to seeing you guys there! 

August 2014
29
Via   •   Source

birbrightsactivist:

if you want to understand the psyche of our generation take a good look at the stories we tell ourselves about the future

because it isn’t flying cars or robot dogs, it’s faceless government surveillance and worldwide pandemics and militarized police brutality and the last dregs of humanity struggling to survive

our generation isn’t self-centered, or lazy, or whatever else they wanna say about us. we are young, and we are here, and we are deeply, deeply afraid.

#dystopia   #dystopian   #quote   #reference   
August 2014
29
Via   •   Source

I can’t accept that. I can’t accept that there was only one black woman in the entire film, who delivered one line and who we never saw again. I can’t accept that the bad guys were Asian and that although in China, Lucy’s roommate says, “I mean, who speaks Chinese? I don’t speak Chinese!” I can’t accept that in Hercules, which I also saw this weekend, there were no people of color except for Dwayne Johnson himself and his mixed-race wife, whose skin was almost alabaster. I can’t accept that she got maybe two lines and was then murdered. I can’t accept that the “primitive tribe” in Hercules consisted of dark-haired men painted heavily, blackish green, to give their skin (head-to-toe) a darker appearance, so the audience could easily differentiate between good and bad guys by the white vs. dark skin. I can’t accept that during the previews, Exodus: Gods and Kings, a story about Moses leading the Israelite slaves out of Egypt, where not a single person of color is represented, casts Sigourney Weaver and Joel Edgerton to play Egyptians. I can’t accept that in the preview for Kingsman: The Secret Service, which takes place in London, features a cast of white boys and not a single person of Indian descent, which make up the largest non-white ethnic group in London. I can’t accept that in stories about the end of the world and the apocalypse, that somehow only white people survive. I can’t accept that while my daily life is filled with black and brown women, they are completely absent, erased, when I look at a TV or movie screen.

August 2014
29

Anonymous asked

Hi TWH! I'm sort of new to Tumblr and I've been following you for a bit. I was trying use a read more option like you guys do on many posts. The thing is, it's my first post, and it isn't working. I haven't published it yet, it's saved as a draft right now. I have it so that there are no spaces in between the end of the last paragraph and the beginning of the next one but it still isn't working. I've researched but I've had no luck. Please help me! A guide or tutorial would be great! Thanks!

We don’t typically answer HTML questions, but if you’re interested and the regular function button [the one to the right of bullets and to the left of the ‘upload a picture’ option] isn’t working, you can add a “[ [ M O R E ] ]” [without spaces] in the HTML of your post to get it to do the same thing.

I hope that works!

-K

August 2014
29

kunoichixvampire asked

Hi! So I'm in the process of writing my first novel, but I seem to be stuck. I'm writing from the perspective of my three main characters (each chapter is a different narrator) but for some reason I'm having problems writing from one character in particular. Do you have any advice on how I can get over my block of writing the story from her perspective? Thanks!

This is something that has always come relatively easy to me, but after staring at this question for a good hour, I think I’ve finally figured out why.

As someone with a history of, well, being multiple characters, I’ve learned how to read people and how to compare and contrast multiple personalities easily.

I would start with the first one. How do these characters come across naturally? How do they present themselves? Small things like the difference between playing with their hair, shuffling their feet, or chewing/picking on their nails when they are uncomfortable can be telling and distinctive traits for a character. Do they slouch and try to take up as little space as possible, or are they once of those hands-on-hips, back straight, legs-spread, "Look at me, damn it! I’m important!" types? These physical tells do a lot to shape how the reader pictures them in a real setting.

Moving to the more difficult part — and the part that will help you with writing more-so, I think — is the compare and contrast. Make Venn Diagrams for your three characters, and list traits and views that they share — and they don’t.

This can be used a very helpful guide to check when writing chapters.

Any other suggestions?

-K

August 2014
29

Can I just apologise for not putting the last post under a read more when I originally posted it? I had it in my head to do, but managed to forget. The problem is solved now though

~DP

#oops   #sorry   
August 2014
29

Know Your Burns

image

We’ve all got to that point in our writing where you want a character to be injured, and you want it to be as serious as possible, but at the same time you still want the character to live (that is, unless you are George R.R. Martin), and you still want them to be able to do certain things. And you might want to be able to describe it well, rather than just saying ‘Rosie badly cut her finger on the knife’.

I got to this point when I had a massive explosion in my story. I wanted my main character to be affected by it, but I didn’t want her to die (yet). So I spent a good few hours researching, which I will turn into a brief summary article for you guys.

Warning: there will be pictures of burns. Some of them won’t be pretty.

image

Read More

August 2014
29

alekpixi asked

Hi TWH! I'm planning a story set in Schwarzwald, Germany, but I have a hard time finding proper information because most of the websites are in German, and my German is shaky at best. Can you (or your followers!!) help me answer these questions?: Can you actually get lost in the forest?, Are the towns IN the forest?, Which town should I choose for the setting, if I want my protagonist to have to walk for at least a day to get deep into the forest w/ no civilization? It would be very appreciated!

Tossing out for knowledgeable followers, but I will add what little I know:

Yes, you can get lost in the forest. Though there are a lot more roads and towns scattered around and in lighter parts of the forest than used to exist, there are still places to get lost. One doesn’t have to go a full day into it, either. People can get lost in forests after a couple hours (and typically, the closer it is to nightfall, the more difficult it become both to find your way and to have anyone looking for you locate you — assuming you don’t have a GPS-activated device on you, of course).

Also, if you have a Chrome browser, it’s got a built in translate option which should activate when you’re on a site in a foreign language. It’s not going to be perfect, but it can give you an overview of what’s on the page. It might help with some of your research.

Followers willing to share any knowledge on this topic, please contact the asker :)

Also, if you find any research material that might be helpful, K or the language helpers can try to help you understand it!

August 2014
29

syncerlyyoko asked

What can I do about writers block??

First off, don’t panic! Don’t sit and stress about struggling getting your ideas on paper. Leave your WIP alone for a week, and see if you are feeling refreshed and ready for writing at the end of your break. If you’re still having trouble with writing, here’s a few things you can do:

  • Using prompts (the only prompt pages I know of are the ones every Wednesday here, and the ones on this page, though a friend of mine follows a page that posts pictures and sentences as prompts, I will get the name off her asap). This is a good way to get you back into the swing of your characters
  • Carrying a notepad at all times for whenever you get the ‘urge’, and also when you think of a killer line that you don’t want to forget
  • Listening to music and watching films/tv - this is a good one for me, especially the music side, as I have written a fair few scenes from just listening to a song when I am in the right mood
  • Join a roleplay as this is a good way of having ideas, and also reacting to other people’s ideas

If anyone else has ways of breaking through the barrier that is writer’s block, don’t hesitate to add them!

~DP