Life

“The Dangers of Reading Maps” : Finding Your Unpredictable Path Through Life

depth-of-field-direction-finger-34753 copy.jpgSo we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” – “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

            Hello again! After a long break, I’ve gotten back into the blogging business. All right, I am making this blog as a personal/inspirational blog and wish to share my journey through it. Today, I would like to discuss how life is never what you planned it to be even when it seems like a flawless plan.

            Recently, someone I know lost a 30-some year career with no compensation or remorse from the Universe. This was a great shock and made the world out to be so cruel. It proved that when you believe you have everything figured out, life can come and drag you down to uncertainty until you question what your journey and struggles have all been for. Where is the justice? Don’t you deserve reward for putting in your time? I believe there is a purpose to such nasty wake-up calls the Universe sends us occasionally to keep us on our toes, even if its a cruel lesson to teach us.

            The person I am talking about has a new chance to pursue something they like or something that makes them happy. Truthfully they were worn down by their job these recent years and wanted a way out. The Universe then answered. It was still a shock to hear they had lost the future they always believed was inevitably theirs. They sat there stunned after being wrenched away from the path they had planned to follow decades before.

            I cannot help but relate with the same uncertainty. When I was a college student, you expect that the world will take notice and give you a well-paying job because you “deserve it” for getting that degree. That cannot be further from the truth. The world doesn’t care about what I believed I deserved as much as it didn’t care about my friend losing their livelihood. Earn everything in life, do not rely on things being promised to you at the end of the very long path you follow, or it is possible you will be surprised when your world turns upside down and the future you were so sure was within your grasp is wrenched away by an unfeeling higher power.

            Life can be scary with such insecurity. I perceive life now as an endless trail we must follow with so many twists, turns, and bumps as you chart your path. Thick forests on either side of you, hiding you away from other people on their own journeys. You don’t witness every challenge or hurtle they overcome, you may glimpse their successes between the trees, but they must keep moving as should you.

            Some see life as stagnant. They park their car, fixate on the surrounding scenery, unable to glimpse the road that continues beyond the bushes.

            WE must forge on.

            I battle with this fear every day, wondering “what is there for me on the path ahead,” but I know stopping will guarantee I will not grow.

            Though this all may seem rather depressing, keep in mind that life can change in ways we can never predict. 

Writing

The Writer’s Post: Deciding the POV of Your Story

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One of the most crucial things most writer’s over-look is the importance of who tells their story and how. Point of View (or POV) is the voice talking to your audience. Without an effective point of view your book will have just as much personality as a lamppost. For this you have 3 options: First Person, Second Person, and Third Person point of views.

When you begin to plan your point of view, keeping a few things in mind will help point you in the right direction.

Who has the most at stake? Readers want to hear the words of someone who will develop the most during the duration of the story.

Who can best help present the theme of your story? If your theme is death, you might not want to choose a character who doesn’t loose someone close to them.

Where is the most action? Don’t make your readers miss out on a great scene in the book. If your view point character is not invited to a party where the antagonist gets a serious butt-whooping, it will make your reader upset they didn’t get to see all the drama unfold.

Which character has the most entertaining outlook on life amongst the characters that cover all these? Who has the most unique voice or the most entertaining personality to you?  What are you are you going to keep to yourself? What POV will be most effective in doing this?

So, let’s break down these options and what they can do for your story and decide what you want to get across to your reader.

The First Person POV

This is a way to tell your story at an intimate level. Readers get to know your narrator like a friend and can hear their voice as they read because your character is telling them what went down. This has the potential to be entertaining and humorous in allowing your character be themselves and bond with the reader.

You must also decide if the narrator is Reliable or Unreliable. Is the narrator giving us a faithful retelling or do they twist things to tell us only what they want to? The possibilities to make your first person viewpoint character shine are numerous!

The Second Person POV

 If you want to take the road less traveled, pick this one- though it’s not recommended. This post is in second person after all with all my “you” s and “your” s. You’re the character and I am engaging you in the story I am telling about how important points of views are. You are at the center stage, and you are the main character. This viewpoint of self-reflection appears in literary works and short stories most of the time. An entire novel, rare as they are, can have the reader addressed the entire way through, but it is most often down paragraphs or chapters within longer fictional works.

The Third Person POV

There are so many ways on going about this point of view and it doesn’t leave you at a disadvantage when compared to the others.

Free Indirect Speech can present your character’s voice and opinions like you would in First person. Word choice will help develop their feelings and reason. It gives the reader the ability to see through your characters eyes and your world from a distance. Third Person Limited is the best to get your reader to hear and understand one character’s POV the entire story like the first person, minus the “I” and “me”.

Multiple Points of View is used in a few popular books today, think The Song of Ice and Fire series. This is a powerful tool in getting your reader to know your characters, but it is hard to do effectively. I have come across books where each character speaking sounds the same and different viewpoints have no purpose to further the plot. You must always pay attention to who’s speaking and the difference in character voices/tones in their sections. If you don’t know these nitty gritty details, then I recommend you not using it or your reader will become frustrated. It is also helpful to define who is speaking for the possibility that the reader forgets what a certain character’s narration sounds like and they end up in a tangled web of confusion they must unfurl for themselves. It is also helpful to keep the number of point of view characters to a minimum in one book. If we have ten characters were reading from, it can get confusing. Keep it simple. Your reader does not know your characters and it’s easy to make them feel like they’re in a crowded room with ten different people all shouting at once.

So, What Should You Do?

Do what you want! It is your book. You call the shots and you make the big decisions. If you ask yourself what will engage your readers and best tell your story without focusing on originality, then you will make the right choice more often than not. If you finish your manuscript and decide to change it after- that’s okay! Don’t be afraid to explore different options until one feels right. Not all first tries are successful.

Keep Writing. Keep Growing. You Got This!

Writing

The Writer’s Post: Choosing Your Book’s Niche

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One of the most important parts of publishing a book is choosing where your book truly belongs.

Why should you decide on your genre? Well, if you are trying to convince someone to read your book, they would like to know what to expect out of it. Your readers don’t owe you their attention, so promising a certain type of story will get those people excited for your work.

There are many pros to choosing a genre. If you want to take your work to a literary agent or professional publisher, they will be more inclined to reading and using your writing if they know what genre it is classified under- unless you want your manuscript to end up in the dreaded slush pile. Genres set rules to help you form the book based on what your readership could expect and want from you. If you want to sell a lot of books, you must write what the readers want 98% of the time.

The cons of choosing a genre: Yes, it does have negative aspects. Genres can make your book limited in how your story can develop. To figure this one out, try looking for book series that is somewhat similar to yours, what are they categorized as? Another negative aspect when it comes to getting published by professional companies is that they will often require you to produce many books in the same genre so you have a brand with your name (or pen name). Authors sometimes have two pen names when writing for two different genres for this very reason. So, perhaps come up with a second name to write under.

My tips are:

1) Know Your Genre

If you don’t understand the limits of a genre or what readers would expect from a book within it, then I suggest you do a little studying. Read whatever you can get your hands on. I am not saying that you need to read every book known to man within the genre, but  read enough so that you feel comfortable in making something fans of that genre will like.

2) Decide Why You Want To Write

Are you motivated by the idea of making large amounts of money with your writing? I am not here to tell you this is the wrong motivation, because some people do it mostly for the money. In this area self help books are huge along with romances that cater to a specific group of readers and will sell decently. Scholarly books, such as text books, might require certain qualifications for people to recognize it as quality material, but the market is there for it as well.

Another goal for some writers is the fame. This is the goal I would strongly advise you to re-evaluate. Fame is not for everyone and it is REALLY hard to achieve with countless hours of hard work and  dedication under your belt (and you still might not even make it). Not everyone will want to read what you write. And if you are only focused on becoming famous, you aren’t paying enough attention to what really matters- you’re writing.

The third and last reason why someone would publish a book is because they enjoy it. This is the greatest reason a person can have to write their stories. You can write what you want and have a greater freedom, stressing less about what readers will want and focus on what you want. With this dream in mind, you don’t really care if it doesn’t sell well, just as long as you find that one person who would really love your story as much as you.

3) Don’t Falsely Advertise Your Book

It’s just not worth it. If you advertise a romance as an action adventure, the action adventure people will find it, read it, and hate it (more than likely). These readers will take to the internet and post lengthy “too much kissing”, one-star reviews. It is best to know your book’s true genre instead of angering the people you have done all this hard work for.

4) Learn Where and How to Effectively Market Your Book 

This is a no brainer. You will want to advertise your book where your target audience would see it. So more than likely a sci-fi thriller might not be appealing to advertise on websites aimed at lawn and garden enthusiasts. Learn marketing skills even if you have a publisher. It will make you seem like you really know what you are doing and  more capable to achieve greater sales for both you and the publisher.

 

So please make sure you are letting people know what they are getting into the moment they first encounter your book, whether it be at the local bookstore or while browsing the kindle store. The reader doesn’t owe you their attention. You must grab their attention by the hand and pull them in and keep them there by giving them an idea on what your story contains.

Keep Writing! Keep Reading! Keep Growing!