Why Do Writers Write?

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“I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success…Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything.”

—Nikola Tesla

Each author has his or her own means to spur the imagination, the motivation to sit down and write. The source of an author’s motivation is vital to the writing process—and understanding it will enhance the quality of any written piece.

In this blog post, I’ll explore some of the reasons why writers write and then I will discuss my own experiences.  If you’re an aspiring author seeking direction, then this article will provide some useful guidance. Maybe you can relate to your own experiences—I’d love to hear them in the comments below. 🙂

—Why Do Writers Write—

To Express Creativity

“The arts especially address the idea of aesthetic experience. An aesthetic experience is one in which your senses are operating at their peak; when you’re present in the current moment; when you’re resonating with the excitement of this thing that you’re experiencing; when you are fully alive.”

Sir Ken Robinson

There’s nothing like an adrenaline rush at the onset of a brilliant story. Writing brings us into a world of creativity, full of whimsy imagination that expresses our intellect in profound ways.

One of the main reasons why writers write is because they need to release this beautiful energy. Bottling it up is like putting a stopper on a volcano.

To Gain Recognition

The ego is a strong motivator, especially for writers; many authors want to be inspired by their success and the praise they get from the world. Not everyone wants to be the next Stephen King or George Orwell, but many do.

 

To Influence the World

You may have heard the classic phrase “the pen is mightier than the sword”. Well, it’s true; a written piece can alter history and modify how the world sees itself—especially with religious prose.

Others, like news companies, can control how the public is informed on local, national, and world issues. When you think about it from that perspective, that pen is sounding quite powerful.

To Explore Life Itself

Since time immemorial, storytellers and philosophers have addressed the meaning of life and what gives humanity purpose. Writing is a therapeutic exercise that allows the mind to explore reality around us.

Writers attempt to tackle many of life’s questions, hoping to inspire others in the process. In this way, writing is more of an altruistic ritual for empowering humanity. See this recent article on the Hero’s Journey for more information.

To Make Money

There’s nothing wrong with writing to put food on the table. Many people use writing as a second job to supplement their main income. Writing can be a fun and immersive hobby, and making some money while doing it is certainly appealing.

That said, writing isn’t very rewarding. Most writers get paid little each month for their publications. There are those that defy the odds and become rich, but that isn’t the typical scenario.

—Why I Write—

How did I start as a writer? What interests me and motivates my writing sessions? In this section, I’ll elaborate on these questions. The answers should give you a different perspective to reflect on—and some of them might surprise you!

How I started as a Writer

I never planned on being a writer, the art gradually crept up on me in my adult years. During my childhood, I was into roleplays, which were short stories co-authored with friends.

My dad owned a small library of science fantasy books, which I consumed voraciously. Science fiction and fantasy were my favorite genres, but I also enjoyed romance, horror, and spirituality.

From the roleplaying forums that I had joined, I gradually developed a cast of original characters, plot themes, and mythical creatures. It went further and  I designed a magical system, technology, names for races, continents, and planets.

The project snowballed when I was unemployed, bored, and depressed. I chose something that I could actively do myself, rather than relying on an email response from an IT company for a job while I sat at home.

My old roleplaying friends had also moved away from the forums, and I was left to my creative devices. Little did I know what the result would be…

Startling Revelations

Several months later after starting on my little project, I sat up from my computer chair, staring at a 300,000-word rough manuscript.

I couldn’t believe it, and I remember pounding the computer desk in disbelief.

I’d written something so extensive to be worthy of a trilogy, and I didn’t have any English college credentials! Talk about a wild trip into my imagination!

Since finishing the rough draft, I’ve reviewed my manuscript and discovered the horrors of rereading, rewriting, and editing out the myriad mistakes we humans continuously make in our work. Thankfully, the manuscript for book 1 has progressed significantly over the many grueling—yet fun—hours I’ve put into it.

My motivation

I write to fulfill myself-—to release the creative demons that lurk within my heart. Every day they beg release. There is a warm satisfaction in finishing an article or writing/editing an original chapter of my novel. I cherish my characters and readers, considering them good friends.

Looking Back

I understand that writing is difficult, but so are many things in life worth doing. Writing, especially with my original series, fills me with a warm fulfillment that other pastimes do not. When I look back at my life, I’ll have no regrets working on Ethereal Seals, my blog, or any of my future projects.

Despite the struggles—as shared by many authors—, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it as an amateur writer and blogger, pioneering into my own creative world.


What is your spark? Are you also seduced by the rewards that creativity brings? Leave it in the comment below if you feel inclined. Thanks for reading everyone!

 

 

 

 

Making Maps for Fantasy Settings: A Tutorial

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Crafting a map for your fictional universe can be a handy resource for readers. Not every fiction has a cartographic reference, nor is it a requirement for good work. However, it dramatically compliments the space where the story takes place. When done correctly, a map benefits to both author and reader.

In this article, I’ll give an example of how I create my maps. You can take what you find appropriate and apply it to your projects. Hopefully, this tutorial will get you started. It may be a bit complicated and technical but bear with me.

—Some Startup Info—

You can use whatever media you want to design your map. I use a free program called GIMP, which is like an advanced version of Microsoft Paint, last I checked.

—Creating a Digital Map—

Layer 1: The Background

When you have your blank canvas set up, first address the background. My personal preference is a basic fill tool. Your mileage may vary, depending on what kind of background your story needs. Most maps are continents, so they require an ocean or blue background.

Something like this.

AtlasMapTutorial1

I did a fill command in GIMP for the ocean backdrop here, then added some darker shades to indicate ocean depth.

Layer 2: Landmass

The next layer I work on is the outline and general fill of the land. Choose a yellow, peach, or brown color that resembles dirt or clay—or do whatever you want of course—for the land color.

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You can use a pathing or pencil tool to create the black outline of the land, as shown, then use the fill tool. Most land isn’t perfect or smooth—go for jagged edges along coasts or coves to simulate water erosion. You can also get creative and design fragment islands.

Layer 3: Land Color/Features

With the general land layer in place, you can focus on the more detailed facets of your map. This step can be done in several ways, but in my example, I use pure color to indicate trees and mountains.

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That may be a doozy of a step forward, but allow me to explain. I used a light green to represent grasslands, dark green for forests, blue for lakes and rivers, brown for mountains areas, and white-brown for snow. One suggestion I have is—if you’re doing this method, select all of layer 2 with a wand tool, so you don’t create color outside the landmass.

For the water masses, I went back to layer 2 and erased parts of it. Doing this allowed layer 1 to fill in where lakes and rivers lie.

Layer 4: Additional Land Details

This is another optional and flexible step, depending on what you want for your map. I added redundant mountain figures and then floating islands here. This gave the map more depth.

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Here’s a tip: create one mountain figure and then use the clone stamp tool to easily replicate it. This makes it a lot easier! 🙂

Layer 5: Landmarks

Now that you have your land finished, it’s time to add landmarks! What do I mean? Cities, castles, special areas, and so forth. No, you don’t have to draw an entire castle—use symbols to represent them.

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In this example, I used simple dots with minor details. You can certainly be creative with this and draw one small castle—then, using the clone stamp tool, replicate it wherever you need to.

Layer 6: Map Legend

Every map needs a legend—a reference to tell readers what your landmarks mean. A north arrow or distance bar is also handy.

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Position your legend so that it doesn’t overlap over map details. Choose a location where there is a lot of “empty space”; this will add visual balance to your map.

Layer 7: Captions

You need captions that specify major or minor points on the map. Include text for your legend, a title, and any additional information a reader should know. A small bit about who authored the map is also essential.

AtlasMapTutorial7

 

In this example, broader or more critical areas have a larger font size, while minor or smaller areas have a lower font size. If I were to do this over again, I’d probably make the font size for cities a bit larger, but at the same time, I don’t want to crowd the other map details with text. On an ebook or actual copy, the text would scale larger, but in the thumbnail here, it’s smaller.

Other Things to Consider

You could also add in fantasy details like sea dragons swimming in the ocean, or maybe other mythic creatures that add an “ancient” feeling to your map. Go wild! Remember, this is your map and fictional world.

—Conclusion—

Creating maps is a fun activity that adds important detail to your story. A map can be a wide variety of things—and the example above is just one of them. I hope this article has helped get you started with the map making process. Thanks for reading and click that “follow” button below if you like what you see. Cheers. 😎

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

False Starts and Introductions to Novels: Too Cliché or A Forgotten Skill?

 

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“At dawn, the sun either shines itself or hides behind clouds, promising what the day will bring. So it is with introductions in stories.” —Ed White

Most agents and editors would balk at the suggestion of a false start intro to a novel. On its own, there’s nothing wrong with an exciting beginning, so long as it’s done well. Then again, the last time I read a false start in a novel was years ago. Is it now a forgotten technique, shunned by writers?

The problem is that false introductions are usually poorly done and give off a flat feeling for the rest of the book. If you’re a writer developing the draft of your novel, then this article is a must for you.

—Introductions—

Those First Introduction Paragraphs

The first few paragraphs of a book introduce an author’s style—his or her prose rhythm, subtle insecurities, and other narrative patterns and issues. A book is like an onion; it has layers of emotional and mental components embedded into the prose.

This is especially the case in early drafts, where the author is still figuring out what he or she wants to do with the story. Analyzing one’s writing patterns in drafts can lead to improvement and growth of a writer.

A Handy Exercise on Introductions in Prose

There’s an exercise in this article that I recommend. You examine the first 250 words of your story. Heavily. Dissect it, break it apart, and ask yourself:

  1. What is the purpose of this introduction?
  2. Why is it set up like this?
  3. Is there a hook for the reader?
  4. Is the introduction short enough for the sake of clarity and pacing, but long enough to express its purpose?
  5. What patterns does this intro reveal about the book as a whole?

These questions are by no means exhaustive. Invent your own questions and discover how many perspectives and shades of grey your introduction can produce.

The first 250 words are crucial to the rest of your story and should let the reader what they’re in for. Most readers picking up a book at the store—or skimming over it on Amazon—will do this to see if the story interests them.

—In the Reader’s Best Interests of Introductions—

Keeping Introductions to Novels Interesting

I once heard a fellow writer say:

“Stories are like skirts. They have to be long enough to cover everything, but short enough to keep things interesting.” —Anonymous

Now, while that might not be the cleverest of examples, he did have a point. Stories, and particularly introductions—since introductions are a significant part of your prose—should be short and sweet, including everything that should be there.

Hooking Readers in the Introduction of a Novel

Here’s a helpful article on hooking readers in the introduction. The author mentions driving the prose with curiosity and conflict—elements that provoke the reader, tempting them to read further.

You can also use internal dialog or exposition to hint at a character’s insecurities, flaws, or other issues. I’m not big on exposition myself—too many writers turn internal narration into a dry monologue that is boring to read through, but that’s a topic for another time.

Stress is…Good for Readers?

Readers love stress and anxiety in a story; they hate it in real life—so, give them what they want, am I right? And do it early on, promising them the reward they will receive if they delve deeper into your story. Dangle that carrot!

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Don’t be Afraid to Use False Introductions

Approach your introduction with a sense of clarity and enjoyability for your reader. Have a plan for your intro, and reflect throughout the rest of your book. The promises you make in those first 250 words should come full circle. Otherwise, your introduction is nothing more than a prop that can not—and should not—stand on its own.

—Concluding an Introduction—

Striking a Balance

In summary, an introduction to a novel is a significant part of the writing process. Take your time with it, and review it on a routine basis. Even after your twentieth read through, you may yet discover new insights about yourself as a writer.

Ask yourself:

Is it long enough to cover everything? Is it short enough to keep it interesting? Does it dangle the carrot appropriately, leaving the reader begging for more?

If you can bond your reader with your main protagonist and the story within the first few paragraphs, then congratulate yourself; you’ve accomplished a feat that most writers struggle with.

Final Words

Beginnings are always the funniest part of a new story, but they can also be the hardest. I hope this article has provided you with some semblance of wisdom in your writing journey—I’m by no means a professional myself.

Thank you for reading. Love and gratitude to my readers! 😀

Hit the “like” button below if you enjoy what you see to stay informed of this blog’s updates. Also check out a recent article I did about meditation, creativity, and writing. Thanks.