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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Workshop Muse: The Mental Cleanse For Writers

Charlotte Rains Dixon - Just as food particles get stuck in your digestive system, so too do old ideas and energy get lodged in your brain. Scientists say that neuropathways get carved in our brain, and in order to create new habits, we have to create new neuropathways. So it stands to reason that a mental cleanse is an important first step in this endeavor, no? And that by cleansing mentally, we create crazy room in the old noggin for new ideas and yes, new writing projects.

Workshop Muse: Guide to Punctuating - for the Reading Impaired

Words from the CLab - The tips provided are courtesy of, a website dedicated to helping Erotica Writers. The tips below are mainly to stress the importance of punctuation. is not intended for minors as there may be some graphic images or phrases not suitable for young teens and children. If you are a minor, please view with parental permission.

Phil Phantom - I know, you hate to think of your writing as trash, but if done well, others will. If done poorly, your magnificent creation is just crap, shit, or garbage. Excellent trash can rise to the level of good shit, but you and your good shit will never be studied in English Lit. As for riches, sure, but it helps if you are wealthy when you start.

Workshop Muse: "Play It Again, Sam" - Redundancy in Writing

Tina Morgan - One of the biggest mistakes I see beginning writers make in their longer works is redundancy. Repeat words, phrases, ideas and character traits. The problem doesn't show up as much in shorter works, but it rears its ugly head quite often in novel and novella length works.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Workshop Muse: The Seven Major Beginner Mistakes

Scott H. Young - Starting anything new involves mistakes. Tons of them, if you plan on being good. Although you are supposed to learn from your mistakes, there are a few that often go ignored. These mistakes accompany the first phase of anything and it is easy to repeat them in everything new that you do.

Workshop Muse: 4 Ways to Making Every Word Count

Writer's Digest - Getting the full value out of every word you write is especially important when it comes to the short story. The key is to recognize the power of a single well-chosen word, and trust it to do its work. As a rule, the more economically you use language, the more powerfully you will deliver your message. Here are four techniques to help you make each word count.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cultivating Characters: The Four Temperaments and the Relationship between Types

Dr. David Keirsey -Temperament is a configuration of observable personality traits, such as habits of communication, patterns of action, and sets of characteristic attitudes, values, and talents. It also encompasses personal needs, the kinds of contributions that individuals make in the workplace, and the roles they play in society. Dr. David Keirsey has identified mankind's four basic temperaments as the Artisan, the Guardian, the Rational, and the Idealist.

Socionics - Socionics intertype relations describe relationship between Psychological Types of people and not between the actual people. This is the reason these relations are called "intertype" relations. The relations between actual people are complicated and depend on many different factors. The intertype relations, however, form the core of any relationship and describe various degrees of psychological compatibility between people according to their Types.

Words from the CLab - Cultivating characters through psychological buildings is part of the science behind literary and fiction writing. By utilizing everything learned about evaluating and understanding personality types, this behavioral tool is the first step in creating a dynamic and memorable character. As practice makes perfect, building various characters using these methods makes authors more versatile and creative in their brainstorming. Understanding such methods builds on the author's personal character and is an asset to be used in their literary repertoire.

To see more about Dr. David Keirsey's views on the four temperaments read more at The Four Temperaments.

To see more about the various compatibility levels between different personality types read more at Relations between Psychological ("personality") Types.

Cultivating Characters: Sixteen Personality Types

Words from the CLab - Here's an extensive list of The sixteen personality types provides an overview different combinations of the basic four preferences. Personality typing is a tool for authors to further discovery their characters personal strengths and flaws. Personality typing can also help build on the character's personal profiles most suited to each individual character.

To understand and read the Sixteen Personality Types.

Cultivating Characters: Beyond the Character Sheet

Words from the CLab – Like gamers, authors are no strangers to character profiles or charts. Outline range from simplistic to extensive. Evaluations focus on traditional information written in a questionnaire-like form: physical appearance, family, personal traits, etc. Character charts are a valuable asset in cultivating characters but they are also a hindrance without a dominate personality. Novice writers spend much of their initial brainstorming building on the character’s physical attributes. It is perfectly natural for humans to primarily categorize, physical traits as top priority. From the personal opinions and observations conducted by the CLab writers, human perception in largely concentrated on the visual, which isn’t a shameful thing to do.
Many professionals and non-professionals favor going beyond the traditional by first building on the character’s psychological identity. Using behavioral tools, which the CLab likes to call Personality Profiling, helps authors investigate the character’s psyche. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a psychometric assessment designed to evaluate the psychological decisions people make as they perceive the world around them. Utilizing only four questions, a personality type, or code, becomes the identifier correlating to the character’s individual traits. The results are a combination of the four preferences within the model listed below:
  • Extraversion and Introversion (Directing and Focusing Personal Energy)
  • Sensing and Intuition (Gathering and Processing Information)
  • Thinking and Feeling (Evaluations and Decisions)
  • Judging and Perceiving (Organization and Lifestyle Preferences)
Variations between 16 codes provide a matching behavioral profile identifying the dominate personality and unique perception as they interact within the fictional world. This tool is an asset in establishing methods in developing conflict within the plot. The MBTI model assists against the manifestation of any potential Mary Sue/Gary Stu characters.
To understand on how to cultivate your character’s personality by building on the four preferences, read more at The Four Preferences.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cultivating Characters: Do you Mary Sue/Gary Stu?

Words from the CLab - Authors are stubborn and fiction authors are equally stubborn if not more. At one time or another, every budding fictional author becomes fixated on cultivating tailor-made characters for a specific story’s plot.

Example of a Tailor-Made Character:

  • A character’s personal and/or physical flaws are generic, minimum and/or rarely cause the character to suffer any consequences (i.e. abandoned/kidnapped child, the outer space superhero, mysterious prophecies).
  • The plot is centered and constructed to display the character’s more appealing personal and/or physical traits (i.e. “naturally” gifted at advance physics/fighting, unknown nobility, extremely handsome)
  • The character is seldom wrong, hardly subjected to limitations, (endless resurrection, instant healing, god-like powers and immortality) or is the last of their clan/race/species.

These sort of tailor-made creations are known as Mary Sue/Gary Stu characters. Mary Sue/Gary Stu characters are in a sense “perfect in every way” and are easily recognized as part of the fantastic. These characters are the manifestation of their author’s wish-full subconscious or personal beliefs. A Mary Sue/Gary Stu is created to achieve in fantasy what the author can’t in reality.

During the cultivating process of defining a character, budding authors are often overly protective and somewhat defensive against any allegations of a potential Mary Sue/Gary Stu. Through my personal observation of reading various fictional pieces, many online authors are unaware of how Mary Sue/Gary Stu their character is.

Below is an objective but analytical questionnaire that determines if a newly cultivated character is Mary-Sue/Gary Stu like. This questionnaire is best for determining how and where your character fits on the Mary-Sue/Gary Stu scale. The questionnaire doesn’t question the author’s skill in character development his questionnaire references certain points that provides comments if the character is believable. It is up to the author to objectively decide how the results apply.

Take the test at The Writer's Mary Sue Test!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Writing Structures: Crisis vs. Conflict

Dennis G. Jerz - Good storytellers differentiate between a crisis (an emergency, such as a car crash or an illness) and conflict (a clash of wills, a difficult moral choice, or an internal mental struggle). Beginning authors often focus on the exciting crisis rather than the conflict that makes readers care about the characters enduring the crisis.

Read more at Crisis vs. Conflict

Writing Structures: Using Body Language in Conflict

Words from the CLab - Using body language intensifies the internal and/or external aspects of non-verbal communication. When conflict is present, understanding body language generalizes the psychological process of human emotion in both fiction and reality. Showing non-verbal conflict while using the Basic Conflicts of Literature delivers a practiced understanding of fiction techniques and writing principles.

Techniques for Changing Minds: Body Language - Body language is an important part of communication which can constitute 50% or more of what we are communicating. Body language comes in clusters of signals and postures, depending on the internal emotions and mental states.

Read more at Using Body Language

Monday, June 13, 2011

Writing Structures: Basic Conflict in Literature

Rachel Mork - There are five main types of conflict in literature. Conflict is drama between two opposing forces in a piece of literature. If you have sufficient conflict, you will be able to move the plot forward and keep the attention of your reader. If your writing lacks conflict, it will lack tension and will fall flat.

Writing Structures: Thirty-six (plus one)

CALLIHOO SF/F Writer's Group - Georges Polti says that all stories boil down to just 36 dramatic situations and takeoffs of those situations. Somebody else out there added #37. In several cases, specific gender in the original descriptions has been replaced with non-specific gender. If you're stuck for a situation, try this.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Story Crafting: Story Structures

Morgan Hawke - Before any writer begins the plotting of their own literary works, a writer's first decides on the piece's length. How much is too much? How little is too little? What is the difference between a Novelette and a Novella. Where does the Character Arc and Plot Arc fit in? Many writers have difficult in creating the structure for their story. The link below provides guidelines for knowing how long is too long and how many words makes a novel.

Story Crafting: An Introduction to the Composers' Laboratory

There are no magical secrets that allows a person to become a better writer. I am no expert. I don't have a Masters degree in English and my grammar can be a bit spotty at times when I'm not careful. I can't give you profane words of wisdom that you haven't heard before. What I, as a fellow writer can do is extended my library containing research I have collected over the years. This research has guided me through the process of crafting a realistic story, opening my eyes to not only changing the way I view the world, but also the way I view story crafting.

Writing takes time and patience. Composing a meaningful piece takes even longer. Through the Composers' Laboratory, I along with other writers, will share what I know from Personality Traits and Types to World Building and Human Body Language. I hope you find this information as useful as I have.