We have been honored with a visit from grammar police Nikolas Baron in the form of a guest post today. Nikolas kindly shares with us some very useful tips on how to create a highly readable content. His writing nicely fits and complements my blog series New Authors’ Pathfinder, which I will roll out here every Monday in the coming weeks to, hopefully, assist new authors. Our gratitude, Nikolas, many thanks.
Capturing Colorful Characters can be as Easy as Carrying a Notebook
Why Many Writers Carry a Notebook
One of my fiction professors told me during every class period to “always have a notebook on hand because you never know when crazy strikes.” It’s true. That perfect character might walk up right next to you at a gas station with a purple Mohawk, leather jacket with safety pins up and down the arms, a ripped up gray tank top, faded blue jeans, and pink Converse sneakers…and then you see that they drive a Toyota Prius. There’s so much that can be done with stereotypes, contradictions, first impressions, and gender roles with just one person you happened to run into at the gas station. Having the notebook in your pocket or purse allows you to write down descriptive details, setting, thoughts about how it could turn into a story, anything. Writers need to have a place to collect their thoughts and capture the interesting moments of life quickly, before they pass by or you forget about them.
What Can the Notebook Do for Me?
Not only can the notebook serve as a place to collect conversations, characters, and chaos, but it can also be used as a reference tool. When I feel lost or have writer’s block, I refer to my notebook of ideas. It gives me a fresh look on the idea I first had and allows me to explore what my first impressions were. The notebook can also provide me with a huge resource of names, places, and people that can seem unrelated but with a writer’s touch, can weave a story.
The notebook can easily serve as a place to get out all of your creative frustrations. When you’re feeling creatively stifled or just have too many ideas floating around in your head, the notebook comes in handy. I’ve been frustrated before with editors for chopping parts of my work I thought I really needed. I used my notebook to get out all of the feelings I was holding inside. Later, when I was trying to describe a frustrating relationship between a parent and child, I reviewed the editor rant and found a place to write from. The frustration and annoyance I felt was extremely similar to what my characters were feeling. Channel those emotions you stored in the notebook and use them to fuel your story.
Colorful characters can be found anywhere; as a writer, you know this. The notebook can capture any ideas you may have at any time. It can be reference material, inspirational material, memories, and facts. I once overheard a controversial conversation between two people having lunch. I assumed they were a couple, and later found out that they were actually brother and sister. They spoke with such passion, pizazz, and punch. They seemed as if they were dating. They kissed on the mouth when meeting! But I was wrong and I thought about what we normally consider “healthy” relationships. It lead to a musing that helped me get through a tough period of writer’s block later on. Never underestimate the power of pen and paper when you’re a writer.
What if I Hate Carrying Pen and Paper in My Pockets or Purse?
There are options other than traditional pen and paper. I like to use my iPad or my phone to take notes since they can be synced instantly. There are also online resources where you can take notes, write passages, and check your work all for free. If you’re struck with inspiration at the coffee shop and end up writing a few paragraphs, check them with an online proofreader before you incorporate them into the rest of your story. It’ll save you time later and help you see errors more quickly. I like to use a site called Grammarly to check my work for errors. I love when I can just jot down a quick few paragraphs and have Grammarly check it for grammar, punctuation, better synonyms, or style. One of the best aspects of Grammarly is its ability to adapt to your style so that the more you use it, the more it learns how to help you. Making sure your work is error-free before incorporating it into your piece is a great habit to get into.
Even if you’re still not sure that you like the idea of carrying pen and paper, almost everyone carries a smartphone nowadays. Utilize your phone as a note-taking resource and don’t let a crafty character pass you by.