(meant to send this yesterday) Happy Brithday Oscar! Have cake!
“It’s … it’s my birthday already? You’re sure?” Oscar asked. He’d completely let it slip his mind. Not many things could sneak up on a master of stealth like him, but dates and holidays were a notable exception. He never remembered when Christmas or Easter was coming until they were there, much like his own birthday.
“That’s the truth, Oz,” Dean replied. He had leaned down on his crossed arms on the table, an attempt to be more at Oscar’s level. It didn’t completely work, but he could at least watch a smile grow on the little guy’s tiny face.
Sam already had his silver knife out of its sheath, but he offered it to Oscar instead. “We got it onto our calendar as soon as we knew. No more excuses to forget it!”
Oscar’s cheeks turned slightly pink. “Th-thanks!” He eyed the knife before taking it with reverence. Sam didn’t let that knife go very often, but one exception wouldn’t hurt. While Oscar hesitated with the knife over the miniature cake they’d brought him, he stammered out a defense of his own forgetfulness. “I-it’s not like I ever celebrated my birthday before. I’m usually too busy is all!”
“And miss out on cake?” Dean scoffed, even as Oscar finally cut into the little cake, an experience he’d never had a chance to try before. “We’re makin’ up for lost time, here.”
Oscar huffed, but didn’t let Dean’s teasing ruin his concentration. The first slice was a fourth of the whole cake, transferred onto a makeshift plate of aluminum foil. With it set aside, he offered it up to the full sized human and tried to ignore how small it looked. “W-well. Thanks again, guys. Better help me eat the cake, since you came all this way.”
Sam helped himself to his own more reasonable slice of cake while Dean accepted the small piece with a fingertip. Even then, they both waited for Oscar to have his own piece and try his first bite of birthday cake before having any for themselves.
I sent a message in to a blog over on tumblr that specializes in questions about how to write disabled characters to ask for advice on a future plot point. It was a very informative answer, so I’ve decided to crosspost it here.
Hi. I have a story in which one of the protagonists loses a limb during a major event in the plot. My plan is for her to opt for a prosthesis rather than magical intervention to repair the damage; she’s used to adapting and looking forward, as she puts it. I’m wondering how to respectfully handle the other characters reacting to the injury and her choice. They’ll want to help and support her as she retrains her body, but I don’t want it to seem like pity/guilt drives them. They’re just shaken.
Mod Kate – I don’t think that it’s necessary that they have no feelings of guilt, actually. Their friend got hurt and they may very well feel as though they should have been able to stop her from getting hurt. I don’t know if this would count as survivor’s guilt, since no one actually died, but it’s a similar concept. The thing is to make sure that the focus of those feelings is more that she was hurt and not so much that she is now disabled.
When they learn of her choice to use a prosthetic, depending on how you write it you could go a few ways. One is that they just don’t question it, because it’s her own decision and her own body. Another is that they could be shocked for a bit and maybe question if she’s really sure, but ultimately, like the first option, settle into the idea that it’s not really their business. I would recommend you steer away from a plotline where they try to convince her to get the magical intervention, but with enough research it could probably be done.
It varies how people react to things like this. When I was born the most memorable reaction was that my grampa immediately started trying to figure out how to hold a golf club one handed and decided “Oh, she can still golf with me so it’s fine.”
I hate reading/writing the types of relationship dynamics where one side is just … horrible to the other, but the reader is supposed to forgive them for a flimsy reason (the Edward/Bella dynamic from Twilight, for example). I really really need to see a lot of work put in by the character to earn that sort of redemption and “they’re the protagonist/protagonist’s favorite person” just doesn’t cut it for me.
15. Where does your inspiration come from?
I suppose I could waffle on this one forever, but at the end of the day my inspiration comes from me, the things I want to see written and the things I’ve seen or done and thought “I could make this into a story somehow”.
30. Favorite line you’ve ever written.
Gosh, any number of lines could pop into my head for this one, but right now it’s a tie between two:
“I broke the tangle!” – Bowman Leafwing, distressed upon accidentally folding over the corner of a piece of paper; found in the Brothers Asunder AU written with @nightmares06.
“The enemy is strong, and he is dangerous, but he will be strong and dangerous whether we cower and doubt ourselves or fly out to meet him!” – Scar Wolfblind, wood sprite badass, when he’s trying to get someone pumped up to go fight. It’s appeared in a couple AUs and also the original Bowman of Wellwood story.
37. Most inspirational quote you’ve ever read or heard that’s still important to you.
I don’t really know why, but a quote from the Velveteen Rabbit (one of my favorite stories as a kiddo) has always stuck with me: “ Real isn’t how you are made. It’s a thing that happens to you.”
I guess it probably has a lot to do with the way I (and writers, in general) make things real. Maybe.
18. What’s your revision or rewriting process like?
Depending on the story, my process varies a little bit. For the quick stories and crack AUs (like Size Swap, for example) I don’t do a ton of editing beyond a few proofreading runs–seeking out misspellings and the like to make it presentable. Those are more fast and loose writing wise.
For full projects, including those I cowrite with others, I usually like a chance to read through once or twice to proofread and also make sure little details and sentences are in the order I want them to be in. I can get pretty picky when I’m rearranging stuff in a scene to make it look its best for me.
My first novel went through 6 or 7 major drafts, and that doesn’t count the little bursts of editing small portions of it here and there over time.
29. Who do you write for?
At the risk of sounding super sappy, I write for my close friends. Before I put something out there for the general public to read, I always want to know what my friends think of a thing I’ve worked hard on. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of accomplishment when someone I trust says they think I did a good job.
The age-old foe. I had a rough time wanting to write last week, but this week I appear to have defeated the beast!
I do still appreciate the things I wrote while I was working through it. I might not keep all of them, but it feels good to accomplish even a little bit when struggling to write. I would encourage writing 50 words on days when it’s hard to find that motivation; you don’t need a lot, just enough to let yourself know you Did It.
Though I have many varieties of sprites that I like to play with in my Fairy Tales sandbox, the wood sprites are my first love. Images of forests with their lush greenery and natural curves and lines always bring the wood sprites to mind. Where would they set up their homes? What would they cultivate the most in their free time? What games would they play? The green and gold of a forest in its peak is the essence of a wood sprite.
Saw an adorable tea kettle the other day. It reminded me of little Oscar, who I think would very much enjoy the relaxing effects of a cup of hot tea. Someday I’ll write something on the subject to give him the chance.
This year, one of my Resolutions was to undertake a writing challenge, and on October 21 I met the goal! It was a lot of fun, and very good practice for me, so I’m going to share what I did in case anyone else wants to give it a go.
300 Mini Prompts in under a year
The prompts don’t have to be finished; in fact, I left many open ended to pick up the threads later. Most were 250-350 words.
I used sentence starter prompts, giving me a starting point and leaving the rest up to me (the prompt itself didn’t count towards the total words written).
In general, they can’t all be part of the same continuous scene. I had some universes I visited more than once in these snippets, but the prompts themselves are meant to be new scenes.
Fanfiction, AU, Original stuff all appeared in the prompts.
They don’t have to be good or polished (In fact, unless one is really speaking to you, I recommend leaving them alone until after it’s all done). I have several that were duds and probably won’t be expanded upon, but that’s normal with so many pieces in a short time.
Goal of the Challenge
I wanted to explore new ideas/characters and revitalize old ones. This challenge was helpful for me when my writing felt stagnant and I didn’t feel I was making much progress or engaging my readers. The idea was to make myself write a variety of stories, to practice and learn how to move different scenes in different ways, while also establishing background in a limited space. I definitely feel an improvement in my writing after this challenge.
Note: 300 prompts in a year was a lot for me, based on my schedule and general energy levels. If it’s too much, the challenge can be 200 or 100 prompts instead. If 300 or a whole year sounds to easy, well, make it a little bit tougher. The point is that it pushes you a little (but not too much!). A year is also a lot to plan ahead, so it can help to divide the task (so, for my goal, so long as I wrote at least 25 prompts a month I was on track).
“if it’s not plot relevant, cut it!!” is such awful writing advice
if JRR Tolkien had cut every bit of Lord of the Rings that wasn’t directly related to the central plot, it would have been just one book long, COLOURLESS and DULL AS DIRT.
all the little worldbuilding/character details are what draw you in and give the central plot weight, FOOL
I agree 100% I’m currently writing a book and I tend to focus on the little quirks of the characters because it helps the readers get to know them better
It’s not awful writing advice. It’s good writing advice. What it’s saying is that you should carefully consider each and every word.
Does this paragraph pull its weight?
Does this chapter slow the pace of the story? Is that what I want here?
Can I merge this scene with another to create a stronger single scene?
What that advice is telling you to do is to make sure what you’re writing is the best it can be. That doesn’t mean you have to follow it 100%. But consider it while you’re writing.
I honestly feel like both Tolkien and George RR Martin would’ve been served by cutting some scenes. HOWEVER, I like tightly paced books, not sprawling slogs through the swamps of discovery writing.
Your mileage may vary.
I mean i fundamentally disagree with you on that last part (i love a long, thick, meaty book) but you’re also misunderstanding what i mean (which is understandable, this was just a ranty little post that i didn’t expect much of anyone to reblog)
there’s a difference between “plot” and “story”
there are a lot of great stories that have very little in the way of central plot (ever read the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy? there’s hardly any plot to that at all, it’s just a long series of diversions and narrative blind alleys) and even in more focused stories (someone else in the notes of this post brought up Hamlet as an example), it’s extraneous scenes, not directly related to the plot, that make the strongest impression on the audience and lend weight to the more central events. The “alas, poor yorick” scene? totally unrelated to the main plot, yet thematically essential to the story and arguably the most evocative and iconic scene from the play
yes, by all means don’t waste your audience’s time with things that add nothing, but if you pull a hemingway and trim your story down to the bare minimum outline of the plot, i for one will find it all but impossible to become immersed in the story. The best plot ever written can be let down by a lack of narrative muscle and fat around it but even the most flimsy plot can be saved by sufficiently entertaining padding.
Details! I love writing in the extra flavor details, and looking for them in the media I consume (I mean, even in visual media, people like finding neat stuff in the background, right?).
I do understand the original advice and the counterpoints. In the end it’s up to the writer. My personal preference in this regard is that, if going into detail on something means I would have to go back and figure out what the story is actually going for, it might need to be moved elsewhere, or maybe disperse the details rather than just shoving this big chunk in the middle of a scene that is otherwise flowing naturally. My book had a few chapters’ worth of scenes that only served to carry exposition and world building, and it meant the actual story didn’t really get going for a while. When I took that exposition and instead broke it into bits that could actually fit alongside the action, I felt a lot better about the storytelling.
That’s just my two cents. There are also times in a story where it’s appropriate and also super fun to pause for a moment and paint a picture – figuring out the timing and pace you prefer is down to the individual.