Using Philosophy To Become a Better Writer

Image result for philosophy

After an existentialism unit in my English class, I have had a sudden interest in learning about philosophy and what exactly that means. And it is a lot, let me tell you. Philosophy consists of so, so, so many schools of thoughts that it is really hard to keep track, and honestly, maybe impossible to learn them all in depth. Unless this is what you choose to devote your life to, but even then, there is a lot to learn. Anyways, I’m by no means an expert or even an intermediate honestly, but I want to share with you all how I use what I’ve learned about philosophy to become a better, stronger writer. I hope you enjoy!

What IS Philosophy Exactly?

A Wikipedia definition says that philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. It involves thinking, discussion, rational argument, and questioning. Philosophy is basically the study of human life; how we think, act, etc, and why we do all that.

What Are Philosophical Schools of Thought?

A school of thought is a way of thinking, and in philosophy, there are a lot because humans cannot agree on just one way of thinking, let alone 10 or even 50. I’m only going to list 5 so you can get an idea of what I mean by “philosophical schools of thought”, but in this blog post, I’m probably only going to mention 3 or so later on.

  • Existentialism – A school of thought that emphasizes personal freedom
  • Nihilism – A school of thought that rejects religious and moral principles
  • Marxism – A school of thought based on the political and economic theories of Karl Marx, later associates itself with communism
  • Taoism – A school of thought that emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao, which means way or path
  • Stoicism – A school of thought that accepts the ways of the world whether they are positive or negative

How Can Philosophy Make Your Writing Better?

Having your story or one of your characters aligned with a philosophical school of thought, or just being aware of philosophy can increase the depth and physicality of your writing. Just because your incorporating philosophy doesn’t mean your story can’t still be a YA contemporary or even a fantasy, it just means you are increasing the quality of your story, character, and world.

Examples:

  • One of your characters is an existentialist. This allows you to explore how they interact with society, how society interacts with them, and how their beliefs affect the plot
  • The society of your world is a nihilistic society. First off, this would be terrifying but SO interesting to read about because how do the people who don’t believe in this school of thought live? How do people who disagree with nihilism keep their morality? How do those who follow nihilism live?
  • What would it look like to follow a character who enjoys studying philosophy? Does this allow them to make better decisions?

I know this was short, but I really wanted this to just plant the idea of exploring philosophy in your writing. It really does make for interesting stories and characters because we don’t see philosophy explored too often in modern literature, especially YA! Here are some resources to learn about philosophy:

Crash Course: Philosophy – This is put on by two authors, Hank, and John Green and they were SUPER helpful in teaching the basics of philosophy and other areas of it. I definitely recommend checking out this playlist, or at least a few of the videos on it to see if philosophy interests you.

The Outsider by Albert Camus – This is a novel that focuses on an existentialism character named Meursault, who after committing an immoral crime and fails to feel remorse for it, is cast as an outsider by society. It is a really interesting character study, and I learned so much about writing and writing characters from it.

That is it for this blog post, but I hope it was useful and eye-opening for you! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: Beginner’s Guide to: Greek Mythology

@zoermathers

 

Image result for instagram  @zoeiswriting

 

@zoematherswrites

 

Piecing Together THE Idea – Tips, Tricks & Steps

 

Text placeholder.png

Happy Wednesday!

If you read my last blog post, I talked about how I was re-defining my blog regarding the content I post (still books, writing, and whatnot, just more creative!), buuut this blog post is not part of that. Of course, I put a lot of effort into this blog post as I always do, but my new, vamped up content is in progress and yet to come. Get excited though because I am! Anyways, today I will be sharing some tips and all that fun stuff on getting a story idea and what to do next. I hope this is helpful!

Getting the Idea:

TIP #1: Focus On the Bare Bones of the Idea Rather Than the Big Picture – Thinking of the beginning, middle, and end before you even a concept of an idea can not only be intimidating but hinder your ability to flesh out an interesting and fleshed out story. Instead, focus on a simple, few word outline of an idea and slowly build off of that. Example: A bus ride; what happens on the bus ride?; who is on the bus ride?; where is the bus going?

The Next Steps:

  • Build Off That Idea Via Point Form – This makes it easier to organize, think of, keep track of, and continue building off of all your thoughts and ideas
  • Determine the Theme – This is helpful when determining how you want your story to sound tone wise as well. It may not seem very important at first, but if you know what you want your story to sound like, writing it will be so much easier! What do I mean by sound? Well, that refers to if your story is more upbeat, dark, powerful, etc, etc
  • Give Your Character Depth By Giving Them One Unique Quality – Of course, you should develop your main character a lot more than giving them just ONE interesting quality, but when it comes to the early stages of writing a story, this makes it SO much easier to write your story. I am a firm believer in planning the basic outline of your story, writing the first draft to see what works and whatnot, AND THEN going back to fully outline everything.
  • Focus On One Part At a Time: Beginning, Middle, and then the End – Come Up With At Least 3 Plot Points for Beginning, Middle + End – These will act as almost connecting tissue for the bones of your idea (whatever is the beginning, middle + end), making your story better.
  • One Liner Ending – Again, the more concise in the beginning stages the better. Come up with your ending and translate it into one single sentence. This will make the writing part easier, trust me! This will also allow you to have more creative freedom when it comes to your ending, how you get there, and what exactly happens because you won’t have a super detailed outline that you need to follow…unless that is how you write best.

Quick Tips:

  1. Point Form – I mentioned this above but I just need to do it again. Point form keeps things quick and simple, making it a lot easier to follow when writing!
  2. Remember A Story Comes in Pieces – All of my steps above are the bits and pieces that you will need to string together in order to write a concise and full story. You need all the parts, maybe even some more. When I write this way, I write faster and more efficiently which is always amazing.
  3. Writing Fills In A Lot of Gaps – Unless you are a hardcore plotter, it is important to remember that writing will fill in a lot of gaps you notice in your outline when in the planning stages. Sometimes, we just can’t come up with a reasonable solution or plot point or answer for our outline, and a lot of the times, just writing the story is the best way to solve it! It results in a more creative and free story that flows all nicely together.

Those are my tips and tricks and steps when it comes to piecing together your story idea, and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: Re-Defining My Blog!

 

@zoermathers

 

Image result for instagram  @zoeiswriting

 

@zoematherswrites

Biannual Bibliothon Day 5 – Winter Trips

alejtr5u

Happy day 5 of the Biannual Bibliothon!

I’m slowly getting back on track with reading and am having SO much fun trying to read as much as I can. Sometimes with all the hectic things going on, I forget to sit down and read. Obviously, sometimes I’m so busy with school and life that I don’t have the time to read, but most days I do and this readathon is reminding me to find time every day to do something I love; and that’s reading.

Anyways, today’s blog challenge host is Danielle from PoetryBooksYA (check her out!), and she wants us to tell her the five book characters (I chose Lara Jean Song Covey, Peter Kavinsky, Etienne St. Clair, Ronan Lynch, and Leo Valdez) we would take on a winter trip. I decided to yet another story for this blog challenge just because I had a lot of fun writing the last one. I hope you enjoy it and let me know if you’re participating in the Biannual Bibliothon down below in the comments!

 

“Are you sure you want to drive, Lara Jean?” I ask hesitantly, eyeing her as she slides into the driver’s seat. She gathers her dark hair up into a high ponytail, tying it off with a pale pink scrunchie.

“Yep,” she says with a nod. “I have to practice if I want to get better.”

“True.” I grab the seatbelt and buckle up, admiring the white trees around us as we pull out of the driveway; the branches drooping with piles of heavy snow and icicles gripping onto them like the crystal leaves of winter.

We ease into the snow-caked driveway of a familiar grey house with white shutters.

“Hey!” Lara Jean’s phone is pressed to her ear. “We’re here.”

“Be right out,” says the phone, words crackling before she pads the off button.

“I’m sooo excited,” Lara Jean exclaims, twisting around in her seatbelt to grab her purse from the back seat. She rips the zipper open and retrieves a Tubberware container full of varied cookies. “Okay, so I made snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, and shortbread.” My mouth waters and I can’t help but reach out for them. She slaps my hand lightly away, shoving the container back into her purse. “These cookies are for the trip to the cottage. I should probably hide them anyways before the boys get here.”

“Probably a good idea.” I laugh. “Teenage boys are animals.”

“Animals for food,” she corrects but she’s laughing too just as the two back doors fly open.

“Yo, yo, yo!” Peter Kavinsky slides into the seat behind Lara Jean, a wild grin bright on his face. He pinches her shoulder teasingly before yanking off a black beanie and ruffling his curly brown hair.

“It’s too early for yo, yo, yo, Kavinsky,” says Etienne St. Clair from behind me. “I need a cup of coffee…actually, make that two cups of coffee, first.”

“Yeah, yeah, we’ll get your coffee, St. Clair.” Lara Jean says, but I notice her eyes meeting Peter’s in the rearview mirror. Her cheeks are flushed like earlier, but a light pink colour instead. I smile.

“Hey, where’s Ronan?” I ask, noticing no other doors opening and no other bodies filing into the very back seats of the van.

“Being his usual brooding self, my friend,” St. Clair explains, stretching his scuffy boots so they pop out beside me. I slap them away and we both laugh.

“Oh, there’s Mr. Sexy Brooder,” says Peter.

Lara Jean and I glance at each other before bursting out into laughter. Sure enough, Ronan Lynch storms out of the house with his dark brows knitted together and bag dangling from his tight grip. When he reaches the van he opens up St. Clair’s side and grumbles something inaudible.

“Sorry, Ronan, could you repeat that? I couldn’t understand you through all your grumbling.”

“Shut up, St. Clair.” Ronan pushes past him and squeezes into the back seat despite being one of the taller ones of us all. His eyebrows are still stuck together as if they can’t bear to part from each other. I want to laugh but I want this trip to be fun, not tense. Not that Ronan is ever in a good mood, but still.

“Where’s the Latino elf?” Ronan grumbled, his arms crossing tightly over his chest.

“Leo’s still not out yet,” Lara Jean says, glancing at him over her shoulder. Her lips purse tightly in concern. I know how well she wants this trip to go; just three simple days of friends up at a cottage, drinking hot chocolate, playing board games and having snowballs fight. Not fights between the five of us minus the snowballs. “I just texted him and he said he’s almost ready to go. Do you want a cookie while we wait?”

Silence.

“Sure,” he says, sounding bored but we all hear his stomach grumble. I can’t help but laugh into my hand as Lara Jean whips out the cookies.

“Woah, woah, woah! I want one! Covey, come on, give me one first. I’m starving.” Peter is a puppy begging on his hind legs as his girlfriend bops his nose with a finger and shakes her head.

“Ronan first. Don’t worry I made lots.” She reaches over to hand the container to Ronan and he gleefully takes it, cracking it open and slowly biting into a gooey chocolate chip cookie. He closes his eyes with pleasure just to spite Peter who groans in pain.

“I’m here!” The door opens and Leo Valdez stands there, eyes wild and hair in inky tangles. “The party can start now. You’re welcome.” He bows.

“You’re late,” says St. Clair, but not unkindly as Leo shimmies past him.

“Time doesn’t wait for those who are great.”

“By great, do you mean yourself by any chance?” I ask and Leo smiles mischievously.

“Obviously. Now, let’s get a move on. I really need to pee.”

“Leo!” We all exclaim, groaning as Lara Jean shakes her head, cranking the ignition and slowly crawling out of the driveway. The world around is like a snow globe, whimsical and magical and white, snow sprinkling down from the thick, grey clouds as we drive off to our winter wonderland with a van full of voices, laughter, and the beginning of memories.

Sorry, this was SUPER long…but I had a lot of fun writing it so I hope you enjoyed it! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts which will all be linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: 

Biannual Bibliothon Day 1 – Winter Snow Storm Fun

Biannual Bibliothon Day 2 – Christmas Party

Reading + Writing Update – Biannual Bibliothon 2019 Day 1 & 2

Biannual Bibliothon Day 3 – Bookish Mad Libs

Biannual Bibliothon Day 4 – Clickbait Challenge

 

@zoermathers

 

Image result for instagram  @zoeiswriting

 

@zoematherswrites

Biannual Bibliothon Day 1 – Winter Snow Storm Fun

Image result for biannual bibliothon 2019

Happy day 1 of the Biannual Bibliothon!

If you missed my TBR for the Biannual Bibliothon, make sure you check it out right HERE to see the 7 good books I handpicked myself. If you also don’t know what the Biannual Bibliothon is, it is a biannual readathon that takes place during the months of January and July, where you try to read 7 books in 7 days. It originates from YouTube (check out their channel HERE), but there are also Instagram challenges, blogging challenges, and of course, video challenges. This is either my second or third year participating and I always have SO much fun.

Anyways, today’s blog host is Tracy from TruffleReads (check out their blog HERE!), and they have issued the challenge of naming 3 book characters, 2 food/drinks, and 1 song you would want if you were stuck in a car in the middle of a snowstorm. This is a super fun idea and I decided to write a little story with Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, Mark Blackthorn from The Dark Artifices trilogy, and Cath Avery from Fangirl trapped in a car with nothing but strawberries, butterbeer, and Beyonce.

“Why are you eating strawberries on a plate?” Hermione twisted around in the passenger seat of the car, her frizzy hair a brown halo against the pale snow outside the car. Mounds of it reached halfway up the car door, lumpy and filling the car with frigid air.

“I am positive they taste sweeter this way,” explained Mark, popping another one in his mouth. His blond hair curled at the tips of his slightly pointed ears, delicate and soft like him. In front of him, Cath sat in the driver’s seat, leaning forward and cranking the keys in the engine for the hundredth time. The engine spurred to life and then sputtered dramatically before exhaling into slumber. She angrily raked her fingers through her tied back, brown hair.

“Oh my god,” Cath exclaimed, pressing her forehead to the wheel. “We’re stuck, so that’s great.”

“Try one more time,” pressed Hermione, reaching over and twisting the keys. This time, the car didn’t even purr.

“It’s not working. The snow is completely blocking us in.” Cath pressed her nose against the window, her breath fogging it up. “We’re going to freeze in here. Yay.”

“Have faith that we will make it out when we must.” Mark snatched the last strawberry from his plate and dropped it in his mouth with a sigh. “Delicious.”

“The only way we will get out is if we shovel around the car and then push,” explained Hermione, gripping a thermos of steaming butterbeer in her lap. “But you seem content where you are,” she added under her breath. Mark shrugged.

“Sit back and relax, Hermione. Stress does nothing for oneself.” This only made Hermione huff, her face twisting in annoyance as she peered out the window, glaring as if she could melt all the snow away with her smoldering gaze but her wand was left behind in mad haste to beat the snow. Clearly, it made no difference. The snow was still falling steadily around them from a white lit sky that glowed like the heavens. Dusk was still hours away, but the heaviness of the snow gave the illusion it was closer than it really was.

“No service either,” Cath said, holding her phone up to the windshield and groaning.

“May I see your cellular phone?” Mark asked, setting his plate on the empty seat beside him. Cath shrugged, passing it back to him.

“It’s almost dead by the way.”

“That’s alright,” said Mark, padding against the screen as Hermione sipped her butterbeer, passing it over to Cath who took a big gulp, nose wrinkling as the scorching and sickly sweet liquid ran down her throat. “Ah, perfect.” Suddenly, soft music trickled out of Cath’s phone. Unrecognizable at first, but then Cath started bopping her head back and forth lazily. Even Hermione’s fingernails tapped lightly on her silver and black thermos, despite her never hearing the song before. The beat and lyrics were catchy and predictable, and a sudden familiar warmth flooded the car.

“I didn’t take you as someone who liked Beyonce, Mark.” Cath chuckled, meeting Mark’s strange but beautiful eyes in the rearview mirror. He grinned, mockingly drawing his fair brows together in concern.

“What crazed human being does not like Beyonce? Is she not the queen of pop?” Mark asked before shaping the next lyrics with his thin, pink lips: I can see your halo, halo, halo…

“I would have assumed you enjoyed folk music or something of more magical sounding,” said Hermione, taking another sweet sip of butterbeer. Mark waved a hand.

“That is all we listened to in Faerie and it gets very old. Besides, Beyonce’s Halo is much easier to sing along to.”

“While I’m more of a Kanye gal,” said Cath, leaning back against her headrest, “this is good too. We might as well just hang out until the snow slows down. It already looks a little lighter.”

“I suppose,” sniffed Hermione, crossing her legs. “Maybe someone will come by and see we need help.”

“But until then,” Mark said cheerfully, “Beyonce.”

The girls glanced at each other and then at him, unable to push the smirks creeping on their faces. They both nodded.

“Beyonce.”

That was my short story for day 1 of the Biannual Bibliothon, and I hope you enjoyed it! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts linked down below because I may participate in the Instagram challenges also. Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: Winter 2019 Biannual Bibliothon TBR

 

@zoermathers

 

Image result for instagram  @zoeiswriting

 

@zoematherswrites

 

The Fairy Garden by Zoe Mathers – Short Story

Happy Wednesday!

Sorry for the late post today, but I wanted to share an older story of mine I wrote a few months ago for my writing class. It was a lot of fun to write, and is something I want to develop on in the future! I decided it would be fun to show where the story is now, and then whenever I edit and rewrite it, show you guys how my writing and the story can evolve over time. Anyways, here it is!


The town’s garden is dead. Flowers still curl out of the ground, but their brilliant reds, yellows, and pinks have faded and wilted to droops of grey edged with brown rust. Constant rainstorms have flooded their beds, steady streams of water dripping down the edges of the wooden boxes and taking clumps of dirt along for the ride. The once green grass is leeched to brown, the sharp scent of it freshly cut replaced with the thick and bitter must of autumn.

Autumn is an unwelcomed beast that has stuck its straw in the ground and is now drinking away the vibrant life that once consumed the garden. It claws at my bare cheeks and nose, shaving off layers of my skin with its icy breath as I sit on the wooden bench. A pool of water sits on it too, right underneath me, and it seeps into the butt of my jeans. I stuff my hands into my pockets to keep from trembling off the bench while Queen’s, The Show Must Go On hammers at my skull.

I wait for the ideas to come as I sit here, but they don’t. The garden is dead, but it is still here. Its magic of conjuring up a story idea in my head must still work. I didn’t have the time or patience to wait for spring, not when what I know is a good idea is already crumbling in my hands, its ashes getting carried away by the wind.

I wait another moment, but nothing comes. My head is a pumpkin with the guts scraped out.

“Agf,” I mumble, jerking my hands out of my pockets and burying my face into them.

“Hello.” The word is muffled by Freddie Mercury’s nearly four octave voice, but I still hear it. My head shoots up. A little girl with a round face and lopsided, dark pigtails stares up at me like a kitten begging for milk, grey eyes cutting into me.

“Uh, hi,” I say slowly, glancing around the park, expecting to see more people. While it is large garden, I can see everything from where I sit. Even the small pocket of space behind the oak tree that is hidden away from the black gated entrance. I crane my neck around, but I don’t see anyone else.

Maybe her parents are somewhere outside the garden. Maybe she ran in here too fast and they are trying to catch up. I remember being her, this little girl in butterfly leggings and a yellow raincoat, eager to return to the only escape of magic one can find in this world of grey.

“Are you a fairy?” The little girl asks, bouncing on her toes. I click the button on my earphones and suddenly Queen switches off.

“No,” I say with a shrug. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay. That just means you can help me find them!” A lisp that came with young age drags out a few letters in her words. She lunges towards me, grabbing my wrist and tugs me to my feet. I hesitate, glancing around again. Still no parents.

“I guess.” Searching for fairies sounds better than sitting on this bench, waiting for an idea to slam into my face. Better than waiting for a plot, and cast of characters, and world to be served directly to me on a shining, silver platter. Maybe seasoned with some subplots.

I wish.

“Yay! Usually they’re here when I get here…” she says, and glances around. Her shoulders sag. “But I don’t see them.”

“Oh…yeah?”

Her head bobs up and down as she drags me across the gardens to where a bed of red tulips used to live. Now, there is only a flower box overflowing with watery dirt. I bend down, keeping my already wet bottom above the grass. My hair slips over my shoulder and I flick it back before I get an unwanted hair mask of mud.

A few green roots are poking up from the dirt, testing the crisp air and I smile. I can’t wait for spring.

“This’s where Lila lives.” The girl kneels next to the box, darkness blooming at the knees of her grey butterfly leggings as she does. Her little fingers bury themselves into the black dirt, wriggling around like worms. “Lilaaaaa! Lilaaaaa!” I cringe as her loud voice shatters the brittle glass of the morning and look around. Where the hell are her parents?

“Um, maybe Lila is sleeping,” I say, “since it’s almost winter. Maybe she wakes up when the flowers bloom in spring.” The girl turns to me, dark, bushy brows furrowed, and lips turned down.

“No,” she explains. “Lila is always here even when the flowers go away. She just likes to hide.” She goes back to digging. I sigh.

“Alright.” I cross my arms over my chest which are stiff with cold, and squat down next to her. “So, where are your parents?”

“At home, watching TV with Mike.”

“Oh, ok.” Great.

“Lila is being bad today,” the little girl says, jumping up to her feet with a grin plastered on her face. She’s missing two of her bottom teeth. “We have to find her.” Before I can respond or more likely argue, she bounds off across the garden and towards the bulky Garry Oak tree towering at the back. It is so massive that it claims an entire piece of the garden to itself, its thick arms carrying leaves that are green in the summer, but now are crispy and brown, scattered around the tree’s base.

“So,” I say when I reach the tree, shoving my hands into the pockets of my hoodie as I watch the girl dance around it. “What does Lila look like?”

“Blue, blue hair down to here,” she points to her shoulders as she does a strange shuffle-skip-squat around the tree. “And she wears a purple dress like the one my mommy’s going to buy me for Halloween.” I nod, imagining this fairy flying around the gardens with her blue hair and purple dress, wings maybe silver and delicate like tears.

“How big is she?” Suddenly, I’m curious. When I was little I loved fairy stories. Mostly Tinkerbell, but whenever my mother had the day off work and I had the day off school, we filled the fireplace with logs and she would read me folklore until her voice grew hoarse and my eyelids were heavy sandbags. Eventually, the only sound left was the soft crackling of fire devouring wood.

“Like a little-Lila!” The girl screeches and falls to her hands and knees, brushing aside some leaves and burying her nose into a patch of damp grass. I hurry next to her, heart jabbing at my ribs.

“Where?”

“Right in here!” She points at the ground and the pounding in my heart slows to a steady pace. I bend down next to her, even getting on my hands and knees. My jeans stick to my legs like a second damp skin as I lean forward.

A small, stubborn bluebell twists out of the ground here, clinging to the tree’s side as autumn exhales over the garden. The girl shivers, the childish grin still splitting her lips and I feel myself smile too.

The garden isn’t dead, I realize. I can still feel its heart pulsing underneath my palms, faint but present. I look at the girl beside me, noticing the brightness glazed over her eyes, and I suddenly know what my story is.

Last Blog Post: 5 Books That Motivate Me to Read

 

@zoermathers

 

Image result for instagram  @zoeiswriting

 

@zoematherswrites

How To Write Awesome Characters

Happy Friday!

I hope the New Year is treating you well so far, and to help celebrate it, I am going to be sharing a few of my tips on how to write awesome characters that you and your readers will love. If you have any other tips leave in the comments below and let’s help each other! Anyways, let’s get into it.

Image result for avatar the last airbender characters

Image result for percy jackson characters

  1. Make Them Passionate About Something – Funnily enough, this tip was reminded to me through reading Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones, a book I didn’t really love. However, I did admire how passionate the main character was about music and composing, and it reminded me that passion for something is a strong ingredient in anyone, even characters. Think about it, when you are making friends, you always ask what kind of things they enjoy doing. When that person is really interested in one, two, or even a few things and beam when they talk about those things, you feel like you understand that person more thus making it easier to become friends. It is the same with characters, if you make them intensely passionate about at least one thing, there is a chance that some of your readers have the same passion but if they don’t, at least you readers will admire reading about a character who despite the plot, is passionate about something they love. Make sense? Passion adds depth and depth creates awesome characters.
  2. Ensure They Are Neither Truly Good or Bad – One thing I hate reading about is an entirely good main character because it’s not realistic! None of us are perfect. We can be mostly good but we will still make bad decisions. To combat this problem, create a realistic and interesting character by addressing that they aren’t always good or bad through their actions. It is the same with pure evil characters. Sure, if they are the antagonist I don’t mind having one that is like 99.9% evil. However, it is even BETTER when they aren’t purely evil but have some good mixed in there. It makes the villain so much more than just the villain, thus creating an awesome character.
  3. Focus On Their Interactions – I have read so many books where our main character is speaking to their best friend or sibling or boyfriend/girlfriend, but it sounds SO formal. This always throws me out of the story a bit because suddenly, my ability to believe this story as reality fades. It is so important to focus on first, who your character is and from then, go onto how they interact with those around them. Figure out how they would speak to their parents, best friend, brother, sister, grandparents, friends, strangers, villains, etc, etc. It will bring your characters and story to life.
  4. Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender – This TV show is AMAZING when it comes to sharing character backstory, personality, motives, etc…basically anything about the character is revealed in genius ways throughout the 3 seasons of this TV show. Honestly, watch it for fun because this is one of my favourite shows ever, but also analyze how the creators make awesome characters. Watch how they develop each individual storyline and make it fit seamlessly together with other characters…just watch it. Now.

Those are my 4 main tips to creating awesome characters and I hope that this was helpful to you, especially in the new year when new stories are being created and old ones are being revised. Double check your characters tick of these boxes and you are one step closer to great, 3D characters. Anyways, don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts which are linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones – Spoiler Review

 

@zoermathers

 

Image result for instagram  @zoeiswriting

 

@zoematherswrites

My Reading & Writing Goals for 2019

Image result for 2019

Happy Friday!

We have only 10 days of 2018 left so it is time to discuss all of my reading and writing goals for the new year! I love these type of blog posts, videos, etc, because it gets me so motivated for accomplishing my goals in the new year and hopefully, it does for you too. I’ll have my 2018 goals wrap up out at the beginning of January so stay tuned for that! Anyways, let’s get into it.

Reading

  • Read 70 Books – This is 5 books less than my 2018 reading goal because I know I’m not going to have as much time to read as I do this year…however, 5 books less isn’t a dramatic drop but that is because I plan on doing an entire degree in reading (English Literature) and plan on taking quite a few classes that include reading so I’m sure I will still read a lot.
  • Read At Least 10 Classics – Since I want to do a degree in English Lit, I will be reading a lot of classics. Not only that, but I do really want to branch out my reading tastes from YA (I still want to read YA all the time obviously) and make this a goal for 2019.
  • Read At Least 30 New Releases – Sometimes, I get caught up in re-reading books which I love and is the reason I buy books instead of borrowing them. However, I can get caught up in doing that and forget to read new releases so I want to make sure at least almost half of the books I read are new releases.

Writing

  • Submit to 5 Literary Magazines – I spent most of 2018 writing new stories and while they still need some editing and I want to write a few more, I really want to make sure I focus on sending them out instead of hoarding them. So yeah, I would like to submit to at least 5 but it would be great if I sent out more.
  • Submit to 3 Writing Contests – Again, I want to get my voice out there and just keep sending out my work.
  • Write 3 NEW Short Stories – As for sending out pieces of writing, I also want to make sure I write a few new ones. However, since I’m starting my first year of university in September 2019, I might not have time to write more than 3 so I am setting my goals low since my only free time between then and now will be summer break.
  • Write 1 Creative Non-Fiction Piece – After spending a month or so on creative non-fiction in my writing class, I realized this genre of writing excites me and is something I want to keep exploring in the new year by writing at least one CNF piece.
  • Write Draft 3 of Project Mystic – I feel like I haven’t touched this project in forever when really, it has only been 2(ish) months. I do want to get back to it sometime in the new year though and attempt draft 3 though because I’m itching to return to the world.

Blogging

  • Post At Least 3x a Week – Even with the chaos of school, I want to make sure I am still constantly posting and uploading content. I love blogging and want to make sure it is something I am always doing. Currently, I publish 4 blog posts a week but that could get a bit much in the future so I wanted to lower my expectations a little bit.
  • Upgrade Plan – Currently, I have the WordPress personal plan but I really want to upgrade to the premium plan so I can make my blog even better! I’ve been blogging for almost 3 years now, and want to keep moving forward.
  • Set Up a Newsletter – Along with upgrading my blog plan, I will then be able to start a newsletter which is something I have always wanted to do but can’t with a personal plan. Since my plan expires in early January, hopefully, I will have this plan in motion within the next few months.

Anyways, those are all of the goals I have for 2019 and I realize I have quite a lot, but they are pretty broad and manageable I think. Don’t forget to comment below some goals you have for 2019 because I would love to know! Also, make sure you check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are linked below. Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: Festive Christmas Book Tag!

 

@zoermathers

 

Image result for instagram  @zoeiswriting

 

@zoematherswrites

How To: Take a Break From Writing

I really wanted to make this blog post on how to take a PROPER and BENEFICIAL break from writing because I actually plan on taking a whole month off of writing. I will explain this a bit more at the end of this post because first I am going to be sharing some tips and tricks to get the most out of a writing break!

Q: Should I Take a Writing Break?

I think it is essential to take a writing break from time to time. Whether that is only a week or a month, taking some time to just chill and rejuvenate your creativity is crucial to your writing as well as your mental and physical well-being. So yes, if you feel yourself on the verge of breaking from the stress of writing, or if you are well past that point, keep reading this because it is time to take a break! Breaks from writing will also give you a chance to focus your time and energy on other things like reading, school work, exercise, or spending time with friends or family. Things that you might have been neglecting before.

Q: Will Taking a Writing Break Make Me a Bad Writer?

No! Taking time away from writing can sometimes install guilt because we writers have this idea that we need to always be writing, and if we don’t, we are a failure. This is not true and here is your daily reminder of it! Taking time will if anything, only make you a BETTER writer. Breaks are important because they prevent burnout which is really unhealthy so take that break.

How To Get the Most Out of Your Break:

  • Read…a LOT – This is a great way to fill your depleted creative well with good stories, that way, you will be topped off and ready to write when your break is over. Some books I recommend reading during your break are Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, and On Writing by Stephen King.
  • Watch movies/TV Shows…a LOT – This is like reading, this refuels you with good stories and also gives your mind a break from thinking, creating, etc. Something that everyone needs.
  • Pick Up a New Hobby – One way to help your creativity/writing is to try something new and totally unrelated to writing. Start baking or knitting or exercising. Something that will keep you occupied from the guilt of not writing and that you really enjoy.
  • Focus Your Energy On Neglected Activities – Whether it is time to make more time for your friends and family, or spend more time outside, focus this new found time and energy into things you might have been neglecting lately.
  • Journal – This is still writing, but this is a type of writing that doesn’t require any outlining or thought really. Journalling is a great way to just let go of everything bottled up inside of you and I recommend it even when you’re not on a writing break.
  • Sleep More – Sometimes I go late into the night writing, but while I’m on writing breaks I try to make it a priority to go to sleep earlier and then wake up early. It’s important to get no less than 7 hours of sleep, but maybe without writing, you can clock in 8 or 9 hours. Personally, sleeping more than 8 hours gives me a headache because my body feels like it has overslept, but it’s nice to be able to wake up early and just lay in bed for longer.

Why I’m Taking a Writing Break…

I wanted to write this blog post because yes, I have decided to go on a writing break. Not only do I feel depleted creatively, but I really want to spend more time focused on reading and school work. I am in my senior year of high school and am also taking a university class (Writing 100), and lately, have felt like I’ve been neglecting school which isn’t good! I want to focus my energy on my school work to end my high school career on a strong note. Of course, I also want to do well in my uni course because I do get credits for it and can use it towards what I am studying next year obviously. There is no set timeline for this writing break but I am starting it this week and basically am going with the flow and ending it whenever. However, saying that, I don’t want it to extend any further than the end of January. Of course, I will still have assignments for my writing class to do and essays for classes and scholarships to write, but my break is more geared towards taking a break from my own personal, creative writing. I’ve put a lot into my own writing these last few months and just really, really need a little breather. But yes, this may be a one and a half month break but we will see. I encourage you to also take a break if you are feeling a little stuck or tired because it might be for the best!

Anyways, that is all for this blog post and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: Reading + Writing Update!

 

@zoermathers

 

Image result for instagram  @zoeiswriting

 

@zoematherswrites

Writing Creative Non-Fiction 101

Image result for creative nonfiction

My writing class is on break right now for finals, but we recently began our creative non-fiction unit and while I haven’t read or written a lot of CNF (creative non-fiction), I have found this unit really fun and interesting to learn and write about. We had a CNF assignment due on December 10th and it was a big change from writing fiction, but I had a lot of fun doing it! Anyways, here are some of the tips I’ve learnt from writing CNF and I hope they help you!

First Off…What is Creative Non-Fiction?

Well, creative non-fiction can be an array of different things from essays to articles, research papers and memoir. The key thing within all pieces of creative non-fiction is that they contain a factual narrative.

Types of CNF:

  • Personal essay
  • Memoir]
  • Literary journalism
  • Travel article
  • Research paper
  • etc, etc, etc

How to Write GOOD Creative Non-Fiction:

  1. Get Your Facts Right – Without correct facts, your creative non-fiction will not be creative non-fiction…it will just be fiction. It is especially important when you are doing a research paper or piece of journalism, that the facts you are using are actually true and correct. When it comes to personal essays and memoir, this is also important to keep in mind. However, when it comes to recalling your entire past, you are going to forget minor details and have to tweak something to make YOUR story make sense. As long as it is your story and overall, is correct and true, that is okay but when it comes to research papers, etc, they must, must, must be correct…does that make sense? The next tip elaborates on this.
  2. Make Aware the Limits of Your Memory but Not TOO Aware – It is important to make it clear to your readers that yeah, your memory is not perfect. However, advertising this too much will make them start to question what is true in your story, and what parts of it are you making up because you can’t remember how this specific incident really went, but think it’s “cool to add in”. No one can remember everything and your audience will appreciate you acknowledging this once. If it is acknowledged repeatedly, it also just becomes repetitive, annoying, and honestly, cliche.
  3. Remember, You Are the Character – Okay, so for research papers and some other pieces of CNF, this isn’t the case but for a lot of types, it is. It is crucial to remember that this is not fiction and you are the main character. This means you have to use “I” with great care and stay true to your own thoughts, values, and mannerisms while writing. Don’t get caught up trying to make yourself seem perfect because you aren’t, and creative non-fiction or really any fiction honestly, should not have perfect or near perfect characters. Just remember to be authentically you.

That was a mini crash course in writing creative non-fiction and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: 3 Tips to Reach Your 2018 Reading Goals

 

@zoermathers

 

Image result for instagram  @zoeiswriting

 

@zoematherswrites

NaNoWriMo Week 4 – Last Week Check Up

Happy Monday!

NaNoWriMo_logo_w_words

I can’t believe it is already the last week of NaNoWriMo! Where has this month gone? While I haven’t been participating in writing 50k this month, I’ve still been celebrating writing and writing a LOT this month. I wanted to use this last NaNoWriMo weekly blog post to do a little last week check up and give some tips on how to really take advantage of these last 5 days so I hope you enjoy!

  • Write During Every Bit of Spare Time – There are only a few more days left of NaNoWriMo, and even if you are close to your goal or not, use every last bit of November to get some words down! You might not have time or energy once the buzz of NaNo is over, so take advantage of all this fun and write, write, write. Instead of reading, write. Instead of watching Netflix, write. Instead of eating…just kidding, eat AND write!
  • Use NaNo Sprints – NaNo sprints on Twitter will be your LIFE saver these last few days in motivating yourself to sit down and WRITE. These are different lengths of sprints where after them, you can talk with other writers about what you got done and how you’re feeling after each writing session. It’s really helpful because the last half of NaNo can be an uphill battle I tell you.
  • Check Out the Write-In Live Streams – Make sure you check out NaNoWriMo’s YouTube channel for some past live streams where the amazing people of NaNoWriMo film videos of them doing writing sprints. They are really motivating and I recommend them if you are having trouble sitting down and writing. Usually, they are an hour long and a lot of the time I sit down and write for that ENTIRE hour…even when they are talking about what they wrote. Super helpful!
  • Reflect On the Writing You Got Done – Even if you are nowhere close to the overall 50k goal, as long as you wrote SOMETHING that is still worth acknowledging. Writing is NOT easy and it’s important to recognize that and reward yourself for what you got done. November is a busy month for a lot of us because it is so close to the end of the year and everyone is trying to wrap up everything, so if you got some words down this month, celebrate!
  • Figure Out What the Next Step Is – Do you still need to finish writing your draft or did you completely finish it? Figure out where you’re at so you can start your attack plan for next month, or for whenever you plan on writing next. That way you know what will happen next and you will be better prepared! For example, I didn’t get my 50k written at all…but I have been working on a lot of short stories, essays, and articles. In December, I am going to keep working on different short stories, essays, articles and whatnot, to build up my portfolio which is seriously lacking material. I would LOVE to work on Project Mystic (the fantasy novel that I’ve been working on since March), but I just don’t have the time to work on one project but the point is that I know I don’t have the time, so now I won’t be wasting any trying to work on it.

Those are 5 tips for your last week of NaNoWriMo, and I hope they were helpful! Hopefully these last few days are good and productive, and remember, if you don’t reach your goal it’s okay! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts linked below. Thanks 🙂

Last Blog Post: Reading + Writing Update!

 

@zoermathers

 

Image result for instagram  @zoeiswriting

 

@zoematherswrites