Tag Archives: writing advice

Writing About How to Write

I want to write about writing.

While this is, in essence, a personal blog, most of the time I don’t feel comfortable enough to write about my personal life or problems, so it was always more about the external things, such as movie review, social commentary or random rants. I also love to write about writing, not because I believe I’m an expert in the field (far from it), but because I like to have a space where I can share my thoughts and observations on fiction writing.

I also feel this theme might be inspiring enough to make me blog more often – at least twice a week, because this blog is in urgent need of some updating. While I was never popular – far from it – I’ve witnessed, over and over again, visitors leaving when there’s nothing new on the blog for weeks (you can’t blame them).

Stuff I want to blog about:

Writing tips

Again, I don’t want to pretend I’m an expert, so these will mostly be some observations I will, first and foremost, write as a reminder to myself. It might include points on characterization and plot, DOs and DON’Ts, common misconceptions, writing myths, etc.

Existing example of this kind of posts: How NOT to create Mary Sue

My writing process

These posts will cover my own way of outlining, writing and revising, writing schedule and stuff that works (or doesn’t work) for me.

Existing example: Choosing Character Names

Fiction I like & dislike

These will probably be made as reviews. Same goes for film reviews.

Existing example: The Power of Writing: Atonement

Things I probably won’t blog about:

Short stories, poems, essays, etc. The posts will focus on novel writing, because this is what I’m experienced with. Which is, by the way, a serious problem: a writer needs to know how to write in different formats. I suck at writing poems and I don’t know how to write short stories. It’s bad. So I might reconsider short story writing, but since there are so many things so be said about novel writing, I’m not sure about this. As for essays, I am good at them, but they’re completely different beasts.

Writing excerpts. I’m not confident enough in my English to share my writing online. I might reconsider this, because I know it’s impossible to practice your craft without beta readers and some critique.

This doesn’t mean I’ll turn this into a writing blog. However, expect to see more writing-related posts from now on.

New post ideas

I wanted to write a clever post on why I don’t update so often. It’s not like I don’t have time for my site, and it’s not like I’m not interested in jefflion.net anymore. And it’s not like I don’t have ideas: I have tons of ideas.

I just… Can’t. It happens to me when I’m depressed, or anxious, or when I worry. I become so fucking unproductive in those situations. I also suffer from insomnia. I can’t sleep at night. I just can’t.

But to make this post somewhat positive, here are some post ideas:

Race & yours truly (race blogs, racism, and what’s in it for me, because I’m white and I’m non-Westerner, so it’s not an issue that usually affects people in my part of the world. Unlike, you know, almost all the other issues you can think of).
Movie reviews (I love doing movie reviews, and I don’t even care if a movie is new or not. I’ve been planning on doing a review for In Bruges for so long, and there are also some new films I’m interested in: new Sherlock Holmes or Tin Tin, or just some little independent movie I watched and loved).
Stereotypes about Eastern Europeans (that are actually true).
Novel writing (How to and How Not To)
Vampires and the Balkans (and the way popular representations of vampires, based on stories about Dracula, were actually formed as cautionary tales about the wild Balkans, a dangerous region that can corrupt the West – yes, that’s right kids, there’s an ugly story behind this).

Anyway, this song always makes me feel better for some reason:

Jefflion.net Must-Reads

There’s a handy blog meme I’d like to use here. Tagged bloggers (or, self-tagged in my case) should identify and present posts on their blogs that fit certain types. I think the idea behind it is to promote your blogging and present some of the posts most of your visitors are unfamiliar with (be it because you wrote them a long time ago, or because they didn’t get the attention you feel they deserved).

It’s also a great way to think about your blogging in general, and see where you stand.

So, here’s where I stand: my early blogging (read: most of the things written in 2007, 2008 and, to a lesser extend, 2009) sucks. There’s no other way to put it. I had no idea what blogging was, or how to write a decent blog post – and it’s not because I’m untalented for writing. I guess I thought blogs were online diaries, and I was never good at writing a diary. Luckily, I realized blogging was different, and it made my posts better.

That’s why most of the posts presented in the meme are the newer ones, from 2010 and 2011.

Also, I’d like to use this opportunity to introduce some changes on the site. I added a new popular posts script, so you can find the most accurate and up to date list of most popular posts at the sidebar. Plus, I added the similar posts script that appears at the bottom of the each post, recommending you similar posts. Because it depends on the words I write, its choices might not be accurate, but so far I like the way it works, and I think it makes my posts more connected, which is a good thing. It can also make some of the older posts visible again. The only bad thing is that it also makes my early, random posts visible.

And now, the meme:

Most Beautiful Post

I think most of my reviews are beautiful, and I am quite proud of them. But I’d like to include another post here, because it is more personal than my usual posts.

Why I like(d) Disney movies

This post turned out to be more beautiful and more personal than I intended it to be. Who knew animated movies can have so much meaning, or to make you remember your childhood (and teenage years?)

I also thought the post might become controversial (because Disney movies deserve a lot of criticism), but that didn’t happen (not that I complain).

Most popular post

It’s definitely something about sex. Cliché or not, it does seem that sex and dating make very hot topics.

Women and casual sex

This is the most popular post on the site, and one of the few that get regular outside hits (which means search engines bring people here). The funny this is that it’s not a particularly good post: there are way too many things I mentioned here, but it’s not well structured and the thoughts are all over the place. I guess the main idea was that women often enjoy casual sex less than men not because their morality and sexuality are different, but because men don’t try to satisfy a woman they have a casual sex with.

Honourable mentions: A Long Penis Rant (once again, I wasn’t sure what was the main idea behind this post), Sunshine (my most commented post, though I’m not sure if it counts because half of it are pictures of Cillian Murphy and some heavy off topic discussion).

Most Helpful Post

Bad Writing Advice

I like this post because I’ve finally managed to formulate what I always found questionable about writing advice. I also discovered I love writing about writing (and my experience with it), so maybe I should consider doing more of those posts.

Honourable mentions: The best sites for bored people (check them out, especially tvtropes.org, which is probably one of my favourite sites on the whole net), Recover a (WordPress) site infected by a nasty iframe (this is an old entry. It worked back then; I am not sure if this advice is still applicable).

Post Whose Success Surprised Me

Things I don’t write about

I wrote this one to explain (mostly to myself) why I don’t like to write about certain sensitive/serious topics that I sometimes feel people expect me to write about. (Both in a blog and in novels). Some of these subjects include: Balkan wars and former Yugoslavia (or anything related to Easter Europe), my father’s death (and the problems I’ve had growing up without a father), etc. I don’t write about former because I am too sick of the subject, and I don’t feel any need to include it in my writing. I am aware that many people (both here and in the rest of the world) expect for someone in Serbia to deal with these issues in her writing (particularly when it comes to novels), but I just don’t find that topic inspiring. Same goes for my family. Some of the things I do find interesting and want to include, but the others aren’t something I want to write about.

I consider this to be a personal post, that wouldn’t make people interested. I was wrong. It turned out to be one of my most popular posts. I guess it’s because it’s more personal than the others. Some people said it made them learn more about me. I am glad, but I am still surprised this post gained such a popularity. (Plus, I had no idea my average reader didn’t have much chance to “meet” me or to learn anything about me and the type of a person I am).

Honourable mentions: Writing chapter titles (I wrote this for myself, to test what chapters of my novel “sound” in English. Who knew people were into that stuff), I’m a flexitarian (it was one of my first posts; it wasn’t much of a success, but it was my first post that got any sort of attention).

Most Controversial Post

The most controversial post I’ve ever written (American privilege) isn’t even on this site. I don’t think there are any controversial topics on Jefflion.net, but it’s not because I want to play it safe. I guess the blog isn’t popular enough to get many hits or commenters, because in order for something to be controversial, there have to be people who disagree with it or view things differently.

The only possibly controversial post is Kosovo independence, but it didn’t generate much buzz.

Post That Didn’t Get The Attention I Felt It Deserved

The Best Movies of the Decade I and The Best Movies of the Decade II

I really think it’s one of my best posts (and I find all of my review posts good). I’ve also taken some extra effort into making pictures to go with this post (and it was very time consuming to Google all the images, find the best ones, and then arrange everything in Photoshop). It’s not that I regret doing it, but I really wanted to discuss the best movies of the decade with my visitors, learn about their favourites and maybe get some good movie recommendations). (The offer is still good, btw).

Honourable mention: Writing Sex Scenes (I think this one is a very good post that deals with a legitimate problem in writing: how to make good, believable, non-cheesy/embarrassing/narmy/facepalm/wtf-was-the-writer-thinking sex scenes. I think it’s a well-written post, and people are usually interested in both sex and writing, so I was surprised it didn’t get much attention).

Post I’m Most Proud Of

A friend claims she’s proud of all of her posts (and I am happy for her), but I am sorry to say it doesn’t work the same for me. I am not proud of my blogging pre-2010 in general.

But there are some posts I am quite proud of. This goes, first and foremost, for my reviews (especially movie reviews). I link most of them at a separate page (Articles), along with some other stuff I’ve written (that I think deserve special attention).

Some other good posts:

Stereotypes About Americans

Women: How not to be seen as fully human

5 songs I like against all odds and 5 songs I dislike against all odds

Rules of a chick lit (and what can we learn from it)

PS- I’m supposed to tag five people to do this meme, but I think it’s too pushy. It’s better if people decide for themselves they want to do it. (And if you choose to do it, I’d love to see your list!)

I Finished My Novel

Yes. Finally. I finished my NaNoWriMo novel. And yes, it’s long overdue, because NaNo ended in November (more about that in a minute). But this is a very special moment because last time I finished a novel… It was more than 13 years ago.

Of course, it’s just a first draft. There’s a lot of editing to do. Currently, it stands at 102 000 words. Out of these, around 86 000 were written in November, during NaNo, and the rest (the last 6 chapters) in December. You could tell I really slowed down in December (be it because I’ve encountered a problem with the plot (yes), or because I lacked the motivation and the rush NaNo gives you). In any case, I managed to finish the first draft on December 30th. I still need to write one short scene in the middle and include a couple of pages between different sections of the book, and then I will have to start cutting. My goal is to make it around 80 000 words.

Additional details

The working title was “Hardin Hades” (in lack of a more inspirational one), but towards the end I’ve decided to change it to “A Postcard From Hades” (or something along those lines). The problem is, the title seems like something more appropriate for a horror story.

Also, I still don’t know what the novel is “about”. It’s obviously, more character than plot driven, but it’s not as heavy as some literary fiction is. Alternatively (and I cringe at this), it can be seen as romance, or young adult. The problem is, there’s way too much sex for YA.

Speaking of which, the sex in the story is not erotica, but very Judy Blume style. It’s the only way those scenes could be written. (The only way that makes sense).

What I learned

I learned that I still have “it”. I still have the urge and the need, and I still have the will needed to write, plot and outline.

I learned I still enjoy it, very much.

I learned I still can’t write short: in my mind, this was a small novel, and I wondered if I’d be able to make it 50 000 words long. But it turned out to be more than 100 000 words.

I also learned I am not as bad at writing dialogues as I thought I was. Some of it came naturally to me, and writing most of it was really easy. On the other hand, I learned I have a problem with so-called transitional scenes, in which I have to describe stuff that happened but not directly show it (and no, contrary to what writing advice says, you shouldn’t always stick to “show, don’t tell” rule. Some things you have to tell (and not show), or else your novel will be either very long or fragmented).

I learned I can write explicit rape scene, but not a regular sex scene from a male POV.

And, very importantly: I learned I’m able to write “on command”, meaning, whenever I find time, no matter how small it is. This is very important, because of the time management.

In any case, I am really excited about this, and, dare to say, proud I finished this novel. It’s not my first, it’s actually my 13th, but it’s been a while. NaNoWriMO came at a perfect moment, and it helped me a lot. It gave me hope and support in a moment I really needed it.

Of course, it also helped me with my writing. My style is still unpolished and not as sharp as I want it to be, but I feel like I’m making a progress. More importantly, I am enjoying it, and I am more and more inspired to write something new. Maybe I should really start working on a novel I’ve been outlining for 7 years now (a fantasy novel I still don’t feel ready to do… But I will have to start at one point because it just won’t be any easier to do it. When novels are in your head for so long, they grow to great proportions, great significance, and it just puts a lot of pressure on you to actually start and write it).

Also, I got an idea (well, updated an older idea) for a dystopian novel about cloning. This one might have a potential. And yes, I know we don’t really need more dystopian novels about cloning (and I’m certainly not as skillful as some writers to pull it off), but it’s ok, because it won’t really be about cloning but something else (as usual). A really intimate story, you could say.

I just wanted to share this with you. :)