Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Guest Post with author Matthew Wolf

Let's welcome Matthew Wolf to Pure Jonel!

3 Simple Tricks to Building a Story - Guest Post by Matthew Wolf

I believe whole-heartedly that we all have a story in us. For some it’s meant to be put on paper, and others, not. If it’s meant to be written, then you have to form a habit out of not only writing, but also simply thinking. Plot arcs, world building, character development, ALL of this can be studied (i.e. see Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Face’s monomyth, or read Stephen King’s On Writing, or one of my favorites, Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel) but after a time they should be simply felt. And truth be told, the only way you do that is by practice. However, the good news is that habits can be formed more easily than we ever tell ourselves.

Whether you’re stuck in a part of your writing, or you put in hours but not as many as you’d like, or you simply don’t feel the story you are creating has the depth you desire… Here are a ton of little tricks I’ve done along the way to create the space for building a story.

1) Get a recorder. Say anything and everything into it. Don’t feel the need to have your words have structure, sound fancy, or even make sense. Just talk. Talking will create ideas, ideas will create inspiration and feed that fire, and that fire will spur you to write. Best of all, no matter what you are saying, you are creating a story with every word, honing it—trimming the fat of superfluous characters, spawning cities with just a little bit more grit and life, and so much more.

2) Talk to your friends. Oh they sure as heck are going to get tired of hearing about “The war of the Lieon”, “The division of the Great Kingdoms”, and “the origin of the Ronin”, but they are great sounding boards. Don’t expect them to give a ton back, but just having someone to chat with will make you more honest with your ideas (usually); realizing the characters that sound cliché, or the plot points that fall short. Hopefully they’ll be there to add a bit of that good ole’ fashion honesty too, but either way, again, you are talking. And hey who knows, I’ve even gotten a few good ideas, and even better, I’ve captured their interest and heard their breath catch at a “cool twist.” This is just one giant amazing tool of positive reinforcement.

3) Set up a system AKA “Buy post-its.” Okay so everyone has their own “system”, and some people’s lack of a system is their system. That is to say, anything that gets you to sit down and put in the man hours of fingers to keys is a system and should be lauded. My system is post-its. I’ll admit it’s not for everyone, and I feel guilty for a tree or two, but it’s perhaps (aside from my previous two “tricks”) the biggest factor from me writing a few hours a week to 7 hours a day, and ultimately writing over 10,000 pages of story; honed and cut down to a prim and proper 426 for book one, and 600 for book two. Now you may be thinking “Post-its? Sure… yeah… *cough* I have no idea what he is talking about.” Well it’s simple: every time you sit down and write mark your hours and BE HONEST! Then take that small post-it note and tack it up on your wall. Make a mandatory limit. Mine was five hours a day. I would slap it on the wall creating a nice collage to either vaunt the sweat and toil I put in, or create spiraling shame for missing my limit.

So in the end, the real trick to anything isn’t a trick at all. The path to fame, to success, to even skill, is passion and hard work—but if you have passion, the daunting or sigh-inducing description “hard work” can be turned into “having fun”, especially with a few fun little nifty tricks.

About the author:

Matthew Wolf is the author of the Ronin Saga. Or maybe he's a Ronin. Either way, he's involved somehow. Aside from epic fantasy, he enjoys woodcrafting, outdoors, a bit of a health nut (Kale is good!), and trains in Kung Fu.

His childhood of traveling the world and studying Old English and Japanese influenced the schemes of the Saga, and the world of Daerval. He is a graduate from UCSB with a Literature degree with a specialization in Medieval Literature and Japanese.

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About The Knife's Edge:

When legends come to life the world trembles from a single name. Ronin. Once-heroes from a different age, they wield elemental powers… wind, water, fire, stone, forest, sun, moon, flesh, and metal.

At the same time, a young man discovers his best friend with a sword in her stomach, and dark wings sprouting from her back. Guards rush onto the scene, accuse him of the act, and he is forced to flee. In a new world without his memories, Gray must find his way amid legends and darkness, as he wrestles with an elemental power inside himself.

A power all too similar to the infamous Ronin…

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