Open Book

Remember the last thing you wrote? Without looking at it, answer these questions:

What is your main character’s name? Age? Occupation? Family history? History of dating? Appearance? Best friend? Closest familiar member? Saddest moment? Most embarrassing moment? Religion? Sexual orientation? Deepest desire? Biggest weakness? Darkest secret?

Now look at the story and answer the questions.

Which ones did you need the story to remember? Which ones weren’t answered at all? Come up with answers to the ones that you don’t know. You don’t have to include them–just know them. Consider the numbers.

Then re-write whatever it is with the answers to these questions in mind. You don’t have to include them or even mention them. Just let the knowledge color your writing. I’ll wait until you’re done.

Better? Good. Your character just became more three-dimensional. If you’re feeling like spending more time on it, do the same to the other character(s) in the story and do another re-write.

You also need to know the answers to these questions (and more) without having to look at the story if it’s something you’re actually working on. If you have to have an open-book test to remember stuff about your current project, then you just aren’t putting enough mental energy toward it. You don’t have to know everything about your character, but you should know enough that you can accurately describe him/her/it without searching heavily through your memory.

Another thing about open books: I am an open book. If you’re reading anything in this blog, it’s because I am okay with you reading it. If you’re an agent, since I addressed all of you in my last post, I am totally okay with you reading what some might see as a bit of a tirade in the post before that. I am proud of what I have done in my life, writing-wise. I know I could do more. But no one can take what I have done from me. Everything I say in this blog is true. If I say that I edited a big chunk of the book today, then that’s what I did. If I say I wrote 5 words, then that’s what I did.

I really have written a crapload of short stories, and it’s okay if no one believes the numbers I have given. I wrote a considerable amount of short stories when I was very young because I was encouraged to do so. My mom had my sister and I write several short stories every summer for a few years. So that’s 20 or so right there. Then, in fourth grade, we spent a LOT of time working on writing because of the fourth-grade writing assessment. So that’s easily 5-10 more stories there. After that, I joined my middle school’s writing club and continued to write a bit in my spare time. I was in Writing Club for at least 2 years, so I wrote, at minimum, 10-20 more stories there. I also wrote at least 5 stories for my seventh-grade English class. If not more. Then, I entered high school and started working on my failed attempt at a novel (which was really more like fanfiction, if I’m being honest with myself, even though I changed the characters’ names). I wrote a considerable amount toward that and wrote a few stories here and there during that time. But high school was very busy, with papers and FFA and all. So then I ended up in a creative writing class and got right back to writing a lot. That’s about 15-20 stories right there. And then there’s college. I continued writing short stories for fun, but I am majoring in English, with a concentration on creative writing, so I’ve taken a lot of writing classes. Therefore, we’d have to add at least 20 (I counted the ones I could find on my computer, so I know a few are left out). Okay, so if we take the low numbers, we get 75. On the high end, we have 95. And it is very possible that I’m underestimating how much I wrote in Writing Club and that seventh-grade English class.

In short, I really have written a lot. I went through the trouble of counting because I want to be as transparent as possible with anyone who reads this. I’m not blowing smoke out of my butt. I have been writing as long as I can write. It is a big part of my life.

So I know what I’m talking about. I’m an open book. I am honest on here. If there’s anything you’d like cleared up, then please just let me know. Because I’ll answer you. And please do say if you don’t mind your question and my answer being posted publicly or if you don’t want your name attached and want it posted or anything else along those lines.

In the spirit of honesty:

1. If a post shows up at 12:30 PM, then it has come from my queue.

2. If it has come from my queue, then there is a good chance I wrote it and a bunch of other posts at the same time, all of which show up on the blog at the same time every day for a few days.

3. I don’t really have any particular reasons for doing a whole bunch of posts at once other than that I enjoy it. I got kind of wound up a bit ago, and now I can’t stop writing.

4. So this is the third post I’ve written in a row.

5. Aren’t lists great?

6. I’m tired.

7. Because I’m writing this at 2:30 AM and started writing these posts … I’m not sure what time I started writing. Writing will do that to you.

8. I really like lists, okay? I never get a reason to make a list like this. So bear with me.

9. Plus, I’m in a goofy mood right now, because I think I’m on a writing high.

10. It is really hard to sleep when you really just want to write and talk to people about writing.

11. Sometimes I make blog posts in the middle of the night because I can’t sleep.

12. Sometimes, I just get really inspired and write a lot at once because I love talking about writing.

13. This list is probably too long, isn’t it?

14. Yeah.

15. Okay, I’m done now.

17. But not really. Do you guys want more silly stuff like this? Is this stupid? Because I’m having fun. But that’s because I have fun writing and doing silly things like this. No, I’m not drunk or actually high. I’m just enthusiastic.

18. Bet you didn’t notice I skipped 16.

19. Bet you looked up to check.

20. Yes, I did that on purpose.

21. Make your own list! But make it about characters. List as many attributes as you can about a couple of characters and write a story about them. Come up with at least 5 physical attributes (whether they be strictly appearance or quirks), and write down a bunch of mental/emotional attributes. Look at the very beginning of this post for ideas. Be silly. Be creative and quirky. Include a list in your story if you can (or something else that you enjoy coming up with, like a poem or scenes from plays). But most importantly, make your characters open books for yourself–come to understandings with them and hold them close to your heart as if they were people. And write about them in a way that reflects that.

22. Also, I can prove that birds don’t go by Daylight Saving Time. They start chirping earlier during DST than when it’s not DST, sometimes considerably so. During a non-DST time, they normally don’t start until 3 or 4 AM, but they started just a few minutes after 2 for two nights in a row. And it’s happened before, but I’m just giving relevant examples. So consider that the next time you stay up late.

23. Okay, okay, I’m really done now. Please let me know if you hate silly blog posts. I might sneak one in every so often because I gotta get stuff off my chest like that sometimes. Not everything can be serious. If you take everything seriously, you miss out on a lot of fun. But I’ll try to stay with my serious tone as often as possible, like I have been, but it would be nice to know what you guys think of my goofy self.

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