On Writing: The 4 Major Story Structures for Fiction

Book Tornado

There are different ways to start a story and different ways to write them.  Sometimes they start with an idea for a character and that character’s journey.  Sometimes they start with a place, known or invented.  Sometimes they start with a problem that needs solving.

Whatever motivates you to write – take it and run!

Looking for motivation to write?  Here are some different types of story structures that might help get you started.

I have my favorite author Orson Scott Card to thank for these 4 story structures.  He wrote an article for Writer’s Digest about them.  I believe they are also mentioned in his book on writing, “How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy.”  They have inspired me on how to focus my stories – some fall into all 4 of these categories.  I hope they in turn inspire you or at least help you focus your story to a fine enough point to start, continue, or even finish.

Milieu Story

In the Milieu Story, the focus is the world and showing and explaining that world.  Want an example of a Milieu Story?  Think of the Wizard of Oz.  The point is made most obvious in the movie because as soon as Dorothy arrives there, the movie goes from black and white to color, then back to black and white when she leaves.  This is because the land of Oz is the focus of the story.

Start: The protagonist arrives in the world.

End: The protagonist leaves the world.

Idea Story

In the Idea Story, the focus is seeking and discovering new information.  The best example of an Idea Story is a mystery.  Something unexplained happens and the main character has to figure out the how and why.  Think of the Dresden Files series.

Start: A question is raised.

End: The question is answered.

Event Story

In the Event Story, the world is out of order and the focus is making things right.  The Lord of the Rings is a great example of an Event Story.  The world is in disarray and Sauron is trying to conquer it.  The story revolves around stopping him and setting the world back to “right.”

Start: The protagonist enters the conflict.

End: A new world order is established.

Character Story

In the Character Story, the focus is the development of the protagonist.  I heard somewhere the series A Song of Fire and Ice (ie. Games of Thrones) described as a character story, or more appropriately a group of character stories.  Since I do not know how the series ends yet (after reading all the books), I cannot confirm or deny this.  But it makes sense.  Especially the character Daenerys, who has gone through a number of moments of character growth already.  Despite all the story arcs, I think she will end up being the “main” character.

Start: The protagonist becomes unhappy and/or seeks change.

End: The protagonist settles back into happy or gives up.

The are a number of other ways to categorize story structures, but I find these to be the most all-encompassing.

~ Effy

Writing Prompt: Imaginary Friend

Imaginary Friend

Imaginary Friend – from cityguideny.com

I found some interesting information on imaginary friends while writing this piece, but it was a picture (the one at the end) that prompted this idea.  I wanted to leave it short and sweet.

~ Effy

Imaginary Friend

Mom watched with amusement as Becca carefully spread the strawberry jam on her sandwich.  Eight years old and already insisting upon doing so much herself.  It almost made up for this imaginary friend business – the doctor had said children usually outgrew imaginary friends by age seven at the latest.

She ruffled her daughter’s bobbed blonde locks of hair, and Becca fidgeted out of her reach.  “Mom…” the girl complained.  She wrapped up the sandwich and placed it gently in her backpack with the other one – the sandwich for Casey, Becca’s imaginary friend.

“Sorry,” Mom said with a soft chuckle and threw her hands up in defeat.

“Well, I’m off.  Casey and I are going to play.”

“Yes, and I am sure Casey will appreciate the sandwich,” Mom replied, trying to keep a serious face.

“She will.  Strawberry is her favorite too.”

Mom just continued to nod as Becca shouldered her backpack and skipped out of the kitchen’s backdoor.  She watched as Becca crossed the yard and disappeared into the dense greenery of the trees lining the yard.

“Imaginary friends…” Mom said, trying to remind herself that it was the sign of a creative mind and nothing to be concerned with.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Casey?  Are you here?” Becca called, once far enough away from the house.

“I am always here, little friend,” a deep voice replied.

Two golden orbs, like tiny suns, waxed into sudden existence several feet in front of the girl.  The eyes, each easily the size of her head, hovered in the air for the span of a few breaths, and then the greenery of the forest around them shimmered until a long, scaly muzzle the color of summer leaves appeared inches in front of Becca.

“Welcome back,” Casey murmured, the edges of her mouth curling up in a reptilian smile and showing a mouthful of teeth lining her muzzle.

The girl giggled and threw her arms around Casey’s nose.  “I missed you!” the girl told the dragon.  “I wanted to come visit you everyday!  But school and Mom kept me away.”

“I missed you as well, little one,” Casey admitted, and nuzzled the girl back with the tip of her long nose.

“Casey!” Becca exclaimed, sprinting to her backpack.  “I brought my favorite doll, Heather.  And my favorite book.  And sandwiches and tea, so we can have a real tea party!”  The girl pulled items out of the bag in a flurry of motion, setting each on an old tree stump as she introduced them.  The last item out of the bag was a bottle marked Lipton filled with light brown liquid.

“Strawberry?” Casey asked, tilting her large head and widening her eyes.

“Of course!  I know it’s your favorite!”

The Little Girl and Her Imaginary Friend

Imaginary Friend – from superbwallpapers.com

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti AKA Jamie Roman.  All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti AKA Jamie Roman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at http://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.

On Writing: Writing Prompts – Helpful Distractions and a Means to an End

 

The Writer's Adventure, by Sexton Burke

Writing prompts – the writer’s savior

I ordered a few books about writing, specifically a few about ideas for writing.  I keep finding myself at roadblocks with pieces I want to work on, and working with writing prompts has been helpful.

The book I flipped through this weekend is called The Writing Adventure by Sexton Burke.  It has pages of starters for writing.  In fact, each prompt sits on a full page so you can write.  I am not sure if I will do any writing inside the book – that is what I have all these notebooks for! – but I think it is a neat concept.

The book starts off with a few prompts geared towards personal reflection.  So I focused on these, and I figured I would share.  Maybe, as they helped me, they can help someone else too!  In fact, I think these might help content creators of all types, not just necessarily writers.

Sum up your most important reason for writing in a single word.

Every time you sit down to write, put this at the top of your page.

My word: Share!

Sharing my thoughts, ideas, feelings… this is my biggest reason for writing.  As I mentioned in my post about why to create a blog, I write because I am the only person who can say what I have to say.

It also gave me an idea for one of the six word memoirs we worked on in Creative Writing: Share it, Show it, Tell it!

Make two lists… the first detailing what it is you love about writing; the second, everything you struggle with.

What I Love About Writing:

  • Sharing my thoughts, ideas, feelings
  • Putting my thoughts into words
  • Making worlds and characters come to life
  • Creating a world of many layers and fitting them all together
  • Making A and B work together, whether it is pieces I have created or lore pieces from WoW that fit with my personal characters

What I Struggle with About Writing:

  • Making time
  • Finding the energy
  • Writer’s block
  • Writing about what I want to write about (often I end up working on prompts instead)
  • Distractions that come up while I am writing (usually self-induced, “researching” various items on the internet)

Reframe your view of the obstacles in your life that impede your writing.  Make a list of these obstacles.  Then, next to each one, write about how you can overcome the obstacle and how it might be used as a tool for creativity.

My obstacles:

  • Work - Use work as an inspiration instead of a hindrance.  Start writing some pieces about window cleaning!  I need to write down ideas as they come to me for posts and infographics.
  • School - Continue to use school projects as inspirations for blog posts.  I have used essays and short stories and even public speaking pieces to inspire blog posts.  Re-purposing my school work makes it serve multiple purposes.
  • Time - I need to MAKE TIME to write, instead of making excuses about not having time.  Sitting down with writing prompts (like these) are a good way to start.  I need to schedule time where I am not allowed to do anything but write about SOMETHING, no matter what it is.
  • Energy - If I need to drag myself off my butt, then so be it.  The important part is to keep myself motivated, create scheduled chunks of time (both for accomplishing things and for being “lazy”), and make writing more of a habit.
  • Inspiration - Writer’s block is no excuse for a blogger!  I do not have to stick to one story or topic.  I do not have to write anything in order.  I can write snippets as they come to me, and publish them in logical chunks.  Heck, I can post pieces I write from story prompts.  I am basically without limit on what I can do here on my blog.

Take a moment to examine [the] lists from the previous [prompts]…  Describe in detail what you find to be the single most challenging thing about writing and why it affects you the way it does.

It is not so much writer’s block I find frustrating, but not being able to work on the pieces I want to work on.  It seems whenever something is strong on my mind, my ability to actually write the story evaporates and instead I have to switch my focus and work on something else.  (ie. writing prompts)  I enjoy prompts, but I have plenty of stories I would prefer to be working on.

Now, determine what needs to be done to overcome this challenge…  Find a solution.  Write it out.

The past few weekends, I have been spending my free time working on updating and fleshing out the details of my personal fantasy world – Dadreon.

The other thing I do to combat writer’s block is to write out of order.  I write as things come to me.  Sometimes, writing out of order helps me to get back to the part of the story I was working on.

So the solution: Keep writing!  Write regularly.  Write as things come to me.  Write from prompts when nothing comes to me on its own.

 

From The Ultimate Secrets of Total Self-Confidence, by Robert Anthony:

“Psychological studies in personal performance show that individuals who have a plan and goals for their lives are happier and more successful than those who do not.”

What are your goals as a writer?  Do you have plans for achieving them…?  If you do, write the plan below.  If you do not, it’s time to create one.  Write it below.

My short term writing goal is to continue to regularly post on my blog – whether stories or posts about writing or personal stuff.  Post regularly.

My mid-range goal is to get back to actually writing stories in my personal fantasy world.

My long term goal is to eventually get a novel finished and published.

So there is an idea of what I have been working on this weekend.

~ Effy

Do you have any input or writing goals to share?  Please let me know!

DBA Effy Part 2

Hello, my name is Effy

A short time ago, I wrote a post asking for some advice about possible pen names.  That post left me with as many questions as answers.  It may not seem obvious on the blog, but I have been thinking about it a lot since.

I think I have come to a decision.

But first, I wanted to share the progression of my identity going as far back as I have been creating – both writing and drawing.

First, it was my initials, JKR, that I doodled in the corner of drawings and on the bottom of sculptures in art class.  (Does it date me that we still had art class when I was in elementary school?)

For a short period, I used just JR to sign my work.  But I was never fond of its resemblance to “junior.”  So that was short-lived.

As a joke, I used the initials RAR for some time in middle school.  It is kind of a long story, but the condensed version: It would have been my initials if I had been born a boy, because my father wanted to give me his name.  Apparently, he got over that by the time my brother was born.

My longest running childhood nickname was James, and I wrote it in a stylized form on all my work.

dba-effy-2-james

Then, there was the high school signature that followed me to adulthood.  I still use it instead of my initials on everything from work to official documents.  It started as J-me, but was soon shortened to just Jme, which is how I sign it instead my initials.

My initials

When I first started making a presence for myself online, I started with the handle Littlegirl.  I did it mostly as a joke to annoy my then-boyfriend, who argued it would attract every internet predator in the world (which it never did – maybe it was TOO blatant).  But somehow it stuck with me for a number of years.

Online gaming required a more avatar-driven name, and for many many years, my avatar was Rosaelyn.  In fact, I still keep that name for alts.  She was my original Druid, and is now my Hunter.  Rosaelyn as my nickname began way back in Asheron’s Call.

It was not until I started playing WoW that I took on Effraeti as my main avatar name.  Prior to that, it had been only an alt name.  At first, I only did it because I had already named my Druid Rosaelyn.  But my Shaman was my favorite before I even created her – being a Draenei and a Shaman, she was perfect.

And having people call me Effy quickly became very comfortable…

Effy has stayed with me for about four years now, and somehow it seems more me than any nickname before it.  It has become my writing pseudonym in addition to being my WoW avatar.  I probably never would have thought to try and use it professionally without the coaxing of my Creative Writing teacher.  In fact, I would not have thought to seek publishing for any of my work – I was content to leave it all here on my blog.

But now…  I want to be Effy in a more professional sense.  And I think I have figured out how.

With some help from my real name, Joe, and my mom, I have put together a pen name:

Effy J. Roan

Effy = “well-spoken” or “melodious talk”  (Which I did not even know when I started going by that nickname!  Thank you baby name finders.)

J = I thought “Effy Roan” seemed like too few syllables, and J is for Jamie!  :)

Roan = “redhead”  (For obvious reasons!)

I think it is very original and memorable.  I do not see it getting mixed up with another writer.  And Effy is so easy to say and remember.  I already like it.  But I am curious what you all think?

My goal is start branding myself better – watermarks for my pictures, a new header for my blog, and expansion of the dark blue of my blog’s color scheme.  But first, to finalize my writing name.  Then, I hope to make it official by filing a DBA.

~ Effy

What do you think of my new proposed pen name Effy J. Roan?

Fall Semester

School supplies

Okie, so I had the best intentions of doing some writing over the weekend, and having a post ready for Monday morning.  That got derailed by reorganizing the kitchen (long story).

So since I did not write a post over the weekend, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about school!

I know, I know.  It is June.

But I miss school.  Even this e-marketing certificate and the email course do not quite seem like enough.  Mostly because there is no incentive (ie. grades).  The e-marketing classes are interesting and all, but there is no homework.  I just show up and pay attention.

BTW, I only have two more classes until I have my certificate!  Yay!

But what I wanted to write was a brief post about my classes for the Fall semester.  I already have my classes all situated.  And I think I am in for a tough semester – 4 classes and 14 credit hours.

Monday Night

  • Technical Writing II

Tuesday/Thursday

  • Web User Experience I
  • Intro to Interface Design

Online

  • Intro Lit: The Short Story and the Novel

It is great.  I have my next Tech Writing class, two web classes, and a literature class.  Woohoo!  I could not make any Graphic Design classes fit into my schedule this semester, so I decided to take the Lit class.  Reading and talking about the parts of a story?  Yes please!

So anyway.  That is all from me for now.  I have been working on filling in some gaps in my story world.  I have been having fun with old maps and old notebooks.  Between that and some of the ideas I have been working on lately, I have been doodling and scribbling notes everywhere.  I hope to put them to some good use here very soon.  I already have some ideas of how to do so.  :)

~ Effy

On Writing: 10 Types of Short Stories

A Notebook and Pen

My blog posts have taken many forms over the years – WoW-related mostly, from transmog to raiding to Best-in-Slot lists, but also short stories, personal thoughts, and school work.  I enjoy everything I write, but I have come to realize that my favorite thing (next to actual writing stories when I have the ideas) is writing about writing.

Recently, my very talented streamer and video-creator beau WoWMartiean got access to the current Alpha testing for Warlords of Draenor.  It has been interesting to sneak peeks over his shoulder, despite how adamant I usually am to keep my distance and not learn anything about WoW content before it is released.  Honestly, I think that has all been thrown out the window since 1) I live with him and 2) I am too damn nosy and curious.  I cannot help it, now I want to know about the changes to Mistweaver Monks and see every little bit of Draenor I can.

*****  *****  Spoiler Start  *****  *****

One of the things he and I have discussed so far is a new type of rare mob being introduced.  I am not sure of all the details, but Blizzard is referring to them as “vignettes” and they seem to be a rare with more complicated mechanics than a normal rare.

*****  *****  Spoiler End  *****  *****

This started me down an interesting train of thought… and I decided to write a post on the different types of short stories.

Defining a Short Story

To discuss the different types of short stories, first I should define a short story.

A short story is a piece of brief literature, usually written in narrative prose.  Short stories can be written in a variety of formats, but the most typical features a small cast of characters with names and focuses on a single, self-contained incident.  Short stories make use of a plot and other normal literary components, just to a lesser and shorter degree than a novel.  They also vary in length.

10 Types of Short Stories

Now that we know generally what a short story is, we can discuss the different types of short stories.  This is by no means a comprehensive list, since short stories come in a wide variety of lengths and styles.  But this is a list of the most common.

Anecdote

An anecdote is a short account of something interesting and amusing, which usually tells a story about a real person and/or incident.  Often, anecdotes are used to illustrate or support a point in an essay, article, or chapter.  They are very short, but have no specific limits.

From grammar.about.com’s entry for the anecdote, an example anecdote about Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“In [Ralph Waldo] Emerson’s later years his memory began increasingly to fail. He used to refer to it as his ‘naughty memory’ when it let him down. He would forget the names of things, and have to refer to them in a circumlocutory way, saying, for instance, ‘the implement that cultivates the soil’ for plow. Worse, he could not remember people’s names. At Longfellow’s funeral, he remarked to a friend, ‘That gentleman has a sweet, beautiful soul, but I have entirely forgotten his name.’ Perhaps most touching was his term for umbrella–’the thing that strangers take away.’”

(Reported in Clifton Fadiman, ed., The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes, 1985)

Drabble

A drabble is an exceptionally short piece of fiction, usually of exactly 100 words in length – not including the title.  The purpose of a drabble is extreme brevity and to test an author’s skill at expressing himself/herself meaningfully and interestingly in a very confined space.

A drabble example, by the lovely Matty, is available over at Sugar and Blood: Light as a Feather.  In fact, Matty has many drabble stories!

Fable

A fable is a succinct story featuring anthropomorphic creatures (usually animals, but also mythical creatures, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature) to tell a story with a moral.  Often the moral is explicitly told at the end.  A fable is similar to a parable, but differs most in the fact that fables use animals to tell a story but parables do not.

The most well-known example of a fable would be any of the many told in Aesop’s Fables.  The one I always remember the best is The Ant and the Grasshopper.

Feghoot

A feghoot is an interesting short story type also known as a story pun or a poetic story joke.  It is a humorous piece ending in an atrocious pun.  It can be very short, only long enough to sufficiently illustrate the context of the piece enough to lead up to the pun.

I found an interesting blog of all Feghoots.  This one is a good example and totally groan-worthy as the format requires: The Buck of the Draw.

Flash Fiction

Flash fiction refers to an extremely short piece of literature.  It has no widely accepted length, but has a debated cap of between 300 and 1000 words.

I found a whole webpage of flash fiction, called Flash Fiction Online.  It has a small section of fantasy and I thought this one a good example to share: One Last Night at the Carnival Before the Stars Go Out.

Frame Story

A frame story is also known as a frame tale or a nested narrative.  It is a literary technique of placing a story within a story, for the purpose of introducing or setting the stage for a main narrative or a series of short stories.

A few good example of a frame story would be a flashback within a larger piece or a quest within a larger game environment.

Mini-saga

A mini-saga is a short story told in exactly 50 words.  It is a test in brevity – about saying a lot with a little.

I found a fascinating “guide” to writing a mini-saga.  It has a few examples and the bottom is for filling in with your exact 50 words.  There was another page with good advice and a progressive piece as an example.

Story Sequence

A story sequence, also called a short story cycle or a composite novel, is a group of short stories that work together to form a longer piece, while still functioning as complete short stories on their own.

It would be hard to link to an example, but the best I can think of are several of the works of Isaac Asimov – the Foundation books and I, Robot (the original book, NOT the story portrayed in the Will Smith movie) in particular.  They are not a novel in the traditional sense, but instead a collection of short stories in chronological order that both tell small stories and one larger one.

Sketch Story

A sketch story is a shorter than average piece containing little or no plot.  It can be merely a description of a character or a location.  Character sketches are common, and a good way to build a character that will eventually be part of a longer piece.

I found this good handout about character sketches, including an example.  I wrote a piece a while back about writing character sketches.  I think Regrets, my original blog post and the start of my Shaman-Effy/DK-Effy stories, and the character sketch piece I wrote for creative writing last semester are both good examples as well.

Vignette

And finally, we come to the vignette, which started this whole post in the first place!

A vignette is a short, impressionistic piece that focuses on a single scene, character, idea, setting, or object.  There is little emphasis on adhering to conventional theatrical or literary structure, or story development.  It can be a stand-alone piece or part of a larger work.

From grammar.about.com’s entry for the vignette, an example vignette by E.B. White:

“The strong streak of insanity in railroads, which accounts for a child’s instinctive feeling for them and for a man’s unashamed devotion to them, is congenital; there seems to be no reason to fear that any disturbing improvement in the railroads’ condition will set in. Lying at peace but awake in a Pullman berth all one hot night recently, we followed with dreamy satisfaction the familiar symphony of the cars–the diner departing (furioso) at midnight, the long, fever-laden silences between runs, the timeless gossip of rail and wheel during the runs, the crescendos and diminuendos, the piffling poop-pooping of the diesel’s horn. For the most part, railroading is unchanged from our childhood. The water in which one washes one’s face at morn is still without any real wetness, the little ladder leading to the upper is still the symbol of the tremendous adventure of the night, the green clothes hammock still sways with the curves, and there is still no foolproof place to store one’s trousers.

“Our journey really began several days earlier, at the ticket window of a small station in the country, when the agent showed signs of cracking under the paperwork. ‘It’s hard to believe,’ he said, ‘that after all these years I still got to write the word “Providence” in here every time I make out one of these things. Now, there’s no possible conceivable way you could make this journey without going through Providence, yet the Company wants the word written in here just the same. O.K., here she goes!’ He gravely wrote ‘Providence’ in the proper space, and we experienced anew the reassurance that rail travel is unchanged and unchanging, and that it suits our temperament perfectly–a dash of lunacy, a sense of detachment, not much speed, and no altitude whatsoever.”

(E.B. White, “Railroads.” The Second Tree From the Corner. Harper & Row, 1954)

In Conclusion

I find all of these types of short stories interesting.  So much so that I would like to try my hand at each.  I am hoping to steer my fiction in a more personal direction, and start writing more pieces that take place in the fantasy world I created.  Some of these are very short pieces – which will probably take me longer to write than my usually pieces.  We shall see.

~ Effy

Are there any major short story types you think I missed?  Or do you have any good examples of some of the types listed above?  Please let me know!  I am always on the look out for good fiction!

Dialogue Course – Lesson 1: Captivated

Because I am not busy and stressed enough (har har har), I decided I wanted to try an email writing course.  I found a course I am greatly enjoying so far, from a website called Creative Writing Now, a course called Mastering Dialogue.

I am actually quite impressed with how many people seem to also be taking the course at the same time as me.  There is a course blog, where you can publish your pieces for others to read and critique.  I am already enjoying myself, and I have already received some nice comments about this first piece.

The first lesson:

Imagine that the character you’ve just invented is in the following situation: an unattractive stranger approaches your character on the street and asks your character out on a date.  Think about what your character would say.

I thought and thought about this, and finally decided I wanted to change things up just a little bit.  The unattractive part was less inspiring than an intriguing stranger with odd qualities.

So the prompt got me started, but I went in my own direction.  Please let me know what you think.

I think writing is exactly what I need to battle all this stress.  So far so good.  :)

~ Effy

Captivated

The way he sensually stretched out his S’s as he spoke intrigued her in the most disturbing way, but it was more than the strange-eyed man’s particular manner of speaking that left Leilae feeling drawn in by him.  It had first been those eyes that captivated her – gold-flecked and appearing almost luminescent, glowing from beneath his thick, dark eyebrows – when he had strode up to her with no warning and even less introduction.

“It would please me greatly if you would allow me to buy you dinner, lovely miss.”  He made a sweeping bow that caused the dark jade-colored cape about his shoulders to fall forward on either side.  When he straightened, it rustled back into place, but not before Leilae thought of his arms as wings with the fabric dangling from them like great webbing.

Everything about him seemed out of place and yet just right.

“I-I…” Leilae stammered.

“Ahh, but I have left you speechless,” the man said with a hint of a smile pulling up the edges of his well-trimmed goatee.  “Forgive me and my rudeness.  I have not even introduced myself.  I am Cern.”  He held out his hand for hers as he drew out the S sound in his name, until it sounded like “Sssern.”

“Leilae,” the woman finally managed in a breathy whisper, still captivated by his very presence.  She let him take her hand, and he kissed it briefly.  Just that short contact sent a ripple of electricity through her that made all her hair stand on end.

“I saw you from across the way, and knew I had to become acquainted with you,” Cern said, filling in the gaps of her end of the conversation and leaving none of the awkward pauses that would have been there otherwise.  “I am always surprised and delighted by the workings of… women… but never so much as I am with you.”

Every S that tumbled from his lips in a perfect line like soldiers going to war drew her in further.

“Say ‘yes.’  You must,” Cern implored, his eyes dancing and glinting like tumbling gold coins.

“Yes,” Leilae said before any thought otherwise could even form in her mind.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Jamie Roman AKA Effraeti.  All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Jamie Roman AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at http://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.

DBA Effy or What’s in a Name, the Redux

OW-Characters - EffyOne of the best things to come from my Creative Writing class this past winter?  Being pushed to submit some of my work for publication.

The thing currently holding me back?  Whether to submit my first work for publication under my IRL name or under my avatar name.

I am leaning towards using a pen name, because I have become so comfortable being “Effy.”

I have been Effraeti/Effy for about four years now.  I went by my avatar name Rosaelyn for longer than that, but I never felt as connected to that name as Effy.  Is it because I have been writing under Effy in addition to using it as my in-game name?  I think so.

I am also not sure HOW to officially label myself…  As Effraeti?  As Effy?  Is a single name okie, or do I still need a last name?  Would a single name be pretentious?  And what would I use as a last name if I decided to go in that direction?

My creative writing teacher, Jas, thinks I should make my pen name just “Effy.”  It makes sense.  It is both easier to write and easier to pronounce than “Effraeti.”  But I feel that “Effraeti” is my full avatar name and therefore should be my “official” pen name.

I guess I am writing this in the hopes of getting some feedback.

~ Effy

What do you all think?  What should be my “official” pen name?

#NBI2014: The Single Biggest Reason You Should Create a Blog

101 Pers - Shakespeare Blog™“Don’t forget – no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.”

~ Charles de Lint

This quote gave me a lot of inspiration in writing the original speech that led to this post, so I thought it an appropriate opening.  A blog gives you the best and “safest” place to find an outlet for your stories.  It gives you a simple, quick forum for writing, publishing, and sharing, all from the comfort of home and with the mask of whatever name/avatar you show to the world.

BloggingWhy tell your story?  Because no one else can.  Make it about telling your story.

I have been blogging for three years now – first on Effy’s RP and now here.  While I have blogged mainly about World of Warcraft for all of that time, I created my blog because I wrote a short story that was not happy with just getting onto paper.  It insisted upon being shared.

I took the plunge and I posted it on the internet.

And I have never regretted that moment.

Writing - just do itIt led to many more stories – both fan fiction and my own brands of fiction – and it has led to many, many posts.

The idea of starting a blog can be a daunting one, but unless you just get out there and do it, you will never know what might come of it.

We are all walking around with stories to tell.  Sometimes, we express them to friends.  Sometimes, we write – either in stories or in journals, which we may or may not share.  Sometimes, we keep all of our thoughts inside.

A teddy bear sharing ice cream with a puppyWhy share?

I spent years writing but never sharing my stories.  Even when I did share my writing, I shared with friends or family who read to be supportive of me.  I never knew whether they really liked it, or were just being “nice.”  I never received any real, helpful feedback.  But beyond these people who would only tell me how great my writing was, I feared what criticism I might receive from others.

But a story untold is just flat words on paper, or worse yet, an unshared idea that never leaves your head.  That is a true tragedy.

Maybe you think a blog is difficult to create or too much work or that no one will read it.  Blogs are not only easy to create – WordPress will walk you through the simple steps of starting one – but there is also a vast community of support once you get started.  The blogging community is one of the friendliest and most helpful I have ever come across – especially the Warcraft blogging community.

Collaboration happens often and in many forms and there are a number people to encourage you.

NBI

 

Newbie Blogger Initiative LogoThe Newbie Blogging Initiative is both a website and an event for helping new bloggers get started.  The provide support and resources, as well as stirring the rest of the community to action.  It is mostly geared towards gaming bloggers, but the information shared can be helpful to all.

Blog Azeroth

Blog Azeroth LogoBlog Azeroth is a forum where bloggers can come together.  The most interesting part of the interaction on Blog Azeroth is the Shared Topics.  Anyone can suggest a topic and anyone can participate in writing a shared topic post.  Shared topics are a great way to get involved with the community.

Bloggers Who Have Inspired Me

Navimie of the Daily FrostwolfNavimie, of the Daily Frostwolf, is one of the most amazing bloggers I know, and the nicest too.  Long before the NBI came about, Navi became a powerful voice of encouragement to me in particular.

Navimie’s advice?  If you want to write, just write!  Don’t write for others, write for yourself first.  You will be more genuine and more motivated.

Truer words have never been spoken (or written).

Akabeko of Red Cow RiseAkabeko, of Red Cow Rise, has been another voice of encouragement to myself and others.  She has participated in the NBI and other events to drive collaboration in the blogging community.

Akabeko’s advice?  She has a great list!

  • Write about what you know and what interests you
  • Remember that a blog can be about anything – from business to poetry
  • Cites your sources!  (Other bloggers and content creators LOVE link-backs, and it is a great way to get noticed.)
  • Give your opinions
  • Find your voice
  • Include pictures wherever possible

Other Resources and Tips

This is definitely not the limit of great resources or bloggers out there.  It just takes some time to get the momentum going.  The best thing you can do is participate in all of the great community events going on all the time, and comment on the blogs of others!  Both ways will get you seen in ways other than just those who find you through web searches.  Being active part of the community is the best way to become a part of it.

Twitter helps too.  Even if you do not use it much, you can connect other bloggers, other WoW personalities, and other players.  And you can tweet your blog posts.

Remember: every view is one more person touched by what you have to say.

Now What?

Now that you know some of the support available out there once you get started… how do you start?

Create a free blog and go from there!

Once you have a blog and content on that blog, even if only five people see what you have posted, that is five more than would have seen it otherwise!  Picture what that could mean – having viewers for all of these ideas, stories, thoughts, and opinions that never would have made it out of your head otherwise.

Creating a blog has the ultimate purpose of getting your writing seen.  A blog gives you a place of lower stress and pressure than trying to get published, but still has the same end result of people getting exposed to your thoughts and ideas.

Without a blog you have no outlet for your ideas.  Without a blog you may never know what would happen if you share your ideas.  These can all be easily solved by just sharing.

The one downside to sharing?  Negative comments.

How do you handle negative comments?An article called “7 Tips to Deal with Negative Comments on Social Media” gives some good advice.  The best points were the following:

  • Identify the issue – Your critic more than likely has an issue with your product or message, and not you personally.
  • Decide if and how to react – Not all criticism deserves attention.
  • Be specific and direct – Focus on the issue, not the person.
  • Be real – Take ownership of mistakes.
  • Create a dialogue – Keep cool, stay on topic, and treat the critic with respect.

Happy faceThe positive possibilities far outweigh the negative.  By creating a blog and sharing all the ideas and thoughts and opinions you have within you, you can succeed at the following:

  • Get viewed
  • Receive recognition for your work
  • Possible publication
  • Get paid to blog (with paid ads)

Take Action Now!So what are you waiting for?  Get out there and go create your blog!  (And if you have one already – post, post, post!)  Go express yourself, make yourself known, and share your ideas, stories, and points of view.  Because that is the biggest reason anyone should create a blog!

~ Effy

If I have inspired you, but you would still like to know more, please feel free to contact me!  I would love to chat!

RIP Sabrina

Sabrina's Kitty Face

RIP 9/23/1995 – 5/28/2014

Yesterday, our kitty Sabrina went to kitty heaven with the help of our vet.  She lived a very long, happy life even for a kitty cat.  She was almost 19.

She was my very first kitty.  She came to us when I was still in high school.  My brothers found her in a snowbank in November – just a tiny black fluffball.  They brought her home, and she immediately become an indispensable part of our family.

They wanted to name her “Salem” but settled for Sabrina when we informed them she was a little girl.

Sabrina Cuddling with Mom

Sabrina Cuddling with Mom

Sabrina was always a spitfire.  I swear she thought she was a dog in many ways.  When she was younger, she would greet everyone at the door and demand a tithe of petting her before they could enter.  She would beg to put my dog to shame.  She would steal food – one night she stole an entire chicken breast right off my plate.  She loved macaroni and cheese and chocolate ice cream above all else.  She loved to play rough when she was little, but grew to be more laid back and cuddly as she got older.

She was the true queen of our house.  Everyone knew it – including the dogs.  When they did forget, she was quick to remind them with a quick snap of her paw.

She was an outdoor cat for a number of years, which was always nerve-wracking, because she had a tendency to disappear for days at a time.  It was much later that we learned she spent all of her free time with her litter-brother, Buford, down at our neighbor’s house.  This went on for years, until Buford met an unfortunate end on the busy main road near our house.  She never seemed quite so interested in wandering after that.  In fact, over the past four or five years, she lost interest in going outside and became more of a homebody, more interested in curling up on the couch with Mom.

Sabrina Playing with a Pipe Cleaner Toy

Sabrina Playing with a Pipe Cleaner Toy

For the longest time, Sabrina had a bad eye – mostly clouded over – but she seemed to see fine and retain her depth perception.  It never seemed to bother her.

She become a matted mess for a while after we lost our other cat, Jessie, a few years ago.  Mom and I are convinced it was Jessie who did most of the grooming for both of them.  But we brushed Sabrina until she was sick of it, and then she started grooming herself again.  Heh.

Earlier, Mom and I discussed the fact that Jessie and Sabrina are back together now, and this thought made us smile.  I hope they are both comfortable and happy wherever they are.

I imagine Jessie telling Sabrina she is a scruffy mess, and grooming Sabrina until she gets annoyed and shoos Jessie away with a hiss and a quick snap of a paw.  Then Jessie, shrugging it off, curling up with Sabrina until they both fall asleep.

At least, that is how I picture it, because it reminds me of how they were when they were with us.

~ Effy

Sabrina Cuddling with Ender

Sabrina Cuddling with Ender