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My Freedom Flame

Motivating Writers Worldwide

Tag: creative writing (page 1 of 2)

Discover Your Creative Writing Niche

 

What is a creative writing niche?

Well, it’s kind of complicated, because a niche is a slim area of expertise so it can be anything you want it to be so long as you have expertise in the field.

If you choose something you’re passionate about, you’re on the right track.

For instance, my writing niche, while fictional, contains real-life overtones from a global perspective.

Being that current and historical events have always interested me, my niche falls in these categories.

Therefore, it’s no coincidence many of my fictional works circle around such events and the global scale is always lingering in the background of my small scale character stories.

 

Lord of Columbia Example

My Lord of Columbia Series epitomizes this, not really in Northern Knights, which sticks to the classic smaller scale, but Swords of Destiny taps into that global scale a little more.

The series takes a turn from this being exclusively Cain’s story to something far larger than himself.

While Northern Knights implies this, Swords of Destiny shows it in action.

Cain’s goal in Northern Knights is to liberate Columbia.

Cain finds out something else in Swords of Destiny, forcing him to take another route.

In other words, things, gosh, that’s so vague, get bigger.

 

What Influenced It?

Globalism, of course.

No, I’m not one of those guys who thinks every single national border should have twenty-foot walls.

Far from it.

But multiculturalism backfires, especially if it’s forced on a population; that’s something I’ve come to realize, reluctant as I was.

But no!

I’m not saying multiple cultures shouldn’t be recognized!

Again, far from it.

I love learning about different cultures, but I do think each nation should retain its culture and values that made such nations great in the first place.

Or at least have given it an identity.

This niche shines in my Neo Skyehawk Series, which can be found on Prolific Works for free.

Hey, many of us in America are sons and daughters of immigrants and yes, the culture came as well.

But it was a melting pot.

Nothing was forced.

It was absorbed in American culture.

My Scottish, Welsh, Dutch, German, Italian, and Native American cultures are prevalent here, especially in different parts of the country.

Notice how natural it is for me to talk about this issue.

Again, it’s a creative writing niche.

I’m showing it in action, not telling it.

I suck at telling it, so I’m showing it.

 

What Comes Naturally?

Now it’s your turn.

Think about what comes naturally to you.

If there’s something you can just write about and never stop, that’s likely a niche.

And it has nothing to do with plots, story structure, or anything related.

Instead, it’s often something we hold passionately to us.

For me, Libertarianism is something I’m passionate about and we don’t believe in closed borders!

Instead, we believe in private ownership of land and private individuals should have the right to do what they want with the land they bought.

You can disagree with everything I’m saying here; I’m just laying out the example.

But, Libertarian values are easy for me to write about. I just go with the flow.

Read what you’ve written and it’s likely you’ll find a niche.

I see this all the time in Twitter bios. Words from writers in their bios like MAGA or Blue Wave, or something like mine that simply says Libertarian, it tells a lot about what a niche is.

 

What About Influences?

It’s no secret authors steal from other authors.

Ah, it’s no secret authors borrow from other authors and I’m not different.

Maybe your plot follows that of your favorite book but with your own spin on things, your own world, own characters, own magical systems, and so on.

And your own issues you’re using as themes in a book.

Know what a niche does for you?

You’ll find yourself a nice target audience, which is epic if you think about it.

Think about never relying on Amazon to sell a book ever again.

Not saying your book shouldn’t be on there, but wouldn’t it be better to attain a following of like minded people?

Sure, you’ll get the genre readers but you’ll earn many more readers who think like you.

Isn’t that cool?

Take the Chronicles of Narnia, for instance.

C.S. Lewis’ niche was Christianity and his Christian allegories were prevalent.

Exactly, there were a lot of Christians reading about fantasy and magic.

A lot more than who normally would have.

 

Get After It

Okay, find the niche.

Ready, set, let’s go.

We’re all going to have a different niche and again, the information provided in this article is for show purposes only; I’m not looking to start a political debate or anything of the sort.

I’m simply showing you what I mean by finding a writing niche.

Talk about the issues you’re passionate about and don’t be shy about it.

Yeah, the haters will come in droves, but I wouldn’t worry about them.

Stick to what you’re passionate about and you’re going to get a lot of followers. An epic following at that. A permanent one.

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Stuck? Try Designing Creative Writing Prompts

Be a Creator in the Prompt Universe

Okay, so you’ve tried creative writing prompts everywhere but have gotten stuck at each and every turn. It’s not that you’re out of ideas or even suffering writer’s block. In all honesty, you may’ve spent too much time at the keyboard and haven’t given yourself enough life points.

 

Being a writer can be a solitary profession and the more we create, the more we want to be glued behind the keyboard and laptop screen. Yes, I realize we’re to the point to where we don’t mind sacrificing family events or Friday nights to stay in and write.

 

We make time to write and may even sneak our writing time in at work.

 

But, just like with all passions, we all need a break…well, sort of…and this is what I recommend to you. Get a nice break in the form of not taking a break.

 

Okay, what?

 

Yeah, you’re still working on creating new material in all technicality.

 

What does this have to do with prompts?

 

Everything.

 

Okay, how?

 

Let me show you.

 

Watch a Movie Series

Don’t just pick something random. Pick something related to the genre in which you write. Pick something theme related as well, which holds an identical message to what you want to write about.

 

So, only watch something new if it’s relative to your chosen genre, watch, and if it helps, take notes.

 

Take notes on the characters, their personalities, what they’re after, the antagonists, the plot as a whole. I guarantee you’ll be getting some prompts running through your mind as to what to write about next.

 

Sometimes, we only need to watch a movie series or one movie of a series, and we will then experience a mental explosion (in a good way), catapulting us to new ideas.

 

Look at Images

C.S. Lewis came up with the Chronicles of Narnia Series by looking at a postcard of a faun carrying an umbrella and thought why not make a story out of this.

 

Take a look at my featured image for a second and you’re going to see a windy road leading seemingly to nowhere. Around this road are rolling hills, forests, farms, and small towns. In fact, I’m writing this very blog in a library about five miles from the place.

 

This image here is one that sparked my own creative juices, as it leads to a small town I used as a setting for Northern Knights.

 

Look at the image below.

This little town, Wintersville, Ohio, is the town I’m speaking of based on the main setting of Northern Knights. It’s located not far from the backroad in the featured image.

 

What I’m saying here is imagery, whatever you find appealing, is going to spark creative juices and likely form a prompt in your mind.

 

So, which one formed in my mind?

 

To tell you the truth, it was this basic thought, not a prompt just yet: The Ohio Valley has a Harry Potter type of feel, with its tall hills, forests, and endless country. Let’s make a Harry Potter like story out of this area.

 

Of course, I had to answer the prompt itself, which was this, after watching a miniseries on the History Channel, which relates to Tip One: What would the American Revolution look like in Modern Day America?

 

One of my subgenres is war and I’ve always wanted to write a series based on war and conflict. I’ve always been a history buff and wanted to incorporate both history and global events into my work. So, knowing I wanted to create a Harry Potter type of series complete with some kind of uprising, I took imagery AND movies or in my case, miniseries, and Northern Knights was born.

 

Read a Book Series

I think a lot of authors like to copy other authors and I know this because Les Edgerton stated in his book ‘Hooked’ that he always has at least forty novels at his disposal while drafting a work.

 

Forty novels!

 

The rule of thumb is to make the work your own but when in doubt, find inspiration from your favorite authors.

 

As I said, I wanted to create my own Harry Potter like series but twisting it to fit my own themes, ideas, and of course, my own world.

 

We know of a lot of authors who’ve used the Chronicles of Narnia as inspiration. Another work often cited from numerous authors is Of Mice and Men, a novella published in 1937. The list goes on; many authors point to many popular works as inspiration.

 

Again, just make sure you make your own original work. No plagiarism!

 

Attend Events

I’m going to point to someone who wrote a script. That someone is Sylvester Stallone. Stallone was inspired to write Rocky after attending a boxing event. Of course, we all know of the legacy Stallone left with Rocky. It also kickstarted his acting career.

 

You can attend any even related to your genre or niche. If you love sports, attend a sporting event. If you’re a fan of social issues, attend an event regarding it. There are literally hundreds of events you can attend in your chosen niche.

 

And who knows? Maybe you’ll end up like Stallone someday?

 

Go For It

Okay, get off the laptop right now and immerse yourself into some fun research which will soon be feeding your mind with so many prompts you’ll need a spreadsheet just to keep track of them all.

 

Think of what you’re doing as work, because in a way, your mind will be working. Take notes on anything that jumps out at you when embarking on your own prompt creating journey.

 

I know somewhere down the line you’ll concoct the perfect story, likely from a combination of movie and TV viewing, reading, imagery, and of course, events.

 

Continue to repeat this exercise as often as you need and you’ll find something that will work for you, your message, your genre, and your next awesome work.

 

If you have any questions, ideas, or concerns, please leave a comment and I will get back to you! Until then, have an awesome time finding your next great plot.

Understanding the Creative Writing Process for Beginning Authors

Rules for Beginners to Follow

The creative writing process can be an overwhelming thought for any aspiring author. What’s funny is, there’s really no right or wrong answer. Every author has their preferred method. We have the outliners, pantsers, and hybrids.

I identify as a hybrid, usually taking time to create an outline before deviating from it at some point.

But, some of us think creative writing involves something reminiscent of the scientific method and it’s simply not true.

So, what are the “rules” of the creative writing process?

Well, there’s only a few authors should follow. Again, it’s not a matter of must, but one of should. Nothing is set in stone, but this will give all authors a peace of mind when going to write their great novel.

 

Rule Number One: Choose Your Style

Are you an outliner?

Outliners love to outline their whole work. Some outliners write a synopsis for each chapter, as I do. Others like to write a synopsis for every scene. And still others like to incorporate each. While this might make the process easier, if you’re scatterbrained as I am, you might deviate from this, as I’ll explain later.

What about pantsers?

Stephen King can identify as a pantser. What does he love to do? He’ll put his characters in terrible situations and write to find out what happens to them. I like this method a lot, but not from the first to last page.

What about hybrids?

Ah, this is me. Hybrids love to start with an outline, usually a small chapter synopsis, as where is this chapter going. We love to deviate sometime or another as our story develops. My second full-length work coming out, Swords of Destiny, is a good example of the hybrid model and it’s where I found my author identity as a hybrid.

So, choose your style now. You might need to experiment with different styles to really get a good feel for which one comes most naturally to you and go with it. Chances are, you’ll end up incorporating this style into all your works.

 

Rule Number Two: Avoid Plot Holes! Write then Edit

How to avoid a plot hole?

Write one day and edit the next.

Resist the temptation to write each day as you’re going to make a mistake. Yes, I’m going to be real with you here.

The only way you can go without making a mistake by writing the whole way unless you have a notebook in hand and take accurate notes. Even then, your notes might not match your manuscript.

So, save yourself some trouble and write one day, edit the next, write the following day, edit, and keep going. Resist the urge.

Your work is going to read much better by the end of your first draft.

Yes, your first draft doesn’t have to be terrible; it can be quite good. Why not do all you can to make it great?

So, write what would be your first draft on the odd days and on the even days, edit it and immediately turn it into your second draft.

Boom! You have two drafts finished after one draft.

Trust me, it’ll save you some heartache and soul searching.

Rule Number Three: Use Limited Point of View

First or third person works well. While rare, second person can also be used but it’s found in non-fiction.
First person point of view involves the character speaking as themselves telling the story. I, me, mine, etc.

Third person is also popular. It involves the calling the main character by their name. However, everything is shown through their eyes.

Second person involves the writer speaking to the reader, referring to the reader often.
You can also tell the story in the past or present tense.

But, you must pick one and only one per book. For instance, all of my works are told in third person, past tense. For instance, Cain walked, Cain did, Cain went to, Cain bolted, etc.

Why just one?

Because you’ll confuse the reader if you’re reverting between past and present, or first and third. The reader isn’t going to take the time to figure out what’s going on; they’re going to pick another book and throw yours to the wayside.

A lot of authors recommend starting with first person, past tense, as it’s the easiest to master. I considered, but ultimately third person, past tense came more naturally. If a certain point of view feels natural, feel free to go with it.

 

Rule Number Four: Go Small, Not Large

The Lord of Columbia Series and Northern Knights takes place on a national scale, but I’m not about to write it like a history text. Readers aren’t fond of this so instead of focusing on the macro, focus on the micro.

In Northern Knights, I focus on Cain’s story. Yes, there’s action going on all over the colony as they battle the empire but we’re focusing on Cain. The reader is aware of the ongoing conflict but their interest rests with Cain.

For instance, think Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. We know the Death Eaters are coming and Voldemort’s taking over (again). But, our primary interest rests with Harry Potter and the other main characters.

Your readers are going to focus on your main characters and your main characters only. They will care about the macro-aspect of the book, but the micro is what makes the story itself.

Instead of focusing on the big picture, focus on the stories of the individuals. It’s more believable to the readers, especially if this happens to average characters.

 

Conclusion

For any new author, these four basic rules are musts to follow. Choose a style, whether an outliner, panster, or hybrid. Write on the odd days, edit on the even days. Your novel will look better at the end of the first draft. Really, the second. Choose a point of view method and stick to it. Focus on your point of view and main supporting characters. It’s them the readers care most about.

Alright, take action. Find the writing style that comes naturally to you and start alternating writing and editing days. Make sure you’re consistent with point of view and finally, keep the scope on the straight and narrow.

Writing Course? Yes, Invest in One

Make the Sound Investment

Investing in a writing course might be the number one best decision I’ve ever made in my life and I’m not finished yet. In fact, there is much more to learn.

Though I’ll tell you this: Northern Knights never would’ve turned out well had I not made the investment.

Unless you, the creative writer and aspiring author can decipher the difference between showing and telling, on-the-nose writing, omniscient stage direction, omniscient point-of-view, and about twenty other common writing mistakes, it might be time to invest.

No, we’re not talking about dropping thousands of dollars on a creative writing course at your local community college, though it wouldn’t be a bad idea to look into if they’re cost-effective.

In fact, a greater idea might entail looking into real writers who’ve walked the path and are now returning to tell everyone else how green the grass becomes as we continue on the battered path.

Now the question remains, where to invest?

It really depends on your preferences, but don’t worry, I at My Freedom Flame have covered the bases. All you need to do is read up on some of the hotter courses out there.

 

Jerry Jenkins Writers’ Guild and Novel Blueprint

Jerry Jenkins does an excellent job teaching new and experienced authors how to become a successful published author. While Jerry teaches authors ways to get published in the traditional method, his course is also valuable to all authors, even indies.

Jenkins is the author of one-hundred-ninety five books at the time of this writing so his value is endless. Someone like Jenkins has been around the novel-writing block for over forty years, starting in the mid-1970s. Imagine having the ability to tell others a legend in the business has become your writing mentor.

That’s something.

Jenkins has two layers of courses. His more prevalent one is the Writers’ Guild, which I took for a year. I can personally he does an excellent job showing writers the in’s and out’s of as far as novel-writing goes.

Some of what you’ll see in the Guild are master classes, Q&A sessions, writer’s workshops, manuscript repair and rewrites, and a complete guide to both fiction and non-fiction writing. For more information, you can log onto his website at jerryjenkins.com.

The Guild is only open so many times per year and the price does increase every new time it opens. As of November 2017 the Guild cost $370 per year, a steal for the amount of information Jenkins offers.

If you’re a fiction writer and you want even more, be sure to check out his novel blueprint, available at a $1997 lifetime membership. You can also pay in monthly increments of twelve months if need be. The kicker here is you’re in for life; information will be at your fingertips now and ten years from today.

 

The Novel Blueprint is relatively new to the game but early reviews have been positive from users in the Novel Blueprint.

 

The Creative Penn

Led by Joanna Penn, also known as JF Penn in her fiction works, The Creative Penn contains three distinct courses all designed to help you in your writing journey.

Penn’s courses, How to Write a Novel, How to Write Nonfiction, and Creative Freedom are available at thecreativepenn.com/courses.

Joanna Penn isn’t just a well-known indie-author but her story is inspiring and similar to what I preach here at My Freedom Flame. Once an unhappy corporate employee craving to find her creative soul, Penn scaled back on her day job and pursued writing, slowly evolving into a full-time indie-author.

She now writes full-time, offers courses and nonfiction work dedicated to helping the fledgling indie-author, and regularly attends speaking engagements.

If there’s one name all indie-authors should know about and look up to, it’s Joanna Penn.

 

Find Your First 10,000 Readers

Nick Stephenson is the leader of his Reader Magnets, an ebook which can be downloaded for free and was the main inspiration behind me making my Neo Skyehawk Novella Series available for free.

Stephenson’s course is designed for those who’ve written and published, but might be having a tough time finding a readership. Never panic, as Stephenson’s course introduces authors to reader magnets, which he used to build his email list well into the thousands.

Stephenson will show you that you don’t need Amazon or any major outlet out there to sell your books. All you need is a dedicated email list of superfans! All authors, both traditional and indie-published authors must have an email list and they will be your first readers.

So go ahead and build your email list today. When you publish your next work or are looking to introduce a new readership to your backlist, you’re in business.

 

Don’t be Afraid to Invest

Hey, your hard-earned money isn’t serving you well sitting in a bank. In fact, it isn’t providing you an ounce of anything, especially if you’re getting into writing to make a full-time living off it.

Wouldn’t it be wise to invest in your own writing education?

If you develop a five-year plan, where do you see yourself?

By taking some steps to invest in continuing your writing education, you’re proving to yourself you’re in this for the long haul. It’s not just another gimmick. You’re a creative writer and don’t be afraid to let your colors show.

Never assume you know it all and use it as a reason not to invest in yourself. I once thought I knew it all during my first drafts of Northern Knights, only to be proven wrong by Jerry Jenkins when I ventured into the Writers’ Guild. It took another nine months for me to correct my mistakes, and I’m glad I did.

Northern Knights would’ve been chucked to the wayside long ago had I continued playing the role of know-it-all as long as I had.

It’s something I saw in fitness during my days as a full-time trainer. Too many walked into the gym believing they knew all there was to know about fitness due to the number of free and cheap information tools, only to fail a few months later.

Do yourself a favor and invest in all the paid material you can afford. One day when you’re writing your next hit book while your friends go to their corporate jobs, fighting traffic to and from work, you’ll thank yourself.

How Creative Writers can Weather the Storm

Creative Writers Must Become Masters of Chaos

If there’s one thing I’ve learned when it comes to creative writing it’s to embrace the chaos. In fact, it should be step one to every creative writer’s guide to successful writing.

Chaos will erupt in every facet of our lives as we pursue our writing passion from our personal lives to our day jobs.

Why?

Well, we kind of have something we deem important to us while chances are the masses won’t see our journey as important.

But that’s okay.

We know where we’re headed.

 

Life’s Choices

Creative writers must exercise discipline when the masses typically don’t.

For us, it might mean putting in a few weekend hours to craft our novel masterpieces, waking up an hour earlier on weekdays to write, giving up a lunch break, or giving up evening television to write.

As I’ve stated in the past we might make the tough choice in giving up weekend outings with friends, get-togethers with family, or even hitting the bar with co-workers after a long, stressful day of work.

The choice, however, is quite simple: Do you want to succeed in this or not?

I know it’s blunt, but there are hundreds of thousands of aspiring authors out there so not only is the competition fierce, but so is the race to finish and finish with a high-end product.

Procrastination will guarantee nothing but more day job misery as instant gratification prevails over the possibility of long-term success.

So don’t even try it.

Set a daily alarm on your phone to work on crafting your first great novel or creative writing project.

Set multiple phone reminders during the workday telling you what you need to be doing.

 

Be Real

As the old cliché goes, those around you who understand what you want and respect your sacrifice are true friends.

Those who distance themselves from you are not.

It’s simple.

Yet, so many of us love to cling to the toxins in our lives who are at our sides only because we’re succumbing to their every will.

They can count on us to be at the bar every Friday and Saturday night.

They know we’ll be counted in for every sporting event they buy tickets for, every party they attend, and anything else that is going to deviate you from what you need to be doing to succeed in writing.

So, be real with your friends and yes, a lot of them will exit your life. A lot of them are going to say you’re selfish and thinking only of yourself.

Others will try to discourage you, letting you know (which you should already know) of the millions of books on Amazon and why readers should choose your book over the next James Patterson release.

And yet, some will understand your approach and support you every step of the way. They may not fully understand the why, but they will respect your choices and actions enough to at least provide support.

Sure, the bridge burnings and witch hunts may happen. The blackballs may come (especially if your views on political issues bleed through your work), and even social media blurbs will be made about you.

I’ve had all three happen to me.

But, there’s the small tribe who will understand your life is what you make it and you’re in full control. Plus, you have every right in the world to hold up a hand and embark on the path to independence.

 

Downgrading?

As Joanna Penn once stated back when she was starting out, the same will apply to you, as it’s done to me: You’re going to have to downgrade.

Are you working in a field where you’ve gained recognition yet feel you should be making a living doing something else, in this case, writing?

If the answer’s yes, fate’s going to come knocking at the door sooner than you think.

You’re going to be putting a lot into your writing, because to you it’s purposeful work.

But it doesn’t mean those at your day job will understand, especially the managers.

Whew, I can relate when one of my managers tried to guilt-trip and fearmonger me into placing one-hundred-percent of my efforts into my day job.

But, when the passion isn’t there, misery builds before finally you hit a breaking point and do something you probably shouldn’t do, like leave your job and live off your savings.

Again, Joanna Penn did this.

She stated the process repeated itself several times, which you can read about at The Creative Penn.

You can only keep it bottled up in you for so long.

So, what do you do?

How does this sound?

Downgrade, downgrade, downgrade.

It means cutting back on everything, deferring student loans if possible, and living on a budget until you break into your field.

How long do you need to plan for?

Try to plan for twelve months, which will give you a full year working at your writing craft for free.

Yes, for free, but the dividends pay off further along.

And better yet, you’re going to be forced to say no to the partying, get-togethers, happy hours, and all the stuff that serves as an opportunity cost, in this case being time, to writing.

Now, you’ve zero choice. You must focus on the writing craft. You’ve nothing else.

 

Nowhere to turn, no job to fall back on, and nowhere to go but up.

 

Conclusion

Embarking on the creative writing road can be a tough one. From family and friends to your employers failing to understand your motives to a leap of faith into the unknown, creative writing can be chaotic.

Yet from every creative writer turned author, the number one piece of advice, the common denominator in these situations is this: Embrace chaos. Either embrace it now or learn to do so in the very near future.

Embracing chaos is the first step not just to creative writers, but anyone seeking to start businesses, pursue their own passion whatever it may be, and in life, trying something new for the first time.

If you’re willing to embrace chaos, you’re going to be in good shape to succeed in your writing journey.

Thank you guys for reading, please come back soon.

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