A Writer's Journey

March 22, 2011

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning…

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 4:32 am
Tags: , , , ,

…A very good place to start, to quote “The Sound of Music.”

Yeah, I’m a musical theater nerd (in addition to being a history geek), so expect a few references to pop up every now and then.

But I figured I’d start at the beginning for this post. And I touched on the beginnings of my novel last post. But I want to touch on a different beginning. After all, this blog is called “A Writer’s Journey,” so I have to start at my own beginnings as a writer.

And my beginnings start as a reader. I’ve loved books since before I could start reading. My parents (and aunts and cousins and grandmothers) would read to me before I would go to sleep. I don’t know how many Disney books I’ve read or how many times my parents read “Noisy Nora” to me. And then I learned how to read and loved to take trips to the library. I soon progressed as a reader and it was quickly determined by the standardized tests I was subjected to as an elementary school student that I was generally reading two grades higher.

And as an avid reader, it would be only natural that I would start writing my own stories. My father works with computers, so one was always in my house as far as I can remember. One of the programs we bought for the computer was one that allowed me to write my own stories. I could also illustrate them as well and a computerized voice could read it back to me. (PS: If anyone remembers this program, I would love to know the name!) I loved that program and wish I could go back to reread some of the stories I wrote as a child.

As I approached adolescence, I befriended a girl in my girl scout troop who introduced me to the world of fan fiction. I soon started writing and I can really track my practice from my fan fiction profile. Some may see fan fiction writing as a cheat of sorts. But it’s a great way for a writer to hone their skills. The trick with fan fiction is that you are using characters and settings that are already established. Therefore, you must be able to keep these characters as they appear in the original work and be recognizable to fans. This helps an author work on characterization and how to convey it. Creating a setting is improved as many fandoms come from television or movies. Trying to describe what is seen on the screen can be daunting but helpful when it comes time to create one’s own setting.

When I first started writing, I made mistakes. Everyone does. I know my first character was what is termed a Mary Sue—a perfect character who does nothing wrong and gets her man immediately. I now know no one wants to read about those type of characters—a reader can’t identify with them! As my writing progressed, my characters became more rounded. (And I discovered a Mary Sue litmus test. Quite handy). I learned proper formatting. I would often have two characters speaking in the same paragraph, which is a writing no-no. My descriptive skills improved as did my dialogue.

Then in college, I was fifteen credits ahead thanks to all the AP tests I had taken in high school. And after taking a three credit internship the summer prior, I entered my last semester needing only nine credits. However to be considered a full time student and remain in campus housing, I needed twelve credits. So I took a fiction workshop as a “keep in housing” course. And I loved it. My professor had some very good tips and assigned us interesting writing assignments. One was to purposefully write the worst love scene ever. He even turned it into a competition. Trust me when I say the winner was bad.

The knowledge and practice I gained from that class is invaluable. And I am still submitting one of the stories I wrote in hopes that it’ll be published.

And that is my start as a writer. Do I still write fan fiction? Yes. I also still read and critique it, hoping to help the next generation as well. I encourage you all to read a fan fic. Some are bad, but there may be a true gem in there.

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