Being AN Author

So… every now and then, I get asked what it’s like to ‘be’ an author. I figured it’s about time I put down at least some of those thoughts on paper (or, in this case, the mystic computer code of a blog).

When I tell people I’m an author, sometimes I get treated like a celebrity, as if I’m just that cool. I am, in fact, just as uncool as anyone else, I’m just a person who suffers a certain ailment in life. Writing.

For me, writing is not some grand calling, nor something I really Chose to do, writing is merely life. It’s unavoidable. I can’t not write, nor do I honestly have much control over what I write. I write what has to be written, and if I got too long without writing, I get edgy, like a drug addict who’s been clean too long.

Writing is insufferable, annoying, aggravating, terrifying, wonderful, blessed, horrible, and magical. Sometimes it drives me insane, staring mindlessly at my tablet for half an hour trying to write one sentence, while sometimes I can write without pause for hours, writing as fast as I can type the words.

But let me back up a sec, to what I mentioned about not having much control over what I write. This is what seperates a Real author, from a poser. It’s not financial gain, nor fame, for many, many ‘authors’ have more of both than me. But being a real author, means you feel the story. I don’t know how else to phrase it. It means you are not so much making up words and writing them down, but writing down something that already exists, yet only you can see it. Writing down a story that is already There.

It’s merely my job to put it on paper so that other people can see it too. And any time that I dare to go against the story, that I try to force my own ideas, my own plot twists into it? The whole thing just falls apart. I think my record is having to delete 5000 words when I tried to make the story go how I wanted it to go, as opposed to how it was supposed to. It just doesn’t work.

Now maybe I sound strange, or like some weird heretic when I speak in such a manner, but it’s true. Being an author, a real author, is a mystical, hard to understand process. When I’ve tried to explain it to a non-author, sometimes I am met with odd looks, or disbelief. Because they can’t understand it.

No offense meant to non-authors, who are in fact, often smarter than me. It’s just it’s hard to really understand it unless you feel it. Writing is almost religious in nature, and I know I’ll get some comments on that statement from a few folks I know. But that’s how it is.

More to follow when I get around to it, comments and discussion are welcomed 🙂

Francisco J Ruiz, Out!

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Getting Inspired

“So how did you come up with the name Nillium Neems?”

“Hey, I like that one monster in your first novel, how did you come up with the idea?”

“What inspires you when you’re writing?”

And so on. I’ve been asked a lot of questions along those lines, that all narrow down to two words. How did you get inspired. Okay, maybe that’s five words, but I was looking at the title of this post and just saw two. So sue me.

Anyways, here are my humble secrets on getting inspired to write. Also bear in mind, my techniques could apply to any kind of artwork you do, so keep reading even if you’re not a writer. We’re all artists at heart.

My main technique I shall call ‘Floating’. Since I’m having to explain things here, I guess I have an excuse to come up with cool names. Floating consists of being attention deficit and schizophrenic. And yes, I’m serious.

Open Google, pick the first mildly interesting thing that pops into your mind, search for it, and read whatever articles jump out at you. You don’t need to even think, just type. Let’s say you’ve been watching a movie about dinosaurs. Google dinosaur. Google Real Life Dinosaurs. Google whatever interested you about the movie. For instance I was just watching an episode of House, sat down at Starbucks to do some writing, lost complete focus on what I was supposed to be doing, and googled Rare and Weird Diseases. Five minutes worth of light reading and I have INSPIRATION.

It’s not hard. It didn’t even take that long. And you don’t need to be an expert. Literally in a single sitting I can bounce from random Google search to random search, just collecting little pieces for my mind to store. You can always go back for more indepth research once you choose something and run with it.

And ‘Floating’ doesn’t just mean Google searches or your favorite movies. I snag little snippets of ideas from books I read, from people I see, from food I’ve eaten, honestly just about everything. If something interests you, if something INSPIRES your mind to keep thinking about it, hey, maybe it will do the same for your reader. Inspiration is just another word for interesting, as far as I’m concerned.

Now for my second technique. This one is even easier. You’ve done it at school, at work, pretty much everywhere. It’s called Day Dreaming. Yep, that’s a legitimate technique, at least in Francisco Land.

Sometimes when I am trying to decided how something in a story goes, or trying to create a new character, or change one of the ones I have, I will find a comfy chair, lean back, and close my eyes. I’ll just rest. Rest, and visually try to picture my character, the scene, whatever it is I’m trying to work on.

It helps me focus, helps me get centered, and just helps me get stuff done. Some of my best ideas have come from sitting in a chair with my eyes closed, almost half-asleep for twenty minutes. Even if you accidently do fall asleep, actual dreaming could be counted as a third technique, ha ha.

So, to wrap this up, getting inspired, or ‘finding inspiration’ is not as hard as a lot of folks would have you think. Or even as you yourself have always thought. Just don’t stress about it, and go with it, even if your inspirational new idea sounds dumb.

I’ll talk a little bit more in my next article about what to do if you still can’t get inspired. Though I’ll leave you with this little hint for now. The sentence “I just can’t seem to get inspired” is usually just a synonym for “I don’t have any ideas that I think people will like”.

Till next time!

~ Francisco

Plot or No Plot? Hmm

A few weeks ago, I came up with the brilliant idea of writing a short story for kindle. My gameplan being, that I could finish it within a week or two (a deadline I already… missed), sell it for 99 cents, and use it to promote my book series. To make it even easier on myself, I was going to make the entire story one long chase scene, which would require barely any plot.
And it worked! My story was easy to write, it read well, it was entertaining, and all seemed dandy in poet land (that’s where I live 🙂 ). Until I started adding a plot, that is…
I have an innate love of plot twists, so during the final confrontation scene that took place in the monsters lair, I suddenly felt the urge to add all of the plot that was missing from the rest of the story. Let me adlib a little here.
[Character walks into the room and sees a robed figure kneeling over a pile of bodies]
“Oh Noes!” she gasps. “It was you all along?”
“Bwa ha ha!” replies the person who has just been introduced for the first time in the plot. “It is I!”
Hands to her mouth in horror, heroine stumbles backwards.
“But… Why!?”
Lots and lots of dialogue ensues, revealing that the monster is an evil Native American herb spirit, and that the villainess can control it because she has a magic root thing. For reasons. Yeah, that’s what happenes when you randomly google Native American Myths.
So, quite literally since I was on the last chapter, I tripped at the finish line. My whole story fell apart since I was trying to cram a plot into the very end and have it all make sense with the rest of the story. Well that didn’t work.
Slightly put out, I gave myself a day or two to think things over, and then rewrote the story. But with a plot expertly woven in from the very beginning. Surely nothing could stop me. Or thus I thought. After the first thousand words, it soon became apparent to me that I would be able to use none of the old draft. Not only that, but that I had just changed the entire project.
It went from ‘enjoyable yet ultimately simply chase scene’ to ‘screwball version of a real myth crammed into modern day’. Which would have worked, mind you, but it would become a much more time-consuming project then initially planned. And a wholly different story in the process!
And now as I sit here, having safely removed any trace of a plot from my initial story and finding that it once again nears completion, I left to ponder. Is a plot always a good thing? Or sometimes, even if well done, does it just get in the way? Hmm.
Guess we’ll find out once I finish the second version of my story (with plot), and see which one sells better. It will be an experiment!
“Hey kids, which do you like better?”
Or something like that, ha ha. Welp, that about ends my random little writers rant. To plot or not to plot. That is the question!

The Prologue Itself

Prologue means ‘The Beginning’ in fancy talk. Basically an alternative to Chapter One, Though I keep misspelling it as Proglogue for some reason, so Lord knows what that means…

Anyways, what better way is there to start off this little writers resource site, than with a How-To on writing your very own Prologue? The Prologue is the beginning to your book. In most cases, a prologue takes one of two forms.

Form A: – In the Beginning –

This one starts off years and years before your actual story, leading up to the first chapter by the end of the Prologue. Like so (but written poorly): There was an EVIL family, that lived in a dark old mansion. One day, the father murdered everyone in it, cursing his family for all time… Then he fell down a well and died. But his EVIL spirit lived on, haunting the house as a ghost. A ghost that killed people! And so begins the legend, of the HOUSE OF EVIL!!!

At this point, Chapter One would begin with a few goofy teenagers (and their pet dog 😉 ), winding up at the mansion because their van broke down, mysterious things would happen, people would go missing, and the story would practially write itself from there. Basically the prologue gives you a brief backstory to work with for the rest of your plot. Alternatively…

Form B: – A Chapter One In Disguise –

The other kind of prologue, is just a first chapter with a fancy name. Starting from the start of your main plot, with chapter two picking up right where this one ends. Example: I watched Mcfenley hand the suitcase over to the kid, both of them shooting suspicious glances around them. The kid popped the lid open, riffled through the cash with both hands, his eyes alight with greed, and then popped Mcfenley with the little derringer hidden up his sleeve. The crook never saw it coming. I pulled my badge with one hand, and my gun with the other, yelling for the kid to drop it. In a flash he was gone through the back door, and I knew there was no way I could chase him down with my pegleg. Cursing, I hobbled over to the counter and ordered a Big Mac. With extra fries. I’d need it for the case that now lay before me…

And chapter two, while perhaps skipping ahead maybe a few hours or a day in the time line, would continue pretty much from this point on, with our peglegged hero trying to find the kid.

So now that I have defined a Prologue, let me define what a good proglogue is…

Stay-tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Prologue to the Prologue

So, let me start by writing about the purpose of my website. Unlike most author sites, this is not just a place to hold the obligatory ‘Books’ tab with links to buy all my stuff. That seems to be all that most author sites are, so I’m going to try a little something different. Okay, maybe I do still have a Books tab, but that’s not the main focus of my site (though if you feel like buying a book or two, I certainly wouldn’t stop you).

This is a website about how to be an author. The finer-tuned little details that I would have loved someone to tell me about, before I went through the headache of learning the hard way. I’ll also include some of the broader stuff, the ‘I want to write but don’t know how’ kind of thing, and by all means please feel free to contact me with any questions. There is little that I love more than helping a fellow writer on their way 🙂

Any advice I have to offer, I do not offer through being ‘qualified’. I do not have an English Degree (in fact, despised my English classes) nor any awards to speak of. I am not a full-time author, and work at a Healthfoods store to pay the bills. I’m just a guy, like anybody else. But writing is my passion in life, I have been at it for over twenty years, and even were I so accursed as to be a complete dullard, I can’t have gone for that length of time without picking up a few tips.

So, without further ado, let me end this Prologue to the Prologue, and begin my first real bit of advice (see next post).