How Reading Out Loud Improves Writing [Video]

Always read your writing out loud. Like tasting the food before serving it, reading out loud allows you to identify the nuances of your creation, the elements you wouldn’t notice if you simply read silently.

How does reading out loud improve your writing? Well, your brain is a powerful machine, it is able to piece together information, even if the information is not complete. If a word is missing, your brain would be able to fill it in. It’s actually quite remarkable that it is capable of doing that. However, you don’t want your audience — those that are experiencing your writing for the first time — to get tripped up by missing words or odd sounding sentences. These stylistic slip-ups can distract your reader and take them out of your story.

Reading out loud is the most effective technique when editing. If you skip this step, you might end up with a manuscript containing a lot of embarrassing mistakes.

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How Many Drafts Should You Write? [Video]

 

How many drafts should you write?

4. Well… it could be 4 or it could be 400. Every story is different and every writer is different, and there is no one number. You, as the creator and editor, will have to decide when you are ready to show people what you’ve got.

In this episode The Other Epic Story Vlog, I talk about my strategy for editing my novel.

The 4 Phases of Editing

  1. Structural edit
  2. Grammatical, style, and bad habits edit
  3. Feedback edit
  4. Repeat 1-3 Editing your novel is an important step.

While you can spend forever editing, at some point you need to send it out into the world for feedback.

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After Writing Your First Draft, What’s Next? [Video]

After all the blood, sweat, and tears; after writing your novel. You are now ready for smooth sailing.

Nope! Unless you are both lucky and talented — much more than me, you bastard! — you are going to suffer the trials and tribulations of life after the first draft.

After dumping all your ideas onto paper without worrying about the consequences are over, this is the part where you attempt to make it all make sense. Even if you think you were perfectly coherent while writing the first draft, I can assure you… as I assure myself every time, that what is written in the first attempt is almost laughable.

At some point, you will have to return to the draft but take a break first. You’ve just emptied your brain of all your ideas, now it’s time to let it settle. Relax. After you finish writing your first draft, take a break. Thus returning to it with a fresh new perspective.

 

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Yes, I Am Blind With a Broken Heart

 

When I was young, I asked myself a perplexing question: Which sense would I give up, if I had to give up one of my six senses?

First, I would give up my ability to see dead people.

Then I would give up my sense of smell, because I think that would be the least debilitating. Think about it. The worst part about not being able to smell stuff is that every time I go to a wine tasting, I’ll enjoy the appearance of the liquid in the glass, but then I’ll skip straight to the tastes, forgoing the part where I swill the wine to impart the aromatic elements. I would not dip my snout into the glass, because I wouldn’t be able to smell anyways.

They say when it comes to tasting, smell is the most important part, but hey, I can just fake it. I can tell people I taste [insert obscure descriptor] and lie and nobody will know. That’s the magic of smelling. Nobody knows what I smell, unless I tell them. That’s why they call it the nose… because nobody knows your nose.

But alas, I still have my sense of smell. To my misfortune, it is my sense of sight that has forsaken me. It didn’t happen gradually over the course of a lifetime of seeing. It wasn’t as though there was a dimmer switch. No, with a flick, now I am blind.

 

blind

We rely on our sight a lot. Think about it. Right now you are using your sight. And you know what, you are taking it for granted. Try closing your eyes right now and continue reading this sentence. You can’t do it. You can’t fake it like you can for smell.

Irony. I kind of understand it and I think I’m an example of irony — and arrogance, but we won’t get into that right now.

See, before I went blind, it was my dream to be amongst the athletic best. I wanted to run, skate, and dipsy-doodle with them on the field, court, and monkey cage. I wanted to be a world class referee.

I believe every kid wants to grow up to be an authoritative figure. You know, to power trip every once in a while. That’s a good feeling. Not necessary to get what you want but to refrain others from getting what they want. It makes me feel like I exist. It makes me feel like a big man. And at 5’7” 140 pounds, I am average, if not under average depending on the sample size you are comparing me to.

So here’s a story: I remember as a child, my parents would take me to the store. We would get lunch and they will always buy me the kid-sized meal. “I’m not a kid anymore,” I would shout at them, adorably. “I want a large!”

They calmly explained to me that if I can finish my kid-sized meal then they will happily buy me another kid-sized meal if I’m still hungry. I thought that was bullshit. I didn’t want two kid-sized meal. I wanted to be treated with respect for who I was. I mean, I wasn’t a “kid” anymore. Sure, I wasn’t making any money, didn’t have to pay taxes, couldn’t be trialed as an adult if I was to commit a heinous crime, but still, in the eyes of me, a soon to be blind person, I was an adult.

So, I did what any self-motivated kid would do. Yep, I didn’t ask for permission to throw a tantrum, I just did it. In front of all the people at the food court.

Did I get the large size? No. Did I ruin my parent’s day at the mall? Yes.

That’s when I knew, I had an extraordinary gift. I’m going to be a referee when I grow up. Think about it. Yes, true you don’t know me that well, but it really is the culmination of all my skills. I’m handsome, athletic, charismatic, dashing, large penis having, and at an angle, kind of look like Daniel Craig coming out of the ocean. I was destined to be a sport guy referee of some sort.  

At least, that was the dream. The thing they don’t tell you is that you can’t be a referee if you are blind. You sometimes watch a sporting event on television and you see that the referee made a ridiculous call or completely missed a penalty or whatever happens to cause or not cause an infraction in a sport game. It’s not uncommon for you to shout out that cliche remark, because you are so unoriginal: “What the hell, ref?! Are you blind?”

Turns out, the answer will always be “no.”

I know this now.

I went blind in my last year of high school, where I was reffing the regional championship game. Points were scored, sweat did dripped, and I went blind. Although it was my eyes that suffer the brunt of the poky fingers, it was my heart that was broken.

It was horrific. One moment I was brushing some eye booger from my optical glands, the next moment I have blinded myself. I was carrying the sword that slayed me. I don’t remember screaming, but apparently I was. Screaming like I did when my parents wouldn’t get me a large? Nobody can be for sure.

Rehabilitation took months. At the end of it all, I was a shattered version of the man I used to be. Picture me: sitting on a wheelchair placed in front of a window. What’s the weather outside? I couldn’t tell you. Why was I in a wheelchair? I don’t know, hospital sometimes have wheelchairs left in the hallway, so I guess I was just lead to one and placed there. Sitting, I decided I’m not going to give up on my dreams. People will respect my authority!

But they didn’t. I applied to be a referee for every league possible, but none even gave me a pity acceptance. Sometimes you can do that with job applications. If you look really sad and desperate and say things like “It was my dream to do this…” the employers will hire you. Trust me. It works sometimes. But I guess, not this time for me.

I guess that’s my sad story. My broken dream. I saw my potential as clearly as a Windex sales associate, but it was the world that was blind. It’s the world that couldn’t see what I could do. I could have blazed the trail and inspire a whole generation. I could have been the greatest blind referee to ever live. In a way, I still am! If life is a sport, then I am the ref. For now, I sit there and shout things at people on the street, blowing my whistle, and being crazy for loving what I do.

 

What you’ve just read is the fifth post in a series entitled “A Fan Fiction of My Life by My Number One Fan, Me.” Please check out the first four posts from the series:
Me, A Doctor
I Am A Controversial Artist, AMA
A Well-Respected Elderly Man, It’s Me
Bringer of Bad News, I’m the One

 

Did you enjoy it? Yes, subscribe to this blog, sign up for my newsletter or follow me on Twitter, stalk me in real life to get the latest update. 

What Should I Cut From My Novel? [Video]

 

What should I cut from my novel?

We all want the answer to that question to be nothing. The novel is perfect. Publish it and earn your spot on the New York Times best sellers list. Oh, our delusions. That simply isn’t the case. When we write, often times, we are trying to get all the words down on the paper. What we don’t often see when we are churning away is that some of the characters, subplots, and scenes are unfocused and doesn’t serve the over-arching plot.

When we reread and edit, we must do so with a critical eye, take a step back from the prose itself and ask: does all this connect?

Even if the writing is fantastic, if it doesn’t serve the plot, it might have to be eliminated.

Many authors have said it, so I might as well say it again: Kill your darlings.

Kill your darlings does not mean cutting the parts of the story you love the most, but rather, making the edits that are best for the story, not your ego. Yes, we all want to keep that delightful character that we skillfully crafted or relish in that scene where an epic action sequence occurred, however, if those elements aren’t serving the greater good: the story, then it is best to remove them.  

 

Game plan:

My prologue was not a darling, it was an information dump. I have an idea to make it a more encapsulating scene, and I tend to do so after I finish reading through the novel. If I approach it correctly, I will be able to tie the prologue to the actual storyline of a plot. Yes, that is the plan.

 

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Why Write a Prologue? [Video]

Sometimes, in order to tell the most effective story, your audience needs to have a bit more information than what the plot can supply.

A prologue can do that. A prologue can add a bit of historical detail, usually to introduce an antagonist of some sort through a particular circumstance.

In the first book of the Song of Ice and Fire series, The Game of Thrones, we are introduced, very subtly to the White Walkers as a few members from the Night’s Watch has an unsettling encounter with them.

Or there is The Lord of the Rings, where the Ring and Sauron are introduced.

Prologues are not exclusives to introducing antagonist. They can offer any details your story needs but are unable to fit within the actual plot itself. The term “unable” is a tricky one as with any type of finesse, and if the detail is truly vital, you can surely include the information in the plot without having a prologue.

In the end, a prologue is a decision of an author. If used correctly, it can be an effective first jab at hooking the audience. Done poorly, it can be wasted energy slowing down the velocity of your story.

I believe if you so desire to write a prologue, go for it, but afterward, evaluate whether you are simply dumping information onto a page or you are telling an exciting extension of your story and that these detail given at the beginning will be connected later on.

If the detail doesn’t link up, then in the second draft, you might have to cut the prologue. Or, rewrite it so it can do that.

The prologue I wrote for my novel at this time is an idea dump. It’s exposition. I needed it to frame the world I’m going to be creating, but now that I look upon it, I know there is much to be improved on.

 

The last message sent digitally was to let everyone beyond the border know that there was still hope. The slicing of the cyber thread caused all historical records to vanish. Everything men once knew was forgotten, buried by the erosion of time.

Nature hid humanity’s errors. Towers that once pierced the sky were now rubbles and broken stones. Sprouting forests healed lands that have been scarred by highway concrete. Dams broke, bridges collapsed, and everything else that men had made was surmounted by earth, until all remnants of prior existence were lost.

Yet springing from the ashes came life in the familiar forms. Millenniums passed, and there living without knowledge, upon the land that their ancestors had forfeited were new civilizations. Townships, unions, and districts built so far apart, that societies were forced into isolation. Those that lived were simple folks, concerned only with the matters of survival. Yet life was still hidden in a shroud of darkness and mystery. But those who did not understand did not complain, however, those that did, could only stand terrified as they faced the uncertainty.

 

What are your thoughts on prologues? Do you use them in your writing? I’d love to hear about it.

If you are interested in following my writing journey. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel to get regular updates.

Bringer of Bad News, I’m The One

Look, I don’t know how to say it so I’ll just say it. I don’t know because nobody taught me. They should really teach you how to give bad news in elementary school. After 4th grade it’s all downhill, so might as well learn how to tell someone that you have horribly murdered their whole family.

So yeah… there you go… that was how I said it.

Sorry. Okay? Sorry. It was an accident. I didn’t mean to. I didn’t wake up this morning, get out of bed, did my usual 150 pushups while counting all the original Pokemon, and decided to go on a murderous rampage, okay? That’s not me. That’s not my style.

Why did I do it then? What was my reasoning? Because the devil told me to, okay?

Yes, the devil.

He told me to, and yes, the devil is a man, thank you very much. And there is only one. There aren’t multiple devils like they believe in those other countries, you know? There is only one devil and he has a sharp looking goatee and his face is red and his tail is cloved. He is exactly how he is portrayed in American television.

Anyways, he told me to do it. I had to, you know… I had to… When someone tells me to do something I do it! I don’t care if it’s illegal or if it’s incredibly mundane, I do whatever people tell me because I’m a people pleaser. I like making people happy. Get this,  it actually hurts me when I say “No.” Even the idea of saying no is painful. It’s a horrible curse.

Like I’m saying, I’m really bummed out that you no longer have a family. I asked the devil if he could fix it, and he said no. See, he’s not dependable like me. He made up some excuse. Classic.  He said he knew a guy, but he doesn’t really do that kind of stuff anymore and it would be a huge bother just to even call and ask, but fuck… I tried, we both tried.

Look, we’ll make it up to you, huh? Why don’t you come hang out with us? Just come and chill with us for a few hours and if we don’t totally jive, we can forget about it and go our own way.

No… come on, give it a shot. Give a brother a chance to make amends, what do you say?

For reals? You’ll do it? Okay, dope, I promise you are not going to forget this. This is going to be amazing this is going to be so much fun. The devil just downloaded the latest video game, Fortnite, and we should go over to his place and play it and livestream.

What do you mean, you don’t like video games? It’s a game, everybody likes games. Humans are biologically designed to like games. It’s science. Read a blog post for once in awhile, eh?

Games are good for you. They help you think better in real life situations, like deciding whether or not it’s a good idea to play games on a weeknight like tonight or do acid and wander around naked.

By playing games, I get to make decisions. I’m working out my decision-making muscles, so when it comes time to flex it around my woman — such as when she asks me what do we want to eat and I say, “Oh, let’s just eat here,” and so we both sit down at the bar and have a nice meal at the strip club — I’ll be ready.

Do you have bus fare on you? I don’t have any change, and it’s about a 45 minute walk to get to the devil’s place.

You okay walking? I don’t care. I walk all day, but I know some people hate walking like it’s torture for them. I think it’s amazing how far people can walk, you know, and not even notice. We hate it, but we can walk far if we really wanted to. Right now, in a few hours I can walk all the way across the city. If i wanted to, I can do that. Can you believe it? The miracle of movement. We are lucky. We are lucky when can travel and move around and see the world. Some people don’t get to do that, and it’s sad when you think about it, right?

It’s important to find little things and appreciate it, you know. I think that’s the lesson in all of this, is to appreciate what we have every day because we will never know when a psychotic, satanic lunatic snaps and wreaks havoc, injuring and killing many.

You just don’t know. Nobody knows. Not even the crazy guy knows. Even if you know and you tell the police, they aren’t going to stop him. They are going to assess the matter and conduct an investigation. Gah! Don’t even get me started on the police. Anyways, I think I learned a lot from this whole sequence of events. Take a deep breath and really appreciate it. Sweet sweet life. Feels good to be alive. Beautiful day.

 

What you’ve just read is the fourth post in a series entitled “A Fan Fiction of My Life by My Number One Fan, Me.” Please check out the first three posts from the series:
Me, A Doctor
I Am A Controversial Artist, AMA
A Well-Respected Elderly Man, It’s Me

Did you enjoy it? Yes, subscribe to this blog, sign up for my newsletter or follow me on Twitter, stalk me in real life to get the latest update. 

Why You Should Outline Your Novel [Video]

There are two types of writers, there are those who take time before they start writing to outline their work, and then there are those that just get right to it.

For the longest time, I thought I was in the latter camp. I would start writing and then, through the majesty of imagination, my story will end up exactly where I intended it to end up.

That was rarely the case, most often I meander from scene to scene without a clear focus, guiding myself to an often unsatisfying climaxing and a lackluster conclusion.

In my more youthful years, I had all the free time in the world to write. I would pull all-nighters just for fun. Yes, fun! I would write all day long. That luxury is so far in the past that it now feels like someone else’s life. I don’t have a whole day to write anymore and the idea of staying up all night for fun is laughable.

As a content writer, it is important that my time is used wisely in the office. I have only a certain amount of time to produce a piece of content worthy of being published. It is not a creative feat, but it is an exercise in efficiency.

If you know what you are doing at the very early stages, if you know where you are going, you can start mapping out your day a bit better. An outline is an essential piece in accomplishing that. I can’t imagine writing a blog post without some sort of outline (albeit, I did not outline this one), and now, I can’t imagine doing the same for a novel with multiple parts.

I have so many abandoned, half written pieces of work from short stories to novel length manuscripts. I blame my haste to write and my neglect to outline for those unfinished works.

So here is to a new me, going forward, I am most certainly going to outline my work, especially one as epic. I give myself the permission to diverge from the outline should I see fit, but in order to keep myself on schedule and focused on the job at hand, I need to be organized.

Start with the outline or at least have a clear direction. If I did, I might have written my second or third book in the series by now. Or… I might not have started the first one at all. It’s hard to look back and say, but going forward, this is what I’ll do first. Outline.  

Check out my YouTube channel for more on my novel writing journey.

How to Write a Good First Sentence? [Video]

 

 

“When technology fell, the catastrophe threatened human existence.”

That is the first sentence of my epic trilogy. It won’t be forever, but it has been for a while now. It’s not great. There are many areas to improve.

But during the first draft, I wanted to simply get my idea on paper. The first sentence, if I over thought it, could have caused me to hesitate enough that I wouldn’t even start. In the beginning, I wouldn’t worry about the quality of the first sentence, I simply needed to start.

However, during the editing phase that is where I can go back, look at the first sentence and ask myself: is this a good first impression for my readers?

In this episode of The Other Epic Story Vlog, I took a look at the first line writing resources and examples from classic and contemporary works. Then I returned to my attempt at a first sentence and gave it my best crack.

I wanted to dig deeper. The words like “technology,” “catastrophe,” and “threatened” in my mind, were all weak, vague words. The kind of words a writer chooses to use when he or she is just kicking off. It’s a tell, not show sentence. I could do better.

“The last message sent digitally was to let everyone beyond the border know that there was still hope.”

This above is my updated first sentence. It encapsulates the same idea. The fallout of technology and the realization of our dependency upon it. I feel it has a bit more umph!

There are many sentences in a novel, but if my work is ever to be a classic, attention to the first one is important. So there it is… now onto the next one.  

 

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A Well-Respected Elderly Man, It’s Me

Everybody keeps talking to me about the same thing. That thing I did in ‘79, gah! Is that all I’m ever going to be known for? I mean seriously!

That time I did karaoke and sung the shit out of Rockwell’s Somebody’s Watching Me. That was unreal. Everyone was singing along. Somebody was definitely watching me that night, I was entertaining as fuck.

Yeah, what a night that was. Unforgettable. But… nooooooooo…. People are still hung up by my “greatest” accomplishment and totally forgot about that performance.

You know what’s funny about greatest accomplishments?

Everybody’s definition of that is different. Some people’s greatest accomplishment is not dying when they were an infant. That’s their greatest accomplishment. For others it’s inventing the lightbulb.

Yeah. That’s me, the guy who invented the lightbulb.

Was it hard? Nah! People invent stuff all the time.

Like my cousin, Ren, he invented his own language, with swear words and everything.

He would always call me the direct translation of a Mother Fucker. There was literally a single word in his language for someone who does that. We don’t have that in our common tongue, English. We need two words to explain that concept.

First we need to know what it was that was fucked. Second, we need to know what was done to it, which was the fucking. The concept is a thing doing. Fascinating, huh?

That’s the beauty of language: I can say something and you can understand it. Now that, my friend, is an amazing accomplishment.

Of course, I wouldn’t boldly tell Ren that his greatest accomplishment was creating a whole language. That would be presumptuous.

Only the man who’ve lived the life can decide what he claims to be his greatest accomplishment.

Wow! That sounded wise. That’s deep too, right?

What if I decided that what I said right there is my greatest accomplishment. I can totally do that. My life, my choice!

Isn’t weird that we have to do this: ranking our lives. Trying to make every year better. Humans, so sad. Why can’t we be satisfied where we are? Why must we run on this hedonistic treadmill? What happiness am I chasing?

All my life I wanted to invent the lightbulb, now that I have, what more can I do?

It’s like by helping the world shine, I am left in the shadows. OMG. Was that just poetry? I’m not smart with this stuff, but that definitely sounded a little poetry to me. I feel goosebumps. Shit! This poetry shit is potent.

I guess, it could be worst. I could have never invented the lightbulb at all. Then what would I have done?

Then, would I even be remembered at all?

Think of all the people you’ve met. How many of them do you actually remember? Not many right? That’s a lot of fucking people — and you don’t even know anybody from India.

Imagine if you knew everyone from India… just pretend. I bet that Indians in India don’t even know every Indian in India. If I didn’t do something special, nobody would remember me at all.

I should be grateful that I am associated with something so essential to daily living. I mean, I invented something that is used by everybody — except the Amish and the poverty stricken. My invention is used by more people than Steve Job’s invention, the computer. That’s unreal. I’m not niche. I’m fucking mainstream as fuck! I should be hella more famous than I am. WTF.

I’m not going to lie, I’m a little pissed right now.

Why am I here talking to you dumb pieces of shit? I should be in a castle or something. I should be in a jacuzzi with well-paid, fully qualified female supermodels. I got ripped off! I can’t believe it.

You know where I went wrong? Here is where I went wrong, I got a patent before I got an agent. I needed someone to manage me. I had no one. I wung it. I wung it pretty good, I thought, but… holy shit, that is why you need a representative. I should have got one. I put so much work into it as well. See that’s the thing, that was time I could have been inventing more stuff or singing karaoke. Wasted time, wasted effort, poor results.

I’m pretty sad right now about my life. I go and invent one of the most revolutionary things in all of humanity and all I get is this, a slow sad death of me being reminded of how great my invention is.

Fuck! It’s pretty good, i guess, but can’t we talk about me? Can’t we talk about my crippling depression? That’s the thing about depression for old men. There’s no point helping you anymore. You sucked it up for this long, you can do it for a few more months.

Okay… enough, I don’t want to think how other people see me anymore, that’s such a sad and horrible way to think. I’m going to be myself, just an honest version of me from here on out. I’m going to think positive. I’m going to think about happy stuff like being in a jacuzzi with well-paid, fully qualified female supermodels.

Damn! I’m still pissed.  

 

What you’ve just read is the third post in a series entitled “A Fan Fiction of My Life by My Number One Fan, Me.” Please check out the first two posts from the series:
Me, A Doctor
I Am A Controversial Artist, AMA 

Did you enjoy it? Yes, subscribe to this blog, sign up for my newsletter or follow me on Twitter, stalk me in real life to get the latest update.