Welcome, writer fam, to Newsication #008! As you've likely noticed, our logo is proudly adorned with the colours of the Pride flag this month. This is more than a symbol; it's a statement of our unwavering commitment to inclusivity and diversity. At Writers Without Walls, we believe in the power of words to break down barriers, and we stand firmly as allies of the LGBTQIA+ community. Our platform is a safe space for all writers, regardless of their identity or orientation. We celebrate the unique perspectives and rich narratives that each individual brings to our community. As we continue to grow, we remain dedicated to fostering an environment where every voice is heard, respected, and cherished. So, whether you're a seasoned writer or just starting your journey, know that you are welcome here. Let's continue to write without walls, embracing the full spectrum of our shared human experience.
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From David’s Desk.
What Running has Taught me about Accomplishing Goals
and my current running plan
Good morning everyone…or good afternoon…or good evening.
There I covered them all I think…oh wait…also good night.
There, that should be everyone!
Today, I wanted to share what my current running plan is, why it is this way, where I came up with it, and what my goals are for our next half marathon and beyond.
It might not be all that interesting to some of you who don’t like running, but I encourage you to stick around regardless. The main goal here is to show a valuable lesson I’ve learned through running, which can be applied to any goal we set in our lives.
But you have to stick to the end to find out.
You can read the full article here.
From JD’s Desk
Navigating AI and Copyright Quandaries in the Writing Realm
Hold onto your quills, dear scribblers! Artificial Intelligence, or AI, has caused quite a stir in our literary realm. While this technological sorcery keeps us on the edge of our seats, it’s also hurling a plethora of questions skyward, especially those concerning the mighty C — copyright. This article is here to unravel those enigmas and guide you on embracing AI while safeguarding your ingenious flame.
Deciphering AI and Its Role in Writing:
There’s a spooky tale floating about that AI might ‘copycat’ or ‘hijack’ our one-of-a-kind writing voice or style — yikes! But fear not, my friends, it’s time to channel our inner Sherlock Holmes and unravel the mystery of AI. You see, AI is a pattern-detecting ace that’s honed its skills from mountains of data. It doesn’t quite grasp creativity as we do and doesn’t have some diabolical scheme to replicate your unique writing flair.
You can read the full article here.
This issue's guest writer is – Tom Leveen
(Next issues guest writer slot has been offered to Stubborn Dad. If you would like to be involved make sure you subscribe)
Tom is an award-winning author of nine novels originally with imprints of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster; wrote for Spawn and BattleTech, and is a Bram Stoker Award finalist.
Current Project - Rebellion - The Scorpion War
ONE CLARIFYING QUESTION FOR YOUR STORY
by Tom Leveen
There’s one simple metric to apply to all of your storytelling questions that will solve the bulk of your story-writing problems:
Do you have a character, who cares about other characters, facing a goal or a challenge that they will do anything to achieve?
If you have that, everything else is gonna work out.
I once worked on a project with a guy I met through Gary Vaynerchuk. I had the privilege of being on Tea with Gary Vee, and this particular artist reached out to me after the show with some ideas. We talked and hit it off, and we began developing a storytelling video game app—an animated “choose your own adventure” style text-based game. (This was just before Web3 really landed; I can’t help but think what we could have done with the tech.)
We based the story off my novel Sick, which is already a known property; this is something I won multiple awards for and that sold well, so I know it’s a solid story.
But I can’t just cut and paste chapters into a game. I was writing it in such a way that there were multiple choices, not just the one ending that happens in the novel. I’ve worked on a “choose your own adventure” video game before, but in that game, no matter what choices you made, you’d still end up at the same ending. (It was based on a romance novel, and you do not mess with romance novel endings, lemme tell ya!)
This project based on Sick would have multiple possible endings and multiple possible storylines. (And, unlike the romance novel gig, we weren’t going to charge people to get the good stuff.) You could play multiple times with different characters.
But as I worked on this game, I got nervous. It was a brand new way of telling a story for me. I had to keep track of all the different characters and choices, and how the story branches out.
I panicked: what if this is way beyond my caliber? I’ve gotten myself into something I don’t think I’ll be able to do, because right now, in terms of marketing, we’re not doing anything new technologically. We’re not introducing a new app or a new way to play games. We’re banking on his artwork and my story.
So I sat there trying to figure out, “Oh my God, am I in over my head? What if I don’t know what I’m doing? What if I suck?” All the usual things.
When those questions hit it’s time to back to the basics.
TRUST THE STRUCTURE
No matter the platform, no matter the format, no matter the genre, every single story is going to come down to the same basic elements in the same basic structure.
Do you have a character who cares about other characters, and does she have a goal or a challenge that she will stop at nothing to obtain?
That’s it. If you have those two things, your story is really off to a great start.
Sometimes, what’s at stake is literally life or death, whether that’s the life and death of one person or an entire planet. But “life and death” still exists when we’re talking about asking a girl to prom, or confronting one’s own metaphorical demons. Those feel like life and death in the context of the setting and the story.
One of the tricks I’ve started using, and I did the same thing with this game, was at the top of every chapter, I wrote myself a little note. That little note says:
“I’ll die if I don’t…”
That’s it. That’s just a little reminder that every single chapter, my character needs to want something so badly that she will (feel like she’ll) die if she doesn’t get it.
In my novel Zero, all my main character wants from page one is to go to her favorite art school. That’s the thing that she wants more than anything in the world. Other things happen on her quest to do that. She is aided and abetted by her new boyfriend Mike, and their developing relationship appears to be the story.
But if you break down Zero piece by piece, you start to notice that Mike is not an obstacle, and not until the last eighth of the book does he and their relationship come into conflict. If you want to get technical, he’s a sidekick! He doesn’t offer obstacles for Zero to overcome until towards the very end, when Zero makes a choice that screws up the relationship. Instead, the backbone of the story is Zero’s relentless pursuit of the goal of getting to her favorite school.
She does not have to obtain that goal for the story to work. Our players won’t have to survive to feel like they’ve spent their time well interacting with the game.
One thing I learned from Todd McFarlane during my time working on Spawn was there’s always a “turn” in the scene. Every sequence or scene, something has to move forward. All of storytelling is about momentum, all the storytelling is about moving forward. It’s our job as writers and storytellers to excise anything that is not moving the story forward. Once you have that main goal, that “I’ll die if I don’t…” goal, it just becomes a question of moving that ball down the field.
That’s the thing I need to remind myself. Is it clear this character cares about something or someone, and are they determined to pursue a goal no matter what? If so, great; now do I show the character doing exactly that? If so, great.
Of course, there are many other techniques to talk about when it comes to developing your story, but if you’re stuck, if you’re not sure, if you’re worried, if you’re nervous…that simple question can answer a lot.
If you can’t answer that question, then there’s probably something else you need to work on. Without those things, the other tips and tricks and techniques and ideas about writing and storytelling don’t much matter.
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Benefits to blogging, podcasting or creating videos on Zirkels.
Tony chats about this -> Watch it here. Watch out for the Demogorgon!
Or, if you prefer, you can read the article by Dennis. Click on the image.
#004 — With Guest Writer Bryan M. Powell
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