Favorite Story Types

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When it comes to reading and writing my favorite story type is the one in which the protagonist must confront himself. Some sort of inner conflict causes the main character to engage in a battle in these types of stories. These are the ones where a misunderstood character rises to the challenges of his life.

Weaknesses are clear from the beginning and the protagonist must overcome the main obstacles of maturity or self-doubt in order to be the hero of their own story.

I love reading the tales penned by authors like Frederick Backman, Mindy McGinnis, Emery Lord, JD Salinger, Markus Zusak, and Kiera Cass to name a few.

 

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Supporting Archetypes

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Every story has ONE protagonist. Sure, there are stories out there told from the perspective of multiple characters, but every reader connects to a single character more than the others. They root for their success above anyone else’s.

That’s where the idea of a supporting character comes from.

Supporting characters are those that help us to see the protagonist better and function to bring out their qualities.

In her book, DIY MFA, Gabriela Pereiera explains a few archetypes of the supporting character. Those archetypes are the villian, the love interest, the BFF, the sidekick, the mentor, and the fool. It must be noted that not every character fits nicely into those categories, but can be under the umbrella of one.

My favorite supporting character archetype to write is the mentor.

I think the reason I gravitate toward the mentor is because this is a character whose wisdom and experiences help the protagonist to see reason. This character is helpful and is generally the type of person I would like to spend time with in real life. My current Work-in-Progress features a mentor character. He lends support and helps to showcase a softer side of a troubled protagonist.

The only thing I’ve had to be cautious of in the use of mentors is making sure that they don’t solve all the problems for the protagonist. Their purpose is to shed light on solutions, but ultimately the protagonist must learn from their selves how to overcome the conflicts of their tale.

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

 

Resistance

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This blog actually started in 2015 in response to resistance. I was going through emotional turmoil. In my trial I found myself filling journal upon journal with my thoughts. Then one day I decided to play around with writing some of these ideas on a blog site. Before I knew it friends and family were commenting with positive feedback. They helped me to feel like my words made a difference.

I had been a closet writer for a long time, but putting my work out there was scary.

Apart from 2017 when I was pregnant, I’ve been consistently posting on this blog ever since.

As a result, I’ve met so many awesome people and been encouraged in my journey to continue to write. My words are being read and do matter to people out there. And it’s for that reason that I’ve continued to come back day-after-day to this place.

The Ameri Brit Mom is a place where I can be real. I can leave the negativity at the door when I enter my writing space. My community is positive and make me a better writer every day.

I am so thankful that I overcame that resistance.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Write One Short Story a Week…

“Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”― Ray Bradbury

Sounds easy enough.

Short stories could be something as short as 500 words, so how hard can that really be? Well, I’m here to say that for me a short story a week is far from what I’ve achieved over the years. In fact, I’ve probably finished six short stories EVER.

The writing world is full of “professionals” trying to give inspiration to other writers. They mean well when they talk about their own magic formula, but writing is not a tried-and-true craft. What works for one writer may not work for another. We all live different lives, write different genres, and use different methods to reach success.

When I first started writing I was tempted to follow the formula of other writers, but I have since learned that every writer is unique. Additionally, every phase of the journey is unique. What works early in the writing process may not be the best rule to follow as you grow.

Adaptation is imperative for the writing life. If you find a formula that works for you it may not always be that way. If you are still trying to build a system keep the focus on yourself. Ray Bradbury’s method of a short story a week obviously worked well for him. He was a renowned author and his pieces were influential in so much of the sci-fi genre. He’s not a name soon forgotten. I wrote a post about him a few years ago because I am a fan. (5 Reasons to Read Ray Bradbury) But I am not Ray Bradbury. I cannot beat myself up for struggling to produce a short story per quarter (that’s my current goal.)

Gabriela Pereira, founder of DIY MFA, says it best when she explains that the only rule for writing is that there is no rule.

What about you? Have you ever found yourself tempted to take someone else’s advice?

The Ameri Brit Mom

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What Feeds Your Creativity?

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I just watched an inspiring TEDx talk by Gabriela Pereira, founder of DIY MFA. In it she discusses the fact that our human nature makes us creative beings. (Side note: our Father is the ultimate Creator and we were formed in his image.)

We can become our own biggest obstacles, but at our core we all have a story or creative spark to share with the world. Our responsibility to ourselves is to put in the work daily that helps us to channel that creativity.

For me, that creativity is in the form of  writing.

The passion I have for telling stories is strong. That passion has led me to study and practice the craft  nearly every day. I’m working on my next steps as a writer by working through the DIY MFA Book Club.

After reading some of Gabriela’s advice I put together a “Feed Me” box. This is a box of things I use to spark my creativity. For years I’ve had go-to resources, but it is always a refresher to see what others use to help them create.

I gathered all of my resources into one box and am excited to share that with you.

You could really put anything in your box. For me, I have several prompt related resources, an adult coloring book, dice, and random pictures.

Another item that feeds my creativity is coffee.

With mellow music playing in the background and a fresh cup of coffee in front of me there isn’t much I cannot conquer. When I’m writing lesson plans at school I create a similar environment.

What gets your creative heart pumping?

The Ameri Brit Mom

My Writing Superpower

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The Underdog:

You are the quintessential underdog storyteller and your superpower is creating relate-able characters who have a deep desire to change something in themselves or in the world around them. From rags-to-riches narratives to epic David-and-Goliath-style battles you craft stories with high stakes and compelling characters your readers can’t help but love.

What about you? Take the quiz

The Ameri Brit Mom

Honor Your Reality

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My writing journey hasn’t been a linear one. There have been months of motivated writing sessions and others where I’ve nearly fallen off the map. I’ve taken detours and shortcuts. I’ve even abandoned route several times. While my mind cursed itself for losing focus I’m learning that in those times life needed to come first.

When my heart was breaking for those I love.

When my body was growing a baby.

When work zapped all of my energy.

When anxiety crippled me.

Those are moments in my reality when I set the pen down and just lived. Getting through each day was hard enough I couldn’t push through word counts and pages as well. Some call it survival mode–those days when you do the bare minimum in order to keep your sanity. I’m a human and I find myself on the survivor’s path every now and again.

If you have followed my blog for a couple of years you will remember the year I took off in 2017. My energy was focused on growing my family and my health. I did write here and there, but I put no pressure on myself to produce things for other people to read. I journaled every now and again, but I took that year for ME. Life was changing and my soul was aching. I didn’t live that reality on the page of my blog because it wasn’t the encouraging me that I hope to be as an online writer.

Luckily, that period didn’t last forever.

I returned in June 2018 with a venegence. Strengthened by the trials I resurrected my presence in the writing world. I re-established goals, re-appeared on my blog, and started to think of myself as a writer again.

There will be a day where once again I will have to step away.

We go through periods where the path has been cleared and we can focus on the road before us. Other times, we have to clear that path before we can go any further. We are not robots. We have souls that need rest.

So give yourself some grace. If you find yourself walking through a storm in your personal life it is okay to put your writing life on hold (or at least in neutral.) We have to honor the reality of life. It’s okay!

The Ameri Brit Mom

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I’m working my way through a DIY MFA program based on the book DIY MFA by Gabriela Periera. Throughout the course and book study I will be posting periodically in response to prompts

The Intentional Arc: Fearless Writing

It’s a frigid January day in Ohio.

The temperatures are dipping below zero and ice is coating roads, homes, and vehicles. It’s one of those days when my soul craves a book, blanket, and coffee. Here’s to hoping that the mom life will give me a chance to do all of those things today. But if not, I’m going to reflect on the latest chapter I read in Fearless Writing by William Kenower.

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Have you ever thought about the fact that every act of communication is also the act of story telling?

A phone call home. A status update. A text to your spouse. A smile.

All of these tell a story.

And every story is told from a specific point-of-view. It is our interpretation of facts. For that reason a story is never completely factual. There’s a little bit of fiction in every thing we do. Our minds work to fill in blank pieces or perspectives that we can never know.

Writing is a lot like telling a story. No matter what kind of writing you do there are three arcs that lurk below the surface of every tale:

  1. The Physical Arc– this is the what of the story. The events, characters, setting and plot all comprise the physical arc.
  2. The Emotional Arc– this is the element of the story that traces a character’s motivations and desires. The how of the story is formed by the emotional arc.
  3. The Intentional Arc– this is the why of the story. Every decision you make as the author of a story comes back to this arc. What is the take away you hope to accomplish? What greater truth do you hope to point to? How do you want your reader to be changed after having read your story?

If you keep the intentional arc of your story at the forefront of your mind nothing else matters. You filter every decision through the sieve of your intentions. There are organic ways to carry this out in your writing. It should never seem forced. But returning to this arc again and again will help you to write fearlessly.

The Ameri Brit Mom

The Great Alone: A Book Review

Title: The Great Alone

Author: Kristin Hannah

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Copyright Date: 2018

*Setting for book challenge: Isolated Location (Kaneq, Alaska)

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The Vietnam War stole Leni Allbright’s father.

He returned in 1974 a former POW and a new man with a violent streak. His love for her mother ran deep, but flipped a switch in him. And that switch hurt her mother. Every episode ended with an apology and every time Cora took him back. Meanwhile, teaching her teenage daughter that to wake up to broken glass, overturned furniture, empty whiskey bottles and a mother speckled black and blue is normal.

News that they inherited a cabin in Alaska brings Leni hopes that the move will help him. They pack their Volkswagen bus and settle on a homestead in the beautiful Alaskan wilderness. Leni’s small family from Seattle learns to live off the land and adjust to life without electricity where their nearest neighbor is miles away.

They quickly become part of their new community in Kaneq. Leni befriends Matthew, the only other teenager in town, and he teaches her how to prepare for her first winter in Alaska. He strengthens Leni’s spirit and shows her that love doesn’t have to mean being a punching bag and letting men walk all over you.

“Everyone up here had two stories: the life before and the life now.”

During their first winter in Kaneq, the citizens face a horrific tragedy that soon brings division. When they need to lean into one another for support the town scatters themselves and builds walls of hatred.

“They were trapped, by environment and finances, but mostly by the sick, twisted love that bound her parents together.”

This was a beautifully written novel about a young girl learning to survive harsh circumstances and weather. Life dealt Leni an unfortunate hand, but throughout the course of her story she learns how to live unbroken.

I haven’t read a book I loved this much in a long time. There were at least five twists in this plot that I NEVER SAW COMING. I love a good, unpredictable read. I found myself constantly wanting to know what would happen next. I cheered for Leni, screamed at her mother, and all but spit at her abusive father.

This year, my goal is read books set all over the world. This is my first book of 2019. As I complete books this year I plan to share some details I learn about different corners of the world.

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I felt like I was in the last frontier as I read this novel. Glacier filled white mountains, cloudless cornflower blue skies, fjords, and northern lights all drew me into the landscape of this beautiful state. Orcas, seals, otters, bears, moose, bald eagles, ptarmigans, and cormorants were all wildlife that appeared in the secluded woods of Kaneq.

“The natural world spoke loudest here.”

I experienced both of the Alaskan seasons. The days where the sun barely set were unusual to me. I found myself wondering how one could fall asleep at midnight with the light of day still bright. Other days, the sun surfaced for only a couple of hours. How depressing that must be to endure! I learned that in many parts of Alaska one must travel over the ice by small planes and that during the winter months casualty numbers were high due to stupid mistakes and poor planning.

I’m off on another travel. Stay tuned to see my latest reading destination.

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

 

Fearless Writing: Critiques and Workshopping

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The theme of this book I am studying is that writing is personal and your work will never please anyone (so stop trying.) As I dive further into the pages of this work I am feeling myself gain confidence as a writer. I’m worrying far less about what people think and I am embracing writing for my own pleasure.

There are obvious benefits for allowing others to critique your writing.

They can help a piece to be accurate in conveying our intended emotions and tension. Each story first created in our minds is never the one another reads. Everyone carries their lives when they read. Sometimes it is a struggle to step out of our own mind in order to convey a story the way we intend to.

Giving someone permission to comment on the accuracy of your work is helpful. It is a healthy exchange so long as you keep the perspective that you are not your story.  Advice may critique our work, but it does not critique the writer.

So write what you are curious about–write what you love. Then let another in on the experience.

Practice: Get into a workshop

I’ve workshopped a few of my pieces in online critique groups and in live groups at my local SCBWI. It is helpful to do so with the right mindset. This year I want to jump back into more critique groups and workshops and not allow my ego to respond to negative or positive feedback.

In the past I have gained immense wisdom from published authors that I continue to carry with me every time I write.

Put your work out there too!

The Ameri Brit Mom