Creating Your Perfect Story Arc, Personal Anecdote, Writing 101

Phone a Friend!

Hey comrades!

I know it’s been awhile (when have you heard me say that before?) but it’s time once again to talk writing. Today, I want to help you feel more comfortable about sharing your new (or old!) piece with a fellow writer that you trust. We’re calling this episode: Phone a Friend.

I was coming back from my bachelorette party this past weekend in NOLA (YES! It was that awesome.) and my riding companion allowed me to interrupt her social media binge to discuss where I was in my book with like 100 characters, 30 plot lines, and worldbuilding a semi-complicated societal structure. (She’s one of my bridesmaids and best friends. She has been a phenomenal beta reader for me, and she also happens to be an effective, amazing life coach – check out Anna Marie when you get a chance and listen to her podcast. Trust me…she’s worth it!) I then commence to tell her that I’ve been thinking about changing my original format and, instead, focusing each book on one character and that character’s individual subplot while all the books share a progressive, overarching main plot. (Much like my beloved J.R. Ward does in her (insert smack smack noises here) delicious Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

Without missing a beat, she looks at me with a side eye and says, “Wait. I thought that was what you were always doing?” She then breaks down some great advice and offers some suggestions to make it more engaging and enjoyable to my readers. It was invaluable to me. That’s why she’s always one of my go-to’s for advice or for beta reading. However, Anna Marie is NOT my only go-to (which I am sure she is thankful for by the way…). Each writer or creator (of anything) needs a tight unit of trusted, supportive voices to go to for bouncing off ideas, getting a ‘reality’ check, or finding a cheerleader. This group is otherwise known as – the mastermind circle.

Every writer needs a mastermind circle just like every NASCAR driver needs a pit crew.

In NASCAR, the pit crew refuels the car, changes the tires, does any necessary repairs, and makes mechanical adjustments… in seconds. We need the same thing! You need a small group of writers, editors, agents, readers, or some combination of the above that you can trust (people you’ve met networking, friends like mine, fans, or maybe even family members) who are SUPPORTIVE of your work. You must choose those whose number one intention is to be of service to your work, to your visions, and to your goals. They will help you by going the extra mile with critiques on ideas and storylines. They can tell you where there’s a plot hole or too much plot. Occasionally, they can be the ones to tell you when it’s just time to take a break or let go.

Writing is a solitary business by trade, but it is a team sport in practice. The writer is connected to the agent/publisher (if you’ve gone the traditional route), the editors or beta readers, and the final readers. We tell the stories of whole other worlds and our small, individual ones. So, it helps to invite others in and use that help to polish our completed product. I encourage you to seek other writers, some friends, or a writing coach (shameless plug!) to help you through. Don’t be afraid to phone a friend. They may have the answers you’ve been looking for all along.

Tell us in the comments if this resonates with your experiences as a writer or who you go to in your time of need!

As always, I can’t wait to read what you’re writing!

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Personal Anecdote

The Art of Progress…

Have you ever considered progress to be an art form?

I do.

One that some of us excel in while others are struggling to find vision.

To explain, let us examine some common, accepted definitions:

“Progress” is the idea or concept that advances or forward movement in any industry, organization, structure, or organism can produce or induce improvement.

“Art” can be described as almost any activity that expresses human imagination, ideas, or technical skills, especially as it relates to the appreciation of beauty or emotional power.

I argue that human progress is indeed a form of art.

“Art,” by this definition (that I conveniently reworded from Google), requires an action. A novel that remains unwritten, a portrait unpainted, or sex abstained are not forms of art. They are ideas, concepts, and possibilities. Art has something to show for itself.

Progress also requires action. Empty blueprints, machines unbuilt, and goals diverted are not considered to be forms of progression. Without the action completed or finished product, there can be no catalyst. Without a catalyst, there is no advancement. Advancement is the birth child of progress.

Here is where I find the crossroads of art and progress:

Progress meets art where human advancement and forward movement express the beauty and emotional power of the human condition and its desire to thrive.

We are born to succeed.
We have the power to choose not to.

I encourage you to choose the destiny you were born to unleash.

This does not disavow us from failure. Failure is a necessary step in success. Without failure, how could we find the areas of our lives that most need to grow or ever experience a desire to change and develop ourselves? The stumbling blocks on the road to progress are as vital as the plotholes in a novel. Without the problems, solutions wouldn’t be created that make life and art better.

I recently experienced a failure in an assignment for school. It was disheartening, but it is pushing me to push harder to realize my goal.
For those of you who don’t know, I have decided to finish my Bachelor’s degree. This time for Creative Writing.

Like any work of art, progress takes time. Sometimes, it happens in cycles of ups and downs. Just like a novel…it takes editing and revision.

I know what some of you who know my background may be asking…

Why, if I am already an educator, business owner, and professional writer, would I pursue this? I have already proven to myself through an entrepreneurial spirit and a stubborn attitude that I could be successful without completing an advanced, formal education.

There are several reasons that I am pursuing this (and, later, another) degree. The simplest answer is… I want to.

I have always wanted to do this. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be Dr. MéShelle, thank you very much with operating on people (and Mrs. Batman- but really who didn’t?). It sounded right to me even before I fully understood what it meant.

And even though I did attend college on a full scholarship, this goal was upended by circumstance, poor decision making, and fear. What if I realized my goal but was still unable to fulfill my purpose or build my dreams? I decided (without realizing) that if there was a chance I could finish school and still fail at achieving what I wanted to achieve in this life… I would rather just fail. So, there was a lost period in my life where there was no progress. My work of art left unfinished.

Thankfully, it was short-lived.

I have a wonderful support system (if you don’t have one – get one!) who believed in me when I wasn’t sure how to do that for myself. Through some additional trial and error (this time purposeful), I wound up pursuing opportunities that would teach me about entrepreneurship and creating a destiny for myself. I proved (to me, at least) that I could create any existence for myself that I desired without the aid of a degree, just through my own tenacity.

But that didn’t mean that my love of learning or childhood desire had left.
So, here I am… a work in progress. Much like a novel still being written.
Just like me, you are the other of your own story. You have the power to affect what goes in the pages.

So, I encourage you today to keep moving forward. Please, progress.

You are a work of art.

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Personal Anecdote, Writing 101

Look Who’s Back – It’s Mé!

To quote the infamous Aaliyah and her partner Timbaland, “It’s been a long time…shouldn’t have left you without a dope beat to step to, step to, step to, step to…” I know it’s been a while since my last post my family, and I have missed you guys so much. However, I promise that it’s all happened with good reasons. I have tons of new great things to tell you to help you on your writing journey. So keep hanging with me, please family!

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First of all, for those of you who don’t know, I own and operate The Writers’ Block, a literacy and tutoring company based in Charleston, SC. I am a professional, private tutor and workshop presenter. This summer has seen a significant increase in new clients and new opportunities to work with various organizations into the coming school year, so organizing my time (yikes!) has been hectic, to say the least. Along with the obvious (getting paid to do what I love to do for free!), another great thing about this change is that it’s brought new writing and publishing clients my way. I will soon be embarking on the perilous and beautiful road of ghostwriting.

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Now, some of you may be wondering. Why ghostwriting MéShelle? You are already a published poet with a new book set to release this year. (I promise…it is coming. And the wait has been worth it!) Plus, you’re working on your first YA fantasy, fiction novel with all those amazing female character story arcs you plan to write about in your next blog post. (I know I’m reaching with the audience voice here….humor me.) Why….I’m glad you ask.

The truth:

1. It’s an amazing opportunity to help someone tell their story of survival and positive manifestation. This new client wants to encourage others to live a full life and to teach them how to navigate the rough waters of abuse, depression, and isolation through an engaging, powerful true story. I am ALL about that. This individual has waited years to find the right partner and finally built up the courage to open up about things that have never been said or previously publicized. This is the point of being a writing coach and ghostwriter for me: help others find their voice. Then help them share their story…because we all need it.

2. There’s money in it. Let’s be honest. Until you hit it big, win some great contests, get a fellowship, or build a loyal fan base, the life of an author is fulfilling but not always lucrative. Ghostwriting is a great way to make extra cash while still honing one’s abilities. Plus, you learn how to write in someone else’s voice and see from a new perspective. This type of work challenges you as a writer because it is not your story to tell. You are merely a vehicle for someone else’s words and experiences. Every writer cannot handle this. For those that can, it presents a key opportunity to learn some new tricks and reach some new personal depths. As a fiction author, I am particularly excited because, to my characters, their lives are nonfiction. I want to experience the differences and inherent sensibilities that come with this type of work. And get paid. Did I mention that part? GET PAID.

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This is actually very important to talk about, so I am glad that you brought it up. Let’s talk about being paid to write. For those of us in love with this passion, isn’t that a goal, a dream, a wish for yourself at some level? However, it is unfortunate to note that there are many writers in the world not living their dream. They love writing, are good at it, and are not getting paid for it? Why? It has nothing to do usually with the amount of talent or even opportunity. They are simply not asking for it.

Many of you have built up in your head this belief that your writing isn’t good enough or you’re not in it for the money. However, if you have a gift or passion, but you cannot pursue it because your time also has to be spent funding the food on the table, then you are kidding yourself. Why not get paid to do what you love to do for free? I promise…it does NOT take away from the passion or the purity of it. As a matter of fact, the financial gain can often give you more impetus, resources, and opportunity to pursue further education and training in this craft. It does not make you a cheat or a “sell-out.” It makes you someone who chooses a life of freedom over enslavement to a job that doesn’t fulfill you.

It doesn’t start off easy. Trust me. But there is no time when it is not worth it.

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Plus, in this digital age, it does not take a whole lot to make your at-home, writing services business lucrative. (More tips on that coming in the next couple of posts, ok!)

So, yea….do it for the love. But don’t miss out on the money. If you’re not sure what to ask for…Google it. There are a TON of average price points for every kind of service at every sort of level. You’d be surprised how much you can get just by asking and having confidence in your own abilities.

Well, that’s what I have for you today. It’s great to be back you guys. I am so excited to start pumping out tips and tricks for you. As usual, leave a comment below. Tell me what’s new with you since I’ve been gone and where you are on your latest writing project. What kind of posts about writing or digital marketing would you like to see? I’ll do my best to get you the quality answers you need.

And as always,

I can’t wait to read what you’re writing!

 

P.S.

Don’t forget to subscribe the mailing list! I promise I don’t spam…I also promise that you’ll get the good stuff! ;P

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