Wednesday, February 1, 2017

IWSG: Fearlessness in Writing

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day.
Details HERE and as always thanks to our wonderful host, Alex J. Cavanaugh

The thing I've been thinking about lately is boldness vs. fear. I've never thought of myself as a fearful or timid writer, but I think sometimes I am and I don't realize it. Some of my earlier stories were accused of being somewhat predictable. I haven't had anyone say that in awhile, but that doesn't mean that I've completely gotten away from it either. 

Part of that is just learning how to craft a great story. Learning to put in twists and turns and do what the reader won't expect. But I also think it partly has to do with simply being bolder. Taking more risks in general. Some of the most successful stories on the market are popular specifically because they don't do what the conventional story does. 

I'm going to be doing a lot of story boarding and planning for upcoming projects this month, so I'm challenging myself to always ask if what I'm doing with my story is something that might be expected or predictable. If the answer even might be yes, I've told myself I HAVE to change it to something more surprising. The most shocking thing I can think of for that scene. It can be harder than you might think to do that and still keep whatever theme, plot, or character you're going for in tact. But that's my challenge for this month. And therefore, the thing I'm most insecure about. ;D Wish me luck!
















January Question: How had being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

It's definitely made me more critical. As a writer, we are our own editors, so we tend to edit--whether consciously or unconsciously--every book we read. I'll admit it can make it harder to just sit back and enjoy a great story.

It also makes me always dissect a story as I read it. Where is it going? What's the point of this scene or that detail? When it comes to watching TV or movies, I always have to keep my mouth shut because I can usually predict where the story is going, just by it's structure. A by-product of crafting your own stories, I'm afraid. But I always find that understanding the story structure enriches the experience for me.

What are you insecure about this month?

80 comments :

  1. I definitely read much more carefully and critically now that I've been doing some writing. Sometimes, it gets in the way of enjoying the story. Thanks for co-hosting this month :-)

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    1. My pleasure! Thanks so much for stopping by! ;D

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  2. Like you, I can usually see where the TV episode is going. Bores me to tears. I've learned some shows have interesting characters and that holds my attention. I appreciate your "bold" vs "fear" comments. There is a difference. Gives me something to think about. Using storyboards is a great tip. I'm curious, do you use Scrivener or index cards or special software to manipulate your story, characters, etc.?

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    1. I use Scrivner but I'm still getting used to the software. I have a bad habit of using notebooks and random scraps of paper to outline, and even then it's rarely organized. Random character sketches here, backstory there, myths, legends and world-building somewhere else. I'm trying to move everything to Scrivner for the sake of being more organized, but sometimes I need to write it out in order to totally conceptualize it. Hope that helps. THanks so much for stopping by! :D

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  3. Since most of my writing these days has been on my blog, that's what I'm going by. Perhaps to the consternation of some of my readers, my writing of late has tended toward boldness I think--especially in some not overly popular subject matters. In the past I've often been somewhat fearful of offending readers, but less so now. I'm not writing fiction of late so I guess from that standpoint what I've been writing is inconsequential, but I'd say lately I've been bolder while trying to maintain some degree of caution. After all, I don't want to just turn the boat over and dump everyone in the icy drink. I'll challenge those daring enough to take the ride with me, but attempt to be the best captain of my blog that I can be for the time being.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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    1. I think that's great! Good luck with all your efforts. I've learned through fandom blogging that if you're at all successful, chances are you're going to get some hate, so why be fearful? You might as well be bold, and anyone who dislikes it can simply unfollow or not read. Those who are petty enough to be nasty aren't worth your time anyway.

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  4. It is about doing something bold and different. And that can be difficult. I think that is where I am stuck now - trying to add unpredictable twists.
    Thanks for co-hosting today!

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    1. Sure Alex! Thanks for the opportunity. Yeah, the twists can definitely be challenging, but that's what keeps us honest, right? ;D

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  5. Great answer, LK. Of course we learn from good books. I have my favourite marked up with yellow and pink markers. Can't tell you how many times I've been in a slump only to pick up one of my favourites and be motivated again. Good writing makes me want to be a better writer.

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    1. Agreed, Joylene! There have even been time in the past when I"m in a slump and I go back to my favorite books. You know, the ones I've read 50 times and still enjoy. And it's for the same reasons you point out: I just need a shot of something great to inspire, motivate or re-invigorate me. Thanks so much for stopping by! ;D

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  6. For me, being brave is to not shy away from somewhere a story is taking me, even if it's going to a much darker place than I'd anticipated it.

    Stepping up to that challenge to be brave is one of the most satisfying aspects to writing, I've found. :-)

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    1. Such a great point, Misha. Thank you for saying it. I've read more than one book, especially of the historic variety, where the author leads right up to a major event (which, admittedly, might be very dark) but then shies away from it, either ending the story prematurely or deciding their characters won't be present for it. I totally agree with you: part of being brave in your writing is exploring the darkest aspects of humanity, no matter where they may lead.

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  7. I tend to write weird and unusual things; I'm not afraid to have twists and nonsense just for the sake of nonsense. Where I second guess myself is when I get to certain structural parts of the story and I wonder if the nonsense is too much, or if it distracts from the plot. My fear is that if I leave in a scene that doesn't directly further the story but is a lot of fun, will I ultimately be hurting the overall story?

    So far I've erred toward leaving it in because it's fun, but I'm still working on becoming more bold about it.

    IWSG February

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    1. Interesting, C.D. I think given Alice and Wonderland and, you know, Dean Koontz, you can probably keep a fair amount of the nonsense in and get away with it. I"m sure there's a point where it could become distracting, but as long as you always relate it back to the overall arc, I don't think you can go far wrong. Thanks so much for stopping by. Good luck with the nonsense! ;D

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  8. I'm not shy in writing a book, but in marketing it, well, that's another story! Good luck with your planning. I love your answer to this month's question. I have to keep my mouth shut too! Thanks for co-hosting today. :)

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    1. I hear ya. I think the majority of writers can be bold with their actual writing, but we have to teach ourselves marketing. It's not something that comes to us naturally. Thanks so much for stopping by. Best of luck to you too! :D

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  9. I wish I could story board, but I'm a pantser through and through. For my murder mystery I re-wrote the ending at least four times, and like you mentioned, tried to make it twisted and more shocking. It sounds like you're on a roll of thinking outside the box. Good Luck! Thanks for co-hosting this month.

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    1. I always thing the plotting/pantsing is kind of silly. I think everyone is a little bit of both. It's just where you are on the spectrum. I'm definitely more of a plotter than a pantser, but when it comes to planning, there's something to be said for just letting your mind go and following it without a plan. Also keep in mind that Stephen King is a pantser like you. It took him 8 months to finish The STand because he had the entire book except the ending and couldn't think of a suitable one. So pantsing can definitely produce some great stuff. Thanks so much for stopping by! :D

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  10. I wish I could story board, too. It's not that I go in with no ideas, but I'm a pantser for sure. Fortunately I love to torture my characters, which probably comes from enjoying horror as well as my usual genre of Urban Fantasy. Thanks for hosting!

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    1. Lol. I feel ya. Check out my comment above about pantsing (I think it's great!). As for torturing characters, as awful as it sounds, I think that's a strength in a writer. I've been "accused" of being super "mean" to my characters, but there's no better way to force them to grow, or to tell a compelling story. A horror background definitely helps. I also tend to physically beat the tar out of my characters. It's almost a crutch for me, and I recognize that, but strangely I've never had any complaints about it. I think that's because it's super-compelling and always keeps the audience's interest. Thanks so much for stopping by. Good luck with all your endeavors.

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  11. Thanks for co-hosting today, L.K. Thanks for the reminder to be bold! There are definitely subjects I'm hesitant to tackle in writing, and at some point I'm just going to have to be bold! Enjoy your visiting around today!

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    1. Thanks, Dear! And thanks for stopping by. It can be difficult to be bold, but it's always rewarding. Have a great day! ;D

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  12. I like your idea to go bold. When I started writing, I tended to smooth things out in my narratives instead of pumping in more tension. I have to keep reminding myself to be evil to my characters, (because in real life I am a pleaser.)

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    1. Yeah, I feel ya. I'm kinda that way too. I like to say that all my drama goes onto the page, so I don't do drama at all in real life. I'm definitely better at being evil to my characters than to my real life acquaintances, which is probably a good thing. :D

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  13. Predictable isn't ALWAYS a bad thing. Sometimes you have to be careful not to make something illogical happen just for the sake of making the story exciting. I love a good plot twist as much as anyone, but sometimes understanding ahead of time can be comforting too. I think it's a delicate balance. Good luck in your endeavors!

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    1. That's definitely true, Megan. I agree. The truth is, most people say they want twists, but if the story goes completely off the rails, the audience loses interest. Like I said, I've had a few review of my early work saying it was a bit TOO predictable and that's a bad thing, but you're not wrong. Thanks so much for stopping by! :D

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  14. I've noticed that same thing about watching TV shows. Hubby always asks, "How did you know that?" Reading, however, if a bit different. I mostly read for enjoyment and keep the inner editor lock in another room, unless of course I just can't get into the story or the style of writing.

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    1. Yeah I definitely don't do it as much with reading, but somewhat. I can't always turn off my inner editor, but I try. :D Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  15. I am pushing myself to be bolder in my writing. The challenge for me is digging deeper into my emotional core. That's the scary part. Ideas I think can be easy to play with as they are outside ourselves. Emotions are part of our breath and skin. Good luck.

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    1. Yeah, good point. And I've definitely had to teach myself to ramp up the angst and emotion. I think it's something we all struggle with, and even if we get better, it's something we can always improve on. Emotions aren't exactly definable or pin-down-able. :D Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  16. Hi,
    Great post and I am just loving your quotations. Especially, be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.
    Thanks also for being a co-host today.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat

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    1. My pleasure, Pat. That's one of my favorite quotes too. It's been on my Pinterest board forever. :D Thanks for stopping by! :D

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  17. Me, too. I sometimes wish I could return to the days when I read for pleasure. I have a few authors I still do that with, those who I never find writerly mistakes with. But that's not enough to fill my reading pile!

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    1. Yeah I have a few of those too. And i often wonder if I just am blind to the mistakes because I love the books so much, or if those authors are just awesome and really don't have many mistakes, you know? :D Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  18. Thanks. LOL. I'm in the mushy middle of my current WIP and now I'm worried I'm being predictable.

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    1. Sorry if that made your day worse. It's always good to be conscientious, though. Good luck with the WIP. Thanks for stopping by! :D

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  19. I'm reminded of the rule of seven. When hitting a snag, I sit back, brainstorm seven possible ways to go, and find the one that works best. (While plotting.) There's something to be said for being unpredictable, eh?

    I'm with you on books and movies. Usually I know where they're going, which is why I appreciate that unexpected twist so much more. (This is the reason I have a HARD time enjoying contemporary stories.)

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    1. I hadn't heard of the rule of seven, but it sounds like a great plan to me. I think I usually just brainstorm two or three possibilities. I'll have to do more.

      You know, I have a hard time with contemporary as well, with one exception: crime. I've always been a big fan of mystery/serial killer/etc. And I've always thought it's just because I'm fascinated with abnormal psychology/evil/the criminal mind. But now I'm wondering if it's because stories like that are always full of twists you often don't see coming. (And they're not always realistic or anything, but still. You have to figure them out and the writers of stories like that do their best to shock and do things that won't be guessed.) Maybe that's why I like them so much. Hmm. :D Thanks for stopping by!

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  20. Critical is right! I had a similar experience years ago when I used to DJ (not professionally) and became highly critical of professionals. Thankfully, dance clubs are my version of a hell nowadays, so that's no longer a problem. LOL :)

    http://shahwharton.com

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    1. Lol. It's probably true of any profession. Being writers, we only notice it in writing. Great point. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  21. Being bold, being fearless in our writing are wonderful goals! I'm pushing myself to do the same thing. Good luck to us! :)

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    1. Agreed! Good luck to us all. Thanks so much for stopping by, Madeline! :D

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  22. I second, Jaylene! Anytime I'm in a slump With one of my mysteries I pick up Ross Macdonald, and am inspired all over again. Great post! Thanks for co-hosting!
    Best,
    Adrienne

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    1. Yeah, favorite stories or authors are great ways to be inspired. By the same token, I also sometimes read or watch in the genre I'm writing, just to really feel the vibe. Thanks so much for stopping by Adrienne! ;D

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  23. Being a writer just seems to make you more critical of how words are set down. I definitely found that to be true. Plus I'm embarrassed when I make mistakes that so many people will see. That makes me proof a lot more than I used to. Of course, I still screw up. Guess I pass the human test. Great to meet you here today and thanks for the great job as co-host.

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    1. I'm the same way, and I think it's a good thing. It makes us more conscientious of our mistakes which leads to higher quality work. Thanks so much for stopping by! :D

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  24. Being fearless with my writing is something I struggle with. There are times when I know where a scene or a chapter or character arc needs to go, but it takes me a while to actually work up the courage to get it there.

    And my significant other hates watching TV/movies with me because I have a bad habit of accidentally spoiling the endings for him. I try not to, but sometimes, it just happens.

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    1. I think we all struggle with fearlessness sometimes. Knowing endings: curse of the writer, lol. Thanks so much for stopping by! :D

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  25. I rather like the idea of writing the most shocking thing we can think of in place of a predictable scene – even if we then tone it down we could still end up with something interesting.

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    1. Yeah for sure, Patsy. I don't always go with the most shocking version, just because it sometimes doesn't jive with the story or tone of the book. It's good to give your readers a jolt, but there's a bad way for it to happen too. But as you've said, thinking bold equates to thinking outside the box, and I think that can lead to great things with our writing. Thanks for stopping by! :D

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  26. Fearlessness in writing is a worthy goal. Good luck with it!

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    1. Thank you, Olga! And to you as well. Thanks for stopping by! :D

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  27. Challenging yourself is wonderful. That's the way to do it. I personally love to add in twists and to surprise my readers. I take a certain evil joy in it. haha :)

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    1. Definitely, Chrys. It may not happen often, but when you have a really great plot twist, you can't help but rub your hands together gleefully and do an evil scientist laugh. No? Just me? :D Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  28. My second book was raved for its twists. I won't reveal what they are, but I can say that it originally started as a 6-page joke that I turned into a 30 page story. I didn't think myself bold for writing the story, but at the same time, I didn't think it would have a great reach, so I didn't try to write it for an audience in mind.

    I think my being bold comes from the rebel in me to skip the traditional methodology of selling books, and trying to master the indie scene first. While both are tough, the hoops I jump through for one don't exist in the same way for the other, which gives me a certain level of freedom, which I try to use to my advantage. I'm not afraid to do something new, though I still balance it as if it is something that can work or not, at least to my satisfaction. It helps that I hold myself to a high standard.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Chris. That's a really good point about not writing to an audience. I think all that can do is make us self-conscious, which leads to fear in writing. I definitely need to follow your lead and be more bold in my marketing and selling. Working on that this year. Good luck with all your endeavors!

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  29. I know your pain. I'm always making comments about story structure to my family when we watch movies. Drives them crazy. Thanks for co-hosting this month's IWSG.

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    1. My pleasure. Thanks so much for stopping by. (It's good to know I"m not the only one who drives my movie buddies crazy. ;D)

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  30. Oh my gosh! I do that too. And that's the reason no one wants to watch movies with me. Or discuss books with me. Well, at least my family won't.
    I've followed your blog! And I'll follow you on G+. You have a wonderful blog. Thanks for co-hosting this month's IWSG. I'll see you around the blogosphere.

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    1. Aw thanks Victoria! That means a lot. I feel ya. I'm sort of a Walking Dead junkie and I can discuss the characters and story structure of that story until I'm blue in the face. It totally drives people crazy. I think a lot of them think I'm nuts and seeing things that aren't there. Of course I know better. :D Thanks for stopping by. Good luck with all your endeavors!

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  31. I haven't been called predictable yet, but I seem to have a knack for picking up nuances that lead to a decent conclusion. I remember one event in critique group where I caught one line where an unnamed character looked away when the character looked at them. The author's eyes went wide as I told her my theory as to what would happen. Nobody else in the group had gone there, but I'd managed to hit the nail on the head. :)

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    1. Nice! Go you! That kind of attention to detail is definitely something that can be used in your writing. Thanks so much for stopping by! :D

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  32. Thank you for co-hosting!

    My daughter says I pick up on the endings of shows a lot, but I think that may be because some television writers have gotten lazy, not because I'm super good at it ;)

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    1. True. I do think tv tends to be more formulaic than books, but I'm sure it's a bit of both. Even if tv writers are lazy, most viewers still don't pick up things as much as you do. Don't sell yourself short! ;D Thanks so much for stopping by, Elsie!

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  33. I, too, have gone more bold this past year. So far no real huge impacts on sales but I don't have the "what if" thoughts to regret. Good luck to you and thanks for cohosting this month.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Dean. I'm sure going bold will have impacts on your writing that you won't see right away. Like you said, it does have it's own rewards. Just keep doing what you're doing, and good luck to you as well. :D

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  34. Thanks for stopping by my blog and for co-hosting this month. I try to be bold, not sure how well I'm doing. I've learned to keep my mouth shut too. I've also trained myself to be entertained even when I see things coming, but that doesn't mean I excuse weak development. I just recognize that sometimes I see and pick up on things the average reader doesn't. Now if only I could translate that into making my own works mindblowing.

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    1. I hear ya, completely, Toinette. Even when I see things coming, I can still appreciate how well-plotted the story is. Especially if it connects in a way that makes sense to the audience, I try to learn from it rather than being critical. And I feel ya about translating it into my own work. I often see really great uses of symbolism or some such and think, I could do that in my work. Yeah, much easier said than done. :D Well, the challenge keeps us honest, right? Thanks so much for stopping by! :D

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  35. Good point on boldness! My critique partners used to tell me I was too nice to my characters, which made my stories lack conflict. It's probably another form of the same issue you were having. Here's to our continued boldness!

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    1. I think you're right that it's another form of the same. Or perhaps one leads to the other. Either way, being bolder will always mean more conflict, which makes for a more memorable and compelling story. I'm with ya! Let's all resolve to be bolder this year! :D Thanks so much for stopping by, Samantha!

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  36. I love your thoughts on boldness vs. fear.
    My days of reading with sheer abandon have long since gone. *sigh* I suppose that's a price we have to pay for being writers.
    Good luck with your upcoming projects.
    Thank you for co-hosting the IWSG this month.

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    1. Thank you Michelle! And thanks for stopping by. Best of luck on all your projects as well!

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  37. I think I'm the same way. I've always thought it was because I despise conflict and usually flee vs fight, so it's difficult for me to add conflict into my stories. Be mean to this character I created? Really?! Um... But you're right. It's really FEAR. I really tried to tackle this issue by making bigger things happen in my most recent book, but it wasn't easy and I hope readers will find it to be surprising and bold! I love your take on this issue though and when I write this week, I will begin by reminding myself to give up my fear, to be bold, and I'll remember you and this post for inspiration. Thank you! Christy

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    1. Aw thank you, Christy! I'm glad it had some meaning for you. Good luck with your writing. I'm sure you'll find some success. ;D

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  38. Great post. Being bold can be scary. Making our characters suffer is horrible. But unless we take those bold steps, our stories will be flat, predictable. Good luck to you and thanks for co-hosting this month.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Diane! Best of luck to you as well. :D

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  39. Great post. I hate making my characters suffer and for some reason like turned the bad guy into a good guy, but I fight it.
    Happy IWSG Day!
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

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  40. As writers, it's so much fun to dream up the "what-ifs"in our stories. I find brainstorming with writers really brings out the outrageous, the twists, the saddest, the dumbest outcomes for a story and gets the creative juices flowing. Our writer's group had to move from the main floor of the library to the board room upstairs because we would be howling with laughter about some ideas for stories and their endings!! Have fun with this being "bolder!"
    JQ Rose

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