Monday, April 30, 2012

Writing Methods

Writers are strange. Writers are similar. Writers are diverse.

Writing methods operate in similar ways. Many writers have strange methods. Many writers have similar methods. Many writers have diverse methods.

In my writing class today we talked about two basic types of writing methods.
  1. The Intuitive Method  
  2. The Outline Method (or the Story Board method)
 The Intuitive Method is where a writer gets an idea and then sits down and runs (or more likely "writes") with it. The writers who use this method seem to enjoy the thrill it provides. There are advantages and disadvantages to it.
Advantages:
  • There are more surprises within the story. These surprises are more shocking because even the writer didn't expect them.
  • The development of the story may seem more natural. I think this one is debatable and depends a lot on the skill and abilities of the writer. 
  • The characters are more genuine in their reactions to events because the writer comes across an event that he didn't plan days before. This forces the writer to decide from the character's perspective in the moment. Life is full of moment decisions and characters are supposed to be lifelike, so this one makes sense. 
Disadvantages:
  •  There is one major problem with this method. It is possible for the writer to write a lot down and then realize that the ending sucks or that certain parts just don't work. 
  • Another issue could be a choppy plot line, but I have observed this doesn't happen that often. 
The Outline Method is where the writer ponders an idea and then writes down in an outline everything he wants to happen and in a certain order. Only after the writer has everything planned does he begin the writing process.

Advantages:
  • The writer can  make sure everything lines up. 
  • The writer can make sure the end fits with the beginning. 
  • The writer has a chance to avoid writer's block. This one is only a speculative advantage. (See The god Writer's Block)
Disadvantages:
  • It is possible that writing with an outline may make the book predictable sometimes. But this also depends on the writer's skill. 
  • I once experimented with this style and I made a pretty decent outline. But I never picked the book back up to work on it. (I think I'll talk about my personal method I have developed in my next blog post. It addresses this.)
I think that these two methods can be combined. I also think that every writer has his own unique method. These two things basically just cover the major camps as far as a writer leaning more to one side or the other. Which method do you lean more towards? And what do you see as its positives and negatives?

I plan on talking about mixing the methods and my own personal method in my next blog post.

Sincerely,
Joshua A. Spotts

P.S. Sorry for taking so long to write a post. I blame...Final projects, papers, and exams.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Three and Three Part 2

In my previous post I talked about three things that are proven helpful for blogs. In this post I want to do some quick speculation. I want to present to you some ideas. These are ideas I've been considering for my own blog and perhaps you shall consider them for yours as well.

#1: Reformat your blog. Change the layout. Give the reader something new to look at (besides a new post!) This idea I have read as a suggestion, but I have not seen many bloggers that do it and I don't know the benefits of it.

I can see the logic behind it, on both sides. We, as humans, like new things. Yet many of us are either slow to accept change or dislike it altogether. In my mind, I am of balanced opinion of this one. I know that I want to make some layout changes to this blog. Any suggestions? I feel that this idea is one the blogger can just judge for themselves if they want to use it.

#2:  I have been considering getting my face into the YouTube world. I am thinking about doing video reviews of books and readings of my short stories. These videos would probably hold there own page here in this blog. Any ideas on this one? Good idea? Bad idea? I probably won't do it until next school year sometime. 

#3: Podcasts! Or audio clips! I think I am more excited about this one because it is easier to do. I can just record my voice into my computer using Audacity, convert it to an audio file, and post it in my blog. Basically, I think this will be me just reading my own blog post.

I'm a little hesitant on this one though. Since this blog is angled toward writers and since writers love to read, I just don't know how practical or useful an audio version would be. I could use some feedback on this idea as well, if you would be so kind as to provide it. What do you all think about audio book reviews? Perhaps a podcast of the blog?

In reality, these ideas (apart from #1) are all rather far off. But I do like to speculate ahead of time.

Sincerely,
Joshua A. Spotts

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Three and Three

Today I am going to consider two sets of three things. The first set is three techie/gadget things that are proven as helpful to bloggers. The other three things are some ideas I've been throwing around in my mind.

Here we go with the first set!
#1: In this set are Follower Link Options. (FLO for short. My, that's a fun word!)  By this I mean the things that are naturally ingrained in any blogging service. These are RSS feeds, E-mail Subscription Boxes, Google Friend Connect, Networked Blogs, and such.
  • RSS feeds allow a reader to get e-mail or phone or RSS service notifications whenever you write a new post.
  • E-mail Subscription Boxes are simple and effective. If a reader doesn't want to publicly connect their name with your blog, they can simply enter their e-mail address and whenever you make a new post they receive an e-mail. 
  • Google Friend Connect is a much more public following option. People who sign up for this often sign up with their Google profiles. Google Friend Connect allows for personalized notification options whenever you post, giving your readers a feeling of more control. And, we are all humans, right? We all like to have some control.
  • Networked Blogs is an interesting system that allows for automatic link-posting on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. This system also allows for other bloggers or just readers to subscribe to your blog via its own "follow button.
#2:  Many blog hosting websites have options that insert a drop down archive menu. These menus often list the posts according to the previous and currents months. The reader clicks on the month he wants to look at and it drops a list down of all that month's posts.
Another neat gadget is a keyword wheel. This nifty thing displays all the keywords your blog posts have ever used. The reader then clicks on a keyword that interests him and it takes the reader to a list of posts with that keyword.

#3: Google AdWords has a Keyword Tool that allows you to research a keyword and see how many people search for it daily. You can use this to find which keywords (while ensuring they are relevant to your topic) are popular and use them to promote your blog in the search ratings.

The second set of three will be written up in my next blog post. Until then, goodbye!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Review of Sword of Time


Review of Sword of Time
            In A.M. Sawyer’s fantasy novel Sword of Time four teens’ post-graduation plans are shattered when a secret government special operations team accidently releases an ancient evil. Instead of having a nice vacation in Australia, the four teens encounter much more adventure than they ever intended. In the Australian Outback an old hermit guides them to a portal that allows them to go to a timeless temple which protects them from the ancient evil, a powerful sage named Kakos.
            The portal leads to a timeless temple where the four teens, Luke, Bob, Tim, and James, learn that it is part of their destiny to stop Kakos. They are given magical weapons, including the Sword of Time, which chooses Luke as its user. With magical weapons in hand the four teens pass through a portal again only to find a world completely dominated by Kakos.
            The four friends join the resistance movement of Lady Fora, chief warrior of the ancient magical kingdom of Basileio. With her they combat Kakos. They return to the distant past to try and save the kingdom of Basileio, to save thousands of magical creatures, and to defeat Kakos once and for all. While there the four friends meet up with Krikos, the younger version of the hermit who saved them from Kakos in the Australian outback.
            Inner conflicts threaten to shatter the teens’ friendships as they struggle against Kakos. After numerous quests to acquire and re-acquire magical weapons and objects, the four teens finally come to the ultimate facedown with Kakos. In the midst of a massive battle between the forces of good and evil, will Luke prove strong enough to defeat Kakos?
            Sawyer’s writing style is shockingly unconventional. His entire book is written from a present tense, second person perspective that seems like a mixture between first person and third person. His writing is first person in the sense that most of the time he is telling the story from very close to the main characters, but it is third person in the sense that he pulls far out and will speak as the omniscient storyteller at times.
            The four teens act like one would expect four teens to act after they get sucked through time and are thrust into a full-scale war. The teens argue with one another. Their dialogue stands out against the setting they are in and their behavior does as well, with one exception. That exception is the chief heroic quality that has stood out for all time, perseverance. No matter the troubles the teens go through, they still move forward to their goal. They vary from the course once or twice throughout the book, but they always get back on track.
            The teenage/young adult reader will connect with the main characters a lot more than an older audience will. The few romantic relationships two of the main characters have with other characters are believable within the setting and are not cliché. The dialogue between said characters seemed stiff in a few places, but the majority of the time it was very heartfelt. The romantic relationships do not, however, take high place in the process of the plot.
            Overall, A.M. Sawyer is a decent writer capable of spinning enjoyable stories. I wouldn’t place him up with the experts yet, but his style does bring something fresh to the world of books. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a fantasy novel that successfully weaves time travel into the plot and involves massive battles and high stakes.
Reviewed by Joshua A. Spotts
Joshua A. Spotts is a Professional Writing Major at Taylor University and a book reviewer for Aboite Independent, Church Libraries, and Christian Book Previews.

(I believe that Mr. Sawyer's book is one of the finer examples of self-published, independent, e-books. His style is also very unique and I enjoyed analyzing it.) 
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