pj writes

How to know when a story deserves a 5 star rating

Welcome! To a post that I started almost a year ago and never finished until now!

Now, to start this post we should properly define my rating system. It is all thoroughly explained on this post, but to get to the point we’ll only be talking about the star rating. Also, I should mention that this applies to every movie/series I watch and every book I read.

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liveblogging, pj writes

Who is going to be my book’s raving fan?

As mentioned on my previous post, I’m doing the exercises of Reedsy’s free writing course “How to stop talking about writing your book and actually doing it”. Last time I talked about why my book was important to me, and day three’s task is talking abouts my book target’s demographic, or in other words, who is going to be my ideal reader.

Today’s exercise is to get specific with my ideal reader’s characteristics, so I’m going to list some of them here. My book project is definitely a YA novel, it’s genres are adventure, fantasy, maybe some magical realism and it’s main themes are magic and friendship so…

here we go GIF by Rate My Professors
  • Females (mostly). I honestly don’t see a lot of guys as my demographic, at least not at first.
  • I know I said it was a YA but I feel like a good age to start would be 12 and onwards.
  • Location: Anywhere? I mean, even if I were to publish this story, where it gets distributed wouldn’t be up to me… but it’s not the kind of story where I can say “oh, only people from the US can enjoy it”
  • Bookworms, duh 🤣 but even if they don’t consider themselves an avid reader, it has to be someone who likes to separate 30 minutes or so of their day to read once they’ve started a book
  • People who like friendship stories
  • People who think they have boring lives, or maybe they hate monotony. They’ll be able to relate to the main character
  • Someone who’s very bored by school or work
  • People who like character driven stories and like reading character backstories
  • Obviously, they must like to read about magic or supernatural elements, especifically witches
  • There’s definitely some comedy, so they must get the sarcastic sense of humor
  • They must like bittersweet endings and have no problem with sad books in general
  • They have the ability of reading anywhere (in the car, in a plane, at the mall, etc) and don’t mind reading on their phones or tablets
  • They like watching booktube videos or reading about books
  • They don’t mind the slow romance
  • People who like grumpy characters who would be hard to like in the real world
  • Anime fans (or ocasional fans) would like it, as I feel like this story could be translated into one
  • Speaking of anime, if I had to compare it to one, it’d be Puella Magi Madoka Magica (2011). The stories are very different, in my opinion, but I was inspired by it, and both stories have female protagonists who can do “magic”
  • As for life action fiction comparisons, I’d go with the 1998 TV series Charmed. Same with Madoka Magica, I was very inspired by it and it also has female protagonists who can do magic
  • Basically, if you like female protagonists, adventures, and a (in my opinion) new twist on magic, you’ll like this story 🙂

And that’s it!

If you made it to the end of this post thank you so much! ❤ Do you know have any passion project, a story that’s screaming at you to tell it? Let me know so I can find people to talk about them 🤣 and people that push me to actually get it done so I can die a happy muffin!

Oh and don’t forget to check Reedsy’s free courses if you haven’t. I’m sure you’ll be able to find something within your interests.

pj out!

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liveblogging, pj writes

Why am I writing my book?

Like 3 days ago I signed up for one of Reedsy’s free writing courses, “How to stop talking about writing your book and actually doing it”, (if you don’t know them you can check them out, they have tons of free courses like this one), and since I have a lot of free time right now and actually want to do something with it, I’m going to do the exercises proposed in every lesson.

There are 10 lessons, and you get one email per lesson for 10 days. Day one was more like an introduction to the course, so let’s go with day two’s lesson: “Why are you writing this book?”

will ferrell lol GIF by NBA

Day two’s exercise is to write a page on why I feel like I must write my book, why this book matters to me, what it represents to me, and why I’m comitted to this idea. Here we go.

Reading has always been a passion for me since I was a kid. I remember it started when I was 8/9 and I’d just started at this new school, then I remember my passion kinda died down for a few years, then resurfaced when I was 15, died again, then resurfaced when I was like 19 or 20 (and it’s still pretty present). As for my passion for writing, it started when I was about 19 (thank you Tumblr roleplaying community). However, even before that I already had a story in my head.

My story was first going to be an auto-discovery/self-help kind of story, where most of the “adventures” happened inside the protagonist’s head. Picture something like Disney’s Inside Out (back when psychology was almost my career path). But throughout the years, that story and those characters and that world have (hopefully) evolved and grown thanks to me evolving(?) as a person, and consuming other stories.

Now, it’s been about 10 years since those characters and their specific nature popped into my head, and I’m proud to say that at least that has remained, even if my characters’ personalities have gone through a lot of changes, I’m sure it was for the best. Through these past 10 years, those characters have stayed with me, and even though there were years where I didn’t write a single thing or just wrote very little for them, even though their story isn’t complete and the world needs a TON of work, even though I’m the slowest writer in the world and get distracted by pretty much everything, even through all of that, these characters refuse to be forgotten no matter how complicated things get in the real world.

They’ve stayed through my jobs, my school and university studies, my travels, my breakdowns, my good and bad moments, and slowly (across these 10 past years) they’ve pieced together part of their story, and it’s up to me to put it all together and give it the structure that it needs so that one day it turns into something I’ll be proud of… I mean, at least that’s what I should be doing… well, at least I know I’ve done some plotting in my head (points for effort?).

you tried k-pop GIF

Anyways, like every other writer out there, yes, I’ve also had other characters and other ideas in my head and I’ve taken breaks from my main characters to think and write for these other characters and stories, but these first ones are the ones that have stuck with me. They’re the ones that remind me of their story every time I’m moved by a good book, series or movie, every time I’m amazed at people like my friends, and other people around me, and learn their journey to where they are right now. Then I look back at my own journey (or… lack thereof to be more precise) and think of how I want something like that and want to create fantastical journeys for other people to lose themselves into and be inspired by them just like I was thanks to other writers.

This story I’m talking about has two major themes: magic (or supernatural elements to be exact) and friendship. Two things that interest me and that have inspired me from an early age. With magic/supernatural elements, there was of course Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, Fullmetal Alchemist and the Charmed TV series, and with friendship, of course my real life friends (and fictional characters).

That is what this story represents to me. And it matters to me because I sincerely believe that these characters’ journey, adventures and friendship has the potential to inspire others the same way I was inspired when I read those amazing books and watched those fantastical movies/series. Maybe not to create their own worlds like I did (or hope to, once I’m done with it), but maybe to believe in the good of the world through fiction.

peter dinklage mic drop GIF

-breathes- Yeah, this story means a lot to me. It’s pretty much at the top of my bucket list. If you made it to the end of this long, long post, thank you so much! ❤ Do you know have any passion project, a story that’s screaming at you to tell it? Let me know so I can find people to talk about them 🤣 and people that push me to actually get it done so I can die a happy muffin!

Oh and don’t forget to check Reedsy’s free courses if you haven’t. I’m sure you’ll be able to find something within your interests.

pj out!

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pj writes, the nameless project

#NaNoPlanMo || day 14

I think yesterday’s progress post should short…

Update for day 14

We’re halfway through NaNoPlanMo and… I think I’m behind and I can see myself not finishing by the end of November… But I’m not giving up! NaNoPlanMo will continue on to the next year if it has to until my butt finishes this outline!

As for my progress from yesterday, it wasn’t much, that I’ll admit but I finally finished my main character’s sheet!!!

I realized that she really does have a tragic backstory. Nothing too dramatic like someone killing her parents in front of her when she was only 5 years old leaving her all alone in the world with no food, no money and no love… but still sad.

With her, I’d always known there’d be a “tragic backstory” that affected her relationship with the rest of the characters prior to the beginning of the story. Many years ago, I had an idea of what it could be, but then I slowly realized that revealing that as the reason why she burned so many bridges felt too weak, dumb, out of character and cliche. 

Which brings me to yesterday’s discovery. I decided to google some tragic backstory ideas and I found this site which actually gives you some prompts for tragic backstories, it only needs a character’s name. And surprisingly, this worked for me! I didn’t use their exact idea but it sparked one in me, one that makes a ton of sense with the character, it explains why would it be considered “tragic”, and it’s not cliche at all (in my opinion at least, I hope it isn’t).

I’m actually very pleased with her. It took me 3 pages and I had to staple one of them because I miscalculated the amount of space that I would need, but I’m really proud. Now today I need to continue with the next character’s sheet. Let’s see how far I get. 

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pj writes, the nameless project

#NaNoPlanMo || day 13

Again, not a very good day for writing D: Maybe this is not my week?

Update for day 13

As I mentioned on my day 12 update, on that day I started the character sheet for my main character and yesterday I was supposed to finish it.

But let me tell you…

Ok, I admit this is going to sound like excuses but work was crazy yesterday (and on monday as well), and I had to help my mom both days with this special lunch she planned for my uncles who came from the US this week.

As for my progress, I wrote almost one page of fun facts, most of that was me adding to what I already had from the first time I did my main character’s sheet. And I know I call them “fun facts” as an inside joke, but this was actually kind of fun.

At first I thought “Fudge… what do I write about you? Who are you? What’s your backstory?!”, and then I noticed that next to me I had the paper with the previous fun facts and laughed because I thought past pj was wayy far off with the main character… but I guess she wasn’t. Good job past pj! 

Something interesting also happened yesterday, I got called from a company I applied to weeks ago to take a test today in the morning and a few hours ago they called me for an interview tomorrow -breathes- that was a stressful morning also I hate job interviews but I have to be strong!

And that’s it! Today’s mission is finishing the MC’s fun facts and maybe move on to the next one. I need to sleep early tonight. -breathes-

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pj writes, the nameless project

#NaNoPlanMo || day 12

It was a lost weekend for me.

I was unable to work on my planning on friday and saturday and we had no internet all sunday… not that that was much of an impediment… but it was for me, and also I felt a little blocked didn’t feel like working on the timeline yet so maybe it was a good thing that I got to take a little break from it (friday and saturday don’t count as break though, those were exhausting days in a different way).

Update for day 12

On Sunday, when we got our internet back (around midnight), I did think of starting the timeline but I remembered something important… Remember when I said that I didn’t have everything clear about the novel? Well that.

So, again, I decided to take a step back and finish another one of the items on my list, the character sheets. I found this character sheet over a year ago on Tumblr. It’s supposed to be a “no effort character sheet for lazy writers like you and me” but… yeah, I can only say I wish it was “no effort”. This sheet covers the basics of a character, what they look like, their personality, their interests, some of their background, their lifestyle, what impression do they give on others, and other extra stuff like their Hogwarts house, vices, type of cry, type of laugh and an RPG stats chart.

Here’s the sheet. Credit to tumblr user justsomecynic

Last year, I started doing the main character’s sheet. Since there was definitely no space for everything I wanted to write, I printed the sheets, cut them in sections, taped them on my notebook and circled and filled the blanks over there. And at the end of each sheet I add this section called “Fun Facts” where I add other important things that weren’t on the sheet and their backstory. I’m thinking of posting at least one of the character sheets so you see how it looks like (it’ll be censored, of courseee).

I started doing this last year, starting with my main character, and it’s taken me over a year to do the sheets for 7 characters, because once I finished one, it took me forever to continue with the next one, either because I forgot or moved on to something else, sadly.

But not now! You see, a month ago when I went to visit my friend in Maine, I wanted to let her see one of the character sheets so I revised my sheets and I realized that I hated the main character’s sheet… so I’m redoing it (only the MC’s sheet, the rest are fine). And that’s what I did yesterday. Well, that’s what I started yesterday. I have yet to do the fun facts and that’s the part that takes the most time.

Hopefully, I can finish that today and finish the rest of the characters’ sheets in the next days.

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pj writes, the nameless project

#NaNoPlanMo || day 8

Welp, I feel like yesterday was both a good and a bad day for planning… brace yourselves, this is going to be sad.

Update for day 8

Despite my distractions after 5pm (watching youtube, still replying to work emails, playing on my phone, reading) and the things I had to do between that and writing (eating dinner, feeding my dog and showering), I actually finished revising/editing/adding extra scenes to the entire story.

On my post from yesterday I said that on day 7 I revised 65% of the story, but I actually think I did 75% of it because really I didn’t have that much left to revise. I think I started around 9 and once I realized how much I had left I thought to myself, “oh, it looks like today I might finish early” and… well, I finished at 12:30-ish, but because I took a one hour break because I was feeling a little weird, not physically, but more like sad…

One of the reasons that could have added to that melancholy was actually planning the end of the story, which let me tell you, it’s not just sad… it’s fudging sad and I’m seriously thinking whether I should tone it down or something because at one point, it’s all fine, everyone’s laughing, then things get just a little worrying, and then everything turns 180 degrees.

In a way, I don’t want to change it because even though I may have somewhat made it sadder by adding a bit of backstory on the villains (something that came to me at the moment), it is essentially the ending I’ve had in my head for years, and I don’t imagine the story or the characters ending any differently.

Maybe as I keep working on the outline, I’ll change some things around the ending because I feel like I wrote a couple of things just because, hoping to make some sense out of them in the future.

And speaking of changing things in the future, I have something else to add to my list of things to do, and that is writing down the characters’ journey separately. I’ve realized, looking at these scenes just like that, that it looked like the characters have no development at all, and that’s probably (I hope, I really really hope) because so far I’ve been looking at the story as just a plot and once I write down each character’s journey, it will be more satisfying, if not, I guess I’ll just change some more things.

And now, the new list looks like this:

  1. Make a bullet list of all the important events that happen, from start to finish. It doesn’t matter if it’s vague, or if the events seem too far apart from each other.  (100%)
  2. Connect the events by adding more information (perhaps some flashbacks, I feel like there will be a lot of them, character backstories, explaining the world, the magic system) (99%) 
  3. Create a timeline of the events (when and where the events happen, how far apart in minutes, days, weeks, they are from each other, etc) (0%) *new
  4. Write a “character’s journey” for (almost) every character (0%) *new
  5. Finish the character sheets (I have to do 11 for the main and secondary charaters and I have 6 of those + I have to do the villains) and the facts and history of the magic system (55%)
  6. Write a synopsis of one of two pages with paragraphs detailing everything that goes down in the story (0%)
  7. Separate the story in arcs, then chapters and POVs and decide whose POV (besides the main character’s) I should include and when (0%)
  8. Report everyday to this blog with the progress made

Tonight and tomorrow I probably won’t be making any progress because I have something to attend to, but I’ll be back on sunday.

just wish me luck

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pj writes, the nameless project

#NaNoPlanMo || day 7

Ok, so I think I’m definitely going to post my updates the next day since I prefer to work on the outline at night until I can’t go on and then sleep without having to worry about writing the update.

I feel like if I wrote the update on the same day,  I would have to stop outlining at a certain time (which, if I’m inspired, and yesterday I was, doesn’t work for me) to write the update and then sleep, then I wouldn’t really be pushing myself to work as much as I can, want, and should so I can finish this month, nor would I push my creativity. And judging by the progress I made yesterday, I feel pleased with this decision.

Update for day 7

Yesterday I said that my goal was to add all the scenes I missed while I was first working on the super mega rough outline and then arrange those events into a timeline.

But! And I don’t know if it was better or worse of me to do that, I decided to revise the outline and numerate the scenes and whenever I noticed a missing scene(s) I added it at the very end, on this section I called “Missing scenes + Facts + Notes”, and with the numbers, future pj should be able to know the order of the scenes. But let me tell you… I just hope she braces herself because scene 9 is on the first page and then scenes 9.5 and 10 are on page 4, and then scene 11 is back on the first page. I wonder if anyone else but me would be able to understand it.

A lot of these scenes are backstories on the characters and in some cases, I added more depth to scenes I’d already written.

In the end, and after really pushing myself to keep revising until a certain scene because I felt inspiried, I managed to revise until scene 35 (which should be 38 really because there are scenes that are numbered as 2.5, 9.5, etc, for some reason?), adding almost 2 pages of extra “missing scenes, facts and notes” and 16 scenes to my notebook

And I say “really pushing myself” because let me tell you! By 1am my body, my back, was telling me to stop already and whenever it did, I just stopped to stare into the distance and think about dancing muffins, trying to convince (lie to) myself that I would definitely remember this the next day and would write it right after I woke up.

Ha! Lies! Good past pj for not stopping -pets her head-

So, today I have to finish doing that to the rest of the scenes. I feel like yesterday I reached past the middle of the story and I’m close to the ending or what I would like to call the 3rd act. I just counted and I have 18-ish scenes left, but the ending is going to be more complicated because the villains take protagonism here and I’m… less lost with them, but still somewhat lost.

I hope I can finish at least that by tonight. I might involve my online writing friend since we’re meeting on skype tonight. But yeah, if I do finish that, I’ll can cross out points 1 and 2 of the list of my initial post . I just have to add the timeline to that…

On day 7, the list looks like this

  1. Make a bullet list of all the important events that happen, from start to finish. It doesn’t matter if it’s vague, or if the events seem too far apart from each other.  (100%)
  2. Connect the events by adding more information (perhaps some flashbacks, I feel like there will be a lot of them, character backstories, explaining the world, the magic system) (65%)
  3. Create a timeline of the events (when and where the events happen, how far apart in minutes, days, weeks, they are from each other, etc) (0%) *new
  4. Finish the character sheets (I have to do 11 for the main and secondary charaters and I have 6 of those + I have to do the villains) and the facts and history of the magic system (55%)
  5. Write a synopsis of one of two pages with paragraphs detailing everything that goes down in the story (0%)
  6. Separate the story in arcs, then chapters and POVs and decide whose POV (besides the main character’s) I should include and when (0%)
  7. Report everyday to this blog with the progress made
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pj writes, the nameless project

#NaNoPlanMo || day 6

Well, in my defense this update wasn’t posted yesterday because I started writing at 11 and finished by 1:30am so it wouldn’t have counted either way -bangs head against the desk-

Update for day 6

We have good-ish news people! I made it to the end of the story!

aa

I dreaded it so much that I put it off until almost 11:30pm and I didn’t write my log yesterday, but I was determined to make it to the end before going to sleep!

I knew I didn’t have that much left, I was basically on the last “chapters” and after one page I was done. I kind of feel like a dummy because in the end this turned out to be 3 and a half pages (of a notebook) but it took me 3 days (not counting the days I stopped to work on the magic system/didn’t do anything) to write down everything I knew about the story in the supposed order, which…. by the way, isn’t even everything.

There are things I left out because I remembered them too late and by that time I couldn’t erase everything I had just to write that scene in its respective place (cons of writing on a notebook instead of a computer), so I was planning to write all those forgotten facts and scenes at the end of the first super mega rough outline and then arrange them in place on the next stage (the timeline + details).

And speaking of details, the ending!! I feel like I was really lazy with it. I even had to add a note that said “or maybe the characters can do this so this can happen” because it was 1:20am and I was slipping into the other side. And and! I realized that I hate my villain’s name so I just wrote “the woman”. Yup! That’s going to be their (because it’s really more than one person) name now, “the woman”. Gonna keep that mystery alive.

Anyways, as for today day 7, I’m hoping my butt will really focus on work today so I can be done by 5 (or earlier), so I can start resting earlier (because my back and my butt hurt) and I can start writing down those missing facts/scenes and working on that timeline earlier!

I’m not off to a good start by writing this instead of working, am I? Just call me multitasker pj.

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pj writes, the nameless project

#NaNoPlanMo || day 5

Ok… it’s only day 5 and I’m starting to see a problem with my updates… (*coughs* that I post them the next day *coughs*) but that’s because I usually work or do any other non-creative stuff in the day and start writing at night, and by the time I decide I’m okay with my progress or start falling asleep it’s too late or I’m really tired so… yeah, I have no idea how I’m going to fix that, but I’m going to think about it… i might just sacrifice an hour of sleep to write the log, it’s not like these posts are long anyways

Update for day 5

Around 7/8pm yesterday I was really worried because I hadn’t done anything all day and, like, sure I was working and looking for other jobs, but I can’t deny that I get very distracted (cons of working from home hey, maybe that could be a future blog post).

But then after resting my back and eating and showering, I decided to put on my man pants and grab my notebook. I still felt stuck where I was because I didn’t know exactly the evil villains plan, but then I looked at my outline notes and I realized that, on the stage I was I didn’t need to know exactly the plan (if that makes sense?), I mean, I know my current outline has a lot of holes, but the plan was to first write down everything that I already know happens, and then fill out those holes with details. It’ll be easier, I hope.

I filled out a little bit more than a page on my notebook with events and I think today I’ll reach the end of the novel and be done with the first super extra rough outline. However, while doing so, I also realized something scary; that a lot of these scenes seem really pointless and…don’t have a lot to do with the plot itself and that I have a lot of characters and relationships and how some of those might be garbage for the plot.

It’s not like I’m fully convinced of this thought, but I can’t tell if that’s because I’ve had these ideas and these characters for so long in my head that I’m completely biased or it’s if all these scenes are really necessary because this is an adventure story.

I was talking about this with my friend and she only told me that it’s just fine to have a lot of scenes and ideas at the beginning of this plotting stage and that later I would definitely know what needs to go, but oh man I worry…

Anyways, today on the 6th day I’ll finish the first super extra rough draft and after that I should start thinking about making a timeline with what I have, just to see how many hours/days/weeks pass in between the events. We can do it!

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