Tag Archives: Darth Vader

Stop Thief!! Beating the Time Bandits

Happy Black Friday! Casey here.

Everyone knows there are only 24 hours in a day. And we all pretty much wish we had more time to get everything done.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t change the laws of physics. So unless you want to move to Venus (where a single day lasts 243 earth days not to mention it’s totally inhospitable), you have to use the limited time you have wisely.

You have to identify and eliminate Time Bandits. In order to do that, you have to be brutally honest about how you are spending your time.

Just like dieting, where everything you put in your mouth can land on your hips, every moment you spend playing on-line internet games, is one more moment where you aren’t writing.

Identifying Time Bandits can be tricky because it’s not alway immediately obvious that you are about to robbed of your precious writing time.

Here’s a real life example. This happens to me frequently on the weekends. It starts with an innocent question from my hubby – “Honey, what are we doing for lunch today?”

I look up from my laptop, where I am clearly at work, yet it is not perceived as work by anyone but me, and say, “I don’t know. Can’t you make a sandwhich?”

This response is met with a derisive snort. “How about _____ (insert, Chinese, Pizza, hamburgers, whatever)?”

Soon, the sons have emerged from their mini-man caves and start to chime in. Next thing, I know, I’m in the car on the way somewhere to eat. I have just lost, if I’m lucky, an hour of writing time.

Hold on. I know what you’re going to say – “just say NO.” And sometimes, I do. But, I also want to eat (hey, I’m human!) and I do like spending time with my sons (before they completely grow up and move away).

Clearly, for me, this is an area where I can combat the Time Bandit. In order to make up for lost time, I have to give up watching television (love that DVR) or not read before bed that day.

So how do you know if you are about to be hi-jacked by a Time Bandit? Please note, I am not adovocating that you must ignore all responsibilities or become a hermit.

1. Mundane chores are appealing. If you find yourself thinking that cleaning the tub (and you normally loathe it) then you have a Time Bandit. If you have teenagers, make them do it (bribes work better than threats) or learn to live with some dirt.

2. Social Media – I know this is obvious. But we’ve all experienced “the promise” where you swear to only spend a half hour and the next thing you know two hours have elapsed. Get a timer. Or in my case, I had to go nearly cold turkey to get back on track.

3. The Boob Tube – yes, I love it too. I have plenty of shows that will gladly rob me of my “precious” (writing, for anyone who doesn’t know who Gollum is). In the last two years, I have gone on a severe television diet. I avoid most shows that may tempt me and only allow a few favorites to DVR (any Haven fans out there?). I’m sorry to say, if you have hours and hours of DVR’d programs or are spending hours watching TV, then you have a Time Bandit.

4. Your family – see my example above. We all love our families BUT in order to be successful as a writer, you have to actually write. Sometimes, your significiant others don’t realize they are Time Bandits. You need to politely call them on it. Of course, there has to be compromise. Perhaps you can agree to have a nice dinner together instead of going out for lunch.

5. You – Yes, you are your own worst enemy. If you peel the mask off the Time Bandit, you might see your own face there (kind of like in Empire Strikes Back, when Luke sees his own face in Darth Vader’s mask). One thing I’ve learned is that if you are waiting around for the Muse to strike you, you’ll be waiting a long time. Treat writing like a job and write something, anything, until you get your brain in the place it needs to be to work on your latest WIP.

If you can write an entire book, then you can come up with creative ways to conquer those Time Bandits.

How about everyone else? Remember, the first step to solving a problem is to admit you have one. Please share your Time Bandits or your suggestions for managing your writing time.

Let’s Hear it for The Doubt Monster

Happy Friday everyone! Casey Wyatt here.

Today’s topic: My nemesis the Doubt Monster. He originally debuted on my blog (see original post here) back in June and he’s made his sneaky way over here to the Scribes’ site.He’s so prevalent that our guest bloggers Lynn Kurland and Kristan Higgins have both addressed him. I’ll get to their comments in a moment.

To recap my original post, here is how the Doubt Monster torments me.

  • This story is dumb. Who will want to read it?
  • There are so many other things I should have/could have done.
  • I must be missing something like (fill in the blank).
  • This story is so weird no one will buy it.

On and on it goes. The greedy Doubt Monster messing with my head and my confidence.

Any of this sound familiar? Let’s hear what the pros have to say:

Lynn Kurland’s take on the DM – “It also helps to point sternly toward the scary under-the-bed spot used by all creepy things and tell Doubty to get back there. Then write your book the way you like. If he doesn’t make too many noises you can let him back out to help you with the editing.”Fellow Scribe Katy Lee – “The Doubt Monster taunts me every time I sit in the chair to write. “Who said you could write? Huh?” Perhaps I’ll keep a club beside my chair to play whack-a-Mole with him when he pokes his head out from now on.”

To which J Monkeys enthusiastically proposed – “I think we need to find someone to create the Whack-a-Doubty app….”

But wait! There’s a voice of dissent here.

Kristan Higgins says of old Doubty – “I love and embrace the Doubt Monster. It took us a while to fall for each other, but because I am old and wise now, I’ve come to learn that the DM and I are actually meant to be together. He lets me know when I need to rethink a plot point or adjust a character, back off or tone down or beef up. That being said, I try to ignore the DM during the first draft. Experience has shown that while first draft may indeed suck, it doesn’t mean the final product will. So I try to barrel through that part of writing, then fling open the doors and let the Doubt Monster have at it.”

Hmm. I’m hearing some love, even admiration. Maybe I should re-consider. Maybe he’s like Darth Vader. A misunderstood villain who really has a soft, gooey middle.

Possibly.

The jury is still out with me. All I can say, is this – “Doubt Monster, I’ve got my eyes on you. Watch it buddy!”

What do you think? Have I been unfair to the Doubt Monster? Should I learn to live with him instead of playing whack-a-mole on his head?

How do you deal with the Doubt Monster?

Creating Villains You Love to Hate

Hello, Katy Lee here. As a romantic-suspense writer, my stories would take a serious nosedive without a well-developed villain. Someone who stands in my protagonist’s way to finding their happiness. Someone who drips with anger and evil; who lives for the sole purpose of another person’s destruction. Someone who is a real-life monster.

It seems kind of fun to create such a dark character, doesn’t it? But, in all seriousness, wouldn’t it be considered a bit…um, like overkill?

The fact is unless you are writing a horror novel or perhaps, some fantasy, your villain needs to be human. They and their cause need to be believable. Sure, psychopaths do exist in the real world, wreaking havoc on innocent people for no apparent reason, but they don’t always make for a good nail-biting, heart-tugging, emotionally-gripping read.

These come when your reader can relate a little bit to your villain. Perhaps recognize a little bit of the villain’s darkness in themselves. Or even better, when the protagonist in the story can.

In my current manuscript, Real Virtue, there comes a point when my heroine must look her villain in the eye and come to grips with her own wrongs….because she recognizes them in him. It’s an eye-opening experience for her, and without it, he’s just a boring psychopath. And she has learned nothing.

One of my favorite villains whom I love to hate is good old Darth Vader. And it’s got nothing to do with his deep breathiness. Here is a darker-than-night individual. A person whose temptation for power overcame him, extinguishing any goodness he had in him…or did it? In the end, he saves the day. There was still some good in him after all. He was not all dark. He had depth that I think we all could relate to. And that’s what made him a good villain. Without it he was just a boring, breathy psychopath.

The Unlocked Secret: When creating your villains, visit the deepest, darkest part of yourself. The part you keep hidden and under control. The part no one sees. I read on a Tweet that author, Katherine Paterson (Bridge to Terabithia) said, “If you can’t find yourself in your villains, rewrite.” It is in your own darkness that you will find a villain readers will love to hate.

Question: Where do you find your inspiration for creating your villains? Are your villains people? Or are they inner struggles your characters must wrestle with before finding their happiness, or at least some resolution?