All posts by September C. Fawkes

Sometimes September C. Fawkes scares people with her enthusiasm for writing and reading. People may say she needs to get a social life. It'd be easier if her fictional one wasn't so interesting.

Fawkes wrote her first story on a whim during a school break when she was seven. Crayon-drawn, poorly spelled, and edited so that it contained huge, fat, blacked-out lines, the story (about chickens seeking water) changed her life. Growing up, she had a very active imagination; one of her best friends accused her of playing Barbies wrong when she turned Ken into a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde mad scientist love interest. Her passion for stories led to her playing "pretend" longer than is socially acceptable. It was partially a symptom of never wanting to become an adult. Luckily she never did. She became a writer instead.

Fawkes has a soft spot for fantasy and science fiction, but she explores and reads anything well crafted. She has a passion for dissecting stories and likes to learn from a variety of genres, so you may find her discussing classics in one blog post animated shows in anotherTry not to be afraid of either. (And do be sensitive to the fact she never did reach adulthood.)


September C. Fawkes graduated with an English degree with honors from Dixie State University, where she was the managing editor of The Southern Quill literary journal and had the pleasure of writing her thesis on Harry Potter. She was also able to complete an internship in which she wrote promotional pieces for events held in Southern Utah, like the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, and she participated in a creative open mic night, met some lovely people in a writers’ group, and worked as a tutor at the Writing Center. Her college experience, although demanding, was rewarding.
She liked it enough to consider getting her M.F.A., and she got accepted into a couple of programs, but decided to pass on it.

Since then, she has had the opportunity to work as an assistant for the New York Times bestselling author David Farland, while (rarely now) critiquing novels or proofreading promotional pieces on the side, and she even had the chance to meet J.K. Rowling in New York City, but mostly she hides out in her room, applies her butt to her chair, and writes. Other than that she reads fiction and books about writing fiction.

She has had poems, short fiction, and nonfiction published.  Her main writing project right now is a young adult fantasy novel she plans to publish traditionally.

Some of her favorite things include, but are not limited to, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Les Miserables, The X-Files, The Office, Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, rock concerts, Creed, ballet, pugs, cherry blossoms, Ethel M. Chocolates, and anything yellow.

Vague Vs. Ambiguous: Which are You Writing?

Imagine you sat down and started reading a story that opened like this.

“What are those people doing out here?”
“I don’t know.”
Poppy sighed and ran a hand through her hair. The woman was very old. Her sister took off her scarf and went inside.
“How many days until Wind Set Day?” the prophetess asked.
“Four, maybe five, perhaps,” she said.

How many people are in the story? Two? Four? What’s the setting? Since someone goes inside, we can assume the characters are outside of something, so they are probably outdoors, but we don’t know for sure. And what does the sister go inside of? A house? A store? A box? What kind? What’s “Wind Set Day”?

These are all things we can guess at, but we can’t really get a picture of what is going on. It’s vague. Unfortunately a lot of unpublished stories start this way. Later in this post, I’ll go more into why new writers often make the mistake of starting like this and exactly how it works to create a problem. (And yes, of course, all rules are made to be broken).

Vague writing is like this picture. Its blurry. Unfocused. As a reader, we can’t really tell what is going on.

While “vague” and “ambiguous” are often considered synonyms, in a lot of places in the writing world, they don’t mean the same thing.

“Vague” deals with the story being out of focus and vapory. It’s not quite anything.

“Ambiguity” happens when something in the story could mean multiple things–supported by evidence.
Continue reading Vague Vs. Ambiguous: Which are You Writing?

September C. Fawkes

About September C. Fawkes

Sometimes September C. Fawkes scares people with her enthusiasm for writing and reading. People may say she needs to get a social life. It'd be easier if her fictional one wasn't so interesting.

Fawkes wrote her first story on a whim during a school break when she was seven. Crayon-drawn, poorly spelled, and edited so that it contained huge, fat, blacked-out lines, the story (about chickens seeking water) changed her life. Growing up, she had a very active imagination; one of her best friends accused her of playing Barbies wrong when she turned Ken into a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde mad scientist love interest. Her passion for stories led to her playing "pretend" longer than is socially acceptable. It was partially a symptom of never wanting to become an adult. Luckily she never did. She became a writer instead.

Fawkes has a soft spot for fantasy and science fiction, but she explores and reads anything well crafted. She has a passion for dissecting stories and likes to learn from a variety of genres, so you may find her discussing classics in one blog post animated shows in anotherTry not to be afraid of either. (And do be sensitive to the fact she never did reach adulthood.)


September C. Fawkes graduated with an English degree with honors from Dixie State University, where she was the managing editor of The Southern Quill literary journal and had the pleasure of writing her thesis on Harry Potter. She was also able to complete an internship in which she wrote promotional pieces for events held in Southern Utah, like the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, and she participated in a creative open mic night, met some lovely people in a writers’ group, and worked as a tutor at the Writing Center. Her college experience, although demanding, was rewarding.
She liked it enough to consider getting her M.F.A., and she got accepted into a couple of programs, but decided to pass on it.

Since then, she has had the opportunity to work as an assistant for the New York Times bestselling author David Farland, while (rarely now) critiquing novels or proofreading promotional pieces on the side, and she even had the chance to meet J.K. Rowling in New York City, but mostly she hides out in her room, applies her butt to her chair, and writes. Other than that she reads fiction and books about writing fiction.

She has had poems, short fiction, and nonfiction published.  Her main writing project right now is a young adult fantasy novel she plans to publish traditionally.

Some of her favorite things include, but are not limited to, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Les Miserables, The X-Files, The Office, Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, rock concerts, Creed, ballet, pugs, cherry blossoms, Ethel M. Chocolates, and anything yellow.

Kicking “Great” Dialogue up to “Killer” Dialogue

Similar to my What I Learned about Writing Action Scenes post and my 15+ Tactics for Writing Humor post, I’ve been . . . unsatisfied with the information available on writing killer dialogue. I read a couple of books on it and writing tips, but you know, I’m obsessive, and I wanted more.

Most of the dialogue tips I’ve read have been either on the grammatical basics of how to write dialogue, or really about how not to write dialogue. They might go through how to punctuate dialogue, and then talk about what not to do. They talk about bad dialogue.

Yeah, well, what about beyond all that stuff?

All these things are helpful and necessary for writing good and even great dialogue.

But what about writing killer dialogue? What is it? And how do you find it?

So over the last few years, I’ve been trying to develop an eye for dialogue. I think I’m starting to get somewhere. I’m starting to recognize mediocre dialogue better, and what I call shrug-the-shoulder dialogue, and I’m becoming more conscious of little tricks writers use to create great dialogue.

Today, I’m going to talk about the little tricks for great dialogue that I noticed in Interstellar.

First, here are the posts I’ve done in the past that relate to dialogue:

(Don’t) Tell Me How You Really Feel
What You See is What You Get
What You Need to Know Most About Character Voice
What Else You Need to Know Most About Character Voice
Actions vs. Words: the Loud and the Quiet
Melodrama: What it is, How it Works, and How to Get Rid of it
How to Write What’s Not Written (Subtext)

And then there are some other posts that touch on it too.

Surely there are more important things about dialogue to nail down first before getting into the stuff of this post. This post is not the root of dialogue. It’s tricks to consider once you’ve got the foundation down. So here we go.

(Mini) Context Shifts

I’ve been on a context-shift kick with fiction lately. I love, love, love, a good context shift in a story. Interstellar had a great one smack dab at the midpoint: When we discover that Dr. Brand never intended Plan A to work, he starts quoting Dylan Thomas’s poem again, and with the new information, the context of the poem shifts in shocking and disturbing new ways. The words “Do not go gentle into that good night” suddenly carry a different meaning. Instead of being a poem of hope, it becomes one of resilience and desperation. The words haven’t changed, but the context has.

 

A context shift usually happens when new information enters the story that changes our understanding of what is going on. It can also happen when a character reacts to information a certain way. Their reaction gives us a new context to view things through. But, I noticed that in Interstellar, the writers put in mini-context shifts in the actual dialogue. And I loved it.
Let’s look at an example, a conversation that, in my opinion, is the best conversation in the whole movie because of all the dynamics in it. It’s the conversation between Cooper and Murph when Cooper tells her goodbye. First, just read the thing. It’s a well-crafted conversation, especially if you can remember the emotion and motivations Cooper and Murph bring into it. I’d post a video of it, but I couldn’t find one that had the whole scene.

Continue reading Kicking “Great” Dialogue up to “Killer” Dialogue

September C. Fawkes

About September C. Fawkes

Sometimes September C. Fawkes scares people with her enthusiasm for writing and reading. People may say she needs to get a social life. It'd be easier if her fictional one wasn't so interesting.

Fawkes wrote her first story on a whim during a school break when she was seven. Crayon-drawn, poorly spelled, and edited so that it contained huge, fat, blacked-out lines, the story (about chickens seeking water) changed her life. Growing up, she had a very active imagination; one of her best friends accused her of playing Barbies wrong when she turned Ken into a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde mad scientist love interest. Her passion for stories led to her playing "pretend" longer than is socially acceptable. It was partially a symptom of never wanting to become an adult. Luckily she never did. She became a writer instead.

Fawkes has a soft spot for fantasy and science fiction, but she explores and reads anything well crafted. She has a passion for dissecting stories and likes to learn from a variety of genres, so you may find her discussing classics in one blog post animated shows in anotherTry not to be afraid of either. (And do be sensitive to the fact she never did reach adulthood.)


September C. Fawkes graduated with an English degree with honors from Dixie State University, where she was the managing editor of The Southern Quill literary journal and had the pleasure of writing her thesis on Harry Potter. She was also able to complete an internship in which she wrote promotional pieces for events held in Southern Utah, like the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, and she participated in a creative open mic night, met some lovely people in a writers’ group, and worked as a tutor at the Writing Center. Her college experience, although demanding, was rewarding.
She liked it enough to consider getting her M.F.A., and she got accepted into a couple of programs, but decided to pass on it.

Since then, she has had the opportunity to work as an assistant for the New York Times bestselling author David Farland, while (rarely now) critiquing novels or proofreading promotional pieces on the side, and she even had the chance to meet J.K. Rowling in New York City, but mostly she hides out in her room, applies her butt to her chair, and writes. Other than that she reads fiction and books about writing fiction.

She has had poems, short fiction, and nonfiction published.  Her main writing project right now is a young adult fantasy novel she plans to publish traditionally.

Some of her favorite things include, but are not limited to, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Les Miserables, The X-Files, The Office, Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, rock concerts, Creed, ballet, pugs, cherry blossoms, Ethel M. Chocolates, and anything yellow.

Ramping up Try/Fail Cycles

In writing, a try/fail cycle is the main character’s attempt to resolve the story’s problem. There are at least three try/fail cycles in every well-written story (of this structure). Often the main character will fail the first two cycles, but not always. In Interstellar, the first try/fail is the first planet they visit, the second try/fail is the second planet they visit, and the third try/fail is the black hole.

A good writer wants each try/fail cycle to be bigger or better than the previous one. That’s one key to writing a successful story. Escalate. Escalate. Escalate. The writer has got to keep increasing the tension, the stakes, and the costs.

Like I said last time, Interstellar has huge stakes and costs, and the Nolans ramp them up to the max– all at the first planet they visit, the first try/fail cycle! Most writers wouldn’t be able to do that. Do you know why?

Because if a writer starts that big in the first try/fail cycle,  he or she has to jump over that bar to do something bigger or better, more suspenseful than that. If your story starts too big, with the costs and stakes all ramped up from the get-go, then there is nowhere else to take your story that can be bigger or better than what just happened. In other words, the story’s tension will all be downhill from there.

 

But the Nolans are exceptional writers, and they pulled off what most writers, even great writers, can’t. They managed to still heighten the stakes and tension, even after basically maxing it all out on the first try/fail cycle. These guys are freaking talented.

When I was watching Interstellar for the first time, after Miller’s planet, I was freaking out. That was only the first try/fail cycle. And there were still two other planets to visit! Where the crap were the writers going to take the tension next? How the heck do you escalate this story, from this point forward? I even wondered if it wouldn’t escalate, because I couldn’t conceive how it could, but I’d heard such good things about the movie, I knew the writers had to have figured something at least decent out.

The Nolans set the writing bar extremely high with the first try/fail cycle.

And then I proceeded to watch them jump over it.

Where the heck did Jonathon and Christopher Nolan come from?

And they were so clever in all of it. They were so clever in jumping over the bar. They didn’t try to jump over it by escalating the same things even more, which is what a lot of beginning writers do. They didn’t try to, say, go to a planet where one hour equals 10 years instead of seven. No. They were smart because they made each try/fail cycle so different (and yet just as satisfying). And by doing that, you are able to skyrocket all of them out.

In the first try/fail cycle, the main conflict is a person vs. nature conflict, as the crew has to deal with the enormous waves. It’s also a conflict that deals with resources, with time as a resource. Those get skyscraped.

 

The second try/fail cycle (Mann’s planet) centers on a person vs. person conflict: Dr. Mann vs. Cooper. Yes, nature plays a role (when Cooper is suffocating), but it’s not the main focus. The Nolans gave us something different, and then maxed that conflict out, by Dr. Mann not only trying to kill Cooper, but by him stealing the ranger and blowing up the Endurance (an extremely high cost). In this try/fail cycle, we are facing an antagonist who can think and scheme and act in a conscious attempt to stop the hero. It’s intense because we feel Dr. Mann’s desperation, and when he says, while fighting Cooper, that a 50-50% chance of living is the best he’s had in years, we know that Dr. Mann will try to survive, no matter the cost. There is nothing too big, or too drastic, that he won’t attempt, and just knowing that, hikes up the tension.

Then we get the third try/fail cycle with the black hole, and again, it feels so different from the others. Cooper is facing the unknown, and that brings its own kind of terror and wonder into it. This try/fail cycle is more scientific, but it still brings high emotional tension and high intellectual tension with it, as Cooper has to watch himself walk out on Murph again and then figure out what is going on.

So the Nolans made each try/fail cycle different, and then ramped them up. By doing this, they were able to take the tension way, way up, exceed the audience’s expectations, and keep the story from feeling long and monotonous.

They were able to create huge conflicts, and were able to resolve them. This takes real talent. If a writer tries to create gigantic conflicts, then he or she is stuck trying to figure out how the characters are going to solve them. Sometimes the writer writes herself into a corner, and has to go back and shrink the conflict to something that’s easier to solve. But the Nolans had huge conflicts in their story and were able to pull it all together to actually come up with a solution for them. As an audience, I don’t think we fully appreciate the magnitude of this. But when you look at all the pieces (that at times seemed impossible to fit together, like ghosts and gravity) and conflicts, you’ll start to glean the talent it takes to pull it all together, and pull it all together so flawlessly.

Surely the Nolans are some of the most talented writers in Hollywood right now. That’s this person’s opinion anyway.

 

September C. Fawkes

About September C. Fawkes

Sometimes September C. Fawkes scares people with her enthusiasm for writing and reading. People may say she needs to get a social life. It'd be easier if her fictional one wasn't so interesting.

Fawkes wrote her first story on a whim during a school break when she was seven. Crayon-drawn, poorly spelled, and edited so that it contained huge, fat, blacked-out lines, the story (about chickens seeking water) changed her life. Growing up, she had a very active imagination; one of her best friends accused her of playing Barbies wrong when she turned Ken into a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde mad scientist love interest. Her passion for stories led to her playing "pretend" longer than is socially acceptable. It was partially a symptom of never wanting to become an adult. Luckily she never did. She became a writer instead.

Fawkes has a soft spot for fantasy and science fiction, but she explores and reads anything well crafted. She has a passion for dissecting stories and likes to learn from a variety of genres, so you may find her discussing classics in one blog post animated shows in anotherTry not to be afraid of either. (And do be sensitive to the fact she never did reach adulthood.)


September C. Fawkes graduated with an English degree with honors from Dixie State University, where she was the managing editor of The Southern Quill literary journal and had the pleasure of writing her thesis on Harry Potter. She was also able to complete an internship in which she wrote promotional pieces for events held in Southern Utah, like the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, and she participated in a creative open mic night, met some lovely people in a writers’ group, and worked as a tutor at the Writing Center. Her college experience, although demanding, was rewarding.
She liked it enough to consider getting her M.F.A., and she got accepted into a couple of programs, but decided to pass on it.

Since then, she has had the opportunity to work as an assistant for the New York Times bestselling author David Farland, while (rarely now) critiquing novels or proofreading promotional pieces on the side, and she even had the chance to meet J.K. Rowling in New York City, but mostly she hides out in her room, applies her butt to her chair, and writes. Other than that she reads fiction and books about writing fiction.

She has had poems, short fiction, and nonfiction published.  Her main writing project right now is a young adult fantasy novel she plans to publish traditionally.

Some of her favorite things include, but are not limited to, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Les Miserables, The X-Files, The Office, Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, rock concerts, Creed, ballet, pugs, cherry blossoms, Ethel M. Chocolates, and anything yellow.

Skyscraping Stakes and Costs

I’ve been talking about the writing techniques the Nolans used to really ramp up the Interstellar story and in particular, the audience’s emotional journey with it. Today’s post is all about taking the story’s stakes and costs to the max. I mean, totally skyscraping them.

In a story, the stakes are what are “at stake” or “at risk,” what your character has to lose. In The Hunger Games, Katniss’s life is what is at stake, and the emotional (and physical) health of her sister. If Katniss doesn’t win The Hunger Games, she’ll die and Prim will be devastated. In some stories, a relationship is what is at stake. A lot of 90’s movies are about the relationship between a father and son being at stake, because the father works too much. In other stories, it can be a job.

The costs are what the character has to do or give up to reach a goal and/or save those stakes. So in The Hunger Games, it cost Katniss some of her identity. At the very end of the book, she grows more and more confused over what part of her is real and what part was her just trying to survive. For Peeta, he says in Mockingjay that “to murder innocent people costs everything you are.”

For the 90’s movies, the dad usually learns some valuable lesson about the importance of family and has to tell work to shove off so he can spend time with his son. It costs him work.

In Interstellar, there are multiple stakes and each one is incredibly high. Note that, in the strongest stories, the stakes are going to broaden (meaning that the conflict gets bigger and includes more stuff in it) and are going to deepen (the conflict is going to become more personal) (got that info from Million Dollar Outlines). So the Nolans have both broad and deep stakes to play with.

Interstellar Stakes

  • Fate of the human race
    • As both for humans currently alive, and as a future species
  • Cooper’s and all of the astronauts’ lives
    • As both literally and in a more abstract sense, meaning their quality of life, not being able to have a real life, dealing with the chance of being lost in space for the rest of their lives (like Romily thought). It’s the stake of a wasted life.
  • Cooper’s relationship with his children.
    • Never being able to see them again
    • Never being able to make things right with Murph, and to some extent, Tom

Okay, wow, each of those stakes are pretty heavy duty. But see how some of them are “broad” and some of them are “deep.” And they aren’t just kind of broad, I mean, they are really broad–the fate of the whole human race? At the present and in the future? And they aren’t just kind of deep. The relationship between Cooper and Murph is super deep–deep enough to save a species. What’s also interesting to note is that each stake has two sides, two aspects, which makes them even more complex and more interesting.

The stakes in and of themselves are great enough for an exceptional story, one that will keep us on edge, make us emotionally invested. We can see big, huge stakes like this in epic fantasies, and probably most superhero movies.

These stakes are high in and of themselves, but the Nolans skyscraped another element to take tension and emotion to new heights: the costs.

Now, the concept of stakes and costs can overlap. Sometimes they can stack on top of each other and feed into each other for stunning story effects that I’ll get to in a second. But just keep in mind, that yes, some of the costs are the same as the stakes, but that’s because they are the costs of different stakes. If you’re confused, just hang in there.

Let’s look at the crazy costs in play here for Interstellar.


Interstellar Costs

  • Time. It takes time to carry out the mission
  • It costs all the supplies, fuel, etc.
  • Lives. Before Cooper goes out into space, 12 other astronauts have already gone out to 12 planets. Cooper can only visit up to three planets. He can save only up to three people, and even those people have given up parts of their “abstract” life–life’s experiences. Cooper’s mission also costs people’s lives, Doyle’s and Romily’s.
  • Loss of family relationships. The mission means losing family relationships, sometimes physically by death, and other times through emotional distance. And frankly, just missing out on a loved one’s life.

Not only are the stakes very high, but the costs to succeed at saving the human race are very high. And then, the Nolans ramp up these costs to new heights, new extremes. Time is a cost. It’s a cost in loads of movies. But in Interstellar we aren’t talking about losing time as we know it, we are really talking about losing time, to a devastating degree, to the extent that the whole human race could be dead in a matter of hours to Cooper.For the supplies, as the movie progresses, the Endurance starts to lose fuel, but the significance of that cost gets ramped up when Dr. Mann blows up part of the Endurance. Now Cooper and Amelia don’t even have the means to get to Edmunds’s planet, let alone Earth.

As an audience, when we set out on this space journey with Cooper, we have a sense of what the costs are, but the Nolans totally skyscrape them, and do so very quickly–in the first planet the team visits.

The costs of visiting the first of three planets is extremely high. A newer writer would never skyscrape the cost of the first planet like that (I’ll explain why in a future post), but the Nolans did, and they could, because they are phenomenal writers.

Here are the costs of visiting Miller’s planet:

 

  • Time, one hour equals about 7 Earth years. So Miller’s planet costs them 23 Earth years!
  • Lives. Miller is already dead (it cost her life for her to visit that planet). Doyle dies. And Romily loses years off his life waiting for Cooper to get back to the Endurance.
  • Supplies. They now don’t have enough fuel to visit Mann’s and Edmunds’s planets and make it back to Earth
  • Relationships. Cooper has missed out on 23 years of his children’s lives, and he can’t get that back! It’s gone. Not only that, but he’s lost communication with them.

What. The heck.

Do you see how freaking crazy those costs are? All for one planet? All for the first planet? (There’s still two more to visit!)

The Nolans just took all the costs and skyscraped them, beyond what we had ever expected, beyond what we had even imagined! It’s shocking. It’s devastating.

And the result?

An extremely powerful emotional response.

And after all these crazy high costs, we have to sit with Cooper and watch a whole 23 freaking years of his children’s lives in a matter of minutes. The condensation of it all makes it incredibly potent.

The result? Especially paired with that pairing of emotions I talked about before?

Sharp, sharp heartache.

And if you even just watch those videos with Cooper, you’ll see how the Nolans are still pairing opposite emotions to make each one sharper. We get the joy of Tom finishing school, getting married, having a son, then tragedy over his son’s death and Cooper’s dad’s death, and finally Tom saying goodbye to Cooper, because he believes him to be dead. Then we get Murph’s anger that’s paired with her own hurt and regret. And of course, all of this is overshadowed by loss, because Cooper missed it all. And he can’t communicate back to them.

 

The writing is fantastic!

And the Nolans’ continue to skyscrape the costs. As Dr. Brand dies, we learn that the survival of the human species actually costs the abandonment of the existing humans. Going into the black hole costs 50 years. Those are years with his children Cooper can never get back.

Okay, ready for the next cool thing the Nolans did with stakes and costs? This is one of my favorite plotting techniques that I don’t think I have the skill to pull off consciously in my own writing yet. (Someday. Someday.)

Remember how I said some of the costs were also some of the stakes?

That’s because some stakes are the costs of other stakes.

This space mission, meant to save the human race, costs the astronauts’ lives and relationships. Once we hit that twist with Dr. Brand’s death (about Plan A being fake) in the middle of the film, we realize that in order to save the human species, we must leave the existing humans for dead.

The cost of accomplishing the overall goal is abandoning Plan A (which in a way, was the overall goal, at least for Cooper). The cost of accomplishing this goal is losing the other stakes.

You can’t save, or even minimize the loss of the other stakes, because they are the cost. You have to give them up. You have to sacrifice them to save the most important stake.

Let me explain this in another way. Because it can get confusing and feel circular. Let’s get back to The Hunger Games, (spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the books) which actually does a similar thing in the trilogy as a whole, though it’s not as obvious. Katniss volunteers to be a tribute to save her sister. As the series continues, Prim’s safety is a driving force for Katniss. She doesn’t want Snow to kill Prim. Katniss wants to make a better world partly for Prim. But the cost of making a better world is Prim.

 

Prim was what was at stake. But she becomes a cost in order to save a different stake–the state of Panem.

So the main goal can get swallowed up in saving another stake.The things you can do with this technique are powerful.

Sometimes it can seem like the main goal and the cost are the same thing. For Cooper, the whole point of going into space is to save the human race, but in order to save the human race, he has to let it die. It’s like the cost is the same thing as the stake.The very reason Cooper went on this mission is also the cost of fulfilling that reason.

It kicks up the tension to a new level.So, here is what the Nolans did:

  • Selected high stakes and high costs
  • Completely ramped up the costs, making them so high they break through and beyond our expectations for a devastating effect.
  • Made what was at stake the cost of other stakes.
Now that’s killer writing.
September C. Fawkes

About September C. Fawkes

Sometimes September C. Fawkes scares people with her enthusiasm for writing and reading. People may say she needs to get a social life. It'd be easier if her fictional one wasn't so interesting.

Fawkes wrote her first story on a whim during a school break when she was seven. Crayon-drawn, poorly spelled, and edited so that it contained huge, fat, blacked-out lines, the story (about chickens seeking water) changed her life. Growing up, she had a very active imagination; one of her best friends accused her of playing Barbies wrong when she turned Ken into a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde mad scientist love interest. Her passion for stories led to her playing "pretend" longer than is socially acceptable. It was partially a symptom of never wanting to become an adult. Luckily she never did. She became a writer instead.

Fawkes has a soft spot for fantasy and science fiction, but she explores and reads anything well crafted. She has a passion for dissecting stories and likes to learn from a variety of genres, so you may find her discussing classics in one blog post animated shows in anotherTry not to be afraid of either. (And do be sensitive to the fact she never did reach adulthood.)


September C. Fawkes graduated with an English degree with honors from Dixie State University, where she was the managing editor of The Southern Quill literary journal and had the pleasure of writing her thesis on Harry Potter. She was also able to complete an internship in which she wrote promotional pieces for events held in Southern Utah, like the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, and she participated in a creative open mic night, met some lovely people in a writers’ group, and worked as a tutor at the Writing Center. Her college experience, although demanding, was rewarding.
She liked it enough to consider getting her M.F.A., and she got accepted into a couple of programs, but decided to pass on it.

Since then, she has had the opportunity to work as an assistant for the New York Times bestselling author David Farland, while (rarely now) critiquing novels or proofreading promotional pieces on the side, and she even had the chance to meet J.K. Rowling in New York City, but mostly she hides out in her room, applies her butt to her chair, and writes. Other than that she reads fiction and books about writing fiction.

She has had poems, short fiction, and nonfiction published.  Her main writing project right now is a young adult fantasy novel she plans to publish traditionally.

Some of her favorite things include, but are not limited to, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Les Miserables, The X-Files, The Office, Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, rock concerts, Creed, ballet, pugs, cherry blossoms, Ethel M. Chocolates, and anything yellow.

Keeping Conflicts Unresolved

Today’s post is short, but the writing technique is still strong and effective. I’ve been talking about what Interstellar did to have a powerful emotional impact. One way was to keep a crucial conflict unresolved until the very very end of the story.

When Cooper has to leave his family, and Murph refuses to say goodbye, it creates strong tension in the audience. See, if Murph and Cooper would have made-up before he left, that tension would have been released, but instead, the writers amplified it by leaving it not only unresolved, but by taking advantage of the parent-child relationship that was going on, and the unknown future of Cooper. All these things worked together to take the emotion to a new height.

Having Murph run after Cooper when he’s driving away, serves as an extra little push, an extra little reminder that their conflict is left very unresolved.  And because of Cooper’s situation, we have to carry all this tension and heartache with us through the entire movie.

The conflict gets touched on again and again. It changes, it stretches, it deepens through the show. (It can’t just stay the same, because it would go stale and dull our sensitivity to it). It hits a climax with Murph when she yells that Dad didn’t even try to save them, that he left them here to die, and hits a climax with Cooper when we see he would give anything, anything to go back and change his decision to leave Murph in the first place.

Imagine instead, that Murph had ran out and caught up to them, and they’d had a sweet loving goodbye, and later, Murph begins to think Cooper abandoned her. It would not have been near as effective. The emotion would not have felt near as powerful, near as raw through the movie.

So, look for powerful conflicts to leave very unresolved.

 

September C. Fawkes

About September C. Fawkes

Sometimes September C. Fawkes scares people with her enthusiasm for writing and reading. People may say she needs to get a social life. It'd be easier if her fictional one wasn't so interesting.

Fawkes wrote her first story on a whim during a school break when she was seven. Crayon-drawn, poorly spelled, and edited so that it contained huge, fat, blacked-out lines, the story (about chickens seeking water) changed her life. Growing up, she had a very active imagination; one of her best friends accused her of playing Barbies wrong when she turned Ken into a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde mad scientist love interest. Her passion for stories led to her playing "pretend" longer than is socially acceptable. It was partially a symptom of never wanting to become an adult. Luckily she never did. She became a writer instead.

Fawkes has a soft spot for fantasy and science fiction, but she explores and reads anything well crafted. She has a passion for dissecting stories and likes to learn from a variety of genres, so you may find her discussing classics in one blog post animated shows in anotherTry not to be afraid of either. (And do be sensitive to the fact she never did reach adulthood.)


September C. Fawkes graduated with an English degree with honors from Dixie State University, where she was the managing editor of The Southern Quill literary journal and had the pleasure of writing her thesis on Harry Potter. She was also able to complete an internship in which she wrote promotional pieces for events held in Southern Utah, like the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, and she participated in a creative open mic night, met some lovely people in a writers’ group, and worked as a tutor at the Writing Center. Her college experience, although demanding, was rewarding.
She liked it enough to consider getting her M.F.A., and she got accepted into a couple of programs, but decided to pass on it.

Since then, she has had the opportunity to work as an assistant for the New York Times bestselling author David Farland, while (rarely now) critiquing novels or proofreading promotional pieces on the side, and she even had the chance to meet J.K. Rowling in New York City, but mostly she hides out in her room, applies her butt to her chair, and writes. Other than that she reads fiction and books about writing fiction.

She has had poems, short fiction, and nonfiction published.  Her main writing project right now is a young adult fantasy novel she plans to publish traditionally.

Some of her favorite things include, but are not limited to, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Les Miserables, The X-Files, The Office, Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, rock concerts, Creed, ballet, pugs, cherry blossoms, Ethel M. Chocolates, and anything yellow.

Gaining Incredible Emotional Power by Crossing Opposites

When I pressed “play” on Interstellar, I had no idea that I was about to have one of the most powerful emotional experiences of my movie-watching life. Sure, subconsciously I took into consideration that I would cry at the end of the movie. Maybe. I was not prepared to legitimately cry near the starting, in the middle, at the climax (multiple places), and at the resolution (in two places). On top of that, I was not expecting to experience emotion that was that raw. I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced emotion that raw from a movie.

I was not alone.

 

 

So what in the world did the Nolan brothers do?

Well, a few things.

Last time I talked about how pairing/crossing opposites can make a story more powerful. It’s because of the breadth. It’s the breadth between extremes that enables the audience to feel emotions more powerfully.

We tend to think that if we want to write a story that hits a particular emotion powerfully, that we have a lot of scenes that hit that emotion. So if we want a story that makes people cry, we might think of having most of the story made up of tragic scenes. But the audience actually experiences stronger, raw-er feelings, when you contrast emotions. Tragic scenes become more powerful when we have humorous scenes.

It all gets back to writing with foils. (You can read my post on foils here).  When we pair opposites, we create contrast–we are pulling the audience from one extreme to the other.

We are yanking them from one end of the spectrum to the other, and all that breadth they travel makes the experience feel sharper. (David Farland did a post on this once by the way.) It’s like going from hot water to cold. The cold feels colder because we just experienced the hot.

Interstellar does this beautifully.

First though, let’s talk about the kinds of emotion Interstellar evokes, because Interstellar elicits powerful emotions. The movie is emotional not just in the I’m-about-to-cry sense, but its emotional in that it evokes a variety of contrasting emotions and evokes them in a strong way

Here are some of the main emotions that I see: Continue reading Gaining Incredible Emotional Power by Crossing Opposites

September C. Fawkes

About September C. Fawkes

Sometimes September C. Fawkes scares people with her enthusiasm for writing and reading. People may say she needs to get a social life. It'd be easier if her fictional one wasn't so interesting.

Fawkes wrote her first story on a whim during a school break when she was seven. Crayon-drawn, poorly spelled, and edited so that it contained huge, fat, blacked-out lines, the story (about chickens seeking water) changed her life. Growing up, she had a very active imagination; one of her best friends accused her of playing Barbies wrong when she turned Ken into a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde mad scientist love interest. Her passion for stories led to her playing "pretend" longer than is socially acceptable. It was partially a symptom of never wanting to become an adult. Luckily she never did. She became a writer instead.

Fawkes has a soft spot for fantasy and science fiction, but she explores and reads anything well crafted. She has a passion for dissecting stories and likes to learn from a variety of genres, so you may find her discussing classics in one blog post animated shows in anotherTry not to be afraid of either. (And do be sensitive to the fact she never did reach adulthood.)


September C. Fawkes graduated with an English degree with honors from Dixie State University, where she was the managing editor of The Southern Quill literary journal and had the pleasure of writing her thesis on Harry Potter. She was also able to complete an internship in which she wrote promotional pieces for events held in Southern Utah, like the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, and she participated in a creative open mic night, met some lovely people in a writers’ group, and worked as a tutor at the Writing Center. Her college experience, although demanding, was rewarding.
She liked it enough to consider getting her M.F.A., and she got accepted into a couple of programs, but decided to pass on it.

Since then, she has had the opportunity to work as an assistant for the New York Times bestselling author David Farland, while (rarely now) critiquing novels or proofreading promotional pieces on the side, and she even had the chance to meet J.K. Rowling in New York City, but mostly she hides out in her room, applies her butt to her chair, and writes. Other than that she reads fiction and books about writing fiction.

She has had poems, short fiction, and nonfiction published.  Her main writing project right now is a young adult fantasy novel she plans to publish traditionally.

Some of her favorite things include, but are not limited to, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Les Miserables, The X-Files, The Office, Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, rock concerts, Creed, ballet, pugs, cherry blossoms, Ethel M. Chocolates, and anything yellow.

Flipping Story Stuff (with Interstellar)

I’ve talked several times on my blog posts about flipping story-parts on their heads for an interesting effect. The example I usually refer to is Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, which takes the classic hero-journey fantasy story and flips it. One way he does this is by starting the tale after the prophesied “hero” has attempted to kill the god-like antagonist–and died. That’s like Harry finally reaching the climax of his battle with Voldemort, dying, and then J.K. Rowling starting the story there.

The point of flipping and twisting familiar concepts is that it creates a sense of originality, breathes fresh life into old ideas, and surprises viewers. Whenever you need to get your story to feel more original, whenever you need to brainstorm new ideas, you can look at flipping, twisting, and morphing a common concept. You can look at flipping, twisting, and morphing what is already at work in your story.

Interstellar did just that in several ways.

Inverting Concepts: Tars and Case and Robots

 

 

Christopher and Jonathon Nolan, the writers of Interstellar, flipped the concept of “robot” on its head. So much so that Christopher didn’t even like thinking of them as robots. He calls them “machines.” To some, Tars and Case might seem a little weird. Other viewers loved them. But here is the brilliance of Tars and Case: they are the exact inverse of our concept of a robot.

Here’s how.

In the behind-the-scenes clip on them, Christopher Nolan talks about how robots usually try to look like humans, or at least, like some specific creature or object. He didn’t want to do that. He wanted Tars and Case to “look like a thing.”

As I watched the movie, I remembered how most humor that comes from robots comes from how literal they take things. They usually lack “human-ness.” Often they don’t understand human emotion. That’s where writers get humor out of robot characters.

But the Nolans didn’t do that. They wanted Tars and Case to have a human-ness inside them. They wanted it to come across like Cooper and these guys were buddies, so we get Cooper saying, “See you on the other side, Slick”–that nickname gives us the sense that they are pals. Christopher wanted Tars and Case to sound and feel human when talking. So for once we actually got robots that understood human emotion and had real humor–even to the point of making jokes off the fact they were robots.

So the Nolans turned the concept of a robot literally inside out:

A typical robot character looks human on the outside, but struggles to understand human behaviors, thought processes, and emotions on the “inside.”

 

VS.

 

Tars and Case look inhuman on the outside, but appear to be quite human on the “inside.” They are the inverse of the typical robot character.


We still get that feeling of Tars and Case being “other” because of how inhuman they look…

Continue reading Flipping Story Stuff (with Interstellar)

September C. Fawkes

About September C. Fawkes

Sometimes September C. Fawkes scares people with her enthusiasm for writing and reading. People may say she needs to get a social life. It'd be easier if her fictional one wasn't so interesting.

Fawkes wrote her first story on a whim during a school break when she was seven. Crayon-drawn, poorly spelled, and edited so that it contained huge, fat, blacked-out lines, the story (about chickens seeking water) changed her life. Growing up, she had a very active imagination; one of her best friends accused her of playing Barbies wrong when she turned Ken into a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde mad scientist love interest. Her passion for stories led to her playing "pretend" longer than is socially acceptable. It was partially a symptom of never wanting to become an adult. Luckily she never did. She became a writer instead.

Fawkes has a soft spot for fantasy and science fiction, but she explores and reads anything well crafted. She has a passion for dissecting stories and likes to learn from a variety of genres, so you may find her discussing classics in one blog post animated shows in anotherTry not to be afraid of either. (And do be sensitive to the fact she never did reach adulthood.)


September C. Fawkes graduated with an English degree with honors from Dixie State University, where she was the managing editor of The Southern Quill literary journal and had the pleasure of writing her thesis on Harry Potter. She was also able to complete an internship in which she wrote promotional pieces for events held in Southern Utah, like the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, and she participated in a creative open mic night, met some lovely people in a writers’ group, and worked as a tutor at the Writing Center. Her college experience, although demanding, was rewarding.
She liked it enough to consider getting her M.F.A., and she got accepted into a couple of programs, but decided to pass on it.

Since then, she has had the opportunity to work as an assistant for the New York Times bestselling author David Farland, while (rarely now) critiquing novels or proofreading promotional pieces on the side, and she even had the chance to meet J.K. Rowling in New York City, but mostly she hides out in her room, applies her butt to her chair, and writes. Other than that she reads fiction and books about writing fiction.

She has had poems, short fiction, and nonfiction published.  Her main writing project right now is a young adult fantasy novel she plans to publish traditionally.

Some of her favorite things include, but are not limited to, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Les Miserables, The X-Files, The Office, Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, rock concerts, Creed, ballet, pugs, cherry blossoms, Ethel M. Chocolates, and anything yellow.

Typing on the Dvorak Keyboard

I’m surprised how many people have never heard of the Dvorak keyboard, a keyboard layout that ramps up your typing speed, fends off carpel tunnel, and increases your accuracy. It’s a layout that almost any computer lets you switch over to. If you’re into writing for the long haul, you should at least consider swapping to the Dvorak.

The standard keyboard that we use here in the U.S. (as well as other English-speaking countries, I assume) is called the Qwerty keyboard. It’s named after the first letters on it: Q,W,E,R,T,Y. Back in the day, the layout was designed to keep typewriters from jamming. The letters are arranged to keep those that are commonly used together, far apart. So we have “Q” and “U” six buttons away from each other even though they are almost always used together. This kept fast typists from jamming typewriters. It made them type slower.

Today, the Qwerty keyboard is still the standard layout even though its arrangement is not only irrelevant, but is holding pretty much everyone’s typing speed and accuracy back, while helping them develop ailments like carpel tunnel more quickly than a Dvorak keyboard.
Continue reading Typing on the Dvorak Keyboard

September C. Fawkes

About September C. Fawkes

Sometimes September C. Fawkes scares people with her enthusiasm for writing and reading. People may say she needs to get a social life. It'd be easier if her fictional one wasn't so interesting.

Fawkes wrote her first story on a whim during a school break when she was seven. Crayon-drawn, poorly spelled, and edited so that it contained huge, fat, blacked-out lines, the story (about chickens seeking water) changed her life. Growing up, she had a very active imagination; one of her best friends accused her of playing Barbies wrong when she turned Ken into a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde mad scientist love interest. Her passion for stories led to her playing "pretend" longer than is socially acceptable. It was partially a symptom of never wanting to become an adult. Luckily she never did. She became a writer instead.

Fawkes has a soft spot for fantasy and science fiction, but she explores and reads anything well crafted. She has a passion for dissecting stories and likes to learn from a variety of genres, so you may find her discussing classics in one blog post animated shows in anotherTry not to be afraid of either. (And do be sensitive to the fact she never did reach adulthood.)


September C. Fawkes graduated with an English degree with honors from Dixie State University, where she was the managing editor of The Southern Quill literary journal and had the pleasure of writing her thesis on Harry Potter. She was also able to complete an internship in which she wrote promotional pieces for events held in Southern Utah, like the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, and she participated in a creative open mic night, met some lovely people in a writers’ group, and worked as a tutor at the Writing Center. Her college experience, although demanding, was rewarding.
She liked it enough to consider getting her M.F.A., and she got accepted into a couple of programs, but decided to pass on it.

Since then, she has had the opportunity to work as an assistant for the New York Times bestselling author David Farland, while (rarely now) critiquing novels or proofreading promotional pieces on the side, and she even had the chance to meet J.K. Rowling in New York City, but mostly she hides out in her room, applies her butt to her chair, and writes. Other than that she reads fiction and books about writing fiction.

She has had poems, short fiction, and nonfiction published.  Her main writing project right now is a young adult fantasy novel she plans to publish traditionally.

Some of her favorite things include, but are not limited to, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Les Miserables, The X-Files, The Office, Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, rock concerts, Creed, ballet, pugs, cherry blossoms, Ethel M. Chocolates, and anything yellow.

Writing Great Micro-concepts

Today I’m going to talk about what I call “micro-concepts.” I don’t know if there is a real term for them, but micro-concepts are cool little tidbits, little concepts that come up in some minor point of the story. They can be about a minor character, or a bit of indirect plot, or a snip of detail. They are really cool ideas or just great ideas that come up in passing. They may be only one sentence long or a couple of paragraphs.

In contrast, a “macro-concept” is an overall concept in a story. It might be the concept of your story itself. In The Hunger Games the idea that kids have to fight each other to the death in a reality t.v. show is a macro-concept. In the trilogy, Peeta becoming exactly what he feared was a character macro-concept. Macro-concepts are usually what come to mind when we talk about concepts in a story–we’re thinking of the big picture. The overarching ideas.

 

 

But concepts appear in small aspects too. Micro-concepts are like that post I did a while back on picking the right details. We could pick some kind of generic concept for something small in our story, or we can pick something fresh or interesting. I’ll give some examples.

Continue reading Writing Great Micro-concepts

September C. Fawkes

About September C. Fawkes

Sometimes September C. Fawkes scares people with her enthusiasm for writing and reading. People may say she needs to get a social life. It'd be easier if her fictional one wasn't so interesting.

Fawkes wrote her first story on a whim during a school break when she was seven. Crayon-drawn, poorly spelled, and edited so that it contained huge, fat, blacked-out lines, the story (about chickens seeking water) changed her life. Growing up, she had a very active imagination; one of her best friends accused her of playing Barbies wrong when she turned Ken into a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde mad scientist love interest. Her passion for stories led to her playing "pretend" longer than is socially acceptable. It was partially a symptom of never wanting to become an adult. Luckily she never did. She became a writer instead.

Fawkes has a soft spot for fantasy and science fiction, but she explores and reads anything well crafted. She has a passion for dissecting stories and likes to learn from a variety of genres, so you may find her discussing classics in one blog post animated shows in anotherTry not to be afraid of either. (And do be sensitive to the fact she never did reach adulthood.)


September C. Fawkes graduated with an English degree with honors from Dixie State University, where she was the managing editor of The Southern Quill literary journal and had the pleasure of writing her thesis on Harry Potter. She was also able to complete an internship in which she wrote promotional pieces for events held in Southern Utah, like the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, and she participated in a creative open mic night, met some lovely people in a writers’ group, and worked as a tutor at the Writing Center. Her college experience, although demanding, was rewarding.
She liked it enough to consider getting her M.F.A., and she got accepted into a couple of programs, but decided to pass on it.

Since then, she has had the opportunity to work as an assistant for the New York Times bestselling author David Farland, while (rarely now) critiquing novels or proofreading promotional pieces on the side, and she even had the chance to meet J.K. Rowling in New York City, but mostly she hides out in her room, applies her butt to her chair, and writes. Other than that she reads fiction and books about writing fiction.

She has had poems, short fiction, and nonfiction published.  Her main writing project right now is a young adult fantasy novel she plans to publish traditionally.

Some of her favorite things include, but are not limited to, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Les Miserables, The X-Files, The Office, Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, rock concerts, Creed, ballet, pugs, cherry blossoms, Ethel M. Chocolates, and anything yellow.

Making Strengths into Weaknesses (and Vice Versa) through Context

 

Basics—

When we create characters, we give them strengths and weaknesses to make them more realistic. Let’s say we create a character named Erin. We give her some strengths—she is a great teacher, productive, and focused—and also weaknesses—she’s prideful and a complainer. Just by giving her these strengths and weaknesses, we’ve already made Erin interesting. But you can play with this even more. I’m going to show you how strengths can become weaknesses and weaknesses can become strengths through a shift in context. This can add complexity to your story (and characters).

 

Taking it Further—

Most people generally agree on what is categorized as a strength or a weakness. If I gave a list of character traits to a class and asked them to separate them into strengths and weaknesses, they would probably all agree on what goes where. If I said “liar” they would probably say “weakness.” If I said “peacemaker,” they would probably say “strength.” But sometimes when we switch the traits’ context, we (if only temporarily) switch their category in the story.
Continue reading Making Strengths into Weaknesses (and Vice Versa) through Context

September C. Fawkes

About September C. Fawkes

Sometimes September C. Fawkes scares people with her enthusiasm for writing and reading. People may say she needs to get a social life. It'd be easier if her fictional one wasn't so interesting.

Fawkes wrote her first story on a whim during a school break when she was seven. Crayon-drawn, poorly spelled, and edited so that it contained huge, fat, blacked-out lines, the story (about chickens seeking water) changed her life. Growing up, she had a very active imagination; one of her best friends accused her of playing Barbies wrong when she turned Ken into a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde mad scientist love interest. Her passion for stories led to her playing "pretend" longer than is socially acceptable. It was partially a symptom of never wanting to become an adult. Luckily she never did. She became a writer instead.

Fawkes has a soft spot for fantasy and science fiction, but she explores and reads anything well crafted. She has a passion for dissecting stories and likes to learn from a variety of genres, so you may find her discussing classics in one blog post animated shows in anotherTry not to be afraid of either. (And do be sensitive to the fact she never did reach adulthood.)


September C. Fawkes graduated with an English degree with honors from Dixie State University, where she was the managing editor of The Southern Quill literary journal and had the pleasure of writing her thesis on Harry Potter. She was also able to complete an internship in which she wrote promotional pieces for events held in Southern Utah, like the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, and she participated in a creative open mic night, met some lovely people in a writers’ group, and worked as a tutor at the Writing Center. Her college experience, although demanding, was rewarding.
She liked it enough to consider getting her M.F.A., and she got accepted into a couple of programs, but decided to pass on it.

Since then, she has had the opportunity to work as an assistant for the New York Times bestselling author David Farland, while (rarely now) critiquing novels or proofreading promotional pieces on the side, and she even had the chance to meet J.K. Rowling in New York City, but mostly she hides out in her room, applies her butt to her chair, and writes. Other than that she reads fiction and books about writing fiction.

She has had poems, short fiction, and nonfiction published.  Her main writing project right now is a young adult fantasy novel she plans to publish traditionally.

Some of her favorite things include, but are not limited to, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Les Miserables, The X-Files, The Office, Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, rock concerts, Creed, ballet, pugs, cherry blossoms, Ethel M. Chocolates, and anything yellow.