Friday, July 24, 2015

An Illustrated Guide to Writing Partners: The How and Why

Well I was rather pathetic last few months wasn't I. I have no excuse, really. Things have been insane. Absolutely insane. But here I am. Blogging again. A shocker, isn't it?

Pretty much most of my goals this month have flopped. But I have returned with a Sort Of Blog Post. I do have some random updates on random life things which I'll just stick at the bottom.


Okay. Today I want to write about writing partners. I think one of the most important things in writing, is having someone to share it with. And if there is anything I have learned the last year, it is how much someone can help you.

(Also I say it's illustrated but seriously my "illustrations" are screenshots from actual conversations with my writing buddies.)

Writing partners. The concept is pretty simple. Still, every person I have talked to define it differently.

Here are some examples:

Brainstorming Partners: Those you go to when you need help figuring out what you're actually doing in your novel.

Motivation Buddies: Here is an example of something Elly said in a group chat that pretty much sums it up.

That's all you need to know.

Critique Partners: Those you send segments of your stuff to for them to make notes on and edit.

Beta Readers: These are the people who volunteer to read your entire draft when it's done and give their overall thoughts on it.

All of these are beautiful. All of these I've had more or less. But today I kind of want to talk about why writing partners are important to a writer. They take different forms, yes, but sometimes you find a Writing Buddy in their natural habitat, and they become all of these things.

Let me explain.

Starting OYAN, the thought of people reading my stuff was absolutely terrifying. People? Seeing my writing? How about a big fat no?  Okay well. One thing led to another and in 2013 I started talking about stories with someone who is now one of my best friends.

Recently, November 1st last year, I started talking with two other girls who are now some of my best friends. Samantha and Emma. Seriously anyone who knows me have probably heard their names thrown around.

Well these three people are the reason I have gotten through most of my projects, and will be the sole example of the rest of this posts.

Okay first, disclaimer:  I don't want this post to come across as: bragging, or saying you NEED to have writing buddies, or saying all writing buddies NEED to be like this. These are my thoughts. That's all.

And here we go. My personal experiences with Writing partners, complete with real snippets from Actual Conversations with me and my brainstorm buddies. Sadly I lost all the messages with Maddie but trust me I have loooaadddsss from the Sam-Emma-Mariesa chats.

Reasons Writing Partners are the Most Important Thing

1: They are going to love your story no matter what. When you find people who love your story, then there is going to be a reason behind it. Think about it. We're writers. We love stories, do we not? We read books, and so if we read someone else's story, we are going to love it just the same. So it doesn't matter if YOU think your story is lame. When you start telling someone about a story, and this person is truly dedicated to you and your work, then naturally, they will love it. No matter what.

Although to be honest this is usually my reaction when they send me sad things

2: They know what it's like to write first drafts: That was what was most scary about sharing my work. When I started video chatting with Sam and Emma every day during NaNo, they'd send little bits of their stories to eachother over the chat and I was so lost at first. It was beyond me how they were brave enough. Well, now they've read both of my recent first drafts.

What changed?

Well. Think about it again. We're WRITERS. We know what it's like. I wrote some pretty cringe-worthy first drafts, but it's not like I'm the only person who's done that. I'm not scared sending things to them, because unless it's for critiques, they're going to look past errors and appreciate the actual story. These people will read your story with a different eye than a published book. They know it's rough. They've been there.

3: They're going to remind you why you're writing it: I'm just going to be perfectly honest and say I most likely would never have finished my most recent story.

You know the writing cycle.
-Get an idea
-Love the idea!
-Start writing the idea
-Hate the idea
-Wonder why you wanted to write it.

Can I just say how often this happened to me? But when I'd go and whine to my friends they would send me a lot of "._." faces and "mariesa dont be silly your story is fab like omg" and they'd forever remind me that You love this story! 

Having someone react like this over your story is literally the best thing in the world

4: They're going to give you helpful feedback: When you put the Excited Fangirl aspect of a writing partner aside, writing partners can switch to Serious Writer Mode on a whim. If you need actual critiques on something, they're willing to do so. There's no one side to a writing partner. They're indispensable.

They also sometimes give advice like this. Oh well.

5: They're going to know your story well enough to help you brainstorm: We've all heard it.

"Whats your story about??"
"Oh. Um. It's a story with...ghosts and...people? I am a little stuck"
"Oh cool, need help brainstorming?"

And then you stand there blank faced. How on earth do you explain your story and where you are well enough to get advice.

But see, with writing partners, they slowly will get to know your story. When you find the right partner, they will steadily get as familiar with your story as they are with theirs. So when you're stuck, it's very easy to contact them and explain your situation. They'll know your story. They can help.

A few weeks ago I was crazy stuck on this one chapter of my novel. Five days I stressed over it. I talked with Sam about it for half an hour and I had the whole novel figured out. They don't have your mess of thoughts going through your head. They have the ability to get new ideas.

I also think we're the best at creating Novel titles

6: It's a mini fandom, guys! Seriously, I'm not joking. I have a two person fandom for my book. Do you know how amazing that feeling is? When you find the right partners, they will be your fandom. They will get excited and squeal over ships with you. When my friends make these modern day alternate universes, or make fan art or quote my story in normal conversation, it fills me with the best feeling a writer could feel.

My heart smiles so loudly. I have to sit there and flap my hand in front of my face and spin around in my spinny chair because gah I can't even!

Also. They may make big changes without you planning. Usually it happens because they demand it. For instance, demanding that a certain ship become a real canon thing.

(For the record: they do become canon.)

7: They're going to watch your story grow. And that is an amazing thing: I have novels that my writing buddies have seen in every stage. From the "OH MY GOSH NO BUT LISTEN TO THIS IDEA I JUST GOT" stage, to the "So I got characters" stage, to the "dude so i wrote this fluff" stage, to the,  "I STARTED FIRST DRAFT" all the way to "I just finished, it's done, someone hold me" stage.

It's amazing seeing something grow. It's amazing seeing something from a different aspect. It's amazing seeing a writers thoughts every step of the way. Getting new ideas with writing partners are amazing. They will effect your work. Since I've known Emma, I've found a love for historical fiction. I have a whole series that I love so much that came from Emma's love for historicals that she got me into. It's amazing watching something grow, and letting someone else see something of yours grow.

8: They will order you around: As I posted earlier, writing buddies are drill Sargent. You can tell them to "please make sure I do the thing and not get distracted on tumblr" and they will actually threaten the lives of your favorite character in their book to get you to write.

Take this for example, in which Sam threatens the life of Emma's favorite character in Sam's (very emotionally damaging) novel.

Is that not a gem? Is this not true friendship? I say yes.

9: You will leave this process with the best friends in the world. When I started talking with my first writing buddy, Maddie, it was for character development. When I first started talking Sam and Emma it was because I thought they were cool people and "hey they need words, i need words, we should totes words together".

And now? Well. You would think one year of knowing someone is to soon to call someone your best friend.

But I mean, best friend. Let us google it.

And yeah. Maddie, Sam, Emma. We live on opposite sides of the countries and over the short amount of time I've know them I feel closer to them than a lot of people. It's based on words, a mutual love for story. And that can blossom. You can rant, start talking about serious things.

Writing is a very personal act. You get to know someone's stories, and why thy write them, and you get to know them as a person.

 And sometimes it starts with "Hey can you read this chapter for me?" or in the case of Maddie, "Hey do you want to do a character chat?", and in the case of Sam and Emma "Hey we should write and video chat." And it grows from there.
The google has spoken. These people are the Michael to my Frank.

  (if you are really confused by that last comment just go look closer at the google definition screenshot)

10: None of this is one-sided: 

I have now ranted a lot all about friends. And what they have done for ME.

And I really want you to know that none of this is one sided. Absolutely none of it, okay? Through these friendships, I have seen many beautiful stories grow. I have had the ability of helping some very important people create stories that have effected me more than a lot of published works.

It's something different, loving a story like this than one you pull off the shelf. It's a beautiful thing watching something grow from idea to finished work. From first draft to second to third. It's an amazing thing, getting the authors insight and getting to know these characters and seeing pictures and hearing about the story before the first sentence is even written.

It's a beautiful thing, loving a story like this, and ordering around your friends and getting to see a story born.

Okay so this whole post is a ramble. But this is important to me. I understand that this type of thing is not the same for everyone. And I totally understand that not everyone wants a partner.

The sake of this post is more of a pro's list of why I think writing partners are important.

How to Find a Writing Partner

1: Clubs: My writing partners are from a writing curriculum forum. You can find some in Facebook groups, local writing clubs, and other writers you meet in various places.

2: You need someone who truly loves your story: It's one thing to get critiques. To have a writing partner to be this dedicated to your story. You read what sort of things a writing partner can do.

3: Don't worry about genre: I write paranormal, speculative historical and the occasional fantasy. Maddie writes high fantasy, sci fi and speculative. Emma writes historical murder and ghost stories. Sam? She writes steampunk, ghosts, sci fi, you name it. Somehow we totally grow off eachother regardless. Don't worry about genre. You can worry about tastes (you don't what someone who you disagree with when it comes to matters like content matter or beliefs) but don't fuss over different genres.

This is what happens when a ghost-fiction writer and a murder-mystery writer plot things 

4: Patience! I have been writing since I was tiny and it wasn't until I turned 14 that I found a writing partner. Don't freak if you feel rather alone. I felt super jealous starting out of these close bonds some writers had with each other work. Please don't less this dishearten you. You will find someone. Look at some of the popular published writer bonds. Some take years to be founded. Don't freak.

These bonds have the ability to last for a long time and really make a difference in your life not just writing.

Sometimes they come out of the blue and all ya gotta do is say something along the lines of:


And a year later you'll have a 800,000 messages group chat and piles of memories

I am going to copy and paste my earlier disclaimer: I don't want this post to come across as: bragging, saying you NEED to have writing buddies, or saying all writing buddies NEED to be like this.

I suppose in the end this is a thank you for everyone who has been my writing buddy, even in small ways. Even in little "keep goings." and "This is good. Don't give up.". And in the ways that seem small but make the biggest difference.

Writing is sometimes considered a solitary act. For many, that is true. For many, that's what they like.

But it's not always.

Sometimes what you really need is a person to be right by your side along the journey.


Life Updates!
On the 8th of August, I am starting the 100 Happy Days Challenge. Basically you post a picture every day of the things that made you happy. It's a challenge to get you to really focus on what you love and what you have to thank God for every day. I'm really looking forward to it!

Here'es the information on that: 100 Happy Days Home page

Also. In a few days I am leaving for my first Mission trip! I am really looking forward to this trip and I'll be sure to write about my experiences when I return.