Happy Two Month Old Blog!

Mmmm... Cake

Mmmm… Cake

A few days late with this, but whatever, it’s the internet. I can say it’s the Vatican Queen’s birthday and people will believe me. In breaking news, they just made me Phantom of the Opera. But before I go for rehearsals, let’s do a blog review and discuss WordPress Analytics! Note, this is a self-serving post, anybody who reads this and gets pissed off, well, it’s your fault.

Good Stuff That Happened In March

  • Content: I’ve hit the sweet spot in terms of where I want my blog to be now. Mostly original content backed by my stories. I no longer feel the need to hide behind big name writers and websites. Not sure how this happened, I didn’t plan for it. It just came out. Heck, I even wrote one semi-guide using my own content and examples.
  • Originality: I’m writing more original content in all my posts – stories, reviews, ravings, guides, then ever before, all in, I’m pouring over 20,000 words of self-written content into my blog each month. About 600-800 original words per post with lots of quotes. It seems that with each week, I use less and less of other people’s content.
  • Theme: I think I found a theme which I am comfortable sitting on, one that actually has readable fonts while still providing structure. Though I’m still sad that I cannot just increase the font size automatically. Why WordPress sticks with mainly tiny fonts, I have no idea. Just 1-2 size upgrades for me would be perfect. Other than that, I’m still eyeing the MimboPro theme enviously, though I think it’s a dumb move since I don’t have that much content for such a newsy theme.

Bad Stuff That Happened In March

  • Like-Trollers: Still an amazing ton of them. Not sure where they get their kicks from honestly. What’s sad is when I click on their blogs, they have tens of thousands of followers. Like me, you have probably followed a few trolls before who liked all your post but never actually read anything. WordPress seriously needs to clean this up, if nothing else it is extremely misleading, encourages bad behaviour, and has turned one of the major metrics into a downright joke.
  • Follower-Trollers: Not as bad, but yea, I can’t get rid of you, and that makes me sad. I can imagine WordPress doing an infograph one day showing off all these metrics, and I’ll just be like whatever. If I can block them from even showing up anywhere, that would totally make my day. No, diarrhoea medicine guy or crappy SEO guy, I am not interested in you. The bad thing is, I’m wary about following people now, or even clicking on the likers in my post. More than 50% of them are turds.
  • Readership-Count Dropped: It’s just a given that fiction story posts do not get the same number of views as say a reblog from a famous author or a writing guide post. One of my stories, got a lot of new viewers because I tagged gaming, xbox and stuff. But did they actually read the posts, no. Refer to like-trollers. Plus I didn’t get the big reblog I got in Feb and earlier in March. One reblog by a big site will totally send your site to new heights for the entire week and not just the day. But still, I try to cut down on troll posts unless it’s something I like, e.g. Mad Men or World War Z (only 2 likes but top viewed post for content posted in April).

Analytics… Or “Pics Else It Didn’t Happen”

  • Internet loves Memes – Those I posted in the past are still my top posts on a week-to-week basis – The Immortal Jellyfish (20% of all my views), The Biodegradable Urn and The Gazelle Meme all gets lots of hits from Google. Jellyfish gets consistent hits every single day. The view count of that alone is multitudes higher than everything else, even those reblogged by others. The Gazelle Meme got like 11 one day, just not sure why. These people do not bother reading the other stuff too, so whatever.
  • Readership Count is Wonky All you need is one reader trolling through your entire site and your view count skyrockets. Honestly on all the best views days, that’s what happens. Else, I attract a very small but consistent unique user figure, just the number of views differ.
  • How to get to 1000+ followers Post and tag more photo prompts of the hottest google searches, reblog more content from big names. Until my own stuff gets better, thats the only way. Else I could make internet-friendly stories, very short, to the point, with a gimmick… maybe next time. Until then, just got to brush up my own content.

What I want to do

  • Need More People To Follow – I unfollowed quite a lot of people this month, but now I actually have a awesome reading list choke full of stuff I want to read instead of “Gif of blogger of the month” award ten times in a row, when their blog has more exclamation points and “You can do it!” stuff than actual content. Hence would like to look for new people to follow. Story Tellers, Artists, and Writing Guides are nice. The who to follow tool on the Reader page sucks very bad. No poetry or haikus though.
  • Keep At It – Just keep what I’m doing. But clearly I need to change somethings to get readers. The only way I see I can do that with sticking to the theme of stories, is probably to do something like Rick Mallery and his amazing Power Shorts Daily. I have the base in my photo prompts, just need  a change of style and become as awesome a writer as he is.
  • Structure something – People like structure or know if something can be expected. Using Rick Mallery as an example again. A story on a daily basis in your email – Very neat idea. Particularly when they have been all pretty amazing thus far. Follow him.

Gems Of The Month 

Rob Akers – Another story-teller. He writes stories based on his time in Iraq / Kuwait as a C130 pilot. He doesn’t focus on the action though, you get a detailed look at life behind the scenes. The politics and the fear in the eyes of the soldiers.

Amazing Series on Dialogue By Les Edgerton – He guest-posted them on Kristen Lamb’s blog. Amazing four-parter article that will train you how to look at dialogue differently, including the tricky subtext. Too bad he doesn’t have a WordPress blog, but he does have a Blogspot one though.

End Thoughts

I’ve decided to be more active on Quora again. They actually have an amazing community discussing and posting stories, story ideas and what-nots. In bite-size friendly pieces. Plus I like answering when people ask for ideas.

End Post. I shall have my digitally enhanced cake and eat it now. Gif-flavored icing rocks.

Related articles

Writing Tools: The Idea Matrix

The Creative Process

In the beginning, stories are nothing but paper filled with ideas. Your ideas. Everything, from the characters to the story to the dramatic twist comes from your little head. You are the creative master. So why not make things a little easier for your noggin’ and add a little structure to your process.

Why a Matrix

Let’s use characters as an example for now. Anyone who had ever written something probably knows that you never ever just write a story about a boy. Your story of a boy eventually becomes:

The bullied – boy in school – who lost his mother at a younger tender age – and lives with his caring uncle  – who wishes the boy will crawl out of his shell one day  – to fulfil his fullest potential.

OR

The bullied –  boy in school – who loathes his mother for abandoning him – because his uncles hides the truth from him – thus making him think that she is the devil incarnated – which is why he cuts himself and just bit off the tip of Eric’s nose.

He doesn’t even need to be a boy, you can turn him into a girl, or a middle age accountant. The idea here is to identify the key traits of the character and put them down into a interchangeable grid format. In the above examples. the characters can easily be swapped with just a few key words. Boy – Girl, Angry – Sad, Fulfilment – Frustration.

And to do this efficiently, you need some sort of matrix. Here’s an example of a matrix that I have used to build my own characters thus far:

Simple Matrix

Looks simple doesn’t it? Yet, it still managed to serve multiple purposes:

  1. It clearly presents to you the choices to transform your character.
  2. It inspires you by allowing you to randomly mix and match.
  3. It saves you a lot of rewriting, forgetting and headaches.
  4. It acts as a database for your old characters if you ever need to reference them.

Using A simple Matrix

You can use very simple ones like the one above, which focuses purely on the characters and let your creative juices filll in the rest. Below are just some examples I just thought of literally 2 minutes ago:

E.g. The Hungry Video Game Nerd opens his fridge and grabs a coke, accidentally brushing against the head of his father. He wouldn’t let him game in peace, so he killed him.

E.g. The Jaded Pregnant Girl is sitting at the abortion clinic… again. All the waiting is making her mad, she has a hot date coming up in a few hours and just wants to get it over and done with.

Going further with the concept, you can even take a well-known, well-referenced character, change enough parts of it, and you get a new character completely unique to you and you alone!

Expanding the matrix

If you’re sort of a OCD freak like me, and would like to creative a more extensive matrix which extends the concept to plot, theme and what-nots, here’s my expanded matrix.

Big Matrix

Click for a better view

For an extended Matrix, the basic premises should be filled:

  • Who? The Main Character + optional major secondary characters or villains
  • Why? The Purpose + optional smaller conflict that leads to the big one + optional plot twists.
  •  Where? The Setting + optional smaller, more intimate start point and bigger end game
  • When? Time Frame + Optional jumping to and fros if your story calls for it.
  • How? The story of the character moving ahead + logic fail-safes + your gimmick

Of course, none of the above should be compulsory. If anything else, having a few gaps would allow you to get the creative process going. This full blown matrix should really only used for archiving purposes or just to stare at when you’re fresh out of ideas.

The combinations here are endless if you’re looking for zany wacky possibilities.

Jaded – Superhero – who attends a High School Reunion – but feels he has nothing else to live for – meets a WitchDoctor –  tell hims he can be someone else in another life – makes him goes back in time to kill his own parents – ending up in a alternate universe of his own doing – but climax and conclusion open for you to fill in. 

Will that work? I don’t know. But it is a hell of a original idea as far as I’m concerned, and that’s what counts. From a bunch of old stories I came up with something new, in two minutes by the way. And I only have eight tracks to work with now. Think of the endless possibilities when you fill this up to twenty, forty.

If you’re a burned out writer looking for inspiration, give this method a try. It helped me, I’m sure it’ll help you too. 

Writing Tools is a series I wish to expand upon in future where I talk about the various resources and processes that budding writers out there can use to better their own creations. Most of this concepts should be easily replicatable and I will present them in the form of my own exercises. If you have any ideas of your own, kindly share them as well, in your own blog or in the comments below!

Update – Practical Exercise Example 

Forgot to include a practical example. Here’s how I came up with a story combining 4-5 elements of what I’ve written before into what is more or less 1/2 the material I need for an entire story. Using a Private Eye from an un-uploaded early work regarding a Demon pet, using the old man from The Biodegradable Urn, using Butterfly Lady from the self-titled prompt, using Japanese man from The Immortal Jellyfish and basically borrowed plot lines from everywhere else. I can easily throw in Irish Manager Bob from Pixel Land as a circus ring leader, and the sugar-loving crazy demon imp from my first story (which sadly I will never upload). Maybe borrow a few spiders from Peter’s work as well.

I just picked and matched this in 10 minutes

Instant Plot

Click for a better view

Becoming a Storyteller: Building Initial Ideas, or, Get Thee to a Nunnery!

Excellent post on inspiration for sparking a story

ByDLFernandez

I’m one of Those people. Yep. I’m the guy that’ll open a blast email from, say, Writer’s Digest, and buy something they’re advertising–thus ensuring another blast will clutter any number of inboxes. The item in question this time is a writing book (yes, another writing book) entitled: The Nighttime Novelist by Joseph Bates.

This book grabbed my attention for two reasons: 1.) The subtitle is “Finish your Novel in Your Spare Time”, which essentially what I have to do–you know, since I can’t quit my job; and 2.) It was on sale for $7.99.

The timing of blast email from Writer’s Digest Books was fortuitous as well, since I needed some new reading material for Spring Break. It helps that James Scott Bell, an excellent suspense writer and writing coach, recommended the book, too. Any while many books on the craft of writing can be hit or miss, I have found…

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Becoming a Storyteller: Plotter vs Pantser, or, Did Stephen King really just call me a Dullard?

ByDLFernandez

Stephen King, in his seminal work On Writing, says the following about Plotting:

“Plot is, I think, the good writer’s last resort, and the dullard’s first choice.”

Wait, what? I’m a Plotter! Or, at least, I was until five seconds after I read that line recently. See, these days I’ve been stuck in neutral, my tires spinning in the slick mud of the writing journey, despite the fact that my headlamps are fixed on this shiny new idea. I’ve started a bit of World Building, and I’ve decided the audience, but I haven’t begun drafting. Like I said, I’m stuck.

I’m someone who has always preferred knowing where I was heading and how I was going to get there. Tell me the plan, or I’ll be wringing my hands–having heart palpitations. With this new story, I know who my main character is, and I know what…

View original post 518 more words