Thursday, June 16, 2016

Writing Workshop Session #1: A Writer's Voice

Just because it's in words doesn't mean it has no voice.

In a medium where the artistry is reflected in a vast collection of mostly plain words creatively strung together, it can be a challenge to make what you write stand out and seize a reader's attention.

This is where your Writing Voice can make or break your story.

Why is it important?

Your voice is your brand. Whether you're writing for yourself or for clients, it distinguishes your style and delivers consistent content to your readers.

Your style is often an indicator of what you're passionate about. Passion intensifies the quality of your output, brings a little bit of literary magic and gives you the stamina to not only start a story but also finish it.

Nothing sticks better than a consistent message or style. It's also what builds your readership. There should be something unique about your writing that they like, that they look for and somewhat expect in your story. Build a brand they can rely on to deliver a consistent quality of work.

What is my Writing Voice?

There is no exact answer to this because it's often a combination of many elements, most of them coming from reader feedback. As a creative, it's tough to listen to criticism but to see your work through a different set of eyes can really give you perspective you may not normally have. So ask for feedback whenever you can.

Below are some guide questions you can ask yourself to get to know your brand of writing:

  • What stories do you enjoy reading about? 
  • What are the top three things you get positive reader feedback on technique and style-wise?
  • What are your stories known for, whether it's good or bad?

What now?

Just like in any good relationship, the process continues even after getting to know each other. It's the same with writing. You may already have a very solid idea about your style of writing or not have written enough to come to a conclusion. Either way, here are some quick tips to build the momentum from here on.

  • Allow yourself to start a new story without too many parameters. Start with whatever creative trigger you have—a character name, a story title, a scene, an idea or a dialogue line. Something must've been compelling enough about it to make you want to seek out a pen and paper. You can take that trigger and map out a Creative Brief to whichever direction your inspiration points you to next. 
  • Write it down now and save it for later. Stories don't always come to us in a neatly-wrapped package. Sometimes, you don't have enough to take the idea and turn it into a full-fledged story. You don't always have to. Write it out with as much detail as your super-charged inspiration allows you to in that moment of pure creative rush. Use the Creative Brief to package the idea into something a little easier to use later on. Check your stack of ideas every now and then in case an old idea grabs on to you and gives you more to work with this time around.
  • Build the characters piece by piece. If you have trouble figuring out their personalities or character type, write them lines you imagine them saying or actions you imagine them doing. Sometimes, these can reveal more about your character than a simple laundry list of attributes.
Writing is a very personal thing but I hope the tips above help. 

Watch my free Skillshare class for a more in-depth discussion on Writing Voice. It's a powerful tool for a writer if you know how to use it well.

Till the next session!

Images other than the first one are property of their respective owners


Writing Workshop Sessions Start Now

I've withheld formal writing advice for so long thinking I wasn't an authority on it because I had no published book or writing awards to my name. But after writing on Wattpad for a few years now, I've learned a thing or two about writing in an even more challenging platform where your art is at the immediate mercy of millions of readers from all around the world. It's easy to get lost in its vast sea of writers and stories simply due to the sheer size of the community's population. Managing to steadily grow my readership and finding golden opportunities to partner up with brands despite all those challenges convinced me that I was doing something right and that I probably should share it with others.

I don't claim to be an expert by any means. This is one aspiring writer's advice to another.

It's free and hopefully, helpful.

So take what you can out of these Writing Workshop Sessions I'll be doing with a grain of salt and start telling your stories.

Image from Pinterest

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

My Free Skillshare Class is now live!

Hello everyone!

Today's a big day because my free class with Skillshare launched.

It's a short, fun class on your creative voice and how to use structure in organizing your story.

I really hope you check it out and learn something from it because whatever stage your writing may be, these tips apply.

I'll start posting some writing tips on my blog here soon for those who are always reaching out to me for writing advice. There will be more of that coming.

For now, enjoy this class! Find it here:


Friday, June 3, 2016

Wattpad Stars Invade the WP Headquarters

I didn't really quite know what I was signing up for when I received the invite to tour the Wattpad HQ in Toronto but I knew it was something I couldn't possibly miss.

Clockwise: 1) HQ rooftop with everyone still recovering from their travels; 2) 'Nuff said. 3) Toronto has some of the best graffiti I've seen; 4) Wind-blown but happy at the top of CN Tower. 

 In my mind, I was coming for two things: 1) Meet the amazing team I've been working with the past couple years and 2) Get to know other Wattpad writers who know what it's like.

Clockwise: 1) Farewell dinner at Hawker Bar; 2) CN Tower during lunch 3) Farewell dinner again; 4) Family picture; 5) Farewell dinner again

There were maybe about sixteen of us, mostly from US and Canada and a couple others from the UK. It was as diverse a group of genre writers as you could imagine—contemporary young adult, teen fiction, horror, fan fiction, romance, sci-fi, and fantasy, to name a few. And while many of us have never seen or talked to each other our entire lives before, the love for stories and the Wattpad experience brought us a bond we never expected. This might sound cheesy but for me, it was a precious opportunity because I don't know any other writer present in some immediate, relevant manner in my life right now. My husband is an awesome cheerleader (*except he can't dance and I'm not so sure about those short shorts) but it's different talking to other people who, like you, have stories, characters and dialogues swirling in their heads all the time. They had stories and experiences that some of us have learned immensely from, especially in being in a unique platform like Wattpad.

Clockwise: 1) At the Blue Jays vs Red Sox game; 2) Still enjoying the baseball game; 3) Oops, a double; 4) Amazing tour of the Trinity Bellwoods Park by none other than Aron Levitz; 5) The WP stars at HQ's kitchen/dining area

I was also pretty pumped about meeting Anna Todd. Took me the whole weekend to work up the courage to ask for a picture. But she was so sweet and we really learned a lot from her—from handling criticisms, appreciating the readers and fans, writing what you love and so much more. Despite her success, she was very down-to-earth and had a smile for everyone.

Clockwise: 1) The whole gang; 2) Finally, fan-girling over Anna Todd and snapping a pic with her; 3) Will never drink this Coke; 4) I need this clock in my life

We didn't just hang out at WP's HQ, which, by the way, is probably the coolest and funnest office I've ever been in. There was the book-signing for the writers who participated in the Imagines anthology. It was a weird experience for me, in a good way. I'm usually very shy when it comes to book-signings. I would never approach an author. I would hang back and creep around. But there, I was so excited for the other Wattpad Stars as it was their first book signing. There was a huge line-up of fans waiting and it was so sweet to see the interactions, the shy nudges here and there between friends, parents and kids, trying to encourage each other to muster the guts to ask for a picture. I never saw it from that perspective but I was glad I was able to. It cured me of my nerves, that's for sure.

Clockwise: 1) Fans excited to get those autographs; 2) The Imagines squad led by Kfan; 3)Fans of the Imagines anthology lining up for signatures with the Stars

There was also the Wattpad Stars AMA (Ask Me Anything). I honestly thought it would go on for much longer but that hour was still a lot of fun for us. Watch it here.

L-R: 1) CN Tower; 2) TMMM on one of the leaves running down the front staircase; 3) Cupcakes to celebrate the birthdays of a couple of Stars; 4) Best pierogies ever

We went out for a little sight-seeing around downtown Toronto, went to the obligatory Blue Jays game (and they won, yes! and apparently there was a streaker), and walked around Trinity Bellwoods Park. It was just plain good times with such a vibrant, creative group.

L-R: 1) Rogers Centre/SkyDome and CN Tower; 2) View from the CN Tower; 3) My knees were getting wobbly in the five seconds it took me to do this shot and I only had my foot out

We were all sad to say goodbye but it wasn't really farewell. For many of us, it's the start of new friendships and a march into the future that's bright and brimming with stories still to be told.

Team pic with Caitlin (our WP fairy godmother), the wonderful Ashleigh, the goofy Aron, and Allan Lau and Ivan Yuen who founded the company. 

The WP Stars gang who came to Toronto:

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