My review/discussion video is now up!

My review/discussion on The Ladies’ Paradise is officially up. So far it is the longest video I’ve made (23 minutes), and it took a lot longer than usual to film and edit. But it was worth it though, it was nice to have to much time to express my thoughts on the subject. I’m rather pleased with the result as well – it’s a bit of a rant, I’ll admit that – but I did find a lot of things that bothered me so I couldn’t stop myself.

Feel free to have a look! Remember to drop a like if you enjoyed it! 🙂

What writers can learn from the classics

I recently finished reading The Ladies’ Paradise, written by Émile Zola, first published in 1883. To be fair, I hadn’t heard of this book before so I’m not sure how much of a cult classic it is, but I decided to give it a shot anyway.

I found it interesting, to say the least. There were a lot of issues of course, especially regarding the characters, and I will go through this in more detail in my upcoming review/discussion vlog that I’m filming today. I also had some issues with the pacing and such, but what I’d like to talk about here is that special little je ne sais quoi that this book has.

Firstly, it gives the reader an incredible insight into the inner workings of the 19th century Parisian department store. From a business perspective, it’s very interesting indeed. In a time before computers and digital currency, a business of this scale was like a clockwork of processes all depending on human diligence to function. I was very much intrigued by this.

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I always say that I don’t like it when historical fiction portrays a romanticised picture of the past – which brings me to my next point. As this is a Naturalist work of fiction, it is rather the opposite. The harsh reality of the 1800s is ever-present in this book. Most of the side characters, if not all of them, get unhappy or even tragic endings. The main character goes through some awful circumstances as well such as poverty and starvation. Never, not even once, is this portrayed as something romantic. It’s gritty and gruelling, and I absolutely love it.

Therefore, I find it difficult to say for sure what I thought about this book. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. I find that the plot and the characters are the most important elements of any good book – and in this case, it didn’t really have any of that. What it did have though was an amazing setting and some interesting prose (unless it went completely nuts, which happened quite a lot).

All in all, I would say that anyone who’s interested in learning more about the developments of business and capitalism in 1800s Paris will have a fairly nice read, whereas if you want a nice period love story, you might get disappointed. I suppose that’s where my biggest problem was; I went in expecting something entirely different than what I ended up getting.

New vlog on motivation & dialogue

I’ve finally uploaded another vlog! I’ve struggled quite a bit lately, both with my lack of motivation as well as (once I got my motivation back) writing dialogue. I couldn’t decide which one of them to talk about so the solution was simple; I included them both!

This whole vlogging and youtube business is a bit like fumbling about in darkness until you think you’ve found your way. Sometimes, you end up taking the wrong path and have to go back a few steps and try and new one. It’s both exciting and a little scary. I’m really enjoying my vlogs though, and I’m looking forward to getting better and better at recording them.

New camera!

It was time to decide on whether or not to take the whole Youtube thing seriously, and well, the decision was yes. I ordered and have just received my new camera, which will hopefully help me make videos of better quality. It’s not a super flashy camera, as that is not within my budget, but it’s probably still better than my smartphone, which has awful limitations when it comes to recording video.

So – I hope to start using it today and film another writing vlog! I’m just waiting for the battery to charge. Seriously, I’d completely forgotten about that. I had the strange idea that I would just be able to unpack it and start using it right away. Silly me.

Here it is, my brand new Canon Powershot SX730 HS

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As far as camera stuff goes, I found this one rather pretty, and naturally Oskar made fun of me for thinking that was an important part in deciding which camera to buy.

Monday, lovely Monday

I am determined to get back on track this week. I’ve already made a light start by tackling chapter 11, and hopefully I will finish editing it either today or tomorrow. I’m slightly apprehensive though, because I know what’s waiting around the corner…

The mid-climax.

I had so much trouble here when writing the first draft, it’s the only chapter in the manuscript that still has placeholders – I simply couldn’t figure it out the first time around! That’s usually a clear sign that it needs a lot of work. Perhaps even a complete renovation. We’ll see when I get there though, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Apart from moving along with my chapters, I will also try my best to get another writing vlog out this week. I’m sad that I couldn’t manage to film last week, but I know that the end result would have been terrible, so there was no point in even trying. Goodness, that sounded really bad. What I mean is that it wouldn’t have been entertaining enough for a fruit fly, much less my small yet distinguished audience.

I suppose I should get back to it then, if I actually want to reach my goals. I wish everyone a happy and productive week!

Even bad weeks have an end

So, this week was supposed to be really productive. I had it all planned, since Oskar was in Thailand with work I wanted to get a lot of writing and filming done, as having the apartment to myself all week would be a great advantage in this regard. Then I remembered that having high expectations means that you set yourself up for disappointment from the start. I know I sound pessimistic, but hear me out.

I’m usually the kind of person who always prepares for the worst – because I prefer being pleasantly surprised rather than the opposite. Sounds reasonable, right? People around you may think you’re a bit of a bore but honestly, keeping your expectations low from the start will have you exceeding them on a regular basis.

I had a good flow these last couple of weeks, and it got me into a false sense of security. Since I had been exceeding my expectations for a while, I must have raised them subconsciously and thereby gotten myself a bit cocky in regards to my capabilities.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that we’re all human, we all have bad days or bad weeks. Sometimes we need a break from productivity and our minds and bodies tell us this by becoming completely uncooperative. This week was like that for me. Even the smallest task felt like an Everest to climb, I had no motivation at all. But you know, even bad weeks have an end. I’m hoping that the upcoming one will be better – although this time, I’ll make sure to keep my expectations low…!

The pressures of impactful dialogue

I had a plan for this week that I don’t think I’ll be able to follow. It was my intent to make a new map for my world – which would include more countries and areas that I’m working on – but I simply can’t find the motivation to work on it. It’s rather frustrating, to be honest. I love maps and I want the map making process to be fun and exciting, not dreary and dull.

I think the reason behind that is because I’m slightly overwhelmed by where I’m currently at in my editing.

I’m on chapter 11 at the moment, still second draft. It’s getting harder though. I’ve been having some trouble creating impactful dialogue – the kind that really shows a character’s personality, gives hints of their weaknesses and strengths. This is especially important in some scenes, where something significant happens… for example… when a character meets a love interest for the first time.

It’s interesting how an entire novel can feel too short for what you want to say. It simply can’t go on forever if you want the end product to be good and keep the readers’ interest. Therefore, moments like the one I just mentioned become exceptionally important. It needs to be impactful, every spoken line has to be there for a reason, have a purpose. It’s a lot of pressure, that’s all!

Maybe I’m asking too much of myself for trying to achieve that on my second draft. But as I’ve said before, I’m a perfectionist, and that’s a difficult habit to break. I’ll have to try my best though, my story deserves better than me not finishing it because I get stuck and over-complicate things. Sometimes, we just have to move forward even if we’re not 100% pleased with the previous step – it leaves a bit of a sour aftertaste but we can always go back to it later.

There’s one major flaw concerning Plotters and Pantsers

There’s a lot of talk going on in the writing community about whether you identify as a Plotter or a Pantser. I know, apparently you need to keep up with the lingo if you want people to take your writing seriously.

In short, a Plotter is someone who plots a lot (obviously). They make an outline and spend a lot of time plotting what’s going to happen in the story before actually writing it. A Pantser is kind of the opposite. They make it up as they go along, letting their characters determine the direction of the story as they’re writing it.

There are clear benefits with both of them. A Plotter usually knows beforehand what the next step is and would therefore not get stuck as often. A Pantser, however, might be less constrained by too much planning and overthinking things.

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Sometimes, stories evolve by themselves as the characters and worlds we create become alive. That’s definitely something I’ve noticed as I was writing my first draft. I’m a Plotter – but I wish I could write like a Pantser at times. I’ve spent so much time making my outline, and in the end, I had to change a lot of things because it didn’t feel right anymore. As my story had evolved, it no longer fit my initial plan for it. Like I had created something… organic.

I’m too much of a control freak to let go and have my story take me to new places; I want to be in the driver’s seat. This means that I’m constantly fighting the natural progression of things. Kind of like shooting myself in the foot during a marathon. I might be stubborn enough to reach the end eventually, but I’ll do so on a painful limp just to prove a point. Or at least, I would have done before – but now I’ve realised that things don’t exactly work that way.

It’s difficult to know when to remain in control and when to let go. Sometimes when reading my manuscript I find little hints that weren’t put there intentionally. It could be foreshadowing to a completely different ending, perhaps, or a character acting in a way that goes against my initial portrait of them. That is when I have to decide whether to remedy this by going with my original plan – or to act upon these hints and make significant changes to the story. Each and every one of these hints means a new, major decision that no label can make for me.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, whether you identify as a Plotter or a Pantser, be careful of putting labels on yourself and your writing. Whilst some people might feel safe knowing what works “best” for them, my experience is that it can also hold you and your story back from its true potential. Just a little something worth thinking about this fine Friday afternoon.

Vlog is now up!

My first writing vlog is officially up! If you are in any way interested in discussing writing, writing first drafts and editing chapters, feel free to give it a watch and let me know if you agree, or if you have different views and experiences. (And yes, it’s rather embarrassing that I just now figured out that I could just paste the link in the blog post.)

First time filming without a script

I just filmed my vlog about chapters! It’s a real mess, truthfully, but I hope to be able to make sense of it during editing. This was my very first video without a formal script – I had basically just made a list of points that I wanted to talk about, so that was an interesting experience. Not really sure if I like it though, we’ll see what the end result is before I pass my sentence on it!

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My more casual filming setup! I thought, since I’m filming myself just talking about my experience and views, I would need a more casual setup. So here it is.

I’ve always admired Youtubers who can just sit down with a camera in front of them and talk cohesively for like an hour, with minimal cutting. It might just be me being inexperienced, but I find it really difficult to talk without a script. Not when I’m with my friends, obviously, but when I’m alone with a camera my mind just goes blank for some reason. It’s probably just some kind of performance anxiety that goes away with time.

The video will be posted tomorrow, as Thursdays are my usual upload days. 🙂

I hope you all have a lovely day!