Writing Tips: Why You Should Write Down Your Dreams

After a night of crazy dreams, I wrote them in my journal and thought, Wow, this would be a really great story. This isn’t the first time I’ve had this thought, and it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve used my dreams and nightmares to make stories.

Dreams can be incredibly helpful for writers. They expose us to strange scenarios. They take us on wild rides. But how they can they help our writing?

Dreams Are Great Sources of Writing Inspiration

Image by Ava Sol

You may have heard the story that J.K. Rowling first dreamt about the orphan boy with a lightning scar while she was on a train. A lot of other famous writers have dreamt about their books.

  • Charlotte Bronte
  • Stephen King
  • Mary Shelly
  • Stephanie Meyer

Inspiration can come from real life, but our dreams have the ability to take us to places we’ve never been before. Our dreams are an extension of our imagination. Sometimes they reach ideas we might never have gotten to during our waking hours. Why not use this to your advantage and use dreams as inspiration for your writing?

Dreams Help You Understand Your Life

Image by Robert Ruggiero

I’ve heard it said before that everything we dream is pieces of things we’ve seen or done before. According to the scientific research gathered by Caifang Zhu, “dreams are most often reasonable simulations of waking life that contain occasional unusual features in terms of settings, characters, or activities.”

Writing can complicate our lives and push our minds to the limits. And life is just kind of crazy! Dreams are a great way to sort out what we’re really worried about. By writing down your dreams, you’re dumping all of the scrambled events of your waking life down for you to examine.

While there might also be some great writing material, you’ll also be opening yourself up for writing beyond your own life. This is especially helpful for writers who create entire worlds and extensive characters.

Dreams Are Wild and Unpredictable — Perfect For Writer’s Block

Image by Rodion Kutsaev

It happens to us all. A certain plot point just won’t connect to the rest of the story. One of the best things you can do is let the text rest and go to sleep. Dreams have a way of unraveling complicated events in our life. If your writing consumes your thoughts, chances are you’ll end up dreaming something about it.

You can also look back on dreams you’ve written down. Sometimes they may spark an idea or even contain exactly what you’ve been looking for. Dreams are unpredictable and not linear. They leave room for you to plug in whatever your writing already contains, while also providing unexpected twists!

By starting to write your dreams out now, you’ll gain a larger collection of ideas to choose from.

What if I don’t dream much? you might ask.

Everyone dreams, but not everyone remembers what they dream about. The best thing you can do to help encourage your dream memory is to try to remember them right when you wake up and to write them down.

Dreams Can Open Up New Writing Doors

Image by Jan Tinneberg

As a fantasy writer, I’m constantly looking for new ideas to put into my books. I’m not naturally a horror writer, but I do have a lot of wild nightmares. Dreams are the inspiration for many scenes from my books, as well as my current project of stories based entirely on nightmares.

Dreams can also be a helpful nudge to try out a new genre. Even if you use them as writing prompts, you might be surprised where they take you.

If You’re Interested In Learning More About My Dream Stories

My stories based off dreams are available on Amazon Kindle for anyone to enjoy. Or you can check out the articles below to find out more about them.

“Bottlenecked” By Kristen Kois

“Red” By Kristen Kois

Final Thoughts

What about you? Do you use your dreams as inspiration? Have you ever considered writing them down? Share below!

Reviewing Restaurants In LA: Brasil Kiss Coffeebar

In the never-ending quest to find our favorite coffee shop in LA, we decided Brasil Kiss Coffeebar would be next on our list. Located at the west outskirts of Downtown, we took a short walk to our latest coffee adventure.

History of Brasil Kiss Coffeebar

Outside of Brasil Kiss Coffeebar

Brasil Kiss Coffeebar was first established in 2012 by Luciano of Sao Paulo as a mobile coffee shop. His shop revolves around the word “Ginga” which means absolutely bliss and happiness. To take life not too seriously. In DTLA they have a stationary store (where we went) which features tons of Brazilian coffees, teas, snacks, and desserts.

Experiencing Brasil Kiss Coffeebar

Sitting area at Brasil Kiss
The sitting area at Brasil Kiss

Brasil Kiss was full of poppy colors and fun pictures (as you can see with the pictures of dogs on the pillar). The high windows also let in a lot of nice natural light. The music playing was a little loud, but it was also ambient. Perfectly conducive for a work environment. We were greeted with friendly baristas, and our coffee came out in less than three minutes.

View of the cafe at Brasil Kiss
View of the cafe at Brasil Kiss

Evaluation of Brasil Kiss Coffeebar

I got a Latte with oat milk, and Mitchell got an Americano with almond milk. If you’re a frequent coffee getter, you might know that Americanos are made with espresso and water, leaving a little room for cream/milk at the top. Lattes are espresso and milk, making the color of the coffee much lighter as the ratio of milk to espresso is greater.

But as you can see in the pictures below, my latte was almost the same color as the Americano. It definitely tasted smoother, but I added more milk to it when we left. Still, it was delicious and pungent. I’ve never had Brazilian coffee before, so this was definitely a treat!

Prices weren’t too bad either. Plant milks are usually an upgrade. And though we got smalls, these would be larger than Grandes at Starbucks. All in all, it cost just over $10 for both of us.

Americano and Lattee
Latte (left) and Americano (right)
  • Design 5 out of 5
  • Ambience 4 out of 5
  • Tidiness 4 out of 5
  • Value for Money 4 out of 5
  • Service 5 out of 5
  • Variety 5 out of 5
  • Quality 3 out of 5

Though I’m being a bit picky on the coffee, I did enjoy my experience here. They have ton of fun treats and aren’t too expensive. I will definitely be back for an afternoon to work!

Final Thoughts

If You’d Like to Learn About More Food In LA, Check Out…

More Brasil Kiss Coffeebar Information

Mural at Brasil Kiss Coffeebar

You can check out their menu website here.

Store Location

1010 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90017

Store Hours

Mon-Fri: 7 am – 7 pm

Sat/Sun: 8 am – 5 pm

Writing Tips: 5 Tips For Writing a First Draft

1. Keep Moving Forward (Don’t Edit Prematurely)

The number one reason I hear when people talk about why they can’t write is, “I just can’t finish because I keep going back to edit what I’ve written.”

Editing your book before finishing a full draft is the worst idea for your writing process. Even if you have an outline, it’s unlikely you know everything that’s going to happen in the story. When you edit your first draft, it’s not a first draft anymore. But anything you write after the revision WILL be a first draft. It won’t seem to stand up to what you’ve revised. You’re trying to put fancy clothes on a skeleton and thinking you can pass it off as a person!

Over-editing is discouraging. It’s distracting. And it ruins most people’s writing processes.

At the beginning stage of your writing, you must KEEP WRITING. Don’t look back except to remember names and keep track of the plot.

Think Of Your First Draft As a Skeleton

Model of a skeleton
Image by Nhia Moua

Your first draft is the skeleton of your writing. Bare bones of plot, basic characters, bland action scenes. But they’re all there, written down.

Draft two will be your flesh and blood. You’ll add details, you’ll fix plot holes. You’ll bloat your writing until it’s fat and beautiful. Then draft three can be your trimming, grammar revisions, etc. You might have many more drafts than this. But draft one should always be your skeleton. Even if it has a ton of details, it will end up looking a lot different in the final draft.

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Just keep writing!

2. Write By Hand

Writing things down in a notebook
Image by Alejandro Escamilla

I know. I know. This one will be hard for some people. The first reason I encourage people to write their first draft out by hand is so it’s harder to go back and edit.

The second reason is that for most people, your brain thinks faster than you can hand write, but it thinks slower than you can type. While this may seem like a reason to type instead, typing your first draft can lead to some serious writer’s block.

If you feel like typing your first draft has been difficult, try writing by hand. Taking time to mull your words over can actually lead to some pretty decent writing.

3. Work On Characters On the Side

In my first draft, I let my characters run wild. They say and do things they would never actually say and do if I knew them better. But I’m just starting to get to know them. Instead of fighting over every word they say, I just keep writing everything that comes to mind.

Remember, corrections are for the next draft.

On the other hand, I don’t want to start the second draft without getting to know my characters on a deeper level. Sure, by the end of my first draft I’ve gotten to know them within the realm of the story. But what about their past? Their likes and dislikes?

Here is a starting list for character building. You can find details on this list by checking out the article “Writing Tips: 23 Questions For Character Building.”

23 Questions For Character Building

You can write each character’s miniature biography in a separate notebook or a word document. It’s great to work on this on the side of your actual writing (especially when you need a break), because it helps you get to know your characters as they’re developing on the page.

Also retconning is totally acceptable in your second draft.

4. Keep a Special Notepad Or Document For Ideas

Write your extra ideas down separately
Image by AbsolutVision

During the process of writing your first draft, you’ll have many ideas come to you. Ideas for this book. For possible other books. For the next scene. I have a tendency to write them in the margins of my notebook, but these get easily lost.

The best thing to do is to start a Word document, or you can use your character notebook. Make a special section for ideas, people, and places in your story. This way you’ll have an easy reference guide if you forget something. Or you won’t forget what the next chapter is about!

5. Share Ideas Not Writing

Talking about ideas with a group of people
Image by Priscilla Du Preez

Your first draft is going to be one of your most vulnerable pieces of writing. That’s why it’s important to share ideas not the actual writing. The ideas are the most important aspect during the first draft. The actual written words are not. Talk with friends, share it with a family member, teacher, or mentor. Collaborate with other writers online. Ask questions. But keep writing too!

Research After You Write

Don’t worry too much about doing research for draft one. At this point you’re just trying to drag characters along for a wild ride. Sharing ideas with people you trust can help work out basic kinks. Plus they might know about some topics you’re unsure about.

Collaborating ideas can get you more excited to write. If you find the right people, it can be an amazing experience to gain new insight into your writing. I’ve come up with some crazy ideas by talking about my books with writers and readers I trust.

Final Thoughts

What are your struggles when writing a first draft? What habits have you formed to get a first draft complete? Comment below!

For More Writing Articles Check Out…

Writing Tips: 23 Questions For Character Building

Character building is more than just appearances. Here are a list of 23 questions to ask for every character you’re writing — for any genre. As well as some examples to help get your thought process flowing.

1. What Is Their Earliest Memory?

  • with family
  • with friends
  • with pets
  • with favorite toys

2. What Are Their Greatest Fears?

  • dying
  • failure
  • losing loved ones
  • spiders
  • helicopters

3. What Nervous Ticks Do They Have?

  • runs hand through hair
  • picks skin around nails
  • stutters
  • blinks too much

4. What Was Their Homelife Like?

  • divorced parents
  • no parents
  • parents were good
  • lived with someone else
  • lived with friends
  • good homelife or bad homelife

5. What Do They Smell Like?

  • perfume/cologne
  • outdoors
  • stinky
  • baked goods
  • campfire
  • spices

6. What Do They Keep In Their Pocket/Bags And Why?

  • family heirlooms
  • trinket
  • trash
  • receipts
  • writing utensil
  • small pet

7. What Kind Of Clothes Do They Wear?

  • latest fashion
  • rugged, torn, worn
  • second hand from family member
  • hipster
  • minimalist
  • color palette (earth tones, black, rainbow)
  • Patterns (stripes, plain, plaid, polka dots)

8. What Was Their Childhood Like?

  • good/bad in school
  • friends/friendless
  • explorer/homebody
  • deaths in family
  • always getting into trouble

9. What Sleeping Habits Do They Have?

  • never sleeps
  • sleeps in every day
  • has to sleep in a nice bed
  • can’t sleep with pillows
  • snores

10. What Biases Do They Hold Against People/Animals/Government?

  • traumatic experiences
  • prejudices
  • racial thoughts
  • painful memories
  • hateful feelings

11. What Is Their Myers Briggs Acronym?

  • Pretend you’re the character and take the test at this site
  • introvert/extrovert (focusing attention)
  • sensing/intuition (taking in information)
  • thinking/feeling (making decisions)
  • judging/perceiving (dealing with the world)

12. How Do They Feel About Money?

  • giver
  • saver
  • spender
  • stingy

13. What Is Their Biggest Flaw?

  • racist
  • hurtful
  • aggressive
  • aloof
  • forgetful
  • bitter

14. What Are Their Greatest Strengths?

  • courageous
  • helpful
  • dependable
  • special skills (SEE NUMBER 22)

15. What Does Their Body Look Like?

  • hair color, length, texture
  • face shape
  • eye shape, color
  • skin color, texture, ailments
  • height
  • weight
  • build (athletic, scrawny, chubby)

16. What Makes Them Angry?

  • injustice
  • cruelty
  • money
  • love

17. What Makes Them Sad?

  • past relationships
  • death
  • life
  • family
  • weather

18. What Do They Eat?

  • only meat
  • vegetarian
  • omnivore
  • vegan
  • only things from nature
  • only one food group

19. What Are They Worried About?

  • the future
  • the past
  • the present
  • their family
  • their lover
  • their money

20. What Is Their Spirit Animal?

  • birds (hawks, owls, eagles, flamingos, hummingbirds)
  • reptiles (geckos, snakes, turtles, alligators, chameleons)
  • fish (clownfish, bass, catfish, stingrays)
  • mammals (wolves, horses, cows, pigs, dolphins, cats, dogs, platypuses)
  • insects (ladybugs, bees, butterflies, ants)

21. How Do They Feel About Love?

  • distrustful
  • slow to develop feelings
  • quick to fall in love
  • love everyone they see
  • unable to love
  • burned by love

22. What Special Skills Do They Have?

  • painting
  • singing
  • dancing
  • photography
  • skiing
  • running
  • writing poetry
  • playing an instrument
  • gymnastics
  • superpowers

23. What Is Their Greatest Failure?

  • financial
  • family
  • friends
  • work
  • hobbies
  • flunking out of school
  • giving up on someone/something

What are some questions you use to develop characters in your writing? Comment below!

Bonus: If You Liked This Article Check Out…

Reviewing Restaurants In LA: Krimsey’s Cajun Kitchen

Krimsey’s Logo

Back in Indiana, there’s a restaurant called Chicory Cafe, which served New-Orleans style eats. Not only did Mitchell and I miss their fun food but also the little things like their cucumber water and atmosphere of hanging out and playing games.

Little did we know that we would visit the Los Angeles equivalent when we took a visit to Krimsey’s Cajun Kitchen.

History of Krimsey’s

Krimsey’s motto is “Cajun tradition and explosive flavor.” Serving up options for folks who are vegan, gluten-free, or sensitive to onions, this might be one of the only Cajun restaurants in the world that puts aside expectations to better suit the community around them.

From Louisiana to Los Angeles, Krimsey’s brings the power of Cajun cooking to the west coast. This completely woman-owned business prides itself on having strong values from supporting animal rights to supporting foundations such as The Trevor Project.

Experiencing Krimsey’s

Located in North Hollywood, Krimsey’s surprised me with its rustic, cozy interior. I loved the mismatched, wooden tables and knick-knacks hanging from the walls. Easy listening 60s and 70s music radiates from the speakers.

In the corner is a stack of board games a table can borrow to enhance the dining experience. At the bar, where you order your food, they offer a phone babysitting service. So you could hang out phone-free with your party. The atmosphere is thoroughly thought out and organized. The servers are very kind and helpful, joking with you as you ordered your food and tried to pronounce “jambalaya” the right way. Even their menu has some sass.

A snip-it from their menu.

Evaluation of Krimsey’s

We started our meal with some Southern Hushpuppies, which are balls of corn and onion bread. They came with a side of Cajun Ranch dipping sauce, which was tangy and complimented the moist but dense texture of the bread balls.

For our first entree we had the Trinity Red Beans & Rice + Sausage. With a combination of slow-cooked red beans, onion, celery, and green peppers, all surrounding a pile of fluffy rice, this dish was a beauty to see served. The veggie sausage had great, realistic texture. But the rice and beans were a bit bland for my taste. You could certainly spice it up with some hot sauce, but I wasn’t really getting much actual spice from the dish. Presentation was gorgeous though.

Trinity Red Beans & Rice +Sausage
Trinity Red Beans & Rice + Sausage

We also shared the Rainbow Pride Poboy, which was a combination of golden fried pieces of heart of palm, rich house sauce, spinach, carrots, mayo, and tomato all (barely) stuffed inside a white toasted roll. You might be wondering, where is the sandwich? It took us several minutes to get a hold on this baby, but no complaints for having too much filling! The best part of this dish is that they donate 10% of the proceeds to The Trevor Project, which supports LGBTQ+ teenagers.

The heart of palm bits were crispy, rich delicacies, and the house-made chips were perfectly seasoned. Not much could have made this sandwich better. The tastes and textures were right on.

Rainbow Pride Poboy
Rainbow Pride Poboy

For dessert we had their popular French Quarter Beignets, which are basically airy pillows of fried dough topped with a dusting of powdered sugar. Let’s just say they were gone too fast too take a picture. Below is what they look like. Imagine a square elephant ear that explodes powdered sugar all around your mouth.

They were deliciously warm, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and not too sweet.

We weren’t brave enough this time to try their brownie-stuffed beignet, but boy that looked like a wild ride.

French Quarter Beignets
French Quarter Beignets // Image from Kimseys.com
  • Design 4 out of 5
  • Ambience 5 out of 5
  • Tidiness 4 out of 5
  • Value for Money 5 out of 5
  • Service 5 out of 5
  • Variety 4 out of 5
  • Quality 4 out of 5

The only disappointing aspect of this experience was that brunch is only served on the weekends. We’ll have to go back sometime and try it out!

Bonus: If You Liked This Article, Check Out…

More Krimsey’s Information

You can visit their website here.

Store Location

12900 Victory Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91606

Store Hours

Monday – Thursday: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm

Friday: 11:00 am – 10:30 pm

Saturday: 8:30 am – 10:30 pm (brunch 8:30 am – 2:00 pm)

Sunday: 8:30 am – 10:00 pm (brunch 8:30 am – 2:00 pm)

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Red by Kristen Kois

Bottlenecked by Kristen Kois

Fiction Friday #1: Flash Fantasy Writing Prompt

I thought it would be interesting to start doing a “fiction” Friday, where I freewrite from a creative prompt for 30 minutes. I’ve posted the prompt below. If you’d like to write one too, by all means do!

Comment below where your imagination took you!

Image by Hasan Almasi

The Prompt

Not a single gun was fired during that battle. Not a single knife was pulled. And yet, it left hundreds dead. (From the writersencyclopedia.com)

The Writing

Josiah knew that once he set one bare foot on the battleground, it would all be over. He glanced at the woman holding out his leather armor.

“Is all that really necessary?” he asked.

She nodded, face blank. “You don’t know what will happen to you before they’re taken out. Someone could let loose an arrow. Do you really want to be in cotton when that happens?”

Josiah pinched his shirt and shook his head. “It doesn’t really matter, does it? When it’s over, they’re going to get rid of me.”

The woman, Kellana, placed his armor on the chair with care. The only thing missing was the boots. She sighed.

“I won’t let that happen Sir Josiah. You know that. We keep each other alive.” Her arm touched the long sleeve of her dress as she said this.

Not forever, Josiah thought. Instead, he walked to the chair and picked up the leather chest piece.

“Looks a bit big,” he said. He ran his hand along the front. It was worn and chipped. Also stained with something dark. He didn’t need an active imagination to guess what it could be.

Kellana frowned. “They said it was the smallest one they had. I can go back and ask — ”

Josiah was already slipping it over his head and fumbling with the strings to tighten it. The straps tangled with his fingers when the armor was halfway over his shoulders.

“Is this what it feels like to wear one of your corsets?” he said with a jagged grin over the top of the head hole.

Kellana’s eyes went colder, but her lips formed a thin smile. “It’s been a while. I hardly remember.”

She reached forward to help him and watched him flinch when her skin made contact with his. It had been seven years, but he still wasn’t used to the feeling of another person’s skin.

Kellana pretended she hadn’t noticed the jerk and twist of his face as she pulled the armor down over his head. Within just a few minutes she had him buckled up. The armor barely looked too big anymore.

“You’re good at this,” he said. There was resignation in his voice mixed with a drop of fear. His curls had been mused from the excitement and sweat beaded against his thick, untamed eyebrows.

Kellana smiled and put a hand against his armored chest. “It was mandatory in my court for any member of the royal family to secure the guards’ armor before battle. Good luck, they said.”

“Who said?” Josiah whispered.

She patted him lightly twice before moving back to the flap of the tent.

“The horn will sound soon,” Josiah sound. Her words and proximity had left him breathless only for a moment. “You should leave.”

She inhaled in a movement to speak. But then she turned and stumbled out of the tent as if she was tripping over her own unspoken words.

Josiah managed the rest of his armor by himself, a much easier process when he could see the straps he was tightening. His heart was beating violently against the skin of his chest. The armor wouldn’t protect him if his body turned against him now.

Just as he slipped off his shoes, a horn sounded in the distance. Did the captain really manage to put holes in all of the soldiers’ boots in the night? Or was he just too impatient to wait another day?

You’ll die one way or another after this. It was a strangely comforting thought. After years of damage, to finally be free…

Josiah pushed the tent flap aside, feeling the earth crinkle under his toes. He eyed the forest behind his tent. The trees were filled with soldiers. All of them were probably staring right back at him through the shelter of their leafy camouflage.

He turned his back on them and started jogging away. The armor weighed his body down, but years of traveling on his own in the wilderness gave him the physical edge needed to keep up a consistent pace.

Far in the distance, he could already see a long line of bodies, marching forwards. Towards him. He twisted his head around, the helmet obscuring part of his vision. Already the ground was rotting where he had stepped. Already the ground ahead of him was starting to yellow. But how far ahead would it travel? How fast?

An arrow shot into the ground next to him. Close enough that he could feel the fwip as it plunged into the earth.

Then he could hear the screaming. He squinted at the lines of soldiers as they crumpled to the ground in pain. As their hands touched the earth, their skin broke out into vicious red hives. They yanked off their helmets and threw them to the ground. Some started tearing off their armor.

It was a natural instinct. One that would quicken the process even more. Several more arrows hit the ground next to Josiah. He had stopped in his tracks, even though he knew he should continue forward. His breath came out in white, opaque puffs. Thick droplets of sweat fell off his chin.

An arrow came down in his blind spot and struck his shoulder. It pierced through the armor. He could feel the point dig into his skin.

Josiah bent to his knee and pulled the wooden stake out with a single yank. The wood rotted in his grasp before he could toss it aside. His vision was started to distort. The colors of the field became saturated with unnatural colors.

Too much. Too many.

There came the sound of a second horn from behind him, but he barely heard it. He only heard the continuous thudding of the enemy’s bodies crumple to the ground like overripe fruit falling from their branches.

Writing Tips: Why You Should Use Ugly Character Descriptions

I recently read the lines, “she bit her cinnamon raisin toast with her large front teeth” from The Magicians by Lev Grossman. How visual! How simple! And yet I could picture the scene as both repulsive and annoying.

This got me thinking. What if more people used ugly, aggressive adjectives in their writing? Is there a reason why we should?

To Get People’s Attention

Dictionary focusing on the word focus

So often I find myself skimming pages in books if the writing is generic. It’s easy to write familiar adjectives. Here are just a few that I came up with.

Her face was red with anger.

He eyed her suspiciously.

The small girl was crying as she held her melted ice cream.

Or imagine that Lev Grossman had actually written, “She ate her toast.”

That wouldn’t have gotten my attention. I would have barely noticed it at all. Sometimes we want details to fade into the background. Other times, we want to create stand-out descriptions that make people think.

If you want people to actually digest what you’re writing, to be engaged with what you’re writing, surprise them. SURPRISE THEM!Give them the opposite of what the expect.

This isn’t to say you have to make characters do what they wouldn’t do. You’re only using more vibrant words to describe what’s happening.

To Describe Personality Better

Image by Houcine Ncib

In Lev Grossman’s simple example, you learn a lot more about the mother than if he had written “she ate her toast.” What are some things we learn?

  • She likes cinnamon raisin toast
  • She has big front teeth
  • She might look like a beaver?
  • The main character finds her eating repulsive
  • The main characters thinks her teeth are too big

Some of these might be a stretch, but they’re also what came to my mind when I was reading. Writing stronger, braver descriptions gives your reader more to think about beyond what you’ve written on the page. They start asking questions. They start wondering about relationships and the reliability of the narrator. All of this is unconscious for the most part, unless you have really curious readers. But pushing the interest of characters pushes the story to the next level.

To Ground Your Writing In the Real World

Person holding nature
Image by Ravi Roshan

I love creating beautiful, nearly perfect characters. It’s just so alluring and captivating. And in YA, it’s almost a must. But after a while, it becomes a little creepy or bland. It also makes these characters so far removed from our world that it becomes hard to relate or empathize with them. A subtle trick that can help is writing descriptions that make the characters’ flaws show.

Nervous ticks, anxious movements, clumsy actions. These all help to ground your characters as real people. Even if they are darn near perfect, or at least perceived as perfect, readers should still see through the cracks once in a while.

For example:

a) He placed the breakfast plate in front of her and grinned with perfect teeth. —>

As he placed the breakfast plate in front of her, his hands trembled. His easy smile of white teeth contrasted against the wild panic in his eyes.

b) She brushed her hair behind her ear and smiled. — >

She brushed her hair behind her ear but several strands stuck up in an odd angle.

It’s endearing when characters you’ve fallen in love with do quirky or embarrassing things. It also gives your other characters something to react to. Will they ask why he’s so nervous? Will they tell her that her hair is sticking up?

To Make Your Writing Stronger

Image by Daniel Schludi

Challenge yourself to be creative, especially in otherwise dull moments in your writing. Eating toast doesn’t have to be like riding a roller coaster, but maybe it feels like that to one of your characters.

Let’s look at those examples from above again.

Her face was red with anger. — >

Her cheeks puffed out while flames of purple blush spread across her skin.

He eyed her suspiciously. — >

He cocked his head as his eyes scanned her like she was a rotting piece of meat.

The small girl was crying as she held her melted ice cream. — >

The smallest girl in the room choked on her hysteric laughter when the ice cream melted over her hands.

Are you more interested? Do you want to know their stories more?

The goal for every writer is to keep their readers reading their work. Let’s push ourselves to create more dynamic — even scary or ugly —descriptions. Life is weird and quirky. Our writing can be too.

I would love to see your own examples of the sentences above. Comment with your creative ideas!

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Writing Tips: 3 Reasons You Should End Your Book Series

10 Things That Will Surprise You About Los Angeles

What do you expect Los Angeles to be like? Seeing stars on every corner? The streets to be like a film set? I know that my first impression of LA was nothing like I expected. There are small things like how fruit vendors are to LA like hot dog vendors are to New York. But there’s much more to LA than most people realize.

1. Hiking Opportunities Are Abundant

Angeles National Forest mountains
Angeles National Forest

Hiking might not be the first thing you think of in LA, but there are tons of parks and forests where you can explore the desert and mountain areas. It’s also a great break from the inner-city life. From hiking to the Hollywood Sign at Griffith Park to mountain climbing at Angeles National Forest to rock scaling at Vasquez Rocks, there are endless trails to trek.

2. Each District Is an Entire New World

Alleyway in DTLA
Snapshot view in Downtown LA

Exploring the different parts of the city has also been exciting. What I didn’t realize was that there are actual Districts such as Jewelry District, Arts District, Fashion District. Not to mention the sections such as Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Little Mexico, and more. There are so many little worlds to explore that it will take years before I see it all.

3. There Are Some Really Nice People

Mural of two people in DTLA
Mural Downtown LA

Coming from the Midwest, people often told me that other states are rude and unkind. That hasn’t been my experience here. I’ve had great customer service wherever I go, and strangers have also been pretty nice on public transportation and walking Downtown. Sure, some people are just doing their own thing. But it’s nothing like I expected. Maybe it’s the weather?

4. The Main Tourist Sites Are Not That Great

The Last Bookstore DTLA
The Last Bookstore, Downtown LA

My first time at Hollywood Boulevard was a nightmare of crowds and pricey gimmicks. Though it was fun to see familiar names of stars on the ground, it was not fun to see all the trash and get attacked by vicious smells. Instead, I’ve enjoyed less congested tourist areas like The Last Bookstore and Donut Friend.

5. Making Eye Contact Is Unusual

Image by Alexandru Zdrobau

It’s pretty common to look people in the eyes and smile as you pass them in Indiana. In LA, I’ve found that this can attract some pretty interesting and unwarranted attention from people. While averting eye contact could be considered rude in Indiana, it seems like just a part of life in LA. Rather than an unkind gesture, it’s more like giving people their space.

6. Public Transportation Is Easy and Reliable

Image by Fabrizio Verrecchia

People complain about public transportation all the time, but LA has been pretty consistent. I’ve only had one bus break down so far, and they’re almost always on time. The Metro also has killer promotional videos, which you can check out here or see the video below. Trust me, it’s worth the watch.

7. It’s Not Really That Expensive (Besides Rent)

View from our apartment, Downtown LA

People were warning me that the cost of living was terrible out here. Really, it’s terrible everywhere. The rent is expensive, yes, but the groceries cost about the same — sometimes even cheaper if you go to local markets. Gas is expensive, but if you use public transportation and walk, you’ll save a ton of money. If you’re smart about your expenses, you can manage.

8. People Wear Heavy Clothes In Mild Weather

Image by Karen Cantu Q

Compared to Indiana, the weather here is more consistent and less humid. But as soon as it gets below 75 degrees, you’ll see people in scarves and heavy coats. It took me about a week to realize I was one of around 10 people wearing shorts out in public. The rest were probably tourists.

9. Not Everyone Is Super Fit and Airbrushed

Image by Sandra Gabriel

I was intimidated by the thought of the beautiful people in LA. But really, they’re all just people. Especially in the Downtown area, there’s a mixture of blue collars, tourists, and city-dwellers. Everyone wears what they wear. Not many people look like they came straight off the set of a movie. No movie star sightings yet (fingers cross)!

10. It Was Easy to Find a Community

Snapshot of my community at Majority Denim

In just a month, I’ve found a community of people to collaborate and work with. People who care about the arts and helping people in the area. Not only do I work in this building, but I also go to church and random events there as well. It’s quickly become my second home. There’s also ways to join like-minded groups of people on a website called Meetup.com

Final Thoughts

What are some interesting things you’ve learned about your town over the years? Leave a comment below!

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Why Marianne Should Be Your Post Stranger Things, Spooky Season Binge on Netflix

(NO SPOILERS)

Marianne is an 8-episode show on Netflix about author Emma Larsimon confronting the terrors and trauma of her childhood by returning to her hometown. Only to discover that her evil character might actually be real. During this time, she is reunited with her group of friends and faced with pure evil. With similarities to Stranger Things and It, Marianne is full of jump scares and humor.

What? Yes. Humor too.

Oh, and it’s all in French. But don’t worry. There’s subtitles and an English dub (if you’re into that).

If you’re looking for something to get your Spooky Season started, Marianne is the perfect show to watch.

It’s Quirky and Bold

Firstly, the format of the show is unlike any other in the genre. Throughout the show, you’ll see cut scenes to Emma’s book, which is actually corresponding to what she is going through now. Each episode starts with a quote from books and poems.

The humor is also on point. With a combination of goofy music and over-the-top dramatic actions, you can’t help but let a laugh out. But don’t let these moments fool you. Putting your guard down is exactly what they want you to do. For as often as things get a little silly, there’s twice as many things going terribly wrong.

The makers of this show were not afraid to try new things with camera angles and cuts. It’s refreshing to see horror not take itself too seriously. And the absurdity of some situations only compounds on the horror later.

It’s Full of Interesting Characters

I never expected to start watching this show and feel like I’m watching Friends by the end, but I grew so attached to the characters. Even angsty Emma herself.

Each friend has a unique story and personality that makes them interact with Emma differently. But they also care about each other.

And if you love Stranger Things, Episode 5 will probably be your favorite.

Besides the friends, there’s also Emma’s parents, her assistant Cammie, the inspector, and a friend’s mom. You might think this is a bit wild for a small town adventure. But really, each piece connects so well. Each character has a conclusive or terrifying ending to their story.

It’s Well Written

It’s horror. You think you know when something is going to jump out because you’ve seen it all before? Think again. Whenever we thought we knew what was coming, we were instantly proven wrong. Again and again, the show takes you on a journey you never expected. And yet it all makes sense.

The story becomes larger than just a small town horror. But it also stays practical…in a quirky horror-fantasy way. The Baddie was motivated and powerful, but our heroes were also smart and quick on their feet.

It’s Actually Terrifying

Combining dream sequences with prolonged tension, Marianne produces scares unlike a majority of the scary movies out there today. For instance, several of the scariest scenes in the show are in bright and shiny daylight. Knowing full well that things aren’t hiding in the dark, the show still manages major jump scares.

You also care about the characters, unlike most scary shows and movies. Even if they are flawed people, you still don’t want anything to happen to them. With that in mind, you’re constantly on the edge of your seat when your favorite character is face to face with the bad guy (or girl).

Final Thoughts

As someone who loves the horror/fantasy genre, I was pleasantly surprised with this show. Shout out to Stephen King’s Twitter for the recommendation.

What are some of your favorite scary movies? Post some below, and I’ll be sure to check them out!