An Assignment I Wrote The Other Day

January 27th, 2014

[This is the first assignment I had to do for one of my writing classes this Spring semester. The prompt was to talk about the college experience, the pros and cons, what my feelings are about college, etc. I may have gone a bit overboard, but I'm still quite proud of it.. I hope you enjoy my perspective.]

During the course of being a student these past two years, I’ve learned a lot about myself as a person, and my identity as a college student. I spent one year in New Haven, Connecticut, and this is my first year at URI, so I’ve been able to compare the two years in different ways.

I thought that I would be ready for college. That I would be able to finally be myself, relax, and have fun. Yeah, well, one out of three ain’t bad. I learned that I don’t have to work all the time to please everyone. I don’t have to lie about my emotions to make the people around me more comfortable about things. I learned that college isn’t as fantastic as we’re told as kids. We grow up expecting our lives to follow the same path as our parents. Elementary school, middle school, high school, college, nice job, family, retirement. The fact is, that just won’t cut it.

The American education system is training us to be obedient workers. It’s training us for jobs that no longer exist, factory jobs. We think of college life as a stereotype of the best time of our lives, freedom from the structure that we’ve been bound in our entire lives. Instead it is this complicated, official institution that causes stress and a breakdown of mental health. It’s expensive, and the benefits barely outweigh being in debt for the next few decades. I would rather be at home, NOT paying thousands of dollars, just writing everyday and being myself, than living in a cramped, broken down dorm and freaking out about how I’m going to pull myself through the new semester of classes.

I’ve learned over the past couple of years to just go with the flow and not stress out as much. I’ve learned to get sleep where I can get it and not push myself past my limits, no matter what I have due the next day. My physical and mental health is more important than passing my classes, no matter what I’ve been taught to understand over the course of my life.

My entire life, I’ve been told that I’m intelligent, ‘gifted and talented’. I had special classes, with the same group of kids year after year. So yeah, we got close, but school-wise everything was still pretty simple. The ‘challenging’ classes weren’t for the talented, and I was told that I was just too smart for them. So when I got to high school and everything got complicated, I didn’t know how to study, because I’d never had to. I barely even knew how to pay attention.

My grades plummeted. This last semester is the first time I’ve gotten all A’s since 8th grade. We were never taught anything important. Why isn’t there a class on taxes? Or on how to properly pay for a college education? We had to figure everything out ourselves, while we were still struggling to figure out who and what we wanted to be. We are treated as children for our entire lives, and then once we hit eighteen, we’re expected to make the biggest decision of our life, in the course of a few months. Don’t you think we should have been at least a little prepared for that?

Teenagers are taught to be quiet about their opinions, how to conform, how they’re supposed to behave and treat others, but we’re not taught the basics about how to survive through life. As high school students we watch these movies where college is a breeze, all parties and booze. In fact it’s a structure of society meant to help the rich and keep the poor in poverty. Imagine how technology would be advanced if every child born just in 1994 was able to grow up and be in college right now? Imagine the potential. But society doesn’t allow for this to happen because college in America is so expensive and stressful. If I didn’t have the parents that I have, I probably would have dropped out already.

Characters

May 2nd, 2013

Here comes the good part. You’ve made your plot points, and you know where your story is going… now you need your characters. Of course, when you write your plot points, you’ve obviously got some characters in mind. At the very least, you have some names in your head, and you know who you want to be the pro- and antagonists.
First I’ll tell you what my mentor told me. He said that you should name your character first. Far from it. Don’t even describe their appearance. I should explain that I am talking about before you start writing. It’s a good idea to plan out your characters (and setting, but that’s for later) before you start writing. The “do not name” principle only applies to this planning stage. Don’t wait until the tenth chapter of your story to mention your main character’s name (unless you are Stephen King. This should only be done by the experts).
Now to explain the reasoning behind this general rule. I promise that it will make some sense. Hopefully. My mentor told me that names and appearances bring bias with them. Let’s set up an example. I’ll make it easier to understand by using Harry Potter characters.
Let’s say one of your readers is named James. James was just dumped by the love of his life, Lily, who left him for a greasy-haired kid named Severus. Then James goes to read your book. Maybe your main character’s name is Lily. Now throughout your story there will be this attachment to the character Lily, even if she’s the villain, or a dog, or whatever. Appearance-wise, let’s say one of your characters has dirty hair. Of course, this reminds James of Severus. Now, even subconsciously, James will have a grudge against your greasy-haired character. It doesn’t matter if that character is the villain, or the white knight of the story. Names and appearances bring biases with them that will ruin how you want your readers to interpret your characters.
This means that you need to emphasize the values of your character from the very beginning of the story. Make sure your readers know what kind of person your character is. This includes their beliefs, likes, dislikes, personality, and other such things. If you are creating a fantasy or science-fiction character, you will also want to emphasize any abilities they may have.
IMPORTANT: Don’t just list everything about them. You need to incorporate these facts into the story line. This also goes for the appearance of the character. I will use my main character as an example. This is (approximately) what the beginning of my story looks like, not counting the prologue.
“Celeste ran through the forest, hellhound Mareth at her side. They flashed past trees and plants, Celeste’s violet hair trailing behind her, Mareth’s huge size slowing him down enough so that they ran together. Celeste was hunting for her clan, a group of drow elves living in the town of Shanaletagarlet, more commonly known as the Breath of Life.”
So. Reading this, you know what species Celeste is, what color her hair is, and the size of Mareth the hellhound. Of course, you would expand on this and explain what a drow elf is, what a hellhound is, and other such information. Also, you know that they are in a forest, but we will talk about that in the next post. The point is, I’m not just listing everything about my characters like a laundry list.

Pre-Writing

April 27th, 2013

Believe it or not, there are a few things that you should do before you start writing. Some of you, like me, probably take a pen and paper, or bring up your favorite typing/word program, and just start writing immediately. I usually don’t even pay attention to what I’m writing as I do it, because I could start to overthink it. However, there are drawbacks to this method. Do you ever finish these stories? You forget what you wanted the story to turn into. Maybe you miss a character or two and they vanish from the plot. I did that once. Whoops.
There are ways to prevent these problems. The major solution is to organize your story before you even start writing it. Michael Squatrito Jr., the author of the The Overlords series (website here) taught me to make plot points for the entire story. Of course, these points are open to change, but you want something written down somewhere so that you can occasionally refer to it and stay on track.
Here is an example of a plot point, using my own story as a reference:
1.) Celeste goes hunting w/ hellhound Mareth.
This is a basic plot point, listing the characters involved, and what they are doing.
If you need to, you can also make subplot points. They go further into detail about what happens during that plot point. Let’s use the above example and expand on it.
1.) Celeste goes hunting w/ hellhound Mareth
-describe hellhound and abilities
-describe woods
-Celeste’s abilities
-they hear fighting in Celeste’s town
When making plot points it always helps to have the main plot points made already. This way, you make sure that you’re not making plot points and just calling them subplot points… if that makes sense. Basically, make the main plot points first, so your subplot points are simply what happens from plot point to plot point. Don’t go overboard.
Note: It is up to you how many plot points you want to make, and how specific you want to be with them. You can go scene by scene, or you can go line by line. Your plot points can be your different chapters as well. There is no right or wrong. Then again, you may not like using plot points because it puts a damper on your creativity. My style is more like that.
So I hope this helps with any writing endeavors you encounter out there. I mean, it’s like brainstorming for a report or something like that. Same thing. Except more fun.

I have returned!

January 31st, 2013

Hi guys! Welcome to 2013!

Now, I know I’ve been absent for… a long time. But of course, as we all know, life gets in the way. But I’m back now, and that’s what matters. I’ll try to post maybe once a week, which is a lot more regularly than once every few months. A quick update: I am currently working on (and totally not procrastinating on) at least three stories/books that will be done… in the future. I don’t really have a set date for any of them. That’s the benefit of self-publishing. You can basically do whatever you want. Also: soon, I’m going to put a link up here to my Youtube channel, so you guys can check that out. I’ll probably update it a lot more than I update this blog.

So! If you’re still around from the beginning, thanks for sticking with me through my non-posting. If you’re new, WELCOME! I hope you enjoy reading these posts and hopefully in the future reading my books as well! Thank you!

Thought I’d give you an update.

September 11th, 2012

So. It’s been a few months since Fact and Fiction came out, and you’ve probably been wondering why I haven’t come out with anything else. Or at least why I haven’t posted or anything. Well, the answer to the second part is that I hardly knew this blog existed until a couple of weeks ago. My father made it for me. He’s a computer genius. Anyway, the first question is pretty easy to answer as well. I’m just getting myself acquainted at college. I’m a freshman, you see. So I have classes and I’m part of a sport (ever heard of Quidditch?) and I’m in several clubs, and I haven’t had much time to get back to writing. BUT, I am working on a sequel to the first story in Fact and Fiction, and there’s a few other ideas that I’m wrestling with. Don’t worry, hopefully I’ll have something new to show you guys!

Thank you very much for reading,

Sonia Payer

Fact and Fiction | My First Published Book!

September 2nd, 2012

“The Quest for Freedom” — Wouldn’t you do anything, go anywhere, to save your loved ones? Nothing will stop Celestriel Morrowdale (or Celeste for short) from saving her village and many others from the depths of a mysterious orb that holds them captive. But can she do it alone? Well it’s a good thing she doesn’t have to. With the help of friends new, old, and unexpected, will Celeste be able to stop the drow Mage Jaspar from annihilating all that the world holds dear?


“Til Death Do We Part” – They always seem like a normal homicide from the start, don’t they? That’s what Special Agents Daniel Soren and Alisa Fernandez thought as well. But this was no ordinary case, and nothing like either of them had ever seen before. The partners will have to use every weapon available to them to be able to catch the killer. But will it all be in vain?