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Pushing the Environment Envelope

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-2pi83-101759d
Change this and watch your writing change!

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Angels vs. Demons by Kinga Ulazka Mcdonald

April 22, 2021-I thought you would like some different perspectives about pushing the envelope in your writing by bringing in some guest bloggers! They’ll share their take on how they push the envelope and how you can too. Today’s post is written by Kinga Ulazka Mcdonald; she explores a different side to religion in her writing and this allows her to open her mind to infinite possibilities in her manuscripts. I love her take on this and how she pushes the envelope and embraces the flip side to grow and explore something she believes in.

I have always been Catholic and was taught many teachings about the Bible. I have always feared the Devil, just as I fear God. When COVID first hit, I began having horrible nightmares. Some included demons and I didn’t know why, but I figured most likely due to my anxiety. I started writing short stories and poems reflecting my nightmares and I began asking myself why I often wrote about the Devil. Some would say spreading demonic tales just pushes the envelope of satanic worship, but to be honest I think it educates more than anything. Many in my family won’t even read my short stories or listen to them because they feature a demon, a witch or a supernatural force. I can’t say I blame them really. Some of the tales are quite disturbing, but isn’t that the point of writing, to push the envelope? I’m not writing about illegal, crude acts of horror that will mess the psyche up, but the stories aren’t for the faint of heart. They provoke fear and question our beliefs, but Stephen King makes his career off of these tales, why can’t I?
My writing has definitely evolved since this lockdown began. I am more open to ideas, and concepts that may have frightened me before. I was always focused on writing dramatic, or romantic when I’ve realized horror is my cup of tea. Many may not know, but these tales of despair often reflect reality in some way. I’ve realized an actual demon can be a reflection of something we fear in reality. Maybe that witch is the act of taking back the stereotype of strong women. The alien invasion may be the fear of changes in our lives, and the cult theme may be the curiosity of different ideas that we have within ourselves.

I truly believe pushing the envelope is only a different word for exploring something different. Controversy will not always be that because times do change. Something that was once never discussed may be what’s being explored this year. Ideas are also evolving and I along with it, write what you want and what you can. The best writing I have ever done was writing that came to me through nightmares, through the exploration of imagination and the boundary that we push towards making something viewed differently as a masterpiece. So continue fearing the Devil, and for me, I will always believe in God, but those tales of horror only evoke me to think more inside my religion, then create fear about something I’ve grown up believing in.

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What’d Ya Say?

April 21, 2021-We only have about a week left as we continue this month’s theme of pushing the envelope in your writing and our series wouldn’t be complete without touching on dialogue. Dialogue is one of the most important driving forces in your writing and there’s nothing that kills a story more than bad dialogue. Dialogue (talking between characters) can make or break your story (especially for publishers) for your audience. We know that characters have to speak how people do in real life (except while writing fantasy, there can be some slack given here especially if the characters have their own language that they use sparingly throughout) and most writers make the mistake of being too formal, boxy, or choppy when writing dialogue. Here are three ways that you can push the envelope in your writing through character dialogue.

  • You can use expletives. I’m not talking about being gratuitous with swear words, I’m talking about having your character use them if the situation calls for it. How would you act in a certain situation? Would you utter a curse word under your breath when you see you’ve got a flat tire and are already having a bad day? Would you mutter a swear when your idiot boss walks away from your desk after you’ve just received a bad work review? Use expletives where needed and be sure that they fit in the genre that you’re writing in.
  • Get familiar. If your book is set in the Australian outback your characters will speak differently than if they were from New York. An excellent example of this contrast is the movie Crocodile Dundee. Mitch speaks a specific way native to where he’s from; mate means friend, crikey means holy s*it, brekkie means breakfast, and the list goes on. Be careful not to overuse slang (especially slang that is trendy and new) because it will age your book. Write your characters to speak in such a way that you feel as though you were having a conversation with them in real life. WRITE HOW PEOPLE TALK! And be sure to do your research on places that are foreign to you, if you’re writing this way, so that you get it right and don’t lose any credibility with your readers.
  • Throw in another language. Let’s say that you’re writing a novel set in Moscow that has a British character and a Russian character working together to foil a museum robbery; use words in Russian intermixed with English to make your dialogue more believable. For example, my grandmother was Dutch, and she used to speak to us in English and Dutch intermixed, often within the same sentence. This is a normal thing for most people who immigrate to a different country or when speaking with people who are non-native tongues of the place where the story is set. Sprinkle in foreign words that fit in the situation that you’re writing about. Don’t overdo this because you don’t want your reader to have to stop and translate what you’ve written and lose momentum in the story.

I hope that you’ll continue to push the envelope in your writing by changing up the dialogue between your characters! Make it real and make it believable.

 

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Strive, Study, Try and Test

April 20, 2021-Sometimes we all need a push to get us to take risks. During April, we’re talking about how to push the envelope in your writing and today’s post takes that a bit further. Let’s talk about pushing the envelope by committing to yourself and your writing. Here are some great ways to take your writing to the next level:

  • Strive to learn new things. When is the last time you’ve taken a class, workshop, or writing seminar? What have you learned recently that will improve your writing? If you haven’t learned anything new, how can you expect to write differently or get a different result in your submissions? I’m a huge advocate for continuing education and learning as much as possible. But you have to put what you learn into action to have any result!
  • Study different methods. How can you possibly push the envelope in your writing if you don’t study different storytelling methods? There are so many ways to change the narrative, a ton of ways to outline, hundreds of different ways to push your characters to the max, and infinite ways to improve your writing. If you’re not learning new ways of writing and the elements that writing includes, you will be stuck until you change something.
  • Try out radical ideas. Remember when choose your own adventure novels were unheard of? Or collaborating with other authors on a series just wasn’t done? What about alternate endings? You owe it to yourself to test new ideas and see what develops. Who cares if it doesn’t work? At least you’re expanding the possibilities and trying new things.
  • Test the boundaries of what is safe or acceptable in any given situation. Have you heard of this book? Marian Engel’s 1976 novel Bear, which tells the story of a relationship between a woman and her bear (yes, the animal) lover, has been called one of the most controversial books in Canadian literary history. Yeah, pretty weird, but it pushed the envelope and is now infamous for its departure from the norm.

Don’t be afraid to push yourself in your writing; you never know where it can lead! To continue your education with us, check out some of our classes and workshops here: Best-Seller Bootcamp – Pandamonium Publishing House, Children’s Book Writing Master Class – Pandamonium Publishing House, Transitioning from Writer to Author (An Introductory Course) – Pandamonium Publishing House, Course: Get Your Book Noticed and Increase Your Sales – Pandamonium Publishing House, Novel Writing Course – Pandamonium Publishing House

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Motivating Motivators

April 19, 2021– We want to continue to help you push the envelope in your writing by introducing new character motivations. We all know about basic character motivations that include survival, fear, and peer pressure, but what else can motivate our characters? Let’s look at some additional motivators that will push the envelope in your writing.

Noble Motivation: Love, loyalty, vengeance. The most interesting motivation in this group is vengeance. Vengeance is defined as punishment inflicted or retribution exacted for an injury or wrong. Think Batman, John Wick, Law Abiding Citizen, and Joker. By making your character’s main motivation vengeance, you’ll have an exciting thriller or mystery novel. Obsessed with Her is a great example of vengeance as the motivation, check it out here: Obsessed with Her: Amazon.ca: Colling, L. L.: Books For kid’s books, love and loyalty work well.

Evil Motivation: Greed, revenge, lust. Lust is a good one because it’s not used as much as greed and revenge in the way of motivation in novels; it’s defined as an intense desire for an object. Lust is a whole different ball game and can be written in so many ways! Characters don’t have to lust over people; they can lust for power, money, or drugs. Make it interesting and paint your character into a corner by making their lust unreachable. Your character shouldn’t always get what they want.

Fear Motivation: Death, humiliation, pain. Humiliation is the least used fear motivation in most books. I think it’s a fascinating way to push the envelope in your writing! Humiliation is the same as shame and this can be an excellent way to develop and write your characters. What are they most ashamed of? Poverty? Illiteracy? Skeletons in their closet? The possibilities are endless!

It’s important to explore many different motivations for your characters so that you can pick which one suits them best for the situation and don’t forget to combine them to push the envelope in your writing to the edge! Remember that the driving force for your character’s actions is their motivation.

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Use Your Voice

April 17, 2021– As we continue to explore pushing the envelope in our writing this month, we need to discuss vulnerability as authors. Oftentimes we limit ourselves by not using our voices to write about things that matter. Here are some ways that you can challenge yourself and push the envelope in your writing:

  • Write a letter to the editor. Writing an opinion piece can do wonders for helping you break out of your writing comfort zone and help you express your ideas to a large audience. Each time you do this, you become more confident and self-aware of your beliefs and what matters most to you. Also, letter writing is a whole new world for some of you as this practice has generally fallen by the wayside, with email and texting now available. It’s always good to try something new.
  • Guest blog. Some blogs will allow submissions for guest posts, and it’s important to take these opportunities if they are presented to you. Not only will you be able to reach new readers, but you’ll be able to give a different perspective from the blog host to keep things fresh and interesting. I love inviting guest bloggers to submit articles for our site because why should readers only be exposed to my methods, techniques, and viewpoints? A unique take on an old subject can do wonders for helping you push the envelope in your writing.
  • Ask a question. If you have social media or a platform to connect with your readers, why not ask them a question? Get them involved in the discussion you’ve started, and watch as all the different points of view add up. Then, use some of those discussion points to challenge yourself in your writing life. You will see that there are two sides to every coin, and if you look close enough, you’ll see that they are actually multi-faceted when it comes to opinions and beliefs. You could incorporate the information you gather into a storyline, plot, or while developing characters.

Speak up, speak out, and use your voice as an author to change the world around you for the better.

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I Say Goodbye by S.P. Taylor

April 16, 2021– You’ll remember last week when we asked writers to submit their stories to be featured on our blog based on the photo writing prompt above. It was all about pushing the envelope, and I’m pleased to say that one writer has certainly done that with her submission. Please join me in congratulating S.P. Taylor as our winner. We received 45 entries! Great work, everyone. Here is S.P. Taylor’s story, I say Goodbye:

I say goodbye.

The sun warm on my face. The breeze gentle. Hard to believe that I will never return but determined not to. The funny thing, a spark of longing already. But why? The knowing. The everyday. Is it routine? I am not certain. A comfort, maybe? I couldn’t find the words if I tried. The reality of it all a blur. Dazed, as if I have just awoken from a dream. That moment of wakefulness clouded by the mystery of sleep. Oh, how I wanted to break free. A promise to myself. Get out of this one-horse town, I joked. Deep inside, I felt as if I was a caged bird on a tiny swing, looking out through the bars wanting desperately to fly. And now, here I am. Packing myself into the old Ford pickup. Rusty and broken yet chock-full of memories. Dreams too. I had many of them while sitting in the rackety front passenger side over the years. I watch the blue country house fade in the distance, almost mystical. The sun beating down so intensely, waves breaking the sky like a matrix or a time machine.

I say goodbye.

Memories flashing before my eyes. The winding road overcome with dust that could be sliced with a knife. How it chokes me. My breathing laboured. Responsibilities hounding from the recesses of my mind. Reminding me of my place. Where I belong. Who I should become. Yet I say goodbye and with that close my eyes. Drown out the noise of the critics who pollute my conscience. Those unkind words that stop a being from moving forward. Akin to fear. Is that not the driving force for everything? Fear? It can change your life in an instant. Guide you down a path you may not have otherwise taken. In my case, I chose to embrace it. But I am scared as hell.

I say goodbye.

A picture-perfect town with its window boxes and tiny white picket fences. How would life have fared if I had been born to one of them? Those perfect families with their 2.5 children and model cars. I still wish it even though here I am alive and different. So far removed. The church bell rings in the distance. A sad bong that resonates, lifting the hairs on my arm as my heart hums in return. Row upon row, we pass like a funeral procession. Slow motion. Do the houses whisper as we roll by? She won’t be back. She will never be back. One, of course, will cackle and say loudly, oh yes, she will. She can’t escape. She is born and bred to stay. To that one, I lift my chin in defiance. Just watch me. I promise to never set foot again. This sleepy town. Charming but not for me. Never for me. I walk alone. Distinct. Separate.

I say goodbye.

A side glance at the driver beside me. My champion. My other half. We shared a womb. Every milestone met together. The hardest part of leaving would be leaving him. He will take my place so that I can go. He will journey in what should be my life while I escape. Why should it be me? I ask myself. A million times a day, it seems. It should not be me, but he won’t go. The voices so hell-bent on having him stay. The responsibilities keeping him rooted. And so, his sacrifice is my freeing. The very thought makes me want to change my mind again. A hundred times, rehearsed, and over and over again, I say goodbye.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. It sounds so comical. I hate to say it out loud, but it is truth. When I say I have never stepped foot at the great station, I mean it full heartedly. I never once even set eyes my eyes in it. The towering walls, the great hall. A staple to the town. How can that be, you wonder? Well, If I told you I was sheltered, that would be a bit of an understatement. Another story, for another day. Another picture. For now, I focus on saying goodbye. I hear the trains in the distance pulling in with a whistle, leaving with a sigh. Oh, how I imagined them. The tracks bright with golden dreams calling. Egging onlookers to take a chance. A boy once died on those splendid tracks. Did his family think differently of them after? Did they ride the train out to the great big world still? Each time passing where their loved one fell. Where a life was stripped and taken.

I see smiling faces all about. If you watch closely, the energy buzzes with love. Like a bubble encompassing each person, protecting and warm. Hands holding, tight embraces, kissing. I linger on the kissing. Heat rising on my skin like I am witnessing something holy. Families, lovers, businessmen. They are everywhere. Passing others like ships in the night. I watch intently and imagine their thoughts. I feel all my life I have people watched. A silent narrative and I, a fly on the wall. Or perhaps I am better described as a bee. A busy worker bee never stopping. Always moving, not straying far. And yet, I am leaving the hive, albeit not with a swarm. Alone. How will I fair? No thoughts such as those, I tell myself. And my eyes search the crowds again, intent to soak it all in. Dreamlike, I scan the people, the busy. I catch a glimpse of sorrow. If I am careful and really strain to look, I see it clearly. Mommas saying goodbye to their sons. Sadness. Goodbyes are hard. This I know.

“All set,” he says gently, and the reality begins to settle. A heaviness in my heart as I gaze at the ticket in his hands. Somehow the noise stops. The people disappear. We are alone. His hands are rough and dirty, I notice, but I am not appalled. Young hands tainted with hard work and determination. No one could imagine the strength in those hands. They carry a body. The train ticket stark white, beckoning. Sunbeams break through the thick train station windows that are trimmed all around the building. I can see particles floating slowly, filling the space, and I feel faint. That moment just before you know you are going to fall. A panic settles in my bones, and I tremble. He touches my face and lifts it so that I am forced to look into his eyes. My eyes. And he whispers softly. I hardly hear it, but my mind translates. You got this. You. Got. This. With every fail, I heard that voice, those words. With every worry, they came swiftly. You got this, a whisper on the wind that would follow me everywhere I go.

I say goodbye.

And turn to walk away. Onto the train. Towards my future. If I could but only see what will become of me. My head held high, shoulders straight.

I say goodbye.

Thank you S.P. Taylor for this wonderful story. I hope you stepped out of your comfort zone and pushed the envelope on what you thought was possible for this photo and for yourself. If you’d like to read more of S.P. Taylor’s work click here: Acts of Kindness: Bakker, Lacey L ., Goubar, Alex: 9781989506240: Books – Amazon.ca

 

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Conflicting Accounts

April 15, 2021– We’re halfway through the month, and we’re focusing on pushing the envelope in our writing. We hope that you have enjoyed the information so far! Today we’re going to focus on conflict, and no matter which genre you write in, whether it’s kids, historical fiction, sci-fi, or everything in between, your story needs conflict!

Person vs. Person is pretty typical and is what most stories focus on—person vs. person is one against the other, good vs. evil, the good guy always wins, there are a protagonist and an antagonist. But let’s explore something far more interesting that can help you push the envelope in your writing by talking about the three most boundary-pushing types of conflicts there are:

  1. Person vs. Society-Struggles between individuals and social codes in their world. There is a conflict between what a character desires and what society demands or expects. This could be where a character doesn’t quite fit into societal norms and finds themselves on the fringes or rebelling against society in general. For example, in a historical fiction book, society could dictate that women should be seen and not heard, not have children out of wedlock, and wear dresses, but your main character goes against that, stands up for herself and what she believes in, and bucks the norm. For an excellent read that showcases Person vs. Society, click here: Duty’s Daughter – Pandamonium Publishing House
  2. Person vs. Supernatural-Conflicts between characters and otherworldly events, entities, or paranormals. Conflict occurs when a character faces resistance from a supernatural force such as magical forces, otherworldly beings, deities, or unexplained energies. Many Hollywood blockbusters touch on this type of conflict (a la Stephen King, IT and pretty much everything he’s written).  A great example of this type of writing and story is available here: Once Upon a Vision – Pandamonium Publishing House
  3. Person vs. Technology-Conflict between characters and scientific discovery. In this type of conflict, the character is usually faced with a battle against technology that has become too powerful, too invasive, or is being used by another force for evil. A fabulous take on this type of conflict can be found here: Machinia – Pandamonium Publishing House

Now that you know there are ways to change the conflict in your writing to push the envelope, what are you waiting for? Get to work! Check out our entire collection here including books, courses, and services: Products – Pandamonium Publishing House