Friday, January 21, 2022

how to be mindful

how to focus your mind

Mindfulness is in fashion and its positive effects have been scientifically proven. Mindfulness promises more satisfaction and joy in life. But what exactly is behind the trend?

  • Pay attention to the moment without judging it
  • Increase well-being with mindfulness meditation
  • From Buddhism to Medicine
  • Mindfulness can be learned

Some health insurance companies pay for mindfulness training

Pay attention to the moment without judgment

Mindfulness means being in the here and now - not only physically but also mentally. This is not normal for most people.

Many are either stuck with their thoughts in the past, preoccupied with worries, or contemplating the future. This thinking is usually accompanied by the hope that at some point a happy state will set in.

A mindful person, on the other hand, pays attention to the moment without judging it. This is the second crucial aspect of mindfulness.

We tend to constantly evaluate everything. Being mindful means dropping that judgment and focusing on what's just outside of your mind. A simple exercise to do this is to focus on the breath and thereby create distance from the thoughts.

Increase well-being with mindfulness meditation

Many scientists are now also convinced that mindfulness – often referred to as mindfulness meditation – can increase well-being.

The qualified psychologist and meditation researcher Ulrich Ott from the University of Gie├čen describes the positive effect with the following picture:

"When I meditate, I go up a mountain and look down into the valley. That means I'm now in a position that's a bit removed from everyday business and I can look down on the whole thing."

As a result, we are no longer fully identified with our own feelings and thoughts. This distance creates increased confidence that "even the greatest inner dramas will unravel if we manage not to engage with the relevant thoughts," says psychologist Peter Malinowski of the University of Liverpool. This in turn leads to more satisfaction and joie de vivre in the long term.

The child leads fork to mouth. Which meditations can help in which situations in life more

From Buddhism to Medicine

The concept of mindfulness comes from Buddhism, in which meditation plays a major role. Mindfulness is an attitude that underlies all meditation.

So no meditation can do without mindfulness, but one can also be mindful without meditating. In this respect, the terms are often mixed up. For example, when scientists research the effects of meditation, they inevitably also mean mindfulness.

A Buddhist monk sits on the ground. For Buddhist monks, meditation is part of everyday life

Molecular biologist Jon Kabat-Zinn is considered the father of modern mindfulness practice in Western cultures. Kabat-Zinn taught at the University of Massachusetts and developed the medical mindfulness training MBSR ( Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction ) in the late 1970s.

Kabat-Zinn was a staunch student of Zen Buddhism. When creating his program, he oriented himself primarily to yoga postures and elements of the Buddhist Vipassana meditation, where the aim is to concentrate on one's own breath.

Kabat-Zinn's mindfulness practice does not require a philosophical-religious superstructure. Its MBSR program has been comparatively well researched and evaluated scientifically. It should also help people without a spiritual connection with a wide variety of problems.

Mindfulness practice is part of newer behavioral therapy methods and is already being used in clinics in the USA and Germany.

Mindfulness can be learned

Jon Kabat-Zinn's MBSR mindfulness training is the most widely used method for learning mindfulness. Such training usually runs for eight weeks.

In the group, the participants learn mindfulness by meditating, practicing yoga, and doing the so-called " body scan ". In doing so, they systematically observe what they are currently perceiving at different points in the body without evaluating it.

A cyclist on a dirt road. Enjoy the fresh air while cycling

Meditating is all about focusing on the breath. The weekly sessions are two to three hours long. In addition, the participants should ideally practice alone for 45 minutes a day. Above all, taking the training into everyday life requires a lot of discipline.

Psychiatrist and psychotherapist Michael Huppertz believe that mindfulness can be learned not only through rigorous MBSR training but also through simple everyday exercises.

Instead of meditating for at least 30 minutes a day, which many people find very difficult at first, Huppertz recommends spreading mindful moments throughout the day. Huppertz's suggestions for such moments include getting up and observing morning routines.

Other opportunities to incorporate mindfulness into everyday life can include:

  • Focus on the warming water in the shower instead of thinking about the day's to-do list
  • focus on the taste of the food at breakfast – not on the shopping list
  • Take in the fresh air while cycling on the way to work or consciously pay attention to the ambient noise on the train

Mindfulness can also mean looking at everyday things from a different perspective and breaking routines: taking a different route than usual, listening to music you never hear, or eating with your left hand instead of your right.

Some health insurance companies pay for mindfulness training

As with every hype, the one about mindfulness has led to the fact that there are guides - in the form of books, CDs, or videos - and further training offers en masse. Mobile phone apps are also offered that suggest exercises and remind you regularly if necessary.

In the case of expensive courses, in particular, you should take a close look at the qualifications of the provider. It is often worth asking the health insurance company whether the costs for such a course are at least partially covered or which providers the health insurance companies work with.

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how to be a flight attendant

How do I become a flight attendant?

Air Stewardess

In your perfectly fitting uniform, you are the beaming face of the airline. As a flight attendant, no day is like any other. Different destinations, guests, and teams that change every day ensure variety. Flexibility, resilience, and a friendly demeanor are therefore particularly important. Because at an altitude of 10,000 meters it can get shaky and a doctor is not always on hand in the event of medical incidents. In everyday life there are quick changes, you are activated from the on-call duty or your flight is delayed. A nice goodie for challenging everyday life: As an airline employee, you usually benefit from attractive price reductions on flights and tourist services,

What are the requirements for this job? In order to be able to work optimally as a stewardess, your desire to travel is not enough.

Besides, you should...

  • be at least 1.60 m tall
  • be at least 18 and no more than 35 years old
  • have a valid passport
  • be communicative
  • have a neat appearance
  • Fluency in English and, ideally, a command of another language
  • not afraid of flying or heights
  • can swim well
  • be stress resistant and well organized
  • have good people skills

How does the training as a flight attendant work?

Flight attendant training differs greatly from classic dual training. Unlike legally regulated training occupations, flight attendant training is completed in the form of courses. Within several weeks, in some cases, even several months, the theoretical background of the profession is taught and tested in educational institutions for prospective flight attendants. With some airlines, the training only lasts about five weeks. The practical phases usually take the form of exercises in dummies or on short-haul flights. The airline where you completed your flight attendant training will then issue your certificate, which entitles you to practice the profession.

What does a flight attendant do?


Preparing the cabin: Before the flight, the crew checks that everything is clean and tidy, after all the cabin has to look presentable. The safety check is also obligatory before each working day on the plane because after all, compliance with safety regulations is the core task of the cabin crew. It is also checked whether there are enough magazines and all meals onboard.

Welcoming travelers: You warmly welcome every passenger on board with your friendly smile and get the passengers in the right mood for the flight with your friendly charisma.

Help with the luggage: Once all the hand luggage has been stowed away and all the luggage racks on the plane are securely locked, you can soon get going. Before that, you check whether all passengers are properly buckled up.

Deliver Safety Instructions: Preparedness for emergencies is one of the most important aspects of flight attendant training – from using an oxygen mask to opening doors to using first aid. In everyday life, the main thing is to present safety precautions and calm down nervous passengers.

Providing good service: As a flight attendant, you are the host above the clouds: you work in a very small space, so it can get shaky at times. You will therefore learn how to move skillfully on the plane and how to provide the travelers with food and drinks quickly and professionally and in a friendly manner.

Passenger announcements: Whether greetings or information about the flight - the announcements of the flight attendants give the flight a personal touch. Clear and friendly language is particularly important here.

Where can I work as a flight attendant?

There are various German and international airlines that you can apply to as an employer.

What are the working hours as a flight attendant?


The job of a flight attendant is ideal for anyone who is not looking for a classic 9-to-5 job. As a flight attendant, you will also be deployed at weekends, on public holidays, early in the morning or late in the evening. Many airlines offer more than 40 days of vacation per year and at least ten days off per month. The working hours are regulated by legal provisions of the Federal Aviation Authority and by collective agreements. You may not work more than 2,000 hours in a calendar year, including on-call time. The maximum monthly working time is 89 hours, the working hours vary depending on whether you are deployed continentally or intercontinental.

What work clothes do flight attendants wear?


Whether bright blue or plain black - the main thing is that the uniform fits. As a flight attendant, you are smartly and uniformly dressed and wear either knee-length skirts, trousers, waistcoats or jackets. Sometimes a scarf or hat completes your outfit. In general, a neat appearance is indispensable for this job: This includes make-up, hairstyle, and well-groomed fingernails.

What kind of guy do I have to be a flight attendant?


You are communicative: As a flight attendant, you not only have a friendly demeanor but above all you are open-minded. Welcoming passengers, encouraging them, or answering questions – you are there when you are needed.

You are confident and competent: As a flight attendant, you are responsible for safety on board. You keep an eye on compliance with the regulations and are there for the guests in case of uncertainties. Of course, you are always familiar with the regulations and can give the guests a feeling of security.

You always keep calm: turbulence or strenuous passengers - you are calm personified and master every obstacle with the necessary professionalism.

What requirements do I have to meet to become a flight attendant?

Qualification: Most airlines require a high school diploma, but at least a high school diploma.

Minimum age: In order to avoid problems with the working hours per day and the Youth Protection Act, you must be at least 18 years old if you want your application to be a flight attendant to be successful.

Foreign languages: Fluent English skills are required because you will sometimes announce the safety instructions in several languages. In addition, some airlines require additional foreign languages ​​such as French or Spanish.

Minimum height: The airlines specify a minimum height: This is usually between 1.60 and 1.65 meters, some airlines also have a maximum height for certain types of aircraft.

Passport: You cannot serve as a flight attendant on any flights without a valid passport.

Is flight attendant training state-approved?


The flight attendant is not a recognized training occupation, since the respective training criteria do not correspond to the state ones, but differ from airline to airline. As a flight attendant, however, you have the opportunity to attend an IHK-recognized further training course to become a specialist consultant for service management as a correspondence course alongside your job.

You should become a flight attendant if...
you want to see a lot of the world.
you are good at dealing with stressful situations.
it is easy for you to remain friendly even in difficult situations.
You should definitely not become a flight attendant if...
if turbulence makes you feel sick, panic, or afraid.
you want regular working hours.
you don't like to be in narrow and crowded rooms.
Do these points apply to you? Perfect, nothing stands in the way of your application to become a flight attendant!
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how can i be a better boyfriend

Ways to become a loving partner

Am I really a good partner? What makes a happy relationship? Kindness is the key that gets lost all too often. In these 7 ways we can become a better partner again.

The key to a happy relationship, according to couples therapists, seems mundane: Be nice. Can love really be that simple? Of course not. Because friendliness is lost in a partnership faster than you think. There are various reasons for this: habit, self-protection and even overfamiliarity can lead to us suddenly being anything but nice – and no longer recognize ourselves. Let's listen to ourselves: are we really a good partner? Would we really be happy in a relationship with ourselves? These things help us be nicer again—and thus become a better, loving partner.

1. Learn to control your feelings

Feelings cannot be controlled - but how we deal with them. Of course, you shouldn't have to suppress your emotions in a relationship. Anger, disappointment, and fear are natural feelings we experience. Nevertheless, our feelings can quickly overwhelm us - and lead us to actions that we later regret. Often the person closest to us suffers the most from our moods. Learn to allow your feelings for yourself, but control them when dealing with your partner. Take a deep breath and consider whether an outburst is really warranted or whether you're overreacting.

2. Let the past be

Exes are a thorn in many relationships. People tend to make comparisons. We should never measure our partner against another person, be it the ex or the best friend's model boyfriend. The same applies to negative experiences in the past that inhibit us from being in love now. Who suffers? The new partner. Try to engage in your relationship and live in the present.

3. Don't insist on your rights

Is every difference of opinion really worth an argument? In disputes, countless things often come up that are not actually related to the topic at all. Paradoxically, we often become disrespectful to the people we are actually most familiar with. Psychologists advise countering this with an unexpected step: Say something nice. Instead of relying on your point of view, take a deep breath and focus on what you love about your partner. It is a sign of strength to give in. Remember: You don't fight each other together.

4. Be objective

Sometimes we just go nuts - paradoxically, just when everything is going well in the relationship. We see things that aren't there, allow ourselves to be controlled by fears and create artificial problems - just because we can't believe that love can sometimes be uncomplicated. You should first try to look at supposed problems objectively before we bring them up.

how you become a better partner

In the partnership, an essential factor is often lost: friendliness. This is how we become a better partner. Photo: iStock

5. Respect your partner's needs

They are just as important as our own. In an intimate relationship, each partner is only happy when the other is too. Everyone is different and has individual ideas about their happiness. Accepting and respecting your partner's needs and feelings, even if they are different from your own - this is how you become a better partner on your own.

6. Don't let the relationship become a barter

You only cook for your partner if he also gives you flowers? Love is not a trade. At the beginning of a relationship, we usually do everything to make our partner happy. At some point we begin to weigh up - do we really get as much in return as we give? We become suspicious. Don't let this disturb prevail but stay nice. Everyone contributes their part to the relationship in their own way, love is not a competition to give more.

7. Love as you would like to be loved

Of course, this does not only apply to love. We should always treat other people as we would like to be treated ourselves. And so the key to a happy relationship is actually kindness. We can all become better partners by following these tips and practicing step-by-step how to be nice—and stay nice.

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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Villains and Antagonists

 Villains and Antagonists - How to Write Villainous Characters?

In today's post, I want to address one of the greater challenges a writer faces: creating an evil character. At first glance, this may seem very easy, but there's more to it than just having a character do nasty things. Antagonists need just as much planning time and ulterior motives as that of the main character(s) themselves and this blog post will show what adjustments there are and which ways you can go to construct a convincing villain or antagonist.

Enjoy your time!

Lord Voldemort, Darth Vader, the Joker, Hannibal Lector, Annie Wilkes, the clown from IT - they all fascinated us and frightened us at the same time. You wouldn't want to run into any of them on a deserted street in the middle of the night, you'd rather cross the street and, at any sign of danger, scramble to run home. They're all evil — that's exactly why they excite us.

They are the antagonists and baddies in their own universes and have taught us that it is far from enough to have a wonderfully well-engineered main character; the antagonists also need enough space within the story to be able to unfold their full effect. Only when the opponents are on an equal footing with the heroes can you really root for yourself and develop true emotions. In the following 3 sections it will be shown what possibilities one has as an author to depict evil externally, how one can construct such characters internally and how one can justify the motivation behind their behavior.

Each of these steps basically stands on its own and you can swap them with each other, depending on your personal preference, but for this blog post they are deliberately chosen so that you can work your way from the outside to the core. Likewise, it should be pointed out that a villain and antagonist mean two things that are not entirely congruent, but they work very similarly in their basic structure. For this reason, they are used as a synonym in the following.

 

STEP 1: External construction

This first step is about drawing a rough outer structure of the malicious character. In doing so, three areas were selected where one can already make it clear that the figure is not a positive one. The best way to do this is to imagine pointing a camera at her and readers becoming viewers who are supposed to get first impressions of the character through those very visual means.

- Look: On the one hand, there is the possibility of giving the figure optical features that make the character appear more menacing, such as an impressive physique, gait tattoos, a special style of clothing, scars, a conspicuous hairstyle, etc. It is important to give the character an immediate presence, so that the other characters — and thus the reader — can immediately identify the character as negative. On the other hand, the evil can be hidden and only appear in special moments, so that special looks would not be necessary, apart from a minimal trait or two. Particularly in the case of exciting books in which the reader is asked to guess who murdered someone, for example, it can help to present the character as relatively normal and thus make her disappear in the crowd

– Voice/choice of words: There are few nasty characters who act with a whiny squeaky voice and use childish language, so the options in this case are rather limited: either you focus on a strong, raspy, hard, loud voice or you don't figure also appear rather inconspicuous here. The choice of words is different: here you have the freedom to portray the evil character as cursing, to let him speak aggressively, to make insulting comments and - if necessary - to give him a rather harsh style of speech. At this point, it can help to clearly construct the villainous character as a contrast to the main character, to emphasize the menace even more.

– Facial expressions/gestures: scowling, narrowing eyes, cold stare, aggressive facial expression, clenched teeth, threatening posture, showing inner hate and madness — these are all variations on how to depict a character as evil. It would be helpful at this point to recall films that had good antagonists and internalize how you could tell for yourself that this character is an evil one. This is for inspiration on how to give your own characters a visual profile.

STEP 2: Internal structure

After the previous step showed how malice can be represented visually and it became obvious how many different levers one has as an author to form the shell of an antagonist, the inner structure is still missing. Here you have the choice between 4 different ways, which - very important - but can also merge depending on the situation.

Like in fairy tales!

Fairy tales are considered to be material for a younger audience these days, and if you look at the old stories by the Brothers Grimm, it's clear why: Characters are characterized by a very clear structure, and it's immediately apparent who the bad guy is Character is, the motives of such figures are hardly explained and they are just the evil opponents of the heroes. The reason for this limited reflection on the villains' own deeds can be found in the intentions of fairy tales: they are moral guideposts and are intended to clearly show young people in particular which behavior they should find good and which they should find bad. Writers who want to model their villains according to this pattern should take care

Examples: The Stepmother (Cinderella/Cinderella), Shan-Yu (Mulan), Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmatians), Shir Khan (The Jungle Book), Mr. Hyde (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), Sauron (Lord of the Rings ), Dolores Umbridge (Harry Potter), Freddy Krueger (Nightmare on Elm Street)

The straight line

In this method, it is essential that you create an antagonist that is very goal-oriented. The character hardly shows any other emotions, fully embodies and lives out his evilness, but - in contrast to the previous path - does not have to be clearly defined visually. Another difference: here the evil character is fully aware that he is doing things that are morally objectionable and cannot be dissuaded. She is a very one-dimensional, straight-forward character whose only function is to be evil, yet has enough self-awareness to reflect on one's desires and action

Examples: Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter), Hans Gruber (Die Hard), Darth Vader (Star Wars), Agent Smith (Matrix), Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes), Amon Goeth (Schindler's List), Biff Tannen (Back to the Future)

The three-dimensional way

This is a slightly more complicated variant, as it requires giving the villain a sculpted, real, and multi-layered character. The character seems real because it has several emotional levels, is not only evil, but can also show other sides. The evil just keeps coming out of the character, even against the will of the character. All in all, it's not an easy task to create an antagonist who picks up readers on different levels, but that's exactly what makes the character so memorable and fascinating. In this way, it should be noted that the villain is given as much room to develop as the protagonist, so that you have a duel on (emotional) eye level. Both characters must be equally well developed and the reader must be shown the strengths, weaknesses, desires, ideals and motives of both sides. The outer structure of the figure can support the inner structure, but it doesn't have to. Even optically inconspicuous antagonists, whose character is clearly and diversely defined, would be possible with this method.

Examples: The Joker (The Dark Knight), Hannibal Lector (The Silence of the Lambs), Jack Torrance (Shining), Annie Wilkes (Misery), Hans Landa (Inglorious Bastards), Patrick Bateman (American Psycho), Count Dracula (Bram Stoker ), Norman Bates (Psycho)

 Reverse Ying & Yang

This possibility combines the three previous ones and makes something completely new out of it: At its core, it's about constructing a main hero or a main heroine and forming the antagonist into the exact opposite. In ying and yang, there are two sides that complement each other perfectly, promoting harmony; in the reverse case of this method, however, exactly the opposite should happen: Due to the visual, moral, emotional, socio-cultural, gender, sexual and/or intellectual differences, there is friction and antipathy between the characters, which can even culminate in hostility . It doesn't matter whether the evil character is self-reflective, one-dimensional or three-dimensional, only the contrastive relationship to the actual (positive) main character is important. Evil or the antagonist is defined by the contrast to the protagonist 

Examples: Draco Malfoy, Step Sisters (Cinderella), Scar (Lion King), Cobra Kai Sensei (Karate Kid), Saruman (Lord of the Rings), Grinch (The Grinch), Calvin Candie (Django Unchained)

STEP 3: What made the character the villain/antagonist?

One big mistake has to be avoided at this point: no person and therefore no character is malicious or mean for no reason. In any case, there are always reasons that have driven a person so far away from normal, morally correct behavior and these must also be immortalized in books. Here one can identify three categories into which, as far as specified and explained, all the examples mentioned above could also be assigned.

Dark might

Probably the most easily explained basis for evil behavior: a dark force has taken possession of the character, be it supernatural powers, illness or mental insanity. All characters that hardly act rationally, lose control (from time to time) and no longer have themselves under control fall into this category. Portraying a character from the outset, early in the story, as wacky, insane, excessive and unscrupulous on that basis shouldn't be difficult, as horror movies and thrillers provide a lot of inspiration for this. However, it is much more difficult to integrate this takeover by the “dark power” as a gradual process.

Here it is very advisable to note certain changes in mood, interactions with others, reactions to news or situations and let the character go from a normal base to become more and more crazy/gloomy and thus more unpredictable. These steps are great for planning and creating a character arc for yourself of how the character behaved at the beginning, middle, and end of the story.

Examples: Jack Torrance (Shining), Annie Wilkes (Misery), Hannibal Lector (Silence of the Lambs), Joker (Batman), Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter)

2-side principle

The most plausible reason for deviating from the right path and drifting into the role of the opponent lies in different concepts of morality and justice. The character who is chosen to be the antagonist or villain of the story has been socialized differently than the main character and thus the ideals and goals of both are very different. Again, it plays a role that they are basically on two completely different sides and the differences between the two are so great that a rapprochement hardly seems possible. The characters are just too different to get along with each other, so they keep clashing. The maliciousness or the role of the opponent therefore results from the past and the different growing up,

Examples: Stepsisters vs. Cinderella, Joker vs. Batman, Draco Malfoy vs. Harry Potter or Calvin Candie vs. Dr. King Schultz (Django Unchained)

way of understanding

If you follow the initial idea that negative or even malicious actions do not happen without a reason, you will inevitably reach a point where you can logically understand certain actions, perhaps even empathize with them. As writers, we are completely free to shape a character's backstory as we see fit, and with villains and antagonists in particular, there are a variety of options that can serve as a root for later crimes: horrible childhoods, drugs/ Violence in the family, abuse, belonging to a gang, very bad social environment, prison, traumatic experiences, etc. Overall, this path is about the reader developing a certain form of understanding for the actions of the negatively charged character, they may even find themselves torn between finding the person's deeds less bad or not quite sure which character to cross their fingers for. This is a wonderful place to challenge the reader's moral understanding, spread a little uncertainty and lead them down the wrong path. But you should be aware that the evil in the story is made a bit more humane and that it might lose some radiance. For example, if you describe a boy who likes to beat up other children at school, that arouses certain emotions in the reader. But if you explain that this boy is also being beaten at home by drunk parents and wants to let his anger out, then the plot changes. Certainly not an easy path to take as an author,

Examples: Grinch (The Grinch), Biff Tannen (Back to the Future), Mr. Freeze (Batman), Maleficient, Frankenstein's Monster (Frankenstein), Phantom (Phantom of the Opera)

 Finally, when you have gone through all three steps and decided on certain variants based on your preferences and purposes within the story, you can be sure that you have created a compelling character. It is just as legitimate to only use 1-2 categories as to really go through every single step down to the smallest detail. It is only important that you are aware of the many options and also keep in mind that you can mix all of the listed adjustment screws with each other - also depending on the situation - so that the borders between the individual classifications are by no means static, but fluid.

At the end of the day, as authors, we have our characters' fortunes in our hands, so personal preferences will always decide. You should only take a look at the whole writing buffet before you buy it, otherwise, you'll be annoyed that you left much better options behind.

how to write a book for beginners

15 facts you should know before you start writing a book

If you feel the same way as I do, then your fingers are itching and you finally want to start writing the book.

Before we start writing, however, we should first deal with the basics of writing books.
After all, it wouldn't even occur to us to fly an airplane without having obtained a pilot's license.
So why not first learn what actually goes with writing a book?
So, here are the basics of writing a book, so you don't make the same mistakes I made with my first manuscript.

1. Don't start out completely haphazardly

I made the same mistake as most beginners. I just started writing. You can do it, but don't be surprised if you get stuck due to a lack of planning. 

If you still manage to finish the book, there is a good chance that the literary diamond you have hoped for will turn out to be a cheap glass pearl. To prevent this, it is advisable to invest time in planning in advance.

There are basically two types of writers:

1. Outliner / in German: planner

2. Discovery Writer / in German: discovering a writer

By the way: I deliberately use some of the English expressions because they are also common in this country.

Outliner / Planner

An outliner plans his book pretty carefully before he starts writing it.

Discovery Writer

A Discovery Writer gets going and lets his words drive him with a little plan.

That means: the Discovery Writer often doesn't even know the end of his book when he starts writing, let alone which characters appear.

Probably the most famous example of a discovering writer is Stephen King. Yes, the master of long hams doesn't care about outlines.

I too belong to this category. However, I had to realize that I'm not Stephen King and that a little planning doesn't hurt me, on the contrary, it's actually extremely good.

From my own experience, I advise every beginner - even if you are more of a Discovery Writer - to think about the basics of the plot. You do not need to submit a doctoral thesis. But create a framework that will help you not to crash while writing.

By the way: Thanks to appropriate planning, you can also overcome your writer's block or prevent it from arising in the first place!


2. What a good story needs

Even if it sounds strange at first, writing books is subject to certain rules. So if you want to write a book, it doesn't hurt to have heard of them before. So if we want to cook our own Roman soup, we need a few basic ingredients so that the whole thing doesn't taste bland in the end.

About the ingredients:

Obstacles, Goals & Complications

For a story to be interesting, there must be obstacles and problems that the main characters have to overcome. Peace, Joy, Pancakes is nice but pretty boring to read.

Giving the characters goals while making it as difficult as possible for them to achieve them creates reasons to push the story forward.

characters

You need good and active characters. A story lives from the actors. Without interesting characters, the best story is only half as good.

Indeed, books are either story-driven or character-driven. Usually, however, the character-driven ones are much more interesting and in-depth.

Good characters are active

In real life, we tend to let things come our way. We are passive. That's boring in books. Our protagonists shouldn't sit around and wait for something to happen. Our characters should be goal-driven and actively work to achieve those goals.

If the character is too passive, he will be pushed around in the story. This can lead to other characters being much more interesting than the original lead.

We should send our main character on a "journey" and throw a lot of obstacles in his way along the way.

By the way: The more the character is the focus, the better it should be developed. If even you don't really know your main character, how are you going to get that across to the reader?

conflict

Every story needs conflict.

Make life difficult for your characters, or even hell. Start with a small problem and make it worse and worse as the story progresses. There are plenty of ways to do this.

Tip: You can see this very well in films and TV series. In the next film, pay close attention to the obstacles thrown in the way of the main character.

3. Ideas Finding/organizing

In the beginning, there is the idea. But not every idea is a good idea. And just because you have a thousand ideas doesn't mean you should put them all in the same book.

If you try to cram too many ideas into a book, this can lead to the story no longer appearing well-rounded or even forced.

When you start you might only want to write one book, but once you've done it you might want the next one. So save some ideas for your next work.

4. Research

Research is important to:

  • Don't stand there like the last bully.
  • Make a story believable.
  • Refine existing ideas.
  • Knowing what to write about.
  • Giving characters the right voice (the doctor has a different vocabulary than the builder).
  • To come up with further ideas.

Some like this aspect of writing the most, others not so much. I don't like research at all.

For this reason, I try to choose topics that require as little research as possible. Accordingly, I will be careful not to choose a doctor as the main actor or to write a medieval novel.

Onsite

If you want to describe landscapes, it doesn't hurt to have been there before and to be able to refer to photos.

via interview

If you need special information, the best thing to do is find an expert and ask him. Ideally, you already know someone like that, otherwise, you are guaranteed to find someone online who you can contact. The sentence: I'm researching for a book makes many curious and willing to help.

technical literature

If you're writing about a serial killer, there's no harm in reading profiler's books. The bookstore is around the corner or Amazon or other platforms like Thalia can help with this.

By the way,  if you're looking for an author's writing program that will help you manage all the research for your book in one place, take a closer look at Scrivener. 

5.  In which genre do you want to write your book?

Genre is the category in which the book will be found in the bookstore, be it physical or online.

For example:

  • science fiction
  • thriller
  • horror
  • Romanesque
  • fantasies

Why should you know your genre?

When you buy a book, you choose a genre. So when I buy a thriller, I expect a thriller. If this turns out to be fantasy when reading, I'll probably be disappointed. The chance that I will buy another book by the same author is correspondingly small.

For this reason, it is advisable to write in the genre that one prefers as a reader. That way you know what to expect. And at the risk of repeating myself: this expectation should not be disappointed!

6. Main character (Protagonist)

You should know his main character. There is no harm in working out a biography.

In addition to biographical characteristics, a few other questions also need to be answered:

  • Who does the story happen to and why?
  • What's interesting about it?
  • Why does it take so long for our protagonist to reach his goal?
  • Why does everything that can go wrong go along the way?
  • Why is this the biggest challenge of his life?

These are questions that should be answered when creating the action (plot).


7. Action (Plot)

  • Who does what and why?
  • Why is this going to be a long story and not a short one?

It is helpful to understand how actions are constructed. One often speaks of the 3-act structure. This can be observed very well in films.

Basically, films are structured very similarly to books, but one must not forget that a film gets to the point much faster. Films are well suited to observing the development of a plot structure. But when it comes to your own book, you should better stick to other books.

Info: At this point, I deliberately refrain from going into too much detail because I am not an expert in this field. 

8. Locations / Backdrops

Locations provide opportunities to spice up the storyline. If I set up my plot in the desert, I create completely different circumstances than in the big city.

Depending on the story, locations can contribute almost as much to the plot as characters.

It is also important to consider whether you are taking real places or creating fictional worlds. Logically, it also depends on the genre.

It makes little sense to set a historical novel in the present. In a fantasy story, it is closer to creating a fictional world than in a crime thriller.

Often the scene can also give rise to a scene. If you are in a special place on vacation, it may inspire you to take action.

9. Motif

No crime without a motive, usually.

It's the same with writing. I need a motive for my story. There needs to be a deeper reason why the main character or villain does what they do.

Giving the story a good motive increases the credibility and gives the story coherence.

10. Timeline (Timeline)

In what time period does the story take place (days, years, decades)?

Do I go chronologically, do I skip, do I start from the back, or do I try a Tarantino and mix wildly?

There are no fixed rules here. It is important that the whole thing is coherent and does not confuse the reader.

As a beginner, I wouldn't venture too much on the ice. Less is often more, and just because Quentin Tarantino mixes things up wildly on Pulp Fiction doesn't mean you'll be able to pull off the same technique.

11. The beginning

All beginnings are difficult, especially with books. You have to captivate the reader immediately and ideally without making the typical beginner's mistakes.

If you don't know any better, there's a good chance that you're trying to create tension with a well-worn beginning. Keyword chase.

In this article by Marcus Johanus, under point 8 you will find a very nice list of well-worn beginnings. By the way, the post exposes 10 other interesting rookie mistakes. ( Addendum June 2018: Unfortunately, Marcus has deactivated his blog due to the new GDPR. That's why the link no longer works.)

By the way: If you can't think of a good place to start right away, feel free to skip this part and come back to it later. Not having a good start is no reason not to start writing!

12. Know the craft of writing

Like the craftsman, the writer has a tool kit.

Just because you learned in school how to put the letters in the right order and use punctuation to break up words doesn't mean you know what writing is.

What do I mean?

At this point, I will refrain from teaching the craft of writing. Nevertheless, I will try to explain to you with a few examples what is meant.

The show, don't tell

If you want to convey to the reader that the man is already old, you can say:

The man is old.

Or show:

He looked at the gray stubble in the sink.

Avoid unnecessary adjectives

You should really avoid using nasty, small, superfluous, annoying, ugly adjectives.

Form active sentences

We tend to use passive sentences. However, passive sentences unnecessarily bulk up the sentence and seem clumsy.

Passive:

Planning took 9 hours.

Active:

We planned 9 hours.

Accompaniment of direct speech

If you don't know any better, you are tempted to accompany dialogues as entertainingly as possible.

"Ouch, that really hurts," he purred, his face contorted with pain.

Whispering has a sought-after effect and the pain -distorted is unnecessary because it is already explained with the ouch indirect speech.

Alternative:

"Ouch, that really hurts," he said, touching his cheek.

Basically, you should try to express feelings through the dialogue and not through the accompaniment. One reason for this is show, don't tell. Another is that cumbersome accompanying sentences slow down the flow of reading. On the other hand, we ignore accompaniments, such as said or asked, without thinking about it.

 

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