Posted in Writing

High Winds

High winds blew all of the leaves off my backyard trees in one swoop night. They were blown bare, which leads me to my next observation. As they stand there, a statement is being made by them in their own way. “Winter is coming, and we’re ready to go the distance.” In the spring, of course, they come back to life and grow to their fullest once more.

As writers, sometimes life blows in and knocks us down in one swoop. Whether it’s family issues, living issues, medical issues, writer’s block, a review your not happy with, or your motivation just isn’t there. Know this: set backs are temporary. There will be a Spring of sorts coming your way, and you will flourish again. Don’t allow the winds of life to knock you down and keep you down. Spring back to life.

Posted in plot/story

Developing Story Ideas

Steps to developing your story ideas don’t have to be difficult. Here are some ways to do this.

Create a Character

Describe his/her physical attributes, personality, their likes and dislikes. You can include their race and ethnicity. What is their job? What other details about them are there?

Identify Your Character’s Desire

What is it specifically that drives your character into action?

Choose a Resistance

What or who will stand in your character’s way?

The Change

Decide on how your character will grow throughout the story.

Captivating Settings

What is going on in and around your character’s world?


Putting it all together

When you first start your story idea, the above will work as a guideline. Jot down some ideas in a journal or notebook for each of the above areas to get yourself started. Then go back and develop each area in more detail. Continue this process until you have enough details written in each of the above areas to bein your story. However, when you begin writing your story will be up to you. Everybody is different. You may not need many details to start, but others will.

Posted in Writing

Sticking to It

It is said that as an author/writer one must write every day. Well, yes, that is true. It takes self-discipline. How much it takes depends on the person because we’re all different. But if you are one who does not have much self-discipline, it can be learned. You just have to turn it into a habit. How do you do that? By writing every day. I am not going to kid you. Some days it won’t be easy to write because you won’t be in the mood. That’s ok. Do something, anything. Just write. You don’t have to write a lot. Just write. Once writing daily becomes a habit, you will look forward to the task more.

Now comes the question, what if I don’t do any actual writing? What if I am only working in my journal or planning out my story? Yes, those tasks are considered writing. There are times when I am in the middle of writing a scene, and I get stuck. I don’t know how to proceed with the story/scene. So I stop, close out my story, get my shoes on, and go for a walk. On this walk I am thinking about the scene. I let the breeze refresh me and my mind. I allow my characters to ‘walk around’ (so to speak) inside my mind and take a break from the page. When I do this, the answer comes. For you it might not be a walk that you need. It may be something else. My point is that these walks are considered my writing time as well because the story in a way is still being worked on. It also makes the process fun and less tedious.

So, stick with it. Do not give up. Make the process of writing/creating fun. Just stick to it.

Posted in Writing

Write It Down

You want to write a novel, but you don’t know how to start. You have all these ideas milling around in your head, but you can’t seem to organize them. What do you do? Write them down. Get a journal and write it in there, or create an electronic file in your word processing program and write it in there.

What do you do once you get your ideas written down and organized? This is where I say, it all depends on how you as an individual go about it? Everyone is different and will do what is comfortable for them. But what if you don’t know how you work? You are going to have to try different things and discover what way you like best.

Here’s what I do. When I finished my first novel, I immediately wanted to write the second one. I had an idea of what I wanted the second book to be about but most of it was bunched in my head in pieces. I knew what I wanted the story to consist of but I didn’t know what I needed to do to connect those ideas. I started out by putting together a three ring binder with sections. These sections are as follows: characters, realms, settings, photos, names for characters, questions, story, style sheet, and fantasy characters.

I went through each section of my binder and added my notes in each section. Once the information was separate this way, my mind was free to meditate on each. The one section I started with was questions. I looked at those and sought to answer them. No, the answers didn’t come right away. I brainstormed the answers and some questions I had to really think about. This is where my walks came in handy. During that time my brain was free to think. Much of what I came up with and worked for my story came from that thinking time during my walks.

Example: below is a question I needed an answer to for my up and coming novel The Cross’s Key. I wanted seven realms in my novel hence the double question below…..

What will these realms be and how will I connect them to the story?

The answer to the above questions did not come right away. It took a while. That’s ok. Don’t rush your story. Take your time. But…..write down your ideas.

Posted in Writing

The Golden Tree (Part VI)

Charlie sighed and drooped his shoulders, his eyes fell on the mural of the tree. Damn, where to start looking. How he wished the tree on the wall was real. It would make this whole scenario much easier. Out of the corner of his eye, a tiny piece of something moved on the tree. A fly. He hated flies. Damn nasty things. Another one fidgeted out of the corner of his other eye. Then another and another. There had been no movement before, but now the whole tree was alive with flies.

Wait. He stood from the edge of the bed, held up his hand outstretched in front of him, and shuffled toward the mural. Upon closer inspection, the movement wasn’t flies at all. The leaves of the tree shuffled in an invisible and unfelt wind. He slow turned his head to face Tulsie. “This is it isn’t it?”

“My my, Mr. Charlie. You are a smart man after all. You’re the only human being to have ever figured out that this tree on the wall is the real thing. Why it embedded itself in this wall I’ll never know. It just showed up one day. After a while, it will move to somewhere else.”

Charlie opened his mouth to say something, but couldn’t find any words. This whole thing had to be a dream. He was in bed at home in the year 2022, and this was all a bad dream. It had to be. Finally he spoke. “Where did all the others go if they didn’t figure out this was the real golden tree?”

“They simply left in search for a tree growing from the ground.” She gave him a sad smile. “They came from different years. Some from the 1800’s and others from the early 1900’s. I don’t know if they ever got home. I know there is a way to get back to your own time, but I don’t know what it is.”

He stared at the tree once more, and a thought tickled his mind. Perhaps if he touched the same leaf it would take him home. But which one? Upon closer inspection, the construct of the tree appeared different. A glance at Tulsie caused him to do a double take. A smiling leer pasted across her face. Was she messing with his mind? He dropped his outstretched hand to his side and relaxed. Hmm. Touching something he wasn’t supposed to is what got him into this mess in the first place. No. He wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice.

He turned to Tulsie and said, “Thank you for your hospitality, ma’am.” I’ll be going now. He looked around the room one last time to ensure he had everything then left the room, descended the stairs, and walked out of the house. He had made it to the front sidewalk and was about to turn and walk down the street when he heard Tulsie calling him. He stopped and turned.

“Don’t you want to get home?” asked Tulsie.

“Yes. That’s why I’m leaving,” replied Charlie.

He continued walking down the street. When he had walked approximately three miles, he came to a main street. The cars driving in either direction in front of him as he stood at a corner were modern 2022 models. His brows scrunched together as he scratched his head. Looking behind him the cars were models from the 1950’s. “What the hell?”

(To Be Continued)

Posted in Writing

Get Back to It

If you’re writing a story, whether it’s a short story or a novel doesn’t matter, try to write everyday or every other day. If you take too much time off from your story, you tend to forget it. Then, when you go back to it, you have to spend much time going back through parts of what you’ve already written to remind yourself where you wanted the story/plot to go.

Sometimes life rears its ugly head and you have no choice but to put your writing down for a while. Instances like this can’t be helped. If this is the case, one thing you can do to keep reminding yourself is to revisit your story if only for a 10 to 15 minutes each day to remind yourself of the story/plot. Writing yourself reminders also helps, so keep journal handy.

I took three days off the last three days and forgot where I was going with what I wrote. I had purposefully stopped my writing session last Friday, July 1st in the middle of a scene that could easily continue on (prevents writer’s block). Today I picked up where I left off and forgot where I was going with the scene. The result? I had to refamiliarize myself with the scene in hopes of remembering. I didn’t remember, but then another idea struck. It all worked out.

It isn’t that you won’t come up with something if you forget. It’s that the time taken to get back into your writing and to get the flow going again can drag on and take up some valuable time.

Posted in Dialogue

More on Dialogue

  1. Begin a new paragraph every time a new person speaks. If you don’t do this, the reader gets confused about who is supposed to be speaking. You don’t want that. You want your readers’ minds to be engrossed in the story, not outside the story.
  2. Remember to use quotation marks whenever someone speaks. Doing this will differentiate between someone speaking out loud and what is going on inside the character’s mind, narration, or description. Here again, you don’t want confused readers.
  3. Just a reminder here: use dialogue tags (see previous article entitled Dialogue Tags from July 28, 2022 for more details).
Posted in Dialogue

Dialogue Tags

I had a conversation with a first time story writer yesterday. She told me she has a problem with stopping shortly after she starts a story, then she never goes back to it. I asked her what was stopping her. She told me it was the dialogue. When I asked her what specifically about dialogue she was having issues with, she said it was difficult starting it and how to use it.

To be honest dialogue can be confusing to someone who has never written it. There are rules that apply. I’m only going to hit on one here. I went over this with her yesterday, and it cleared up so much for her.

Dialogue Tags—A phrase that precedes, breaks up, or follows dialogue and indicates who is speaking, how it is being delivered, and whether or not a new speaker is talking.

One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t necessarily have to use dialogue tags in each piece of dialogue. When there are two speakers, use a dialogue tag in the first two to four pieces of dialogue, then stop for the rest of the characters’ conversation. Trust me, the reader will be able to follow who is talking. But, to remind the reader of the order of who is speaking, add a dialogue tag or two somewhere in the middle of the conversation. Normally, two people in a dialogue speak every other piece of dialogue unless otherwise indicated. See example below:

“Let’s get cracking,” said Jack. “These leaves aren’t going to rake themselves.”

“Really? Do you have to be so bossy? I mean, there isn’t a whole lot to do here. Besides, mom said it was optional, and I choose to meet Kayla at the lake,” said Jim.

“Mom will appreciate it so get busy.”

“No.”

Jack thrust his rake to the ground and stalked after his brother. Upon reaching him he grabbed for his shirt. (Indicator that disrupts the dialogue order of who is to speak next).

Jim spun to the right and watched his brother tumble to the ground. “That’ll teach you.” (We know it is Jim speaking here because this sentence is in his point of view at the moment. Therefore, no dialogue tag is needed).

Jack stood and glared at Jim. “You’re an idiot.”

“Maybe so. But at least I know how to have fun.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” asked Jack wiping sweat off his brow. (Reminder of who is speaking next).

“Ever since dad died, all you do is work. You used to have fun. We used to hang out together.”

“Yeah, well things have to get done around here. Someone has to do it.”

As you can see in the example above, other indicators, other than dialogue tags, can indicate when someone is talking (But that’s for another blog post; you got a taste of it here). The idea is to make the dialogue between characters flow. You don’t want it to be choppy. So use the dialogue tags wisely. It takes practice. Also, next time you’re reading a work of fiction, pay attention to the dialogue tags and how the author uses them.

Posted in Writing

The Chapter of Sludge

Ya know, there always seems to be that one chapter or scene that seems forced. Now, we all know creativity can’t be forced. But, sometimes it just is. So how do you get past that? Sometimes you just can’t. You have to wait. That was my day yesterday. I sat down to continue working on chapter 37. At first I couldn’t think of anything. My characters were standing around getting ready to do a fight scene, but they wouldn’t do anything. This writer’s mind was stumped. To rectify this problem I put on some fantasy music hoping this would stir the creative juice pot. It did to some extent, and I completed 600 words. Am I happy with it? Eh. Maybe. Maybe not.

One has to consider what is going on around them that might be a cause for the creativity rut. Part of our house is being renovated, so there are workers here during the week. I am taking care of the business end of this renovation. You know, phone calls, questions, updates, paperwork, etc… I think this has much to do with throwing monkey wrenches into any creative situation.

The show must go on. Keep writing even if it’s a slow and/or disruptive day. The story must get written.

Posted in plot/story

Continuity

Let’s say you are writing a novel or something shorter such as a novella. As you’re writing chapter 20, you forget about some details you wrote in chapter 3 or maybe 4. Because you forgot what was in chapters 3 or 4, the information you write in chapter 20 about the same details may be contradictive. Maybe this is happening in different places throughout your book (these are called plot holes or inconsistencies). There are three ways you can fix this.

  1. Keep track of the information in each chapter on note cards and keep them handy as you write.
  2. Don’t worry about fixing them until you finish your first draft, then go back to the beginning and read each chapter, keeping track of the details as you go by writing little notes in the side margins on what information needs to be fixed. Then fix them.
  3. Have another person in addition to yourself read your first draft to look for these issues.

If you don’t fix plot holes, your readers will end up not being very happy with you. You want to make sure the read for them smooth. You don’t want them to have to stop and wonder.