New Story High

10 Jun

That first tingle of excitement you get when a new story falls onto your keyboard. With trembling fingers you write the words, excited by these new characters, the thrilling story. Like an obsession, you keep writing deep into the night until you realise you have to get up early in the morning. But…you have to finish this sentence, just one. No, wait, just this paragraph. This page. And before you know it you’ve written three versions and you’re a ghost now, because you forgot to eat, sleep, and drink water.

Slight exaggeration perhaps, but that’s what it feels like when you’ve fallen in love with a new story. It’s much like falling in love with a person. Except in this case you don’t have to worry about whether or not it’s too soon to call, or other social boundaries. You are in full control, the story is at your fingertips and sometimes that means sleep is left tapping on the window of your imagination, trying to remind you that you need it.

Still, despite the fact that sunlight will be your enemy in the next few weeks, it’s worth it when you can finish the first draft as soon as possible. Your characters will earn a break, while you reread the draft and they’ll be all bright-eyed and bushy tailed for round two.

Stories need a lot of attention in the beginning, much like a baby, and especially your passion. You need to be excited and thrilled, because that’s what keeps the momentum going and that’s how you’ll finish this first draft. Speed is of the essence or you’ll find that your characters have taken up residence somewhere other than your head and it will be even harder to write.

Be in love with your story. Be an addict. Just remember, you know, to live a little bit on the side as well. 😉

 

Writing Prompts: Secrets

5 Jun

#1

Your character discovers a secret. It can either kill her or help her. But if your character chooses the latter, people will get hurt. Write a scene about what your character decides.

#2

Your character comes home from a trip to find that their significant other, whom they love very much, is digging a hole in the garden…for the body in the living room. Write what happens next.

#3

One of your characters is driving home with a bloody weapon in the car. Another character is a police officer who has a load of drugs in the car. Write the scene where they get into a car crash.

Hey Sunshine

18 May

The sun is shining again! Birds are chirping, children are playing, and writers are retreating further into their writing caves. Characters are tumbling over the pages as we look up and blink at the sunlight streaming through our windows. Even though not all of our writing happens behind a laptop, it still means that we are usually stationed in front of one.

So this is your reminder that Mother Earth is in full bloom and us writers need our daily dose of sunshine. Go out, take a walk, talk to human beings (I know, they’re scary) and dust yourself off. Okay, I might be projecting my own hermit-ness on you, but I figure I’m not the only writer. It’s easy to go from work to sleep, to work, to sleep and forget that in order to fuel our creativity, we might actually have to turn off our brain and enjoy The Outside. *cue horror music*

We can do it! Provided we’re not too tired from our day jobs and the characters that are running around when they’re not being written. Ugh, could we have a thirteen-month holiday, just for a little eternity?

The Message

2 Apr

Every novel has a message. No matter what it is about, there is always something that the writer wants to say. That is what makes a story even more interesting to read, and as a writer, it makes the story even more interesting to write.

I highly recommend thinking about what you want to say before you grace the page with even a single word. Only because it saves time when editing. With the regular visits of new characters, saved time is a good thing.

The main thing you should ask yourself is: what do I want people to think about once they’ve put down my book? Then it’s just a matter of contemplating what events and characters you want to use to make people think about that. So the coming up with a message is actually the easy part. However, it is a lot easier now that you know what you’re working towards. And it’s also easier for your characters. Considering how we torture them already, it’s only the kind thing to do.

Time – Writing Prompts

24 Feb

Let’s dive right in and play with words. Today’s words will involve something that goes by way too fast and that we can almost always use more of. Choose your scene and who knows, it might be spun into a novel.

#1

Your character has suffered a great loss and has hit rock bottom. It is at that moment that a mysterious phone call during which someone describes an object that can give you powers to control time. It will be dangerous to retrieve it, but your character might be willing to risk it. Write this scene.

#2

Your main characters suffers lapses in memory. He thinks he’s crazy, and so does everybody else. This changes when he gets attacked by an intruder and freezes time. The plot thickens when the intruder seems to have been sent by someone who knows about what he can do…and wants him dead. Write this scene.

#3

Someone your character thought was dead, shows up. That’s not even the weird part. He claims to have travelled through time in order to give you an important message. Write this scene.

Feedback

23 Jan

….is food for the writer. It even has the word ‘feed’ in it. As a writer/author feedback is very important for your growth, but also for the growth of your story. Every draft you write takes you closer to the version that it was meant to be in the first place. It’s like creating a sculpture out of lifeless lump of clay. You can see what it’s supposed to be, and it will take a while to get it there.

After almost two years of being swallowed up by my new work, querying has taken a backseat. But now that I feel like I’ve got the hang of that thing we call Real Life, I’m back in the game. As I’m still querying the first novel in my cosy mystery, I’m already working on the second. At first I thought that was pointless, because I haven’t even published my first novel yet. I have the luxury, however, of being able to work on multiple stories, so it’s not like I can’t query more novels as a plan B. Also, I let a very critical friend read it and her boyfriend heard about the story and wanted to read it too. Now they’re both hooked and he kept asking me when I’d write the second novel. If that isn’t motivational, I don’t know what is. I also considered it a good exercise of my writing muscles without the pressure of knowing I want an agent to look at it. So I put finger to keyboard and mind to page and here I am…I have a murder in a hotel, an emotional mystery writer, and a love interest who is getting closer to making his move. Yay, the excitement.

What’s even more exciting is the feedback. I mean, after not playing with my characters for a while, it’s nice to know I still got it. And hearing that it’s well-written and just drags you in is just the thing you need to hear. Not just as an ego boost but also because it’s important to know when you’re on the right track. That’s equally important to knowing you’re not. Also, because my beta readers are impatient, I send them a few chapters each time so when they pick up on an inconsistency, I can immediately change it. I’m still going to let more beta readers ravage it, but only after I’m done. In the meantime I’m so happy to reconnect to my characters and let them grow even more.

More murders, more fun. Wait, that sounded psycho. I really must be a writer, then.

Scheduled Writing

18 Jan

The muse is a fickle mistress. Waiting around for her will only lead to a broken heart. The only way to get ink on paper is by jumping that muse and tying her to your desk. Sure, she will chew on her arm and possibly also yours, but it will be worth it. I mean, the only way to get anything done, is by simply doing it.

Since motivation can be tricky, the key is habit. Writing has to become as easy to do as brushing your teeth. As a child that may have been a chore but we stuck to it and now we don’t even think about it. The wonderful thing about this, is that it doesn’t matter how long the writing lasts. Just like with most things, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Writing is a muscle that needs to be exercised. Exercising for ten minutes is still exercising.

Finding Forrester was on TV today (one of my faves) and it was cool to watch a seasoned author type away on his typewriter within a second of sitting down. His mentee asking him what he was doing, wondering how he shook some amazing prose out of his sleeve within seconds. Because HOW is that even possible? I guess the same as when someone finishes a marathon. With a lot of practice. Whether you try to publish your work or not, the more you write, the better.

So take a notebook with you, or have your laptop within in reach and make sure you have a few moments to jot down whatever your fingers let escape. Your characters will appreciate it. And so will your (future) readers.

 

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