Post-Planning

11 Jan

The whole point of planning is to do it before what it is you are undertaking. It’s so all you have to do is follow the path instead of wading through the wilderness. What if I told you, though, there’s also something like post-planning?

You might think I’m mad. And I am, but that’s neither here nor underwear. Personally, I have tried to plot and plan, but my biggest dream of actually plotting most of my novel and writing like the blazes because of it has only happened once. A small thought stepped forward while I was trying to train myself to plot and it occurred to me that writing a first draft IS the plotting. You write it and afterwards you make a lay-out of your scenes and character growth and all that. It makes it easier to check your work and then make any necessary changes. Basically it makes you an edit-plotter, though I’m sure there’s a cooler name for it. Hang on, I’ll think of one.

This means that really there are no wing-it writers, there are just different ways of plotting. What ever works for one writer, will not work for the other. I mean, think about it, our characters are so different from each other. Doesn’t it make sense that humans are are also very different from each other?

DEATH DRAGON WRITER. Yes, that’s the cooler the name. Spread the word. You’re writers, you’ll be good at that.

 

Genres

5 Jan

As I’m working on my query letter I can’t help but wonder what genre I am even writing. Does anybody else have that problem? Well, it turns out they do, but it doesn’t make it easier.

I follow the story. The words follow me. The genre, however, is much like my pet dragons when they don’t want a bath. It’s so easy to write something that crosses genres, because books are much like people, they’re many things. Books don’t think in genres, we do.

There really is no solution, except to find an agent that represents both genres that it crosses or think tennis balls, I don’t care. Just pick one and go for it. Sometimes I see books that are labelled as a certain genre that makes me raise my eyebrows AND my socks. And yet they are labelled that way, so it’s more subjective than one might think. Plus, sometimes you just have to take a chance and hope an agent doesn’t laugh at you before he rejects your novel.

Mind you, I only have this problem when I write magical realism. It’s a fine line between fantasy and MR, which makes it more tempting to stick to cosy mysteries. 😉 Then again, murder can creep its way into magical realism too…

Oh, boy.

Trouble

4 Jan

Knock, knock. Here’s trouble. We all have them, don’t we? Why wouldn’t we, we’re constantly surrounded by the most dangerous species on this planet…HUMANS. The thing is, it would be boring without them. Our troubles teach us so many things. We learn, we evolve, we become better versions of ourselves.

Doesn’t the same apply to our unsuspecting characters? We would never want to read a story about a character who is fully content and has absolutely no problems or cares in the world. He’s just breezing through the story with a smile plastered on his perfect, symmetrical face. BORING. We want characters with hidden scars and secrets. Even better if we only get to find out a few, as long as we know they’re all there. They don’t call it ‘sweet sorrow’ for nothing. Our characters should face their demons and come out victorious because all their troubles have prepared them for it. That’s what makes the ride worth it, at least, for me.

Sure, trouble isn’t always fun, but the main thing to remember is that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Let our characters show us that there is hope and that we are strong, but even stronger than we know.

Food For The Soul

28 Dec

Books, books, books, books, books. For a writer books are pivotal if you want your soul to survive and stay weird and writer-y, as opposed to normal. I mean, think about it, what if our souls could survive on thoughts and feelings regarding the household, shopping, and whether or not our neighbour likes us.

No, our soul needs to swim in the energy of the worlds that we read about, the beautiful words that are constructed like an intricate sculpture. Energy we need every day or our souls will slowly dwindle down to Normal.

There are so many things good for us. So many things we should do daily, like walking/exercising, meditate, hug someone, drink water, and all that kind of nonsense. Well, I’m here to tell you that reading should be on that list too. Because if reading is on there, writing will surely follow. Trust me, I know. I’ve had the writing itch for a long time but my fingertips don’t bleed ink anymore, they’re dry. I know why. It’s because I can hardly remember the last time that I read anything other than the tests my students make. This year has been so hectic and stressful that I SHOULD have been writing my ass off, diving into other worlds and lives than my own, but the thing you really do when you get home is fall down on the sofa and find that you’re stuck to it. An invisible person has glued you to it, and that invisible person is called Stress.

Now it’s the Christmas holiday and I have a moment to breathe. More importantly, I get to read! And wow, have I missed it. Also, now the writing muscle needs training again. Why not start with a blog post? (I have missed you, Bloggy.) And after that, work on a story, no matter how rubbish I may have gotten with all that slacking off.

Then again, it really does help to remind myself, that writers don’t need to write in order to write. And any time my mind has wondered off (and it has done so often) conjuring up images of tough chicks, lonely detectives, murders, unusual people, and unexplained situations, I have been writing. I HAVE BEEN WRITING.

Magical Realism Writing Prompts

6 Aug

What reality doesn’t need some magic? I know all the ones in my head do, so here are some writing prompts to jazz up your imagination with some magic…

#1 The Jar
Your main character has moved into a new home on a plot of land and discovers a mysterious jar under the porch. The jar lights up when touched. What is it? And what does it do to the character?

#2 Flower Girl
Your MaC’s car trouble land him/her in a field of flowers where a girl is picking them. She claims the flowers sing and talk to her and she can make your MaC hear it too. Does your MaC accept that offer? Oops, too late. The little girl has touched your MaC, causing them to hear the flowers and a bunch of other side effects…

#3 Black Cat
Your MaC has a heap of personal problems and on top of that hits a black cat. It is seriously injured and your MaC takes the cat home to take care of it. As soon as it starts to heal it transforms into a person of the opposite sex. What happens with this new friendship?

Have fun writing. Magic is everywhere! *quill turns into an owl and flies away* Hey!

Love Is In The Air

26 May

A good love story is not that hard to find. An original love story, well, that’s a whole other story. Pun intended but really not that funny, I’m sorry.

All my stories contain a love story even if they are not the centre of my character-driven novels. Usually the main plot contains some sort of mystery, preferably one involving the involuntary death of a character. Or, like in my current WIP, the finding of one’s place as an unusual person in a world that promotes The Normal.

I’m a romantic at heart and the characters that visit my mind are interesting and fun, so of course characters are going to fall in love. How could I stop them, even if I wanted to? So yes, love. And since I’m a romantic, it would have to be romantic, wouldn’t it? Preferably even beautiful. This seems a tall order since love is a theme that will never bleed out. The key, like with any topic, is to keep it fresh and original. Like all my novels, I want this part to also be special. Again, tall order, I know. It’s really hard to that, even if you’ve read a lot, watched a lot, KNOW a lot about what is out there.

My latest WIP for instance, has a couple that you root for. Two characters that you feel  should be together. That’s already a triumph. There’s also enough tension and cute moments, as well as enough obstacles that mess with their happiness. Also good. But the ending is the cherry on top. The moment where all the swirls of different colours create the rainbow. Of course they will get a happy ending, but what kind? A kiss in the rain? Done before. A kiss on a dragon while the world around them is on fire? Not done before, but my story is magical realism, not fantasy. (Although maybe that has also been done before…I haven’t read that much fantasy. If it hasn’t been done before and you write fantasy, DO IT.)

The ending is the part I struggle the most with and to be honest, it’s why I had trouble getting back to writing. I put too much pressure to have a perfect, original ending for them. I decided to do what one always does when wanting to finish a story. I WROTE. Characters usually know what to do, they know themselves better than I do sometimes and I have to trust them. I just watch them and write it down. If I’m not happy with it afterwards, I’ll edit that one scene, but at least I’ll have something to edit. Also, it doesn’t hurt that in the meantime I can brainstorm, which really is like a storm when I do it. Chairs flying around and everything. This is why I work with snacks.

There will always be snacks.

Like a River

26 Apr

Like a river let it flow. And so it should be when it comes to the writing flow. It should be a continuous stream of words, metaphors, phrases, and other wordy contraptions that lock in the reader’s imagination.

The more time you spend away from your loyal, slightly panicked characters the more your head starts to fill (and get clogged) with utter nonsense such as: Where did I put my keys? (If you don’t think about it, usually they magically appear in the last place you put them.) What should I have for dinner? (Cookies. The answer is always cookies.) If I stare directly into the sun for a minute, would I really go blind? (The answer is yes. Don’t try it. It has to do with the huge amount of light that your eye is not capable of filtering. Or something.) Was that a deer I hit, or a person? (Okay, just took a major dark turn.) But who needs these silly questions when you can be wondering about the colour of your main character’s hair, or the deep rooted childhood issues they have. Why is Susie planning on killing her hubby when all he seems to do is dote on her? Far more important than any other questions, don’t you think?

Let’s just write first, think later. Because before you know it, the water has slipped through your fingers and all your words with it. They’ll break on the hard rocks of reality and that would be such a waste, because you’re the reason they existed in the first place. If you find yourself out of the flow, grab a motorboat and head back out there. Do the time and the words will come once again, like hungry fish. Blup blup.

river

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