Tag Archives: plot

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.

 

Every Writer Needs A Break

2 Aug

Take it from someone who once was at home for six months doing nothing but writing. It may sound like heaven to some of you, but at some point the walls start closing in. Eventually you even get nervous about venturing into THE OUTSIDE. So yes, I get it. All things in moderation, even such an awesome thing as writing.

It’s not just for your sanity. *eye twitch* It’s also to knock some dust off your mind and let in some fresh ideas. Once you are brave enough to face THE OUTSIDE, it’s actually not so bad and you get to observe people, talk, experience. After seeing a person walk in a big hat with a skirt and trousers on with none of the colours matching, you get a vague outline for a new character. After talking to a nice old man about that time his wife cheated on him, you suddenly get an idea for a plot. Should I go on? No, right? Because I’ve had a long day and you’re smart.

By the time you get back to your trusty chair and pet dragons, you are READY to brave those empty pages. You wield your pen and nothing can stop you. Except the occasional snack, but that goes without saying. You can scribble fiercely with this new dose of motivation and inspiration. Besides, let’s face it, it’s nice to stretch those legs every now and then. In fact, it’s been proven that you are most creative while walking. That’s why lots of writers go for nice walks when their characters are refusing to get out of their beds. So, don’t feel ashamed that nothing is pouring out of your fingertips, it’s normal. Writers are kind of superheroes, but we’re still mostly human. Every writer needs a break.

break

Say What Now?

25 Jan

Dialogue is something a lot of writers fear. The thought of it makes them crawl up the wall or hide in a closet with a mop as a weapon of choice. Why? Because a lot of writers find it difficult and dialogue is a very important part of a story.
I myself don’t have any trouble with it. In fact, I think it’s the one aspect that comes most naturally to me. So, in order to give advice I’ve been questioning my brain as to what would help someone write better dialogues in case that is a weak point of theirs.

The main thing I’ve come up with is this: KNOW YOUR CHARACTERS. I have never filled in a list with all the facts of my character. I don’t need to know what their favourite kind of shoes are or what vegetable they hate. I kind of feel what I need to know, if that makes sense. I catch their vibe like the string of a balloon and let it take me to where it wants to go. Perhaps this is why I’m a good wing-it writer. It could be that this doesn’t work for plotting writers, but either way the point is that you get to know your characters so well that when you write them, you become them. Then it’s just a matter of responding. So if you’re a plotter, fill in that sheet if you want! Fill in as much as you want up until the point that you feel you’re in the character’s head.

Once you’re in your character’s head you put it to the test. Start with a random scene where your character responds to a situation. Then write a scene where your character responds to words from a friend, stranger, or enemy. But my favourite one is the SHRINK SESSION. This can also be done before you get a feel for your character or when you find it difficult to get into your character’s head. YOU are the shrink and your character sits opposite to you. Start by taking note of body language and then start asking him or her questions. Start at the beginning or ask about what’s going on recently in his or her life. Put them in the hot seat or handle them with care…or both! And see what happens. This is a fun and creative way to get the ball of words rolling. Try it and let me know if it helps.

Then it’s just a matter of writing and getting to know your characters through your story. Because even then your characters will still surprise you. Sometimes you think you know someone…Damn those characters. It’s like they’re real people sometimes. 😉

Meh-Ness of the Creative Mind

28 Feb

Those days where you want to change the world with your words, whether it’s with your social media or a new story idea. Whatever it is, it gets you all excited and you think about what it will be like when you’ve build up this legacy and quite possibly also have a butler. Or three. Those moments are good because they inspire. They inspire you to be the best and kick some ass.

Or at least, that’s what they’re supposed to do. I mean, they do inspire me, but also they make me feel guilty for when I don’t end up changing the world in one afternoon. Because most of the time it’s daunting to think of all that you want to achieve and to know that it will take long. Not to mention that it takes a lot of effort and luck. It can be paralysing. Which is why I usually end up building a virtual village or raising Sim babies.
When you’re writing just for fun it’s easier because there is no pressure. However, pressure can also be good, so how do you make it so that pressure becomes the same as motivation?

The goals are still important and it would be good to consider those goals every once in a while. Ask yourself what you really want to achieve with your writing and before you write, meditate on those images. If you’re a realist, you might think that it will never happen, and I suppose it’s good not to get your hopes up, but also add that you can eat least TRY. Because the trying part is probably more fun than the actual achievement. If we do achieve our dreams, don’t we want to look back and know we’ve EARNED it? I know I do.

On the other hand it also helps me to just turn on some music, daydream about my story and get excited about it again. It depends on my mood, but sometimes I don’t need to think about the future, I just need to be in the moment and write for my story. After all, I like my characters so I want to do my best for them. The story deserves it, so do its inhabitants.

Which means that my advice today is a bit contradictory. It depends on who you are and what your current mood is, but both result in motivation. But here is one more tip. There’s a difference between the lack of motivation or simply having dust in your creative mind. If the Jar of Words is empty, my advice is simple: READ A DAMN BOOK. I hate to be all cliché, but books make for the best inspiration in the first place.

Hopefully my scattered ramblings all over this post help you, because right now my brain feels all dusty. I am going to refill my Jar with Haruki Murakami and then I’ll play with my characters. After all, I have an agent interested in my work, and if that isn’t a good kind of pressure, I don’t know what is.

 
GOOD LUCK, WRITERS!

 

weird writer

The Roller Coaster Ride

26 Nov

Your story is a roller coaster, make sure the readers make it to the end.

storycoaster-revisedblog

Plot It Like A Bunny

20 Nov

Funnily enough this post isn’t about how to plot or about bunnies. It is however, about the Plot ingredient which should always be in the Story Cauldron. I write character-driven stories because life is about people and books are about life, but this doesn’t mean I’m not big on plot. Even though the emphasis of a story might be on characters, that doesn’t mean that the amount of effort put into the plot should be any less than the effort put into characterisation.

– A plot should always move towards the climax and its subsequent resolution. That is to say, keep the goal in mind. You should also be able to summarise your plot in one sentence.
– There should also be a subplot, which you should also be able to summarise in one sentence. People who get stuck have usually lost sight of their plot and/or subplot. If that happens easily, it might be a good idea to make an outline before you start writing. That makes it easier for you to begin and stick to it once you’re halfway through that beast of a story.
– The one-sentence summary should contain the goal. Every plot should have a goal because that’s how you know what obstacles you’ll add into the Cauldron. Here it is also interesting to create tension by giving the character traits that already don’t match with the goal. Characters make interesting obstacles.
– There should be a set of mini-achievements for a character in order to reach the goal, they are usually reactions to the obstacles. This is especially clear in mystery, for instance. The goal is to solve a murder, they have a suspect, but then new information arrives and shows the suspect is not the killer. They have to use that new information to get closer to a new suspect and every time they uncover something, whether it sets them back or not, it all adds up to the eventual truth; everything leads to their goal. Cause and effect.
– It should always be clear in which direction you’re moving, but you should still throw a few curve-balls at your readers to keep them on their toes. Subtlety is key here. Hint by sliding it past them, not by throwing the hint in their face. Also feel free to lay out false clues, but only one or two or your readers might feel tricked, in a bad way.

Keep moving closer to the goal, even a setback for your character is still a motion. Move gradually, not like a bullet, but like a leaf in the wind. Never ever stop, because like a shark, your plot will die.

plotting bunny

TIP: The elements of a good plot are pretty straightforward and you can discover them easily by thinking of what you expect of a novel with a good plot, as a reader. Thinking like a reader will help you when writing. (Note: don’t think like a reader WHILE writing, only before or after.)

Writing Update

26 Jul

It is nearly the end of the month, so you know what means…another writing project finished. Well, a first draft, but that means the hardest part is over. At least, I consider that the hard part. It’s easy for me to work with a sketch/blueprint of a story. I’ve never been a crazy reviser. Some writers make whole outlines and travel to distant lands to receive wise words from a sorcerer when they start revising…okay, maybe not that last one. In my case, with my finished story, I wrote along the way. At some point I changed the plot so I started over, using some of the pages that I could from the old version and just wrote. Along the way, I’d see if it made sense, but I knew where I wanted to go. The only rewriting that needed to be done after that was the phrasing of words, making sure it’s not too wordy and other syntax related changes. I suppose it’s good to know that I don’t write in such a way that I have to change scenes here and there and really cut it up and paste it again. Usually when I know the direction I want to go in, I can write it like I’d read it.
Having said that, now that I’ve finished another project, it’s time to revise the first one. The cosy mystery. TUM TUM TUM TUM. In this case, I feel like I really just wrote it to be quick and get the basic idea down, so I do feel like I will need to work hard to get the characterisation right and the plot, the atmosphere. The Writing Guidelines are different for cosy mysteries than for the other stories I’ve been writing so perhaps that is why I need to reread it with fresh eyes. I felt like something was missing. That is also why I ordered a cosy mystery and started reading it to get in the right mind set. I think what I’m missing has something to do with the characters. Cosy mysteries usually have a lot of minor characters, but I don’t like too many minor characters, I need to give them something special to set them apart and in this case, I didn’t feel the need for certain characters. Or scenes for that matter. But with cosy mysteries, cosy is very important. Characters need to be there to provide comic relief even though they don’t contribute (much) to the plot and the same with certain scenes. They need to add to the cosy vibe. So instead of asking myself: Does this character contribute to the plot? Or does this scene contribute to the story? I need to ask myself: Does this character make the story more cosy? Does this scene make it cosy? Which is why I’m soaking up the cosy vibe with other books.
This is also why they say writers should read. It really helps to take away what not to do and what to do from an already written story in your genre. So get your read on…and then your write on!

In the meantime here is the final sentence of the story about the girl with multiple personalities:

 After all, most of the time, the only person who can lighten up a dark room, is you.

 

Dissociative_identity_disorder

 

 

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