Tag Archives: story

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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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.

Themes Make the Story Go Around

19 Feb

Like a carousel with haunting horses and dark chariots.

Some people might think that themes are unnecessary creativity stifling monsters that force you to actually think about your story and go deep, but since when are those bad things? There’s something to be said for just writing, and thinking can sometimes block you. However, there will be moments, especially at the start of a story, that your mind will block because you HAVEN’T thought about your story. Every character needs a main reason to do what they do and be who they are. It’s the same for the story itself. What drives the story? Including all its characters combined. It’s the base, the centre. Without that, the story won’t spin around.

I’ll give an example. At some point a writing bug caught me and I started working on a story involving a weird circus. I was inspired by an image and really wanted to create something wondrous to do that image justice. However, I was stuck after four pages. Why? Because of the theme. What was this story about? What did I want the characters to learn? To achieve? What was the point of it all? I’d put the curious girl and her fearful friend in the circus. They’d seen exotic animals without leashes, a mirror hall that showed strange reflections, and circus people that could give Lady Gaga a run for her money. But what was I going to do with them afterwards? I had just thrown them in there without instructions. Poor characters.

I find it difficult to think of a theme. I find it extremely difficult to think of where they are going. Yet, if I want to do my story justice (and I do), then I have to brainstorm on this. I have to figure them out. I have to put the story and its characters on that sofa and ask them psychologist-y questions, travel deep into their minds with pickaxes because that is kind of what writers do. And isn’t it wonderful?

Research As Inspiration

1 Nov

Drowning yourself in your story is the best way to ignite inspiration. Whatever your story is about, surround yourself with it. Find images and tape them to the walls of your mind. Or search for quotes that have to do with your theme/subject and scribble them on post-its. Basically any research helps. And how can it not? You have an idea that excites you and that’s why you want to write it down. Getting excited is only the beginning, staying excited is the key. Reminding yourself of all the aspects that you love about your story gives a boost of inspiration.

My favourite month is October and my favourite day is Halloween. Seriously, I like it more than my birthday. It also happens that I’m wrapping up a novel that involves a strange mansion, ghouls, a dog with three heads, people with eternal life, people searching to get eternal life, and an overall feeling of being on the threshold of life (and death) woven in between the words. What better than to get inspired for that final sprint on the day of Halloween?

*blows raspberries* Except that I was too tired from cleaning my brand new apartment all day. So I’m doing it now. Well, I’m writing ABOUT it now. What? Stop staring. I will do it. It’s just that I must share my pearl of wisdom with all of you other writers. And if you’re not a writer then you can enjoy peeking into the mind of a writer. Don’t mind the mess.

Now to prove to you that I am about to get down and writery, here’s a picture that helped inspire me.

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Let It Sink In

11 Oct

My muse has been playing truant since a few weeks ago. I wrote the first draft of my first magical realism novel and it was one hell of a ride. It’s probably the story I’m most proud of and I can’t explain why. Perhaps because I’ve done my best to add some beautiful prose, or because it has an Addams Family feel to it. But man, it was so frustrating, because after rereading it and getting back feedback from my ninja readers I realised I had to rewrite the ending. It was as slow and painful as having my nails pulled out. Exaggerating? Me? Nah.

My heels spontaneously began to drag themselves when my creative mind hit a brick wall covered in thorns and barbed wire. Somehow I couldn’t even work on other projects, because deep down I wanted to finish this story first. I had to. But how could I when my characters were playing hide and seek without having told me?

So as you can guess, I haven’t written in a while and as a writer, that is torture. I felt like a flower who hadn’t been watered. But today, finally, I had my eureka moment! Nothing is as enticing as a blank page and a pen. It’s like putting a chocolate cake in front of someone who’s extremely hungry. I had to write but didn’t really know what. My thoughts drifted to my story and I thought about the theme and what my character really wanted in those final pages. And bam, I had an idea. And bam, I started writing. And BAM, I had my flow back! Oh, finally. I’m no longer starving for words. What a relief.

For a while I thought I would have to lick the words from the books I have, but none taste as good as my own. Anyway, I’ll stop being weird. My point is that there’s no rush. At least, not when you don’t have an agent (yet). Sometimes it’s good to distract yourself with other things before having another brainstorm session. Sometimes it’s good to let your story sink in. Sometimes it’s necessary.

My Muse

9 Oct

Meet my muse because why not? It’s fun to find out what kind of muses there are. I mean I’ve used the term before but never considered who my muse really is. So I stopped to really look at her and noticed she’s a child. A very clever, sometimes sarcastic and really weird child. All in a good way.

My favourite part about her is the passion for stories and my least favourite part is that I need to fuel her with stories. I know that shouldn’t be bad and most of the time it’s not, except when I have a life and don’t have the time. Sometimes my mind is not in reading mode and then I have the time but I won’t enjoy doing it. Yeah, to read or not to read is a difficult question.

Either way,  us writers are lucky to have the muses that we do. Or maybe not…maybe you have a horror story about your muse. Maybe you’ve traded her for another. If so I’d love to hear about it. When the muse is doing her thing, though, the writing flows like a river on drugs. So don’t forget to surprise your muse with virtual cookies and show your appreciation. Unless you have a bad muse, then I’ll give a basket with certain apples. 😉 What? I’m a mystery writer, I’m allowed to murder.

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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.

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