The In Between

So, I was just reading more in Plot & Structure By James Scott Bell. In this book he addresses the two styles of operating when writing. Being an Outline Person (OP) and a Non-Outline Person (NOP). Ah, the differences.

First the Outline Person. The OP is someone who likes structure when writing. Setting up the events in their detailed order before putting down your story. This is a good way to set up plot points and the action/reaction formulas. Not a bad way to go. But if you’re not careful you can slip into control-freak mode and suspend your imagination. Take breaks to let your imagination roam freely. He also advises if you write everything on index cards, shuffle them. Yep, shuffle them! Then try your story in a different order. It may make it better.

Second the Non-Outline Person. The NOP is a person who writes by the seat of their pants. Writers who write freely and openly. No boundaries, no set lines. And while this can yield even more unique ideas it has its drawbacks as well. Writing this way can leave its fair share of loose ends. Without something to keep you tethered you may just drift away on your own inspiration. This is a great way to write more character driven fiction.

My issue is that I seem to fall in between. While I love my outlines and guard them with my life I also don’t let them dictate how I write. Those moments in between major events and minor events, our action/ reaction moments, are where I write freely. I like to take the time to plan out my major plot points, but I also like (after setting them out before me) to play with them. The former ‘What If?’ post plays out here. I shuffle, I add new thoughts, I take my time to ponder.

But at the end of the day I enjoy the process. This book has challenged my brain to write better. It has helped me form a better character and story. Although it is not about fleshing out characters, building your plot should push you to do just that. If you don’t have a worthy character your story won’t work. (Yes, I know there are exceptions to every rule.) But if you look into your subconscious and learn who you are and why you believe what you believe it gives you the keys to create reliable, honest characters.

Pick up this book, and I recommend the hard copy not the e-book. I need to underline and re-read specific points. It is reference meant to be used. It really has made a huge difference to me as a writer.

Have a great one!

Big Words!

At some point I begin drifting off while reading reference books on writing. Not because they’re boring, but because my brain goes into information overload and starts shutting down. Then I know it’s time for two things: Coffee and Writing.

One of the things I’ve read in Plot & Structure is to set a word goal. I’ve often heard of setting aside time each day to write. However, how often do we just sit and stare? We sit and brainstorm, edit, research, re-write, and organize but we don’t actually write. And while all of those things are important, and at some point necessary, if we don’t have any story to edit then we haven’t done our job.

So for each day I have set a minimal goal of 1,000 words. It sounds like a lot if you’re not a writer, and probably very few if you’re a seasoned one. But for me that’s my goal. It’s attainable and challenging. But for all the other time allotted in the day I’m studying to do better.

This goal also allows my brain to not overload and push out crap. I’m constantly churning over bits of my story. Reworking them to make them even better. So when I sit down to write what I have concocted spills over onto the pages. Don’t stress over writing. That is where your creativity will struggle. Play with your story. Write crazy scenarios with insane endings. It’ll help you build that imagination of yours. (Yep, it’s there!)

But mainly, at the end of the day, don’t let discouragement filter down into your soul. Remember, You ARE a WRITER. It is WORK. Even if you are talented in this particular field it will take some honing to get it just right. I personally write for leisure. I enjoy putting together a story. When it comes down to it though I need a lot, A LOT, of work! It’s fun and challenging.

I remember when I was in high school and accidentally got dropped into an art class. (I wanted photography but the teacher closed the dark room.) I LOVE to draw. It is one of my favorite things to do. I love putting my pencil on my sketch book and letting the ideas flow in a way I don’t have to describe. But when I was told to draw something specific it was difficult. And annoying. I didn’t draw comic book style things. I couldn’t capture light in a glass bottle. I didn’t know how to get the look of despair down on paper. All I did draw were things my mind came up with, which usually ended up looking a little cartoon-y.

But he challenged me! He showed us different styles of shading and art in general. He made us sketch things that were difficult. And no two students drew things the same way! Each and every piece was different, even if it was of the same image. Now I adore sketching wine bottles in the sun. And capturing the perfect expression. It may still be a tad cartoon looking but it has the desired effect.

Just like in writing we need someone to push us past our limits. To show us how to utilize our brains to their fullest creative extent. It may be something like a word goal. Or it may be doing writing exercises. (Yep you have to exercise here too!)

But when it’s all said and done don’t overload yourself. You have to stay loose to let those creative juices flow. So after a hard day of life and writing stuff go off and have that much deserved cup o’ joe. And a muffin if you so desire. Trust me, it’s totally worth it.

**Also on a side note I wanted to let everyone know what’s going on with my stacks. I’m still going strong on Awakening. Lisa also has released the latest Fated novella as well, I still need to pick that one up. I am about to re-read the last Soulless novel to give you guys the last review in that series. And that’s about it for the moment. I’ve been preoccupied with Plot & Structure in between all of those so it’s taking a bit longer, sorry for the delay. But I hope you’ll forgive me when you read my book! Remember to tell everyone you know and talk about it like it’s your new boyfriend/girlfriend!

I want to hear your opinions! Do you ever get burned out? Have you ever been challenged? Let me know in the comments!

Have a good one!

Blow it up!

So you’re sitting there staring at your screen.

Just staring.

Got writer’s block? Ok. Let’s work on this together.

What if? That’s it. What if. What if your computer exploded right now? What if your baby started crying just now? What if you fell asleep while reading this and you awoke with writing on your cheek?

One of James Scott Bell’s bits of advice is to ask ‘what if’. Something he pointed out was to read headlines and even obituaries and ask what if?

Keep writing. Write down different scenarios. Take a break and look back. Highlight the ones that inspire.

If you’re anything like me you’ve settled into a specific mindset. Which is fine for everyday life. But for a writer it isn’t enough. From time to time I have to become a child. Let my mind explode with outrageous ideas. Shoot for the moon!

What if your main character could suddenly leap the grand canyon? What if they could sprout claws and dig to China? Let your mind roam completely free.

When you come back to it ask yourself if you could make this sound plausible. Stop holding up your shields, life I’ve said before, and dream big.

Blow it up!

Writing is hard!

And fun, and exciting, and difficult, and a million other things!

So, I’ve picked up Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. It’s awesome if you are interested in writing. It’s very helpful and filled with exercises, writing advice, tips, and many other amazing things.

This book has pried open my brain and helped me to develop a lot in the past few days. It perfectly articulates how to accomplish things I’ve often wondered about. He maps out big name stories in a way more understandable to a newbie like myself.

The best thing is how he breaks it down. It isn’t hung up on particular terminology. Instead he uses anecdotes and original methods.

Really, if you have any interest in being a writer I suggest you pick this up.

Have a good one.

Expanding!

So I’m constantly searching for ways to expand my views. Not change, just understand different minds and their view points. I have to admit probably one of my favorite ways and biggest weakness is through biographies. Weakness because I detest reading them. *sigh*

Anyway, I believe the best way to do this is to drop our shields. How we view religion, race, lifestyles, etc. I struggle because I’m very deeply rooted in my beliefs, which there is nothing wrong with that. But, to write a character who is well fleshed out and is grounded in their beliefs I have to drop my shields. Not give up on my own, just be flexible enough to create a character from another world.

Another way I see this is to read this out of my comfort zone. I hate horror novels. My imagination is active enough without any fuel. However, I have picked up one on occasion only to finish it and have to review it. The amazing thing about it is that though I get completely grossed out by gore and trembling by terror I have to give the author credit. Each time I am so affected then the writer has accomplished his or her goal.

When a biography takes me back in time and I can experience the joys or turmoil it makes the story real. Writers strive to take you away. Away from society, away from life, away from the familiar and into the unknown. The fire is in the mysterious. Even if it is just making you think ‘now what will they do next?’.

I take that, I take the concept, and try to reinvent it. The why did this character do this or how can I accomplish this same response. I want you to feel the despair and excitement.

I recently read a story about a broken character. She was slowly losing her mind. And as I read some of the reviews the responses were filled with yes we get it, she’s screwed up! But that was exactly the point. It is monotonous. It is annoying. This girl is suffering and has been for a very long time. Her mind is beginning to try to protect itself in the only way it knows how, by repeating her only hopeful memory. While I’m reading these irritated reviews I got kind of excited. This writer achieved her goal. She instilled the emotion and made her readers uncomfortable. *hoorah*

I have a love hate relationship with reading reviews because some people really don’t understand the points of stories. And is can be very unfair. Do I care whether or not you personally enjoyed it? Not particularly. But when you list why our why not there in lies your emotion. That can give me the key to if I should read it. Were you angry over the grammar or was it just not the end you imagined for the character? Was the story actually terrible or do you not personally like that genre?

To me if you read a horror novel and hated it because it was too scary it’s probably a good sign to those who do love scary stories. Expand your views to understand. Get it?

Let me know if you agree or disagree! Why? Have you ever experienced something similar while reading?

Have a good one!