Tag: creativity

Whose Line is it Anyway?

(This show used to crack me up. I just don’t think fast enough on my feet to be able hold my own on a show like that, but it was hilarious.)

I’m not sure if the first line of a story causes me more fear and second-guessing, or the last line, but I’m leaning towards the first line. Think about it:  you’re trying to set the tone for an entire novel (or novella or short story or essay or paper…), and you want to capture your audience’s attention as well as the feel of the entire novel. In that one sentence. That’s a lot of pressure for one measly sentence, a mere handful of words.

So which tone do you take?

Iconic? “In the beginning…”

Fantastical? “Once upon a time…”

Historical? “It was the best of times…”

Character-driven? “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful…”

(True story:  I actually know the entire first half-page or so of Gone with the Wind by heart. It’s my favorite book ever, and while stylistically it’s not something I can emulate, it certainly paints a vivid picture of Scarlett right off the bat.)

I mean, if we were watching a movie, that opening shot would be—comparatively speaking—much easier to establish setting, world, character, and plot. You’ve got visuals. You could use Johnny Depp against the ocean, or bright words rolling up against a backdrop of stars. There’s an immediate feeling of place.

But what’s the literary equivalent of that opening shot?

My advice is not to worry too much over it when you’re writing your fist draft. (Are you listening, self?) If you have a brilliant idea for the perfect first line, use it. But write the entire piece or novel, and when you go back to revise, get your story in the best possible shape you can, then take a look at your first line. Chances are good that your story will have changed so much that that “perfect” first line is no longer even relevant.

But you’ll have a much better feel for the story and what you’re trying to say, and I’m betting that crafting that elusive perfect first line won’t be quite so hard with that in mind.

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Things All Writers Understand

Just a few things from my Writing Pinterest board that all writers will understand. (I don’t own any of these images, but bless their creators, for totally understanding the struggle.)

block
At this point, it could be either one…
coming-together
I LOVE this feeling!
dory-writing
It’s sad how accurate this is <looks at list of 4 planned novels for this year, including the shiny new one that happened two weeks ago>.
first-draft
…one of which planned novels is the full re-write of the first thing I ever started writing…
inspiration
Motivation comes in many forms.
old
Actually, I’m too afraid to look at my VERY first draft.
plotting
If I only I could be the first one.
writer
Wait, I thought everyone hung upside down. You mean they don’t?
writing
I might resemble the last picture…
youre-a-writer
Guilty.

 

Over-commitment?

So…I’ve decided to do NaNo next month for the first time since 2012.

Yes, I have a full-time job with long, crazy hours. Yes, I go to school, too. Yes, I have a 5k to train for in 2 weeks, a 10k in 5 weeks, and a half-marathon in February. Yes, I have 2 blogs to maintain and I write book reviews for My Trending Stories.

What’s your point?

I participated in—and won—NaNo 5 years in a row, from 2007-2011. I started NaNo in 2012, but depression hit me hard, and I abandoned it (along with practically everything else). I found that barely-started story (about 35 pages of it) last year and did not even remember writing it. (But I was pretty impressed!)

When I had mostly conquered my depression (May 2013), I wanted to get back to my normal life. Then I had a stroke on June 1st. I spent the next 6 months in a haze of exhaustion, recovery, and adaptation as I came to terms with my new normal after almost dying.

I didn’t write a thing for over a year.

Slowly, I’ve gotten back into writing, but I miss the adrenaline-fueled rush of NaNo, so I’m giving it a shot next week.

Guess which story I’m going to finish? Yep. The one I started during my last NaNo.

When?

When does not-writing become a thing of “because I don’t feel like it” instead of “because I have a thousand other things that have to be done”?

When does my brain stop making excuses and get itself together and get my body in front of the keyboard?

When is “tired” no longer a valid excuse for not getting things done (things besides writing)?

When will I learn that I can’t do everything I’d like to, not and give each thing the attention and focus it deserves?

When will real-life have-to’s stop interfering with my writing time? (Looking at you, last-minute work meeting on my day off.)

When will I finally beat my tendency for procrastination? (Which eventually becomes active self-sabotage.)

When will people finally understand that “I can’t, I have writing to do” does not mean “Sure, I’m not doing anything anyway”?

When will my brain finally give me an outline for The Fall, so the actual writing part feels less like wandering around with a blindfold on?

When will I finally overcome this stupid mental block/laziness and sit in my chair and actually WRITE?

When?

Busier Than Ever

Things will probably be kind of scarce around here for the next month or so. My new classes just started, with a heavy work load, and I’m moving in a month so I have to pack and go through all of the stuff in storage.

So, I’ll be working on Siren Song and the Witches even less. On the up side, I started writing my final project for my capstone class this morning, and it’s a short story related to my idea for the Camelot story, so at least I’m doing some fiction writing.

The Muse Returns

I finished up the outline for Siren Song in January, and then promptly didn’t write a word until… late February. My “goal” (which I frequently find myself ignoring) is two 500-word sessions a week. I can remember writing 10,000+ words  a day for NaNo years ago, so 500 words twice a week should be ridiculously easy. Should be.

As it turns out, actually making myself sit down and write is almost impossible. But this morning, I made that my first priority, and wrote 1,000 words.

Not setting any records with that, but I’m thrilled with it.

I also started outlining my final project for my capstone class, which is a short story based on the mythos of Camelot. I’m actually looking forward to writing it, and using it as backstory for when I start writing the Camelot project sometime in the future (because my Muse gave me a fantastic idea with that months ago).

How is the Muse performing for you?

How Many Stories at a Time?

Just out of curiosity, how many projects can you work on at a time? (Not physically simultaneously, just, you know, during the same general time frame.) I’ve read about people with more than one WIP at a time, and the idea is slightly…mind-boggling to me.

I’m editing one project, Witches, and writing Siren Song. But…I still have The Fall rattling around back in there, and then there’s that new Camelot/King Arthur/Guinevere story the Muse wants to play with….Sigh. Don’t get me wrong, my writing goals are not very intense right now. If I get in a couple of 500-word sessions a week, I call it a good week (the habit is what’s important to me right now, after an extremely extended hiatus from writing.). I also don’t want to lose the emotion I have for those other two stories. Not when holding on to my motivation has been so tricky anyway.

The idea I’m currently considering:  continue editing Witches of course, to the tune of about 5 chapters a week. (This is just really a pass to change it from 3rd-person POV to multiple 1st-person, not an in-depth revision.) Continue writing (at least) two 500-word sessions on Siren Song a week. One session with The Fall. And one with the Camelot story. Every week. To facilitate this, I would also want to actually outline all three stories before starting to write the other two. I don’t have any sort of outline for Siren Song, so this would undoubtedly be beneficial in that regard.

Is this insanity?  Has anyone tried writing multiple stories like this at the same time?

What’s the Weirdest Thing to Ever Inspire You to Write?

Inquiring minds want to know.

I’m not sure I have anything weird to contribute to this. I mean, I’ve never been struck by a bolt from the blue. Or had the idea fairy tap me with her glittery magic wand. Or had a clown frolic up to me with the fragments of an idea floating around his head (thank goodness!).

For me, it’s like the Muse is a child playing with blocks. She’s playing with this one random block, sometimes for a long time, then she suddenly finds this other block and starts banging them together. Suddenly and without warning, she smacks the blocks together a certain way, and they fit together like Tetris. I can almost hear the “click” when that happens. And unrelated ideas suddenly become one.

That happened a couple of weeks ago, when I started working on my British Lit final, and I chose to re-write a scene from Morte Darthur in Guinevere’s POV. I’ve always wondered how she became involved with her husband’s best friend, and this was an opportunity to explore that. Except the Muse decided it was also a good opportunity to come up with a new story idea. Guinevere! King Arthur as a bad guy! Maybe some time travel and paranormal events!

Really, Muse? I mean, I already have two separate partially-done story ideas in progress. You decided I need another one rattling around in there? And the answer to that question is….YES.

So, I guess I do have a weird thing that inspires me to write:  a tiny fairy in a purple tutu that lives in my head and forces her ideas of what I need to be writing on me at random moments. That really puts everything into perspective. I think I need to go lay down…

Change is Good

I started the new job Wednesday.  So far just basic stuff like safety videos, which is normal for the healthcare field, but I did go see my new clinic very briefly on Thursday.  “Wow” is all I can say.  It’s beautiful!

I’ve gotten a bit of writing on Siren Song done this morning, with more on the agenda for the day.  I think I can play in this world for a good long time, with loosely-related stories set in the Mystic World.  (At least, that’s what the Muse told me this morning.)  I’ve already revised two chapters of Witches today.  Mainly just a POV switch, with some thoughts for a deeper revision to come. I’ve started doing some reading for my editing class as well, and learned about style sheets:  the formal name for the set of notes I’ve been keeping on this story for years. Good to know.

Okay.  I’m off to get back to work on both stories again.

Winning Against Inertia

I’ve started working on the revision for Witches.  Which means I’ve done two chapters so far.  It’s…interesting.  The first few chapters are pretty clean, actually. I’m altering my old voice to my new voice, but I usually write first-person these days, and this story is in third-person…which is a bit of a challenge for me.  If I didn’t need multiple viewpoint characters to tell this story, I would definitely be changing the POV as well.  But I don’t think a story written from the viewpoints of at least four characters would work that well in first-person.  (Plus, that’s pretty confusing.)

So.  Two chapters down, 67 to go.

I’m considering the idea of graduate school when I finish my bachelor’s degree next December.  My school offers an online master’s degree in journalism, which is intriguing to me.  I believe words have power.  And journalism, or at least this degree, can help me to use them.  So.  Mulling that over a lot.

I also got some writing done today on Siren Song.  Win!  I broke the inertia all the way around today.  It’s been a good day.