Last night, I dreamed I was reading a novel synopsis on the cover of a book. I woke at 2 a.m. with the words of that synopsis echoing in my head. I lay in a half-sleep thinking, “That sounds like a good book, I should really read that one.” Then it occurred to me the synopsis had come from my head, not from any now-published novel, and it hit me: I’d better write that down!
I tapped my tappable bedside lamp for some light, reached for my bedside pen and notebook, and started scribbling the words from that dreamed synopsis before they could dissipate into the night. I filled one notebook page then, thinking I was done, put it aside and shut off my lamp. I thought I would drift back to sleep. (more…)
This morning, I’m typing up a couple of “found” scenes I wrote in a notebook almost four years ago. (I mentioned these scenes in an earlier post.) When I wrote these, I wasn’t really thinking about them in terms of scenes, but was scribbling out a freewrite with some ideas I had for a novel.
Many of my freewrites begin with me telling myself about something I want to do, and then they morph into scenes as I enter “the zone.” So it was no surprise to me when the first few paragraphs I typed up were back-story. But as I was typing, it occurred to me that what I had on the page at this moment was a theme, not a scene or even back-story. (more…)
I just completed the synopsis of my work in progress and thought I would share it with my readers here at Write on the World. For all of you who have been following me and wondering what, exactly, I am writing about, here it is:
Into the World of Men is a dystopian science fiction novel that explores the themes of freedom and a woman’s place in the world. It is the story of M., a young woman whose family has kept her and her half-sisters hidden away in a secluded barn to keep them safe from a world where women are nothing more than property to the men in power. M. longs to escape the monotony and oppression of life in her secret barn. When King Mentor Drak discovers M.’s existence, he insists that she attend the naming ceremony of her new baby brother, thus forcing her out of exile against the wishes of her family. (more…)
My six-year-old paid me a visit this morning as I lay in bed considering which part of my creative thesis I should focus my efforts on today.
Do I work on the POV shifts I don’t completely understand and try to muddle my way through filtering my entire story strictly through my protagonist’s POV?
Is it more important to focus on the much-needed world-building? My fantasy novel so far takes place in a jumbled mix of worlds that I don’t completely understand myself. It’s no small wonder my first reading left my thesis advisor feeling confused. (more…)
I’ve been zipping through the story line of my novel for the past couple of months in an effort to get the entire story on the page without worrying about revisions. I’ve hit 46,472 words, and I’ve been feeling pretty good about the whole thing. That is, until a few days ago when I got the idea that my story line had somehow veered away from where I wanted it to go.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m open to changing direction when it’s appropriate. However, it seems like this time I have turned down a dead-end. The story train has derailed, and I’m left wondering how to pick up the pieces of the train wreck and put it back on the right track. (more…)
This morning, I came across a cute plot skeleton graphic on Pinterest, and I couldn’t help comparing it to my novel and my own personal life story. It’s funny how every good story seems to follow this same organizational pattern. Luckily, my novel so far has all of the basic parts. As does my life!
I am currently working my way up to the “bleakest moment” of my novel and am finding it harder and harder to write as I draw ever closer to doing some horrible things to my protagonist. I think part of the problem is that some of the horrors I am about to put her through are drawn from certain incidents in my own life. As I am writing these scenes, I’m personally transported to a time in my life that I’d rather not relive. (more…)
Names and titles used to be the bane of my existence.
I can’t begin to tell you how much time I have wasted agonizing over names for characters and titles for stories. I have recently realized that those names and titles will eventually reveal themselves to you once you learn to listen for them.
I’ve had a name for my current novel-in-progress for some time, but I haven’t been entirely happy with it. It’s okay, but it doesn’t really sum up the novel in the way I want it to. But, I hate thinking about titles, so I just went with it and kept writing. After all, there’s no sense agonizing over a title at the expense of writing the story. (more…)
Do you remember a while back when I was talking about my new project and how it had just come to me out of the blue? At the time, I thought my new novel project was this fresh idea I had that just took off like I’d been mulling it over my entire life even though I just thought of it a couple of months ago. That was until this morning when I stumbled across an old journal.
I was digging around for a notebook I could use for freewrites and scene ideas so I could keep those separate from the chronological chapters I’ve been writing one after another in my current journal. I remembered seeing a pretty notebook in the bottom of a desk drawer the other day while digging around for something else I never found and figured that one would do the job.
So, I went back and dug this notebook out of the bottom of that drawer and flipped it open to see if it had enough empty pages in it for me to squeeze in some free writes. Imagine my surprise when I realized this notebook was full of old freewrites that turned out to be directly related to my current story! (more…)
Has this happened to you? You create a solid outline of your novel, and you think you have everything figured out, and then BAM! You realize your story has taken off and is completely running away with you. There is far more to your story than you previously thought. You realize you have more to figure out than you could have ever imagined, and it scares the shit out of you. This is where I’ve found myself this past week. (more…)
Is your story making you angry? Maybe you’ve written several chapters, and each of them alone seem like a great start, but you’re having a hard time getting them to work together as a whole. What do you do when you hit these rough patches that make you feel like you will never be able to make your novel “work?”
One strategy I suggest to help you get over that rough patch is to take yourself out of the “official” story for a while, have a couple of glasses of wine (or a couple of beers,) and sit and do some free writes looking at the story from the point of view of the most minor character in the novel. (more…)
I can’t seem to write without reading. And when I do read, I always end up writing in the same genre I’ve been reading. When I read a lot of poetry, I find myself writing a lot of poetry. If I’ve read a couple of good YA novels in a row, my brain wants to write a YA novel. So, it was no surprise that an idea for a fantasy novel popped into my head right as I was finishing Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind a couple of weeks ago.
I was out for my almost-daily walk one morning when a couple of interesting characters began to have a conversation in my head. Normally when this happens, I reach for a pen and paper (or my laptop) and rush to capture these conversations word-for-word. What I usually end up with is a small bit of compelling dialogue that goes absolutely nowhere. (more…)
As a high school student, I always hated it when my literature teachers insisted that we identify the themes and motifs of the stories we read. However, as an adult, I have found that my life is laced with a few distinct recurring themes and motifs.
For today’s Wednesday Writing Prompt, I invite you to take a look at your own life and consider what themes and motifs seem to appear most frequently. Then choose one of these themes (and/or motifs) and write an essay, short story, or poem that explores the impact of this theme on your life.
You might also consider how the themes and motifs from your everyday life influence your writing in general. For example, do you often find yourself incorporating these same themes into each piece? (more…)
Today I’m writing a story about something that happened to me about 13 years ago. I don’t know how you feel about the passing of time, but for me, 13 years is a LONG time ago. So, I can remember major details, but some of those minor details have me questioning my memory. In this particular story, there is a nasty fight and an unfortunate incident with an apple pie. But I can’t, for the life of me, remember which happened first. Dilemma, dilemma.
So, what do you do when you’re writing about something that actually happened but can’t remember such important details? And what if you can remember the details, but the story works better if you rearrange events? I’m not writing a memoir, simply using actually happenings as the basis for a short story I’ll pass off as fiction. All names will be changed to protect the identities of those involved, of course. (more…)
I’m one course and a thesis paper away from completing my masters degree in professional writing at Mount Mary College, and I’m feeling pressed to decide on a specific career course. So yeah, I’m a writer: but what kind of writer am I? I’ve written poetry, short stories, parts of novels, but for a long time I’ve struggled to find that one niche that I am really passionate about. Until I recently discovered YA.
Okay, so I’m sure I’ve read plenty of YA novels in the past. I’ve occasionally read some of my son’s books, and he’s getting into that age range. And, I’m quite sure I read tons of YA when I was a YA myself. But until recently, I haven’t really studied the genre.
While taking my poetry course this past fall, I read Crossing Stones, a novel in verse by Helen Frost, and I just LOVED that book and form. I then read a few of her other books: The Braid, Diamond Willow, and her latest, Hidden. All great reads. I found a lot of inspiration in these books and began to wonder if I could write something similar myself. (more…)
“They” say history is written by the winners of wars. But really, history is written by writers. Writers often write to observe humanity and preserve a space in time. Seconds, minutes, years, all can be preserved by the pen. Seconds may be experienced as hours, hours as minutes. Time can be manipulated by the skilled writer, shortened and expanded at will.
And so too, can humanity be manipulated. A writer’s work leaves a mark. Whether a history book, a trashy romance novel, a dollar store paperback western, or a classic tome, all tell the story of the time in which they were written, as well as the time which they are written about. All writing serves a purpose. Sometimes our writing serves the purpose we intend. (more…)
As another National Novel Writing Month wraps up, and NaNoWriMo participants around the globe rush to validate their completed novels, it is time for me to admit the fact there will be no NaNoWriMo “win” in my near future. But while my current 11,654 words do not a novel make, I am not quite ready to concede defeat.
Regardless of the fact that I will not have 50,000 words of a novel written within the next 2 days, I still view this year’s NaNoWriMo event as a success. In fact, I’m quite certain I got far more from the event this year than I have put into it.
For example, NaNoWriMo inspired me to get organized and create a complete novel outline, something I have never before managed to accomplish. So even though my novel is nowhere near complete, I have a solid outline to work with in the coming months. What I got out of NaNoWriMo this year is the knowledge that I do have what it takes to sit down and plan a full and complete novel, including a beginning, middle, and end. I also feel like I have worked out a process that I can use again and again for future novels. (more…)
Isn’t it just like me to change my mind at the last minute and start over from scratch? Well, that’s exactly what I am looking at, Day 1 of NaNoWriMo. After all the preparation I did, planning for my original novel, I was having a very hard time being passionate about the story. I think I had some good ideas, but I really wasn’t happy with where the story was going. I was dreading getting up this morning to start working that outline into a novel. (more…)
For the first time ever in my writing career, I have developed a full and complete outline for a novel (shocking, I know.) How many times have I just sat down and started writing without giving much thought to where I am taking my characters? At least as many times as I have abandoned manuscripts in drawers and on hard drives, that’s for sure! But I want to be really prepared for NaNoWriMo, so I decided yesterday to do a little research and remind myself of the story structure lessons I learned when I took my novel writing class a few semesters ago.
In my research, I found the following video on storyboarding from Mary Carroll Moore, an award-winning author and master writing instructor:
The “W Storyboard structure” Moore details in her video was tremendously helpful. I had already decided on the characters I wanted to use for my NaNoWriMo novel, and even had a short story written about them. But I need to decide on an appropriate conflict to set my story in motion and then determine the trajectory of the story. (more…)
Last spring, I wrote a short story for a course I was taking on literature and humor. It’s the story of a girl who is told by a boy that he spray painted something on a train trestle; something she would be very interested in seeing. So this girl and her best friend decide to ride their bikes out to see what he wrote and, as with any good work of humor, hilarity ensues. (more…)
So, I’ve decided to choose one specific story to write and devote the rest of the year to getting it done. My next step is to narrow it down to just one. Which story do I really want to tell most? I have several manuscripts in various stages of unfinish to choose from. How to decide?
These are the stories I am currently contemplating:
- A trashy, cheesy romance novel that is fun to write, but not exactly what I want to do with the rest of my life. It’s one of those things I pull out and work on once in a while when I feel like having fun without working too hard to write the next great American novel; the type of thing I would definitely publish under a pen name! (more…)