In my previous post, I wrote about the importance of writing down your one-sentence original idea. This is the very first idea you had—whether it’s about plot, character, or theme—that got you excited about writing your story. Reading your original idea each day before writing will keep you focused on your story.
Another exercise is to develop your one-sentence logline. In his book, Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need, screenwriter Blake Snyder said that if we develop our logline before we begin writing, it will help us write a better manuscript.
According to Snyder, there are four main elements to a great logline:
- A good logline has to have irony. He gives an example from the blockbuster movie Pretty Woman: “A businessman falls in love with a hooker he hires to be his date for the weekend.” Pretty ironic, huh? Another way to define irony, Snyder said, is that something unexpected happens. He also calls this the “hook.” Read more
One of the things I love about reading other people’s work is what I learn from it.
So, last year, when I was asked to be one of the judges for a prose competition, I said yes. The competition guidelines listed the areas we were to rank on a scored number system—things like characterization, setting, dialogue, point of view, etc.
Of the twenty or so submissions I read, there were a variety of stories—from a gothic, steampunk, coming-of-age story to a memoir about losing one’s memory in the aging process.
A few submissions stood out above the others like the shiny, bright agates my cousin and I would hunt for on the beaches of our childhood. These submissions wove all aspects of good writing and storytelling together into a whole that hooked my interest from the first line and never let go.
The majority of the submissions fell somewhere in the middle of the pile—not to be rude—but what I might call “mediocre land.” They weren’t poorly written but they didn’t grab ahold of me and say, “Read this, now!” In fact, in many cases, I couldn’t wait for the story to be over because I was bored.
So, what did I learn? Read more
In my last post “Writing exercises to help you go deeper” I wrote about developing a writing exercise to help me delve into my story and focus on what my protagonist learned from her experiences and also how she grew from this knowledge or information.
It was pretty easy to come up with what she learned. For example, one of the things she had learned from her life experiences so far was that those who love her, eventually leave her. This is what she comes into the story with and, because she’s afraid of getting hurt, she guards her heart.
Over the course of the story, she learns to trust again. She learns that “leaving” is an illusion and that love is never-ending. Read more
The other day, I was thinking about the types of memoirs I enjoy reading and what it is about them that sets them apart. Mostly, they were memoirs, such as Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy, that weren’t just, “this happened to me,” type of stories.
The strongest memoirs are stories that show us how the person’s circumstances changed them. They answer the question, “What did I learn from my experience and how did I grow from this experience?”
I designed a couple of writing prompts based on my thoughts about memoir and decided they would be good prompts to ask of the protagonist in my fantasy novel as well. I uncovered some interesting material for my story. Read more
Last week, I was sitting in my cube at work when I heard the squeak and clatter of a cart being wheeled down the aisle near my desk. Since it was on the other side of the wall, I couldn’t see it, but I could hear the man who was pushing the cart sing as he rolled along.
He stopped on the other side of the cube wall near the water machine. I heard the thunk of a big jug of water as he replaced an empty one with the new, then the gurgle of water as it settled in. During all this, the man sang the Michael Jackson song, “The Way You Make Me Feel.” (He had a great voice too.)
As this was happening, I heard the sound of two men talking as they walked towards us down the hall discussing lunch and if the weather might be nice and if they should go out for lunch. The man pushing the cart stopped singing long enough to tell them, “It’s a lovely day.” He resumed singing, and I heard the ding of the elevator bell as he wheeled and bumped his cart into the elevator.
As I reflected on what I’d just heard, I realized that I had a picture in my mind of the scene on the other side of the wall, even though I didn’t see any of the “characters.” It also occurred to me that I probably picked up more sensory details that were auditory due to not being able to see, but only hear, the action around me.
I imagine if I’d been able to watch the action take place, I might have relied more on what I saw than heard, and I might have missed some of the auditory details. Read more
Have you had any breakthroughs while doing some kind of challenge?
Blogger Christine Bissonnette experienced a breakthrough moment when she went on an artist date as part of a 12-week Artist’s Way Challenge this week. She felt a whole new kind of energy from seeing a movie by herself when she realized the experience wasn’t affected by anyone else’s expectations. That energy comes through in her blog post, Silver Linings: Break-throughs and Paradigm Shifts.
Christine is doing something I aim for and hope you are too. To always be on a quest to live true to yourself. If this is your goal too, look back at the interests you gravitated to and times you were most happy. When I’ve brainstormed with friends about what they want to do with their lives, I tell them to look back to their childhood for clues to their true self — the time in their lives when they didn’t doubt themselves or set limits.
As we grow older, it can become harder to retain that spirit. But I can’t help but think that striving to hold on to your true self boosts energy, makes you more excited to get up in the morning, and increases your writing flow. Read more
In my last post “Overcome writer’s block and generate new ideas with tarot or picture cards,” I wrote about how I stumbled upon the benefits of using tarot cards to inspire my writing.
I’d like to share another great source of inspiration I discovered recently. Sometimes, Carly and I will go to Shutterstock or iStock to find photos for our blog posts. Recently, we purchased a large number of photos, and I helped find pictures for our blog. What I discovered was a plethora of inspiration! Read more