Hello, Writer. We meet again. You're in the middle of a project that started out as this glorious idea and has now fizzled into the most frustrating idea you've ever considered.
You hate it.
How do you write yourself out of this block?
Recognize this is a ROUGH DRAFT
This is the most important part. Too often we get stuck trying to get to perfect. That's what I keep doing with novel manuscripts. I get around 25,000 words into a project and decide there's something fundamentally wrong, and I MUST start over.
NOT THIS TIME! This time, I recognize a rough draft is meant to be awful. It's your first attempt. The first try at anything is never great.
Shake things up!
Here's where the writing bit comes in.
Word choice in writing dialogue tells the reader more about the character than just what they look like. Word choice tells education level, size of vocabulary, age, accent, and culture.
Create a character or use one from your work in progress.
Write a line of dialogue for them.
Now change the character in one or two ways:
Rewrite the line of dialogue with this new character.
How do they differ? What did you change?
Last week we celebrated America's independence. We celebrated the freedoms that make our country a place people want to come and make a life.
I was thinking about the song "I'm Free" by The Who in their rock opera TOMMY. The lyrics go:
And FREEDOM tastes of REALITY
I've always loved that song because in this moment, Tommy has found his voice. The message is that he has discovered freedom and he's waiting for others to follow him.
So what is freedom?
Think about your writing. How are your characters free to choose whatever they want to do if you're the one directing their story?
What is freedom in fiction?
If everything tastes like chicken, what does chicken taste like?
This isn’t an original thought. Lots of people say it, but it’s still a good question for a writer to ask.
When creating a world, it doesn’t have to be fantasy or sci-fi to be fictional. You could create a fictional version of Detroit that never experienced the post WWII white flight to the suburbs, and it’s still a fictional world.
Think about how you’d describe a mail carrier uniform if you’re using first-person narration. How do you describe something if your narrator voice doesn’t know the same things that you as the author know?
It's not show vs. tell. It's show AND tell.
It’s show AND tell. When we’re kids, we want to bring our cool thing to school to show off. But looking at it isn’t enough. You have to give the thing context. You have to tell the story that makes that red polished rock interesting.
You are a first grader again getting ready for show and tell. Describe the object you chose. Then create a story for why it’s interesting.
Apologies for the radio silence the past couple weeks. I've gotten my head back on straight, and I'm excited to encourage you all in your writing journeys.
At my last class of the year with Awesome Authors Kids, we walked through building a story with three main plot points. The discussion moved to the difference between a Hero and a Protagonist.
Everyone knows what a hero is, but what's a protagonist?
What is the difference between a hero and a protagonist?
The Nebulas was amazing. I MET A MUPPETEER! I shook hands with the man behind Mr. Snuffleupagus! My life is awesome!
On top of the magnificent people and connections I made, I got some great ideas for writing and stories. I'm looking forward to the next year!
Story Starter #8
No one wants to believe their the villain in their own life story. Yet, somehow, that is exactly what happened to me.
Fake Memoir (have fun making up your new life story)
I'm going to the Nebulas!
Tomorrow I'm leaving for the Sci-Fi & Fantasy Writers of America yearly conference. This is the conference that changed my whole outlook last year. My time there taught me to stop self-censoring. I stopped giving up on ideas before even trying to write them.
I hope you are finding your inspiration to support your own voices.
Story Starter #7
I sat at the patio table, the morning sun warming the back of my neck, and tried desperately to ignore the man standing across from me. I don't want to hear what he's come to say.
Spring has officially arrived! My front yard is full of tulips after a week of enjoying my daffodils. I can't figure out why daffodils are so hard to bloom in my yard. I celebrate every daffodil that blooms.
I thought I'd make a blatant ploy to encourage you to write fantasy. Mostly because I love the way fantasy allows literally anything to happen. Want to combine a woman, a lion, and an eagle? Have a Sphinx. Want to make somebody fly? Here's a magic potion, set of wings, wand and spell, water-powered rocket boots. And always, when in doubt, throw in a dragon.
Story Starter #6
The greatest adventure is life itself. The second greatest adventure is the Quest. Everyone's Quest is different. I set out on my Quest last week, and it's been the worst week ever.
First, I tripped over a rock in my own driveway and fell down, sending my pack flying into the back of my head.
I take pride in being a Writing Fugleman for my fellow authors. Here is a tool to help you hone your craft.