Tag Archives: story plan

Brainstorming

NaNoWriMo is approaching and I have been busy trying to help friends with their ideas and stories. In the past couple of weeks, I have batted around ideas with one friend on Facebook chat. We chatted about her idea. I asked her questions and gave suggestions.

Some questions I asked her included: Where is it set? (On earth? In space? In another dimension?) What is your character’s name? (Or are there multiple point of view characters?) Is there magic involved? That last question is usually a yes for me; I can’t seem to write a story without a magical element.

Another way to get the muse in gear is to spend some time alone brainstorming. Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way calls these Artist Dates and discusses it as a way to refill the creative well. For example, it is a lovely time of year to take a walk. Heading to a new place can spur ideas. A day at the museum can fuel ideas. My favorite museum in my area, currently, is the art museum.

Finally, if you have a writer friend in person or just by yourself a great way to brainstorm is to just get ideas on the page. Sunday night another friend and I did this. We took out a notebook while hanging out in her apartment. She wrote down one word and I wrote down one. We sometimes built off of each other. I tried to write ideas that sprung off of her idea. We were trying to think of ideas because she wasn’t sure if she wanted to do NaNoWriMo. I’m still not sure if she is going to or not. I hope so, her idea seemed like fun.

The great part about helping my friends to brainstorm is that it helps me too. It gets me thinking about the possibilities of my work. It is sort of like turning the compost. If you aerate it and are patient, eventually your compost makes dirt.

To be honest, I haven’t taken myself on an artist date recently. Perhaps it is a time to take a walk or something. What do you do to get your creative juices flowing? Do you brainstorm alone? Or do you bounce ideas off of friends?

©K. Klein 2012

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Writer’s Block?

“Discipline allows magic. To be a writer is to be the very best of assassins. You do not sit down and write every day to force the Muse to show up. You get into the habit of writing every day so that when she shows up, you have the maximum chance of catching her, bashing her on the head, and squeezing every last drop out of that bitch.” ~Lili St. Crow

I am not going to lie, the last semester of graduate school kicked my butt and I stopped writing every day. I am a bit perturbed because it took me so long to get into the habit the first time. I am still struggling with it now. (Hunting for a day job doesn’t help either). But that is me.

I’ve heard many writers say there is no such thing as writer’s block. I don’t know whether or not I agree myself. I think that writing is such an intensely personal thing that I can’t know if it exists for other writers. However, I do know one thing; it does exist for me – sort of. Please, let me explain. When I do not want to write there is usually a reason. I suffer from writer’s anxiety, writer’s depression, and writer’s fear. I occasionally suffer from writer’s denial of reality. Overall, I think it is easier just to say writer’s block.

When I don’t want to write or feel blocked it is usually because I don’t want to face the reality of the situation. There is an underlying emotion that the writing is bringing up and I want to run away from the emotion. And I can’t write about it and still run away from the emotion. (I never said I played nice with my emotions). It isn’t always that I am trying to run away from my emotions.

Occasionally, I have written myself into a corner and don’t know what is going to happen next. Or, I know what is supposed to happen next, but it doesn’t feel right. And the plan looks like it is falling apart. I don’t handle the plan falling apart well; it might be a slight tendency towards perfectionism. At this point, I start to avoid the page because I don’t know what to do. And I am afraid of failure.

If I don’t write – I can’t get it wrong. I know. I know. It is not exactly logical.

However, if I am smart, I ask myself what is wrong? For example, I am working on my rewrite in a two-pronged way.  I am writing the chapters out longhand and I am typing up the longhand chapters. Not the most efficient method ever, but it works. I think. The point being, I am still stuck on how to make Chapter 24 work; it is the lynchpin of the novel. I really don’t want to screw it up. Even more, I don’t want the plan to fall apart.

So in an effort to do something productive towards the rewrite, I have been typing up the longhand chapters I have. I came upon Chapter 16 and realized the longhand version is wrong. I couldn’t explain it to myself. I looked at it again and realized I needed to do my research.

This ended up with me looking up how to write an alphabet encryption and creating a cipher. I haven’t written the new Chapter 16 yet, but now I know what is happening. I have a better mental picture of where the chapter is going and a clear path to connect it back to the overall plot of the novel. It took me staring at the screen, getting frustrated, and then scribbling in my journal to realize I needed to do my homework.

That worked for me. I don’t know whether or not it would work for others. I figured out what makes me tick and actively work towards keeping the words flowing. That doesn’t mean I don’t hit fits and starts sometimes. Now I know not to stop writing for six months, but actively go back to the page and try to figure out what is going on so I can fix it and move forward.

©K. Klein 2012

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Relentless Rewrite

I am in the middle of my first major novel-level rewrite. I am learning a new part of my writing process and it is a challenge for me. I suppose this should not surprise me, but it does; I guess it just goes back to the fact that writing is hard.

My current WIP rewrite is not of my first novel ever, but it seems to be the first novel to go through the entirety of the writing process. I have been with these characters for seven years and it is only as of October, 31 2011 that I finished a complete first draft. I went through three drafts where I had fits and starts and moments of writing myself into hair-tearing corners. And through that all, none of these characters would shut up and leave me alone. I had to tell this story.

So here I am, rewriting. It is still hard and still scary, but I am trying to move forward. When I began this venture into the next part of my writing process I discovered several things.

First, unlike with a first draft, I need a plan. So I wrote my plan out – twice. The first time I planned on an 18’x20’ pad of drawing paper. That was onerous to carry around with me. So I ended up writing the plan on 3’x5’ note cards as well; although not all the notes in the pad were transferred onto the cards.

Second, I learned that I don’t like it when it looks like my plan is going to fall apart. I don’t like it in the first draft either; but in the first draft the plan is still in my head and not on paper. That tends to make me freeze up and not want to write; unless I have a solution to the perceived problem.

Third, for whatever reason my brain decided that the second draft needed to be written long-hand first and transcribed. I hate transcribing my own work. And I wrote the dang first draft on the computer, so why in the name of heck am I scrawling an entire novel in my notebook only to transcribe it back into my computer? I don’t know the answer. All I can say is that it is the only way I’ve been able to make progress thus far. Goodness help me, I hope this doesn’t happen for every rewrite that I ever have to do.

I am only about half way through the rewrite right now and my goal is to finish my October 31, 2012 so that I can participate in NaNoWriMo. Who knows what I will learn as I finish this process? We shall see.

©K. Klein 2012

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