Thursday, August 28, 2008

Vacation and Ideas

I am on vacation at the moment and enjoying a lot of free time, sleep, and too many meals that my poor body doesn't need. That's what it's all about though, right?

I am also working on edits for myself, and others, and contemplating my newest next book. The writing has been sort of coming slowly so I drew up a list to help myself and you(haha!)to get motivated and ready to write.

Do you ever need to test some ideas, or come up with a solution for a plot problem? Here are some suggestions. Choose a few and use them in your writing life.

1. Decide what a successful plot is, and that will guide your efforts. In fact, reading many varieties of fiction should illuminate what has worked as a successful plot in another book. There are only so many plots in the world, so try to define what yours is.

2. Get critiques of what you have written. Others can tell you whether your idea will take you to the end of an entire book. I have found it helps to talk it out aloud. Sometimes when I do that, I discover the idea is not fully developed yet and have to go back and rethink.

3. Research. Look up or Google everything, as Marta says. What you don’t know is easily learned. Sometimes with careful observation and research you can work out whatever the kink is in the idea development.

4. Are you trying to write the wrong story? Sometimes we think we want to write a paranormal techno-thriller until we actually set to the task. It would be much easier to write the entire thing in an outline and discover the trouble we have ahead than get fifty pages in and say, uh oh.

5. Change perspectives. Get out and look at the world with different eyes. What would the story look like if you were rich, poor, or from another city. Einstein imagined riding on a beam of light, which led to his theory of relativity, so this technique has been known to work.

6. Write the story while you sleep. Leave a tape recorder or pen and paper next to the bed for those middle-of-the-night ideas. Ideas come to us in the shower and when we are almost asleep because we are relaxed or the stresses of the day are not pounding us yet.

7. Write all of your ideas down, and then find a different way to tell the story. Write down all situations and ideas that come to mind. Later you can pick the meatballs out of the spaghetti.

8. Try "random generators." This is a fun one. Random generators give you a situation and character names or even an object or two. When you are totally void of ideas, you can start out with a person place or thing and usually find yourself off and running again.

9. Take a class or workshop. Look at what others have done. Writers love to talk about craft and usually have answers to any problem in the writing life. Find out how to get through your situation by asking what others have done in similar situations.

10. Be innovative. Don’t be afraid to try new things. No one knows what the market will be looking for next.

You can be sure it will be interesting and different though!


Marta Stephens said...

Random generators are fun to experiment with.

Since I write crime, I always start with the crime and work backwards. That's how I see it happening in real life. Someone finds a body and a few clues then start building a case.

In my work, "building a case" means telling the story of how my character solves the crime.

Good tips!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Hi, Kim. Sorry this is so late! Been doing more gardening, playing with grandkids, and cooking lately than hanging online. Great list - I love the "pick the meatballs out of the spaghetti" comment! LOL. Hope you're nicely rested now. ;o)