Tag Archives: novel ideas

Don’t Mistake Unpreparedness for Writer’s Block: Know What to Write Before You Write

 

Sometimes when you sit down to write nothing comes to you. You stare at the blank screen and you can’t picture anything. Frustration builds until you shove yourself away from your desk and leave writing for later.

Often, this inability to conjure anything to write is termed writer’s block. However, writer’s block isn’t always the culprit behind the inability to write. More often than not, nothing is coming to you because you’re not ready to write.

5033800896_b63b3f63f9_oWhen writing a novel, preparedness is extremely important. You need to know what you want to write about. This doesn’t mean that you have to plan out every chapter in advance. Often you’ll find that the story changes as you continue to write it. But, there are many steps involved with writing a book.

Take a minute to think of them.

What did you come up with?

Some of mine include:

  • Writing a one sentence summary. This boils your entire novel down to its main premise. It gives your novel direction. For example, “A mute snake-breeder becomes embroiled in the chase for a once-presumed extinct snake after discovering a blood-splattered scroll in a half-dug grave.”
  • Ask a boatload of open-ended questions. When jumping into more of the details, I’ll ask myself, “what if,” “who cares,” “how about,” etc. These types of questions help me flesh out the story, and help me spot any plot holes before I write myself into a dead-end. Also, open-ended questions are great for adding sub-plots and complexity to a story, thus making it more realistic.
  • Explore your characters. I usually don’t know all of my characters at the beginning of my story, but I know my main characters. I know what they look like, their backstories, how they’ll act, and more. Having fully fleshed out characters not only helps you know your characters inside and out, but helps you see where the story is going and, even, how much of a role each character should have in the plot. Sometimes the person you thought should be the main character isn’t the best choice.
  • Research. Many times there’s information already out in the world about what you want to write. Take time to explore this information. You never know what useful tidbits you’ll discover that will enhance your story. For example, if you’re writing historical fiction, you need to do intensive research on the time period you’re writing about. If you don’t, the piece won’t feel authentic. Even if you’re writing a futuristic science fiction novel, it’s still important to know what type of technology is realistic in the future. You have to be able to explain where nanites came from or how instantaneous travel is possible, or, if you’re writing a dystopian that occurs after World War III, you need to know what the consequences of setting off nuclear bombs are, etc.

Once you’ve done your research and exploration that blank screen will seem like less of a mountain. Ideas will come to you. Perhaps not immediately, ideas take time to fully form, and it’s likely you’ll discover that more ideas come as you’re writing; you’ll end up going back and adding those new story strands, creating a fuller, more complex, and intriguing story.

(Photo courtesy of NOAA Photo Library.)

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Writing and Meditation: Opening Yourself Up to Inspiration

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Recently, I returned from a trip to Oregon, where I had my first real experience with meditation. It was intriguing, especially because the individuals around me seemed so much better at meditating than me.

Meditation is not easy. But what it does do is something most other writing advice cannot. Meditation allows for inner exploration.

So much influence bombards us from the outside world that our minds can become clogged. Sitting down and focusing on writing becomes that much harder. Meditation gives your brain a chance to push away all that outer noise and focus inward.

When you’re able to focus on your internal influences, your creativity will increase.

How?

While outer information is vital to writing, (wide spread reading is a huge component to writing well) if you can’t process the information effectively, then your ability to interpret and discover new and fascinating ideas decreases.

Meditation provides the path to untainted creativity. When you’re aware of your thoughts, and are able to have an honest conversation with yourself, ideas will flow much easier.

However, to be successful, meditation needs to become a habit.

How does that happen?

  1. Time.

Make time to meditate, whether that’s going to meditation classes, retreats, listening to an instructive meditation disc, or spending ten minutes, or half an hour, three days a week on your own.

  1. Patience and forgiveness.

It takes time to learn how to meditate, and each person is different. What meditation means to one individual may be very different than what it means to another.

Forgive yourself if you’re unsuccessful when you start meditating. Forgive yourself if you miss a day or two of meditation, or if you hit a rough patch and find you’re unable to internally explore.

By forgiving yourself for your slip-ups, you’re allowing yourself to begin anew the next day. This stops you from stifling your creativity.

You’ll discover that after meditating, you’ll have a calmness in your mind. This is a fantastic time to write. You can focus on your current story or you can free write. Just get the ideas down before the outside world begins to clutter up your brain.

Over time, you’ll find that you carry that internal calmness with you. You’ll process information faster and more efficiently. You’ll be able to interpret both outer and inner stimuli. More ideas, as well as more connections to other discoveries, will come to you.

What do you think about writing and meditation?

(Photo courtesy of Angela Marie Henriette.)

 

 

Watch Out! Slumps That Could Prevent You Finishing Your Novel

You’ve probably had a lot of ideas for novels. However, how many of them actually became a novel? My guess is not all of them. Most likely, most of them haven’t.

That’s not unusual, or a bad thing.

The problems begin when you find months have passed and you haven’t progressed, none of your ideas became novels, or you realize your novel is a hot mess and just stop.

Here are some things to watch for and how to fix them:

  1. The idea. You’ve got a great premise for a novel, but you don’t do any planning. The Fix: Move forward and set goals. You need to do some planning, even if it’s only a short synopsis (but it would be better to have more than that). Know your characters and the plot. You have to be familiar with what’s going to happen, so you can build up to it.
  2. The roadblock. You hit a wall and get stuck, and end up never getting back to your novel. The Fix: Don’t blindly plow through the problem. Stop writing and work on the problem itself. For example, if you’re unsure how your protagonist will react to a situation, don’t go ahead and jot down something that might be right. Take the time to figure out how your character would react. That way her reaction seems authentic.
  3. The First Draft. Great! You’ve finished your novel! You happily send it off to agents, just knowing the offers of representation are going to come pouring in. The Fix: First off, STOP. What you’ve got is a first draft. It’s not ready to be sent out. Reread, revise, give to beta readers, reread, revise, take a week or two away from it, reread, revise. It feels like a lot of work because it is. However, doing this will significantly up your chances of snagging an agent rather than if you simply sent out your first draft.

What writing slumps have you experienced? How’d you fix them?