Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Summer Writing Ideas

            Sooner or later we all get tired of writing day after day and sometimes things just come to a complete halt. We seem to be stuck for something to say or what to write next. Writing every day, especially when it has to come straight out of your head – as opposed to re-writing something – can sometimes become very difficult.

       How can you get that creative muse to return? Get away from it all and do something different. One of the things I love to do is take a research trip. Luckily, in Denver, research can be as easy and fun as going downtown to the history museum to do research on time travel I am working on. Or even better, how about a trip for tea at the famous Brown Palace Hotel? My time traveling heroine would be sure to visit such a spot, especially if she was in Denver in the early 1900s?

Okay, back to work.... one of the ways to keep away the doldrums is edit what you have already written, though there are times you don’t even want to do that.  Last week I wrote a blog on looking for other outlets and blogging is one of those outlets. Writing something other than fiction is a good way to get the writing groove back. As I wrote in that blog, I will be teaching a class on writing non-fiction, starting next week at Savvyauthors. One of my projects has been to work on a series on great women in Colorado history. That has given me a great chance to learn about some wonderful heroines who did so much to mold the history of the state, but also made great discoveries that changed history. Going from fiction to non-fiction is a wonderful way to sharpen your focus and also to work on your writing skills.

            But what else can you do? There are other options out there, including skills I’ve learned as a result of my non-fiction work.  One of the suggestions I give to writing students who are developing characters is to do an interview with the characters. When I do non-fiction interviews I am always having to come up with a list of questions that are tailored to the interview subject. Fiction writers can also interview their characters, and I always suggest the author fashion the interview questions specifically for that character. Then the real work starts. Answer as the character and let the answers go long. Really dig into who the person is and let their personality come out.  This past week I was teaching a class on developing characters and one of the final assignments was to do an interview with the character.  I always find that is a good way to get your characters to start talking and to get to hear their voice. Whether you are writing first person fiction or in third person, letting that person speak for themselves for a few paragraphs can be very helpful.

            Let the person’s voice come out. Let their inner frustrations come through. It might be in the form of the interview, but you can also try letting them write a few paragraphs as though they were writing in their own diary.  Then after you have let them go on and on for a few pages in their own head, you can study their answers and use that information in the story you are currently working on.  The more you get to know your character the better off you are.

            This can also be a good way to get to know your villain. Ask them questions and let them talk
about how they feel about the main character in the book. Ask what they might do to thwart that main character and ask about the weaknesses they spot in the hero or heroine. Again, you are not only revealing more about your villain, but it might also point out some things in your hero that you might not have noticed before.  These are all things that can then be translated into the story itself. This month I have been working on my latest book – one about Villains that will soon be out at Amazon to join the other non-fiction writing books I’ve written with Sue Viders.

            And that  brings me to another idea for what to do when you have the doldrums and can’t think of what you want to write next. Put your own knowledge into a story or blog for others to read. We all write differently, but there are always nuggets of ideas I learn from other writers just by reading their blogs. We all have different ways of doing things and learning other ideas or thoughts can be helpful. Sometimes we run across things we hadn’t thought of or we run across things we’re forgotten we heard earlier and meant to try.

            Reading or writing blogs regularly can be very helpful. As writers I think we read more than most but we can also remember to read for learning purposes rather than simply for pleasure. Learning about a new trend or a new idea can always give a new idea for a story. I always like to read news stories – especially human interest stories – because they can be another source of information that you might be able to use later in a book or fiction story.

            Also if you blog regularly don’t ignore those old blogs. Go back through them and see what you wrote about last year, maybe the year before that. How much more have you learned about the writing craft since then? What have you tried that didn’t work that you might caution others about?  There are always so many things to write about – an idea can hit you at any time, so it’s important to keep your mind as open as your eyes.

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