• For Writers

    Trouble Writing a Scene? Bring it Back to Character

    A quick post for you this Monday, Happy Writers! NaNoWriMo is imminent, and I’m about to launch into an all-day flurry of schoolwork to try to get everything done so I have some nice, lengthy, juicy writing days later in the week. (If you would like to follow my noveling progress, follow me on NaNoWriMo.org!)

    Today, I want to talk about scenework. Novels are broken up into distinct chunks — among these, acts, chapters, scenes, paragraphs, and sentences.  Scenes are some of the most important elements of a novel — if your individual scenes aren’t engaging, a reader is never going to appreciate the bigger picture. You want scenes that reveal your characters and move the story forward — scenes that build like bricks to construct the big, beautiful mansion (or townhouse, or skyscraper, or complicated subway system) your book will eventually be. 

    So, what do you do when you can tell a scene isn’t working? 

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    For Writers

    How To Turn a Writing Prompt Into a Story

    A confession: I really like scrolling through writing prompts. I find it fascinating and entertaining to read these little one or two-sentence snippets of story starters, and I’m always hoping I’ll find one that sparks some brilliant, intoxicating surge of creativity, some whirlwind of production from which I’ll emerge with a fully written first draft of something all story-shaped and impressive.

    A second confession: This never actually happens.

    Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you’ve been intrigued by a writing prompt but had no idea what to do next with it.

    I like looking at writing prompts. But I’ll be the first to admit that, until recently, I had no real idea how to turn a writing prompt into an actual story

    How do you go from a prompt like Someone at a grocery store runs into a problem and actually make a story out of it? How do you take A ghost haunts a classroom or a dog that can talk joins local politics or  a man wakes up to a tattoo he’s never had before — a set of numbers counting down and actually turn it into a full-blown story? 

    It’s actually really difficult to take someone else’s idea and make it your own! Most of my stories crop up entirely in my own head, so taking inspiration from an outside source can be befuddling and unfamiliar! 

    Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you’ve been intrigued by a writing prompt but had no idea what to do next with it. Or maybe you have an assignment for a creative writing class and have no idea how to start. Never fear! I’ve compiled some tips and tricks that should help you turn those prompts into full-blown projects.

  • For Writers

    Lay It Flat, Then Iron It

    You don’t throw a shirt down on the ironing board all wadded up and just press your hot iron overtop it.

    I mean, maybe you do, if your intention is to make some kind of shirt sandwich and pressing the wrinkles deeper into the fabric locks in the flavor or whatever.

    But usually, you lay the shirt flat. You make sure the collar isn’t folded up, and you smooth down the sleeves. Then you get to ironing. Giving yourself that minute to prepare the canvas, so to speak, makes the work easier and promises you a better outcome.

    It’s the same with writing.

    No, really.

  • For Writers

    The Zero Draft: How to Take Your Jumbled Scraps of Bookish Ideas and Make Them Story-Shaped

    Hello, hello, Happy Writers! Today, we’re talking about Zero Drafts. Now, we’ve all heard of First Drafts: the very first incarnations of the stories we tell. They’re messy, they’re earnest, and they very, very often go unfinished, as they’re very often abandoned. Now, why is that? Sometimes, admittedly, stories just don’t work, and the writer loses their motivation to keep clacking away at the keyboard. But, oftentimes, the writer is simply overwhelmed — lost and frustrated and not sure what the story is that they’re telling.

    Often, this is because the writer needed a Zero Draft. A Zero Draft is the percolation stage. It’s the answer to the question: how do I get all of the ideas in my head into something story-shaped? A Zero Draft is and should be the first step to writing a novel. 

    So, this post basically answers two questions: What is a Zero Draft? which, in turn, answers the question:

    I have a story for a novel in my head and I’m not sure how to write it down. What do I do??

  • For Writers

    Break Your Writing Into Bite-Sized Chunks | How I Got In the Habit of Writing Everyday

    Since I started keeping tabs of my daily #amwriting in Scrivener, I’m pleased to say I’ve written 20,000 words in the last two weeks! Making yourself sit down for a few minutes every day and write SOMETHING has its benefits! ✨— Christina ✍🏻 (@chuffwrites) September 26, 2018

    So, I’ve been having a time writing this year. Or, these past two years. There’s something about waking up in the morning, rolling over, opening Twitter, and seeing with every subsequent scroll of your thumb the Raging Dumpster Fire your country has become that kills your creative drive. Also, I’m in a weird position where I’m drowning in edits for Book 1 of my fantasy series, but I also have all of these fun, attractive, distracting ideas for stand-alone novels bouncing about my brain that I often get hit with a kind of creative paralysis

    What is Creative Paralysis?

    creative paralysis: a sister to writer’s block, when you just have so much you want to write, you somehow manage to end up … not writing anything at all. 

    Basically, I was pin-balling between so many projects, I just could never seem to sit down to work that substantially on any. And I never felt like I was making any kind of substantial progress in anything.

    So. A new system has been implemented!