Monday, February 21, 2011

Ideas to get a story started

Her are a few tips that I was given that help writers to get their create brains moving.  I have used a few of these and they really work.

Tip 1. Watch your environment.  I mean by when you are at a restaurant or mall sit and observe others.  Observer their facial experessions, body movements, and conversations.  I know, it seems like spying but you are just looking for ways you can develop a character or come up with an idea from a conversation one may be having.  Just don't stare to where you look like a stalker.

Tip 2. Flip through the newspaper.  Look at stories.  There may be something in them that will spark an idea.  Also look at the crossword puzzle.  You may find a question or a word that gets you thinking.

Tip 3. Open a dictionary or thesaurus to a random page, take a few words and put them together.  Sometimes this will work.  I like to look at the definition or synonim.  It only takes a word to come up with an idea.

Tip 4. Use questions that people ask you.  Think about the question and turn it around.  Ask yourself how could that question be answered in a different way, how can you turn it around to something off the wall.

Tip 5. I like this one.  Think about all the books you have read and see how their are similarities.  If we are talking about a YA parnormal book, think about the creatures.  What if they were opposite of what they usually are.  Example, what if you had a wolf that changes to a human against its will and now when he/she is human they have to know how to cope.  Make an alternate world for demons that is appealing to humans and the goal is to get to that world.  Instead of girl liking guy, end up happily ever after, add a third person to the equation.  Maybe another girl and the issues that may bring for the guy.  Have a favorite character in your book die.  Maybe a witch doesn't want to be one and will go to all costs to reverse to become completely human.  Make an immortal want to be mortal, or visa versa.

Tip 6. Once youv'e come up with a character don't do anything.  I know this sounds weird, but try sitting back with some headphones on and listening to music.  Daydream about your character.  Sometimes a certain song will help you develop them or give you an idea about a chapter or scent you want them to be in.  For example, I used one time, Taylor Swifts song "fifteen" I basically could see my character doing what the song said.  She took a deep breath and walked through the doors of her new school.  You can actually use lyrics almost exactly to create a scene idea.

Tip 7.  Once you have an idea.  Write it down on a peice of paper or your computer.  Then write out the scene.  Anywere from 1500 words to 2500 words approximately.  I know that seems like a lot, but when you get on a roll you won't be able to stop.  Look at the scene you wrote and think about what do I want to happen next or what should have happen before this scene.

Tip 8. You do not have to start from the beginning and write to the end.  Like I said in tip 7, you may come up with something that will happen in the middle and have to work from there.  Or you can know how you want your book to end and write that scene, then go backwards from there.

Tip 9. If you have a couple of scenes in your head that you just can't forget about, write them.  From there branch out with each scene and try to connect the two to make a story.  Obviously you will have to re-write a few to make things flow, but this way can give you a good foundation for a complete story.

Tip 10. Know your character.  You may write two different scenes, like them both, but have your main character look and act a different way in both.  This is where you need to take the scenes that you have written and go with the ones that your character follows most in.  If he/she is meek in most of the scenes and hard and cold in maybe one scene, how do you like them better? If you like them better in the one scene and not in the ten that they are a different way, hate to say it, but trash the other scenes or turn them around to fit the way your character is.

Tip 11. Lastly, if you have two diffenet story ideas and cannot come up with either of them as a full story try combining them.  You may be able to take characters from one and put them in the other, or a situation and put it in as one story.  This seems weird if you are writing a drama romance and a paranormal book, but you would be surprised at how the two may come together and mesh.

Hope these have been helpful. Good luck with your writing.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Are you clueless?

Clueless?  I have been writing a novel for what seems like forever.  I have changed so many things so many times.  I know.  All you writers out there have done this same thing, right?  I work with an author who seems to just spit out story ideas like someone would spit out watermelon seeds.  I am very envious of people who can do what she does.  So here is my question.  How does one do that?

My published author friend has given a few very good tips that I hope will help all of the writers out there that may be struggling.

Tip number 1:  Decide how many characters you want to have in your story.  You may have to have some idea of what you want your story about, but not completely.

Tip number 2:  Imagine what your character looks like.  A cool idea is to picture an actor or model from television.  The person may not be beautiful, but you get an idea for the characters mannerisms. This will help you to envision the person in your story.

Tip number 3:  Interview your characters.  You say, “How do I do that?”  Well, you have to get to know them by finding out what they are like.  You already know their mannerisms, so now you get to take those mannerisms and figure out who they are.  There are several questions to ask your character, literally hundreds, but here are a few. 1)  You have to ask your character what their hobbies are. 2)  What are their family’s background, mom, and dad?  3)  Are they hard and cold natured or are they meek and mild?  4)  How do they speak? I don’t mean voice; I mean do they use a certain language? Ex: common words or phrases they may use often.  Do they have an accent?  5)  What sort of clothes do they wear? Do they dress sexy or do they dress in t-shirts and sweat pants?  6)  Are they in a relationship or are they single?  7)  Do they have supernatural abilities, what are they, or are they the everyday Joe? 8)  Do they have any friends?  9)  What does their bedroom look like?  10)  What makes them angry/happy?  There are so many more, but that will get you going.

Tip number 4:  Get some different colored pens or highlighters and note cards.  She has told me that the note cards are for putting a scene that you may have in your head.  Then once you put a sentence about a scene down on that card then from there another scene idea may spark.  There you have another note card.  These will eventually pile up to lots and lots. (something I struggle with)

Tip number 5:  Now it’s time to put the puzzle together.  Move your note cards around on a very large table or floor.  Put the puzzle together in the order in which you would like each scene to go.  Make sure you number them.  It’s not so funny, but her cat actually jumped on her pile of cards scattering them everywhere.  Not fun to try to put them together again.  So learn from her misfortune.

Tip number 6:  Pick a card that feels strong to you and write the scene. You may end up writing more than expected.  It’s okay.  Just because you have an outline with cards, does not mean it is set in stone.  Many of your cards will end up not being used because maybe your story has changed.

Tip number 7:  You don’t have to start at the beginning.  In fact she comes up with a scene, usually her first note card, and writes that scene.  That card may be in the middle of the story.  Don’t worry, you can backtrack to the beginning, or move ahead towards the ending.

Tip number 8:  Ah-ha! The dreaded plot.  Well here is what she has told me.  There is no magic recipe, you just have to come up with a dilemma or problem.  How does your villain play a part in the problem and how does your protagonist deal with the problem.  She said sometimes your plot will come from a scene dilemma.  You can go from there to enhance a plot.

So although I speak with her on a daily basis about her story and what is going on, I still struggle with mine.  I am going to utilize these skills that she has taught me and start from ground zero.  I hope that these have helped you in your quest to writing the ultimate story.