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.