Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Free-Writing


I can’t remember where I first heard about the process of Free-Writing, but I can tell you the advice continues to come back to me, time and time again. I’ve worked with this technique many times over the years, yet for some reason I always abandon it in the end. Now, I’m wondering why that is.

When I asked myself this, the first thing that came to mind was of the waste of ten minutes of time. That’s ten minutes that could be used on actual writing. This is what I tell myself, and then I laugh as I realize that’s the little voice, not me. For, I know from experience this is not true at all. It is anything but a waste of time.

I’ve completed story scenes, grabbed bits and pieces of dialogue, and even pulled a few blog posts from simple ten minute session. Without Free-Writing, some of my thoughts and ideas may have never seen the light of day, finding their way onto paper.

But, not all sessions produce usable material. That, I believe, is where you find the catch. You have so little time to get your writing done. Can you really afford to waste ten to twenty minutes on nonsense writing? Yes, you can afford it, and it’s not a waste of time.

Process:

1. Set a period of time between 10-20 minutes
2. Disconnect from your editor and inner critic
3. Put pen to paper, or fingers to keys
4. Begin - write whatever comes to mind and do not stop until you’ve reached your set time

Purposes:

1. Free up your creative muscles
2. Bypass the ‘inner critic’
3. Discover what lies within your subconscious
4. Give your Muse room to move
5. Get you through a dry spell (writer’s block)
6. Make you more comfortable with the writing process

When to use:

1. You’ve come to a block in your work in progress and can’t figure out where to go. Jot down the last sentence, set your timer, and just write. Within the words created, chances are you will find your next step. If not, take a break, come back and try again later.

2. Your writing has slowed to a snail’s pace, your editor has crept inside your head, and you find yourself stuck on the same sentence for thirty minutes. Try a few free-writing sessions to get rid of the ‘inner critic’ and then get back to work on your current writing task.

3. Free-writing is wonderful for brainstorming. Your next blog post is due tomorrow, and you haven’t even started. You don’t have a clue what to write about. Jump in to free-writing and you are sure to grab some ideas, possibly more than one.

4. You finished up your last project a few weeks ago and it’s time to get back to some writing. But, you hesitate, even sweat at the thought of all the work ahead for a new project. Don’t sit around and stress over the issue. Free-write your way back into action and discover your next gig.

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I would love to hear from some of you authors on this topic. Do you free-write? How often? Do you set a purpose at the beginning of your session? Do you use it for warming up before beginning your writing for the day?


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Treacherous Journey


by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
No one said this would be easy, did they? And, in most cases, they probably told you it couldn’t be done.

Artists, of all breeds, face treacherous roads throughout their career. But, the biggest pothole I’ve found is the internal enemy. The little voice yelling at you with every excuse you can think of. For some, the voice mimics people they know, but sometimes it is your own words creating the blocks.

Excuses are made. Time and energy are lost.

Originally, this post had been planned as an announcement to a long, extended hiatus from the blog. The excuses ranged from I don’t have much more to say, I need to spend this time working on my creative writing instead, and how will I find the time to do any writing at all. I battled with the choice and realized my mistake. I was letting that little, nagging voice control me, again. It’s time to take back control and shut that little sucker up for a little while. Duct tape, please!

One of the hardest things I face is having the courage to sit down and get started. Even with the knowledge that everything will be fine after a few minutes, I continue to avoid the ‘getting butt in chair’. After proving over and over to myself that any amount of minutes can bring progress and heighten motivation, I still find it easier to let that nasty voice fill me with doubt and fear.

So, how can this monster be slayed? In all honestly, I don’t believe it can. You must shut it up and prepare for his return.

I’d like to send you to two different articles, which I believe may help us all in our journeys.


Remember when you wrote for the pleasure? When you had no expectation of publication, at least not anytime soon? You created wonderful worlds to play within, just for your enjoyment. Wasn’t that fun? Maybe one of the keys to shutting that sucker up is to find your way back to this child-like place and just play.


Her method consists of three objectives: Knowing what you’re writing before you write it, discovering your most productive writing time, and being enthusiastic during your writing session. This system may come in handy once you get your butt in the chair.

Good luck in your travels. Remember, you’re not alone. We may travel this road in solitude, but we are many walking toward the same horizon.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Creating Characters


One of the main tasks of a writer is to create characters worth reading about. Many different factors work into the equation of producing these types of characters. They need to be interesting and motivated. Not all characters are lovable, but it helps to have a likable quality of some sort. But, most of all they should be three-dimensional.

To accomplish this, a writer should know the character almost as well as he knows himself. Character creation may start with a name and physical characteristics, but it doesn’t stop there. Think about some of your favorite characters in books, movies, and television shows. How much do you know about them?

You, as the writer, need to know a little bit more than the reader. Everything may not be included into the actual story, but each new bit of information will lead to another, producing the needed variety to create characters worth reading about.

Whether you start a story knowing your main character, or get to know your character as you go, at some point you should step back and see who you’ve created. As you get to know him outside of the story, you may discover new points worth weaving into your story.

There are many methods used for this process. Here are a few:
  • Long Character Bio Sheets
  • Index Card Bios
  • Biography by Author
  • Biography by Character
  • Vision Boards
Really, the methods are endless. What matters is what works for you.

I’ve tried many methods, but the one which works for me is the biography by the Author. I’ll sit down and just start writing, first introducing the character – name, age, physical traits and such, and then start as far back as I feel necessary, depending upon the story.

Personality is one of the keys to your creation. Everything can be wrapped around this one small aspect, because everything makes him who he is (personality). His parents, the way he looks, childhood events, social upbringing, the list goes on and on, but it all leads in one direction – who he is and why he does what he does.

Take a moment and discover who you’re writing about.

How do you create your characters? Do you have a preferred method, or does it change with each story? Do you keep it all in your head, or fill page after page of character information?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Author - Harlan Coben

Winner of the Edgar Award, Shamus Award and Anthony Award – the first author to win all three – international bestselling author Harlan Coben’s critically-acclaimed novels have been called “ingenious” (New York Times), “poignant and insightful” (Los Angeles Times), “consistently entertaining” (Houston Chronicle), “superb” (Chicago Tribune) and “must reading” (Philadelphia Inquirer). 

Impressive, wouldn’t you say?

I picked up my first book by this author near the end of last year. I was extremely impressed by his writing and story-telling.

Caught, my first read, gripped my attention and snatched me through, page after page. With each new twist, I found myself enthralled and desperate to read more.



Reporter Wendy Tynes is making a name for herself, bringing down sexual offenders on nationally-televised sting operations. But when social worker Dan Mercer walks into her trap, and is tied to the disappearance of a seventeen-year-old New Jersey girl, the shocking consequences will have Wendy doubting her instincts about the motives of the people around her.



Darkest Fear, my second exposure, proved to have the same effect. At first, I wasn’t pulled in, but it only took a few pages to grab me, carrying me off into a plot of twists and turns.





It all begins when Myron Bolitar's ex tells him he's a father ... of a dying thirteen-year-old boy.

Myron never saw it coming.





Both books took me on journeys I couldn’t resist, surprising me with each new twist and turn. Just when you think you have it figured out, something changes and new circumstances are set into play.

I’m currently reading Play Dead, his first published novel. With that said, it may not be his best, but I’m enjoying the journey.

For me, the 'main' intriguing question is WHY is David Baskin playing dead? I have a few guesses, but I’m suspecting that I’m wrong.

Any Coben fans out there? What should I read next?

Who/What are you reading?


 
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