Fill In the Blank


POST CARD FROM THE MUSE

Fill In the Blank

By Nandy Ekle

 

The last couple of weeks I talked about my need for organization in my every day life, but the total lack of structure in my writing life. And I’ve studied and been told and shown what an important tool outlining, planning, and plotting can be for a writer.

Let me just say, whatever your writing habits are, I will never tell you you’re doing it wrong, especially if you can successfully write “The End.” I very firmly believe each writer’s methods are right for them. But I also feel it’s important to have an open mind and trying something new to be sure you have the most effective way for your writing.

Last Friday I ended in the middle of telling about one story I wrote in a completely different way from my normal seat-of-the-pants method. This particular story, I did the plotting and planning, the story boarding and characterization, and the theme and each event. Even though this story is one I love very deeply, I didn’t have as much fun writing it as I normally have. The spontaneity was gone. The surprise was gone. I felt as though I was filling in blanks to a story already written.

But as I mentioned last week, something very interesting happened. The story was successful. I entered it in a contest, and it won second place and it earned the second spot in an anthology (available on Amazon). The other thing that happened was that the main character became one of my all-time favorite characters. And I think the reason that happened is that in my characterization of her, I realized she represents both of my grandmothers rolled into one.

Now, there’s another story I wrote in my normal way. This story, I had a theme and a situation. My character had a paranormal ability, but she didn’t want to reveal her talent, so she made up a story when caught using her gift. This was where I started. As I wrote, events of the story came to life as if I were a reader reading it. For me, this is the “funnest” part of writing. The tale unfolds in my head as if I’m watching a movie. In fact, as I headed into the final scene, I still was not sure who my villain was. As one of my “movie” scenes played, the secret bad guy turned his face to me and winked. This was when I saw the end of my story. To this day, I get cold chills when I remember the scene.

This story has not found a home yet, but that’s one of my resolutions for this year.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

 

Fill In the Blank


POST CARD FROM THE MUSE

Fill In the Blank

By Nandy Ekle

 

The last couple of weeks I talked about my need for organization in my every day life, but the total lack of structure in my writing life. And I’ve studied and been told and shown what an important tool outlining, planning, and plotting can be for a writer.

Let me just say, whatever your writing habits are, I will never tell you you’re doing it wrong, especially if you can successfully write “The End.” I very firmly believe each writer’s methods are right for them. But I also feel it’s important to have an open mind and trying something new to be sure you have the most effective way for your writing.

Last Friday I ended in the middle of telling about one story I wrote in a completely different way from my normal seat-of-the-pants method. This particular story, I did the plotting and planning, the story boarding and characterization, and the theme and each event. Even though this story is one I love very deeply, I didn’t have as much fun writing it as I normally have. The spontaneity was gone. The surprise was gone. I felt as though I was filling in blanks to a story already written.

But as I mentioned last week, something very interesting happened. The story was successful. I entered it in a contest, and it won second place and it earned the second spot in an anthology (available on Amazon). The other thing that happened was that the main character became one of my all-time favorite characters. And I think the reason that happened is that in my characterization of her, I realized she represents both of my grandmothers rolled into one.

Now, there’s another story I wrote in my normal way. This story, I had a theme and a situation. My character had a paranormal ability, but she didn’t want to reveal her talent, so she made up a story when caught using her gift. This was where I started. As I wrote, events of the story came to life as if I were a reader reading it. For me, this is the “funnest” part of writing. The tale unfolds in my head as if I’m watching a movie. In fact, as I headed into the final scene, I still was not sure who my villain was. As one of my “movie” scenes played, the secret bad guy turned his face to me and winked. This was when I saw the end of my story. To this day, I get cold chills when I remember the scene.

This story has not found a home yet, but that’s one of my resolutions for this year.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

 

Lists


Outtakes 214

Lists

By Cait Collins

 

I love lists. I can’t take a trip, plan a party, or shop for special occasions without making a least one list. Folks laugh at my purse-size notebooks, but I do stay organized and I don’t forget what I need to buy or pack. I even keep a mini-ledger to track my spending so that I stay on budget.

The question is, “What do my lists have to do with writing?” There are a couple of applications. While lists keep me organized in my personal life, I cannot write from outlines. I have writer friends who need the structure of an outline and detailed character sketches. I know others who write by the seat of their pants. Lack of structure could potentially create pitfalls for the author. On the other hand, too many details can stifle creativity. Personally, I enjoy the discussions I have with my characters. Their point of view has helped me rework scenes. Sometimes I win and sometimes I lose, but the conversations are fund.

While I don’t outline or track turning points, I do keep some lists and notes. Pulitzer Prize winning author, Michael Cunningham, taught an advanced writing group the importance of lists. One exercise was to make a list of 20 physical characteristics of our hero. The characteristics were to employ the five senses. When the list was complete, we were to write the opening paragraph to our story and use six of those items in the opening. I was amazed at how alive the hero became. When having problems creating vibrant characters, I employ this method and it does help me rework the scenes around the characters.

Different writing personalities must find an organization method that works for them. There is really no right or wrong way to structure a story. A rough draft might be an outline. Or a timeline can keep the author focused. The most important thing is to write the story.

 

I Admit It; I’m an Outliner.


I Admit It; I’m an Outliner.

By Rory C. Keel

It is generally accepted among writers that there are two categories of writers: outliners and non-outliners, otherwise known as “plotters and pantsers.”

While non-outliners, or pantsers, fly by the “seat of their pants” when writing, the plotter or outliner does just what the name implies, we make an outline.

Make an outline.

When your writing begins, make a brief outline of the story you want to create. It doesn’t need to be a formal outline with roman numerals and such, but a basic list of plot points. It can be very general or elaborately detailed, either way you know the direction you want to take your story.

Benefits of Outlining

There are several benefits in outlining.

  1. It allows you to know where you’re going.
  2. It allows you to see the balance of a story at a glance.
  3. Keeps you from chasing dead ends.
  4. Helps in determining the POV of your story.

If you are struggling with writer’s block, try outlining the rest of your story to move you forward.