In the first part we talked about scheduling and making sure you had the time to make a go of writing. Setting aside the time and making it routine is the very foundation of being a writer, and eventually a paid author. But its only one piece of a puzzle. If you sit down in front of a keyboard you are coming at it with the goal of writing. Most of us who think if writing have tons of ideas, and when we look at a blank piece of paper we want to flesh out this idea. And the first time its simple to create a world from this idea that exists in our minds. But attacking it day after day some of us might find that the going gets tougher. Maybe there are pieces you haven’t really thought about. Maybe there is fragility to it that you hadn’t considered. Maybe looking at the daunting task of finishing your novel becomes so much to bare. No matter what happens the end result is you stop writing.
The truth is, as though there are many people who swear off outlining or planning out the attack on a new project, I find it’s the one thing that can keep me coming back into the alcove of time that I’ve sectioned off for my writing. Spending time figuring out how my idea comes together means I understand my idea. If I get stuck, or I have written myself into a wall there’s always a way out. Because I’ve put my story concept to the test and I know it works now. So how do we test our idea? How do we formulate a way to figure things out that works for us in our own unique way of writing. As always I do my best to paint broadstrokes. But I’m subjected to my own experiences and what works for me. Not everything is set up for everyone, but I hope I can help a little bit. Let’s continue shall we?
So it’s November, and Nanowrimo is in full swing. All those wonderfully committed writers are plucking out staggering high daily word counts, and impressing us all with their tenacity. And I have to say even though I write about six days a week, and tend to always have my next project waiting for me, I feel a bit ashamed. I should be writing more. My daily counts could definitely go higher. But to imagine those poor waylaid folks who can’t even sit down and put a single word to paper, despite dreaming of being an author. My heart really goes out for them.
And that’s what led me to start this new three part series. I wanted to illustrate, how I manage to do ‘This writing thing’. And maybe, I can help a few more people finally release their beautiful imaginations into the jumble of prose writing. And if not, hey at least I’m writing? And just a friendly reminder like all these Pro-tip, advice columns, this is completely from my point of view. So viewer discretion is advised.
As some of you might have seen I was not sure what to write about in this week’s writer’s tips blog, so I took to social networking to help me decide. The choices were an entry about inspirations, or about character writing outside of your comfort zone. And there were a few more people interested in hearing about inspiration. Actually a few writers were curious about the concept of the turbulence that Inspiration can cause. And that sounds like a lot of fun to write about, so that’s where we are. And for those who chimed in for interest on Writing outside your comfort level, I’ll be focusing in on that really soon. And those comments also changed my initial idea. I really like the conversations and I might try for feedback more often. Plus H.H. Neville gave me another topic that might be getting some focus not soon after. Speaking of inspiration!
I think we all know what inspiration is. It comes from many fonts and eddies in our minds. They can sometimes be accidental and often were not even sure where they come from, and our minds spin out of control like a train wreck we can’t look away from. Of course then there are other times when our inspiration speaks to us in a much more lucid way. When we see a concept in a film, tv show, video game, novel or what not that spawn this appetite to make it our own, be it for critique, deconstruction or just because it seems fun. Not matter how inspiration hits, or why we drink it up like fine wine the truth remains that there is always a dividing line between too much or too little. But how do we manage ourselves to fall in line to create something unique or all our own, when most of the things that pop into our head are birthed by the concepts of other things.
One of the more famous paraphrases in cartooning is one that Matt Groening of the Simpson’s fame made. It’s about how you can gauge the strength of your character design by being able to distinguish your characters even from a silhouette. That is to say even with no details just the shape of the character should make its identity known. I’ve
always liked that concept. And though I can’t say that all my character designs have stood up to the silhouette test that bit of advice is always in the back of my mind.
Of course as writers we don’t have a silhouette test. We’re not a visual medium, so unless you’re a weirdo like me who draws all the characters in a novel for fun, there is not a ‘character design’ as there is in visual media. Granted this could be greatly debated. As many an author spends more time thinking about how a character looks and moves than his or her political leanings. But, even still we don’t have the same kind of silhouette sort of deal that Groening referred to on the writing page. Though I do feel we have a similar track to gauge when we go about developing characters.
It’s getting on that spooky time of year, and with it I along with other writers I am sure begin to find our creative minds heading to the macabre. And so I couldn’t help but find myself thinking all about good horror stories. Specifically what makes horror and fears in a story really click, what makes our minds as readers fall readily into the nightmare. And at the same time what elements, can also completely ruin this effect. And for me I really couldn’t think of anything that affects a reader as much as mood and atmosphere. So this week I wanted to talk about mood and atmosphere as a writer. I wanted to explorer how I personally approach it, deliver some incite as a reader, and just remind people the importance its plays into the overall tapestry of good horror.
As writers (and even more so as readers) we often don’t let our minds dwell on what a massive task crafting a prose story truly is. Prose is unlike any other media, in the sense that we are supplying the reader with all sensory input, including how they should think and feel. And I am sure you are shaking your head and going “okay that’s sort of obvious” but terrifically so, we don’t dwell on how massive this is. We don’t usually think about how many moving parts go into making a story. For some writers its automatic. They can just throw all these things out in beautiful paragraphs but that’s rare and the product of a lot of experience. For most of us, as much as we would love to deny it, these are things we have to be consciously aware of. But that comes down to process. We all have our own, and we know what works for us. But one thing I often note is how this key component in writing often gets over looked. For a lot of writers especially those starting out, there is a lot of focus drawn on the characterization, and alliteration to immerse the reader’s mind, so we can deliver an experience. So much so that we neglect the parts of a story that might be quite transparent. That is developing a reader’s feelings and bringing them to a special place in their mind.