Archive for the ‘Storytelling’ Category

Holiday Writing During the 2020 Pandemic

November 24, 2020


What? It’s Almost December?
When time becomes hazy and slippery, as it has for many of us during our almost year-long quarantine, it can stop being the primary force by which we organize our lives. Think about it.

Beginnings and endings, of just about everything, become harder to pinpoint, and our internal narrative structure changes. For instance, I sometimes have trouble remembering what day it is. Plus, I don’t sleep well enough to dream anymore.

I’ve noticed, however, that around here we suddenly seem to have a lot more dirty dishes.

So, when most everything is getting so muddled, what happens to writers, who depend on their imaginations?

Well, I started making lists just to have something to do. If you’re an author, and anything like me, you may also have started writing in short bursts and fragments, looking for different ways to tell a story. Hoping the muse would awaken.

Unfortunately, during many of these long weeks of quarantine, I didn’t write at all. I admit I’ve been very anxious about the larger situation, and watching news about it constantly.

I’ve mentioned before, I was working on three different novels before the pandemic hit. But, suddenly, nothing I was writing down was holding my attention. Worse, when I got stuck, I had no idea what direction to take to fix the problem.

Since I began writing in earnest, I’ve never had to deal with writer’s block quite like this before.

Good Advice
I’ve had one of my novels in my head for years. But the idea is still a big sprawling mess, made up of interconnecting parts that may, or may not, make any sense together someday.

My focus is scattered. My emotions are all mixed up. I’m cheerful, anxious, irritable, giddy, desperate, and optimistic, often in the same afternoon. My equilibrium gets thrown off by how everyone else in the house is feeling. And I’m tired, even on days when I’ve done almost literally nothing.

The best piece of advice I received was: “When you come to the end of it, what would you like to be able to say you’ve done?”

It made me realize doing something is better than doing nothing, so I forced myself back into the habit of writing every day.

I’ve always said, as a writer, when you have an impulse, follow it. But, it’s hard when your severely restricted physical space collides with overburdened mental space.

Now, with the holidays upon us, but sadly separated from family, that mental space seems even more crowded.

However, I went back to the novel-in-progress that was the most finished and looked over what I’d already written. Then, I started to read my research notes again.

I realized I’m happy with my book idea. It closes out a series. I’m not sure it’s going to work the way I hope, or be done at the end of the year, but there’s no way to know if I don’t try. So, bit by bit, I began to write again.

Don’t get me wrong. The dishes are still very much an issue.

But writing is more important than ever.

Keep going. We need you.

Have a safe holiday.

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Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

**********

You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show, or see my three local television interviews. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

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Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

Fiction in the Pandemic

November 4, 2020

Literary arts have long served as humanity’s means of processing reality. But as we reel from continued global crises, what stories are going to emerge from these odd and troubled times?

As our own reality changes, what happens to the world a writer imagines? With so many of the arts hobbled by the pandemic, fiction should be thriving. Unlike any of the performing arts, writing is a solitary profession, one that does not require the physical presence of an audience.

Even more than pursuits like painting and photography, which can require some collaboration, writing is best done in isolation. We have the ultimate “work-from-home” profession. But even as it is, by nature, removed from the world, much of fiction relies on realism, or some semblance of it. We call it “world building”…creating credibility for our characters and their lives.

But what kind of world do we build now?

This is only one issue facing writers in this difficult time. In addition to the common necessities of wrangling everything from child care and schooling to health care and shopping, not to mention worrying about a Presidential election, many of us have had difficulty concentrating.

The subconscious, where so much plotting and character-building happens, has been taken over for many by a silent, screaming panic.

I’m sure the current pandemic is spurring some writers. In two years, I expect a bumper crop of dystopian fantasy (as if we want to live this year over again). However, no matter what our genre, we face a choice. Do we depict a world in which people interact as we did so blithely only eight months ago? Or, do we try to set our stories in a world of Zoom conferences and masked, distanced meetups?

No matter what our conscious choices, reality is bound to seep in. One author I know has posted on social media about his latest manuscript. Drafted largely before the pandemic, he talked about revising it, and removing handshakes and embraces, at least between non-family members. He said these scenes now make him uncomfortable.

For me, the choice has been somewhat predetermined. When the shutdown came, I was already deep into the drafts of several new stories. Not only did it feel wrong to change the settings, even as our reality was changing, it felt antithetical to the purpose of my tales.

I also had a practical concern. One work of mine is the fifth (and probably last) in a series. I have another, darker book that’s a sequel to one of my well-received horror stories. I tell myself it’s neither wise nor fair to my readers to change too much at this point, even though their real worlds have changed as much as mine.

If I revise, like my friend is talking about doing, am I going to remove the hugs and handshakes? I’m not sure yet. But I have noticed another element of reality creep in, because I tend to right the world I create as I write it.

By that, I mean I try to resolve the obstacles my protagonists experience. However, this time around, my characters keep straying from the direction I thought the story should go. The real world has made it tough to keep my concentration as I write.

I’ve always claimed to start with a “what if” and let the characters tell me where they’re going. Now, as I struggle with writer’s block for yet another month, perhaps it’s because I no longer feel my inventions are that much different than reality.

Be that as it may, I voted yesterday, as I hope you did, and I’m waiting (not very patiently) for final results. I won’t get into my political leanings, but I’m sure this whole year would make one hell of a story…except no one would believe it.

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Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

**********

You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show, or see my three local television interviews. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

**********

Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

Tips for Generating Great Book Ideas

September 25, 2020

2020 has been a weird year, that’s for sure. Like me, you may have been having trouble concentrating on your writing.

Just remember…when it comes time to start, don’t overthink things. Keep it simple. Whether you’re staring down writer’s block, or find yourself overwhelmed by too many good ideas, here are some thoughts to get you started.

Create a Character Based on Someone You Know
Many authors have mined the traits of a best friend, family member, or co-worker as part of a great book idea. I certainly have.

So, when you’re around people, jot down a few observations about their behavior…either mentally, or in a notebook…and see if those observations prompt any story ideas. A key supporting character, or even the main character, could be a composite of people you know.

Adapt Mythology Into Your Own Great Story
If you aren’t the kind of person who can generate a book topic by mining the depths of your own life, you can always go in the opposite direction and adapt folklore or mythology.

J.R.R. Tolkien used story elements from Norse mythology to craft The Lord of the Rings. Shakespeare’s creative writing process often led him to cast real-life kings and queens in his plays, adding his own embellishments to create better stories.

Find a myth or folktale you want to adapt in your own style.

Embrace the Supernatural
Sounds weird, right? But, trust me, readers love well-crafted ghosts and apparitions. In the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft or Stephen King, create a cast of characters…and make at least one of them a ghost.

Get Inspiration From Comedy
Some new fiction writers make the mistaken assumption the only books worth writing are those that are gravely serious. Fortunately for the reading public, that isn’t true at all.

Authors from Shakespeare to Mark Twain have had great success writing books and plays where comedy came first. Try twisting one of your writing ideas into something more absurd.

Send Your Character on a Journey
From road trips to epic quests, audiences love a character on the move. If you have a great character or premise in mind, think of ways that you can send that character on a journey…or how the premise can be extended over the course of multiple story locations.

Try Freewriting
Freewriting is a technique where you write without a prescribed structure. That means no outlines, cards, or notes (I like to work this way). In freewriting, you follow the impulses of your mind, allowing thoughts and inspiration to appear without premeditation.

Allow your stream of consciousness to inspire the words on the page. Let the characters tell you what they want to do. With practice, you can use freewriting to unleash your creativity.

**********

Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

**********

You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show, or see my three local television interviews. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

**********

Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.


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