Category Archives: writing

Where Do you Get Your Ideas?

That is a sentence I’ve heard many times, and I know every other writer gets the same query: Where do you get your ideas?

I’m going to give you an answer. However, this is just one answer to a process that has a multitude of answers, all of them correct. Every writer will have their own process, and if they are anything like me, they will have more that one way of getting a writing idea.

Inspiration: Inspiration can come from anywhere: a dream, a news article, song lyrics, something you read in a book that set off a new train of thought (another reason for reading widely). Let’s assume that the shiny pretty distracting you from your writing is just that, a snippet, and not of those lucky instances of a story dropping into your head fully formed. So, you have a glimpse of a story idea.

I always study a new idea, turning it this way and that to see how it holds up. If it seems like a solid concept and not a cliche, I will write it down. For me, the process of writing it down will start my muse working on fleshing out the story. I always have a notebook with me, or I will make a note of it in my computer files.

First Thoughts: First thoughts are the magic beginning to happen. I may have had other ideas that relate to this new one. I look them up, and list them under my previous notes. I might fall down the rabbit hole of research online. I never make any judgement calls at this point, because I never know when two trains of thought might smash together and form art. The goal is make a big pile of ideas – what Neil Gaiman calls compost. I think of it more as a bouquet of random flowers, and I pick my blossoms with enthusiasm.

Working It: This stage is when I will start working on the plot, and cull the unnecessary ‘flowers’. This will result in a very simple and rough plot. Generally, I am a ‘Plot First, Characters Second’ Planner. However, once I’ve developed my characters past the two-dimensional stage, the plot will flip over and start evolving around them. The characters will drive the plot along and not the other way around. Settings will start to present themselves for consideration. I rarely am inspired by a character popping into my head, which is probs why I am a genre writer and not a literary writer.

At this point, I might let an idea ‘rest’. After all, I was working on other projects when the new shiny distracted me. It doesn’t hurt to give your muse a chance to mull the idea over. I’ve got a current short story I’m working on that was much improved by the sudden realisation that the dead woman was the protagonist and not the victim of the narrative. I think the story has gained ‘legs’ with this realisation. If I had rushed to write the story as I first conceived of it, it would have lost this deepening of character and plot.

In Summary: I leave myself open to any kind of inspiration, and then I work the shiny concept up into an idea. Ideas don’t down sleet down from above; they take work. Sorry to disappoint those who thought there was some sort of secret to getting good ideas.

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Filed under Inspiration, Plot, writing, Writing Career, Writing Style

I’ve got a story on DailySF

https://dailysciencefiction.com/hither-and-yon/alternate-history/lynne-lumsden-green/cherry-ripe

I’m so happy that I’ve reached one of my writing goals.

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Filed under DailySF, Short Story, writing, Writing Career

No Juice – addendum

how to orange cordial

Well, I’ve learnt an important lesson. Don’t try to push through with no juice. I did get the first draft written and it is sort of okay. However, I spent the night too wired too sleep.

So, today I’ve had to jolly myself along. Oh, we’re in the bathroom to pee, might as well have a shower. You’ve got your hair wet, might as well wash it. Gosh, it is just as easy to put on day clothes than put the PJs back on. Hey, if you don’t water the seedlings, they’ll die … and since you’re outside, might as well water the rest of the plants.

So, the take-away here is not to push too hard. Because I really do feel wrung out today!

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Filed under Inspiration, Personal experience, The Writing Life, Writer's Block, writing

Writing with my Eyes

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I tend to write with my eyes. What this means is that – when I started out – I tended to see my characters and see the action. I didn’t hear their voices, or smell the air and feel the textures. It took years of training to learn to ‘hear’ and ‘touch’, smell and ‘taste’. Other beginner writers have problems visualizing a scene, but can write dynamite dialogue.

This sensuous writing might seem like a basic tool in the writing kit, but it is surprising how many people forget that writing – like all skills – is a mixture of training, talent, and practice. Lots and lots of practice. Teaching yourself to notice details. Trying to think of unique ways to describe an experience. Getting out and having experiences so you can describe them!

So, next time your a reading a descriptive passage, don’t dismiss as ‘purple prose’. Some hard-working person has put some thought and effort into that paragraph!

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Filed under writing, Writing Career, Writing Style

Climbing back into the Saddle

I’ve not been doing much writing over the last month. Normally, if I’m not writing, I am on edge. Itchy.  Like a small child who is overtired, I tend to forget things; things like appointments, the right words, and I leave cups of coffee to go cold. I’ve been a bit like this, but sadder and out of sorts. Melancholy. I still cry when I remember my brave-hearted mother is dead.

Image result for writers who don't write become monsters

This week, I made the decision to cimb back into the saddle. I won’t be galloping just yet, but I’m going to try a gentle trot, and get back into my writing rhythm. I’m using riding metaphors because I am doing some writing about the Duke of Wellington. He rode his steed, Copenhagen, for seventeen hours during the Battle of Waterloo, and when he dismounted the animal tried to kick him in the head. Let’s hope my muse doesn’t do the same!

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Filed under writing, Writing Career, YA Work in Progress

Elemental Anthology

Elemental AnthologyCover image

Looking for something with one of my stories! Here you go!

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Filed under Anthology, Springfield Writers Group, writing, Writing Career

Submissions Diary

I keep a monthly submissions diary. Currently, for the month of April, I have more acceptances – and I’m including conditional acceptances – than rejections. This is a first for me.

I will have been working my own submission strategies for two years this July. These strategies include aiming for 100 rejections a year, and being more active in the writing community. Without acceptances, these are still paying off for me by improving my writing style and creating a valuable support network.

The start of the year has had more than its fair share of real life issues – but I’m still on track with the writing.

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Filed under Australian Author, Craft, Opinion Piece, writing

Update on my ‘Interesting’ year so far.

Well, it’s been an exciting few months. What do you want first? The good news or the bad news?

Bad news? Well, since January, my mum broke her hip, I’ve had a skin cancer cut out of my ankle and it is taking a long time to heal (it is still a scab and hurts), and my computer back-ups died and I thought I’d lost ALL MY WRITING. I’ve been crying a bit more than usual.

Good News! The company Computer Fixperts were able to recover 99% of my writing. The skin cancer was completely removed and I don’t need radiation treatment or chemotherapy. My mum had a clean break, they pinned it, and she is back at home and recovering well.

More good news: I have had FIVE acceptances since January. And a publisher is interested in my turning a short story into a book. Below is a link to one of my newly published stories!

https://antisf.com/the-stories/a-king-may-look-at-a-cat

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Filed under Short Story, Uncategorized, writing, Writing Career

Greetings from Novel World

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Greetings and Felicitations. I’ll bet your wondering where I’ve been?

I’ve been spending more time out in the garden, exercising, and writing. Yes. Writing. Writing short stories and sending them off to market, writing articles, writing job applications (still no luck), volunteering for the Queensland Writers Centre, and getting ready to write my new novel – nicknamed the Train Book. I started writing it this week, now that I have enough reseach under my belt, and I have written my timeline and outline.

But what about my Steampunk novel, you ask?

It is ‘resting’. There is a point in the editing process when need to stop. I could edit forever. The Steampunk novel still needs work, but at the moment I need to step away from it and gain some perspective again. I was ‘fussing’ rather than editing. I keep wanting to add in new stuff. I need to look at the story, write a new outline, and STICK TO IT!

I hope to have the Train Novel’s first draft written by Christmas. I’m aiming at 120,000 words. (And no, I’m not doing NaNoWriMo, even though I could). I’m looking writing at 10,000 words a week for twelve weeks. That is approximately 1500 words a day, which is doable. I’m on a writing high at the moment.

However, I know I have severely neglected this blog. And I can’t promise that things are going to change too soon. However, I will TRY to update you all once ot twice a week.

In other news … my hair is now green-blue. I am losing weight, but I still have no neck and no waist.Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, glasses, selfie, close-up and indoor

 

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Filed under the Muse, The Train Book, The Writing Life, Uncategorized, writing, Writing Career

Dialogue Insights

 

Good dialogue comes down to six factors:

1. First and foremost, it advances the plot. Indeed … I know this goes without saying, but if I didn’t mention it I would be letting the team down.

2. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. However, when it comes to characterization, dialogue is one of the best methods for adding depth to a character. How they say what they mean is just as important as what they are saying.

3. It should seem natural, without actually being natural. Real conversation is full of ums, ers, and broken sentences. Unless you are writing ‘slice of life’, written dialoque should skip ninety percent of this ‘filler’ waffle.

4. Make it snappy and witty. Memorable. Channel Oscar Wilde or Terry Pratchett. Don’t bore your readers.

5. Dialogue should do more than just be about talking heads. It should also be adding to the underlying theme of your narrative. What are the underlying implications of your dialogue?

6. Alice might think a book without conversations is dull, but remember that your narrative should be more than just dialogue. If you want to have a masterclass, read Isaac Asimov to see how a dialogue can move a story along, and still be full of action.

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Filed under Dialogue, The Writing Life, Uncategorized, writing, Writing Style