Tag 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

My most recent publication!

https://antisf.com.au/the-stories/the-wager

 

Emily&Anthony-373

 

Steampunk, and proud of it!

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Filed under Australian Steampunk Author, Short Story, Steampunk, Steampunk Author, Steampunk Genre, Steampunk Themes, Steampunk Writer, The Writing Life, Writing Career

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

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

Adverb Liberation Front

I don’t know why, but the ‘don’t use adverbs’ rule irritates me. Abverbs are just another thingamajig in a writer’s toolkit. Yes – they can be overused. Yes -they should be replaced by strong verbs when the strong verb is more appropiate. But adverbs can be just as useful as any other word family of our modern syntax.

adverbs

I suspect the real reason why adverbs are viewed with suspicion is that they are usually crutch words. Everyone knows to avoid ‘very’ and ‘really’. ‘Actually’ is one of my crutch words, and is an offender for a lot of other people. I now run ‘actually’ through my word search function when I complete a story; even though I am aware of the problem, it still turns up.

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Crutch words – the usual suspects

Some people work on the rule ‘one adverb a page’ Some writers refuse to use adverbs at all. It is time to change this outdated way of thinking! So I have formed the ADVERB LIBERATION FRONT. Writers should be able to use any word they want! With confidence! Lovingly.

The only time a writer should avoid adverbs is when a writer is feeling lazy and using them to do all the heavy lifting in their prose. Think of adverbs as a condiment; a few adds to the flavour, but too many ruins the dish.

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Filed under The Writing Life, Uncategorized, Writing Career, Writing Style

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

Feeding the Muse

Muses

I have been working on the end to my Steampunk Work-in-Progress (yep, I’m WiP-ped). In the past week, some serious thinking and research helped me come up with the logical progression for constructing the ending. This will mean more re-writes, but not huge structural edits.

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I see research as part of the process of feeding the muse. My main problem is that I can never predict what is going to inspire a good (or even great) idea. So, I do a lot of research. I read news stories, science articles, textbooks, anything and everything gets fed into the files for the muse to sort through. Sometimes I wish I could just click my fingers and the best idea would swim to the front of the pile, but that isn’t how it work.

Sorry, but feeding the muse takes effort, just like anything else. This is why I am a little cynical when I hear a writer claim that he/she doesn’t do any reading.

aggressive muse

The muse is unforgiving. It just ins’t a case of ‘Garbage in, garbage out’. No fuel, and the flame splutters out entirely.

Currently, I am reading up on Victorian-era model villages. These were both a great concept and a really bad idea, depending on who was in charge. On one hand, these were developed to create ideal living conditions for a planned community. creating comfort for families and a guaranteed population base for businesses. On the dark side, these were nearly gulags for imprisoning a workforce to labour under unpleasant and dangerous conditions. What a perfect setting for both a hero or a villain!

Muse

This is the last piece I need for the puzzle that is my book. It is almost a frightening thought.  I’ve worked with these characters for so long, that I will miss them once the book is complete. However, I’ve been through this ‘breaking up’ period a few times now, when you have to distance yourself from your creations. The best solution is have a new project in the wings, a shiny new toy for the muse to play with.

outsidethebox muse.jpg

 

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Filed under Steampunk, Steampunk Work-in-Progress, the Muse, The Writing Life, Uncategorized, writing