Friday, July 3, 2020

When Characters take Control

Most writers feel this, I think. I certainly do. I want to feel it. I strive to feel it. I’m talking about when your characters seem to take over and make things happen. Now, I’m not going to argue the authenticity of the feeling. It's happened to me so I believe I’ve felt it. Maybe it is just finding the groove, the altered state, which allows you to access that part of the brain that makes intuitive leaps. Or maybe you’re connecting to a higher power, any higher power.

Whatever it is that makes it happen, your characters come to life in the sense that it feels like they are writing the story. They take you places you hadn’t thought of or intended to go and these places are the right places for your story. Some of the truest writing comes from these moments because it’s coming from inside the world of the characters and story. You aren’t forcing it.

Often these moments will come when I’ve got the conflict right in a scene and characters are acting and reacting to one another. 

If it happens to you my advice is go with it. Thank the writer gods and write on.

Of course there will be other  times when you have to coax and force your characters forward so you can move the story. Alas, that’s the way of writing. Sometimes you have to get crafty and drive those words like a herd of wild horses or stubborn mules or angry cats. Writing fiction-- sometimes you fly and sometimes you crawl.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

I’m back

It’s been a while but I’m back. I want to blog a couple of times a month about writing issues. For example, I’ve changed some things in my own writing process and I’ve learned some new strategies for writing better and faster. I’ve been focusing on voice and particularly storytelling—plot and structure—over the last year. There’s a lot of new in my writing world and I’m hoping some of the new in my approach to writing fiction might be helpful to other struggling writers. In particular, one thing I’ll get to soon is strategies for writing better first drafts. I think my first drafts have become better and I’ve also written them faster because of new strategies. Yes, my first draft still sucks in many ways. Yes, I still believe a first draft slogan should be LOW EXPECTATIONS. But the way my first drafts have improved is that they have fewer structural problems. I don’t get forty pages into revision and realize that my first draft went in the wrong direction. I’ve done that many times and what it means is completely rewriting entire sections. It’s frustrating and time-consuming. Now, I can focus on the other numerous weak areas more as I go through my revisions because it has a narrative foundation.



For me personally, one new direction my writing has taken is I’ve finished a novel for adults that is a comic urban fantasy (sort of—bit of genre blending going on) about a detective who works for the Poe Detective Agency in a parallel universe. I say it is a true story from a parallel universe because, come on, who can prove it isn’t?. Unlike my five YA novels, which were traditionally published, this one will be an independent publication. Which means I’m behind the whole thing though I hesitate to call it self-publishing because I’ve had an editor, cover designer, and copy-editor/ proof reader’s help. If I write more YA, I’ll probably try to keep that in the traditional publishing world but I want to try the independent  approach for my adult Poe Detective novels. So I guess I’m what is called a hybrid author, which I must admit I kind of like the sound of. 



Anyway, happy to have returned to the blogosphere. Appreciate your reading this ramble. Hope to carry on soon with my story creating stories.