Fledgling Ideas – Development

When you decide to become a writer, there are certain struggles you need to come to terms with. The first is that it will never be easy, and rejection is a difficult yet inevitable part of the process. Another struggle can be time management, the when/where/how of sitting down and physically typing words. This is especially true if you are writing around your time at a day job, as most new writers are. There never seem to be enough hours in the day, and there are few things worse than writing drowsy. Yeah, those pages always end up getting rewritten later.

Today’s struggle is about the development stage and nurturing the ideas that spring forth from your cranium space. Every writer does this slightly differently. Some sit and meticulously outline to the tiniest detail on every plot point and character. Other writers let it all flow naturally from the pen tip to the page with little planning. Many call this “seat of your pants” writing, or “pantsing.” I call it “going commando.” Don’t judge.

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Not wearing pants…
Most writers fall between these two extremes, including myself. I outline some, usually to get started, but it’s always very loose. Just a few ideas of what I want to touch on to get from point A to point C, and usually some important dialogue bits I want to include. This is done earlier in the day, around lunch time and during breaks, but I keep a pad of paper next to me in case I get a good idea at an inopportune time. Once I get home in the evening, I use that loose outline to direct my “commando.”  Sometimes the outlined points and dialogue gets used, sometimes better ideas come along, and sometimes they just doesn’t seem to work.

This is all well and good once you have a basic idea of what your story is, who your characters are, and what you want to say with the larger work. It’s more difficult when a new idea sparks inside you. Those times when the tiny light bulb goes off, and you find yourself mumbling out loud “Now, that’s an interesting idea.”  How do you take that and give it life?

This is where I am right now. I had an idea, and I think it is a pretty good one. Problem is, I’m not sure if this idea is short story material or if the concept is enough to be a novel. I don’t know who the supporting cast will be, what subplots will be present, or what the overall theme would be. All I have is a general plot idea and a main character, and even he (or she) is on the bubble.

So what do you do when this happens to you? What is your process of growing and cultivating the idea into a workable story?  Let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

Till next time,

DC

Writing Prompt Wednesday – Opposites Attract

So all these Sad Puppy, Rabid Puppy, Hugo Award shenanigans are the main inspiration for today’s prompt. Over the past few months, we have seen a lot of horrible, vile things said in regards to this with people just acting inexcusably deplorable to each other. 

It’s all sad really. Fiction is supposed to be fun, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have something important/political to say.  There is more to Science Fiction and Fantasy than just explosions and magic.  

So the writing prompt today, is to take two characters with drastically, passionate opposing views on something (you pick the topic), and put them in a situation where they have to interact about that thing.  The catch is, the two characters must be good friends (or lovers, or family, etc) and while they disagree vehemently, by the end of the scene they must remain as they began. 

Respect. It’s important. 

Till next time, 

DC

Writing Prompt Wednesday – The Metamorphosis

“Gregor Samsa awoke one morning to find he’d been transformed into a gigantic cockroach… Nah, it’s too good.” – Max Bialystock – Mel Brooks’ The Producers

Another Writing Prompt Wednesday is upon us, and I think it is gonna be a fun one.

When writing, your characters undergo a certain amount of transformation as the story progresses. Sometimes the change is something physical, like the beginning of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, and other times the change is some intangible mentality, attitude, or opinion. Sometimes the character changes on the inside, like a growth of courage and strength as the adventure progresses, and sometimes its when their life is forcibly ripped away in a tragic death.

This writing prompt, I want you to take one of your characters and look at how they grew and changed through your current story.  Now start a new story, beginning with a major transformation to their status quo. Something big. It doesn’t have to be anything as drastic as turning them into a giant cockroach, but if you think that would be a cool idea, go for it.

On second thought, the cockroach thing has been done, so maybe pick a different creature.

Oswald Kafka
I turned into a rabbit.

Till next time,

DC

Writing Prompt Wednesday – What’s in the box?

From now on, Writing Prompt posts will be on Wednesdays. Mainly so I have a bit more structure to stick to. Plus, Writing Prompt Wednesdays just rolls off the tongue, don’t you think?

Other posts about life, news, writing, and the like will pop up from time to time when I need to get something out of my brain, lest I  have some sort of Scanners type incident.

So, Writing Prompt Wednesday is officially a go.

There is the trope of the mystery box, one that has been around since the times of ancient Greece, with Pandora and her little gift. Your character or characters find themselves in a similar predicament, with an item of mysterious contents somehow coming into their possession. Do they open it? Do they not? What is inside? Who is affected if the box remains closed or if it is opened?  What chain of events does said box unleash upon the world?

With this prompt, let’s see how much creativity you can get out of this old trope. What can you do to turn it on its ear and make this idea fresh again?

I know it stirred a fun little idea inside me. So much short story potential.

Till next time,

DC

Writing Prompt – Character Study

For me, the best thing about writing is creating new and exciting characters.  Because of this, I tend to let them drive the story forward, and sometimes they really surprise me and take me down divergent paths I hadn’t expected.  These are some of the best and most fluid times to be writing, in my opinion.   

I also believe every character has their own unique and interesting story, even if that story isn’t in the pages of your current book.  

So the writing prompt for today, is to take one of your side characters and write their story.  It could be a member of your supporting cast or someone that had only one bit of dialogue and then was gone from the book forever.  Their story can be a simple quick flash fiction or a novel.  It might start as one and end up as the other, who knows? 

Make it interesting, make it fun, make it scary.  Whatever you want it to be it is up to you… just make it. 

-DC

Wanna be a writer? You should probably read these books.

Far be it from me to give advice on how to write. That isn’t really my forte, nor do I feel it is my place as I have yet to build an impressive set of writing credentials. Sure, I’ll throw out a fun writing prompt from time to time, but that is as much for my benefit as it is for anyone who reads/uses it.

Still, if you want to write fiction well, increase your skill, and just give yourself a greater knowledge on how to go about the craft of writing, you could do worse than reading the following books. Each of them has been a fantastic help to me both creatively and structurally.

OSC BookHow To Write Science Fiction & Fantasy
By Orson Scott Card.

If you have any inkling about writing speculative fiction, you should read this book. Even if you disagree with the author’s political views, you should read this book. This book is a fantastic resource with a ton of general knowledge on actual factual science, brilliant ideas on fantasy concepts like mythical creatures and magic, and basic sci-fi and fantasy story structure for both short stories and full length novels. This book also stands as the only instructional book that has inspired me to write a new novel from something factual I learned reading it.

book-cover-on-writingOn Writing
By Stephen King

For my money, this is hands down the best book on how to write. Period. Half an autobiography of the author, the other half an inspiring instruction on craft that will make you feel empowered to write more and write often. While reading it you will learn important “rules” on how you should be writing that you most likely hadn’t even thought of before, and after reading this you will feel like you can succeed at being a writer. If I need a little push of motivation, sometimes I will break out this book and read one of the middle chapters at random. After that, it’s butt in chair, fingers on keyboard, and away we go.

birdbybird
Bird By Bird
By Anne Lamott

If there is a better book on overcoming obstacles, coping with writer’s block and pushing through it, and increasing your flow as a writer, I haven’t found it.  Not only that, it is a very entertaining read with a healthy dose of instruction on everything from plot to character and more. Also, a great book for people who have thought about getting into writing but were intimidated by the thought and scope of it.  Give it a shot.

There are a ton of other excellent books and resources I’m leaving off, but these are the three that have inspired me most over the years. If you have not read them, and you are a struggling with your craft, you should head to your local library, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon and pick up a copy (or three). They will help, I promise.

Till next time,

DC

Writing Prompt – The Museum 

Your character decides to go to the art museum on a whim.  While inside, they see one exhibit that fascinates them.  On a closer look, this particular item seems very different than the others around it, maybe familiar, maybe out of place.  The museum curator sees them taking such a keen interest and…

What happens?  

Hope this stimulates some ideas.  I know it did for me.

– DC

What’s in a name?

Recently, I’ve been having an internal debate with myself on a very particular question.  One that is somewhat important when it comes to my writing, and with that my public/social network persona.  It has to be a question many writers ask themselves at some point when preparing for their career.

Should I write under a pseudonym?

It’s a valid question, and deciding whether or not to use a nom de plume is not as easy a decision as you might think.  You have to take a lot of factors into account.  First off is, how much do you like your real name?  Is it easy to pronounce and/or spell?  Does your name fit the genre you write?  Do you share a name with someone who is already published? Do you want your real name bouncing around out there in the social cyberspace?

These are just a few of the things I’ve thought about in the time before the book is picked up by a publisher. There are a slew of other questions to take into account when you finally do reach the stage of being published.  Where will your book be shelved at the local bookstore?  Toward the top shelf?  At the bottom shelf?  What other authors will be surrounding your book?  Do you plan on writing in multiple genres?

Personally, I’ve never much cared for my last name. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to be part of the family I’m in, and I am proud of my heritage.  But after going through years of butchering mispronunciations from nearly everyone I meet (Cam-pez… Cam-pasi… Cam-pies…etc.) it becomes a little grating.

So would I be better suited using a name that rolls off the tongue easily?  Maybe one that is more memorable?  Or shorter?

No decisions yet, but something to think about.

– DC

Writing Prompt – The Cancer Man 

Let me paint a picture for you.

Around the corner from your home, there is a man who sits in a lawn chair next to the side of the road, tanning himself.  He’s a large man with skin the color of a charred orange peel, and curly white hair that covers every inch of his body but the top of his head.  A pair of expensive sunglasses shade his eyes, and the sparse amount of clothing he wears covers little else. In one hand he holds a lit cigarette, and in the other a comically large cigar.  He takes intermittent puffs of each as he leans back and lets the sun continue to fry his skin into the equivalent of a pork rind. You can only guess what type of music is playing through the ear buds crammed into his sweaty ears.

You see him relaxing there in the hot sun for about an hour every day.  He’s been maliciously dubbed The Cancer Man by your best friend in some bizarre nod to The X-files character.  However, the man seems friendly enough whenever you walk by, giving a cordial smile of stained teeth and a raspy “Good afternoon.”

Your writing prompt, should you choose to accept it, is to tell a story about this man and why he does this daily ritual.

I look forward to seeing any ideas or stories below.

– DC