Tuesday, October 15, 2013

There Are Times We Can't Write

Sometimes life sits on our bellies very hard. So much so that we can barely breathe much less write.

The prompts and prompters – including myself – tell us we must Do It Anyway. But let’s face it. Sometimes we can’t.

Crises and catastrophes. Tight spots and tense periods. They come to all of us. Life moments and episodes and sometimes longer periods that overwhelm us.

The priority here is to get through it one step at a time. Or if you can’t move yet – just hang on. That’s the true Do It Anyway in such times. Get Through & Hang On.

So what about the work? What about the writing that restores your soul?

There is the rub actually. If you could do the writing it would restore your soul. But sometimes you simply cannot write.

BUT – you can collect material.

In our writing no matter what the genre may be we seek to create intensity and drama and power. These gut-wrenching soul-crunching experiences are exactly that. Intense – Dramatic – Powerful.

So take notes.

Maybe you’re not up to transcribing full scenes but you can still grab the best goodies from your bad situation. Snatches of dialog. Flashes of description. And most of all the feelings. All captured on a page for future use.

This is a scavenging operation and a salvage project. This is making lemonade from lemons – though maybe not particularly sweet lemonade. This is also an antidote because the writing down can often be an airing out as well.

Life in its perverse generosity offers each of us many such intensity opportunities. Here’s what a writer can do about that. Get through. Hang on. Write it down.

When you finally drag your battered self back to your feet again there it will be. A heartload of paydirt material. Waiting for your creative touch to re-purpose it into what just might be some of the best work you’ve ever done.

Friday, October 4, 2013

How About Building a Series

Readers love novels written in a series. They offer an adventure through a world that you create as the author. You build that world detail by detail and record those details in your Series Bible.

I love series myself. I love to read them and I love to write them. In fact I’m writing one now. I’m creating my Series Bible the old fashioned way – handwritten in a black and white marbled notebook with pale blue lines in teeny tiny quad-ruled squares.

I do love notebooks. I know that at least some of you share this addiction to the feel of paper and the turn of pages and the world of ideas you record on those pages. This is what I call a positive addiction and it can work really well to make your series grow a life for you.

Okay – go ahead and do the same thing in a computer file if you prefer. But you’ll have to allow me and my Luddite companions to wallow in the wonder and romance of turning pages between notebook covers if that’s what we prefer.

The goal of the bible and the writing that goes with it is to draw readers into our series world and make them love it there so much that they’ll keep on loving it through one book then the next and the next. To do this we must create a world that resonates with fascinating reality. We must create a place our readers will yearn to re-enter again and again.

To do that we must master and practice the art of immersion. We must immerse our readers so completely in the story worlds we create that they are eager to remain there until we release them at The End.

When we do finally release these eager readers they will miss the world we’ve made so real for them. They will feel forced out into the cold and barely able to stand the wait until they can return to that story world and the characters that live there.

When this magic happens in your story world the narrative hook has been set. And it is a magical process indeed – storytelling magic with you as the magician. You set that story hook in your reader’s heart with the first foray into your story world in your first book. You set the hook even deeper with each series story that follows.

The key to immersing your reader in your story world is to immerse yourself there first. Begin by establishing the Rules of the world you are creating – the details that make this world come alive. It’s okay that you don’t know everything about this world just yet. You’ll learn more and the world of your series will become clearer as your story reveals itself to you.

This process of gradual revelation grows and deepens until you’re immersed in your story world – invaded by it – taken over by it – possessed by it. Until this world becomes as tangible and deeply experienced as the day-to-day world of what we call real life. When you write from this deep place your reader can’t help but go there with you. And what an adventure it is!

So how about building a series? What do you think about that possibility?