This sunny Saturday morning brings us halfway through January. How can that be? The beings that co-reside with me are doing their usual things, and I’m sitting at my kitchen table, trying to make this thing one of mine. Hubby’s playing video games, one cat is sitting in a box, another sleeping on the couch, and the third meowing at the door to go out. Note: when I say meowing, I mean yowling like he has the worst life ever, and is being tortured (I promise he’s not). I mean, I know I just said January is half over, but we’re far enough north that there’s still snow on the ground, for crying out loud. And he HATES snow.
January also bring that lovely time at work called “year end”. Oh sorry, did I say ‘lovely’? I meant dreaded. Must have been a typo. It’s definitely not a boring time in the office, that’s for sure, but it does suck up a lot of time and energy. I’m blaming that for this post being a few days late (definitely not my procrastination skills at work). Seriously though, it’s taken a toll on my creative energy, and desire to write. Rather than shirk that responsibility entirely, I’ve turned to working on the story structure, including character development, outlining, scene pacing, etc. It keeps my brain connected with my novel, and makes use of the logical side that raring full speed ahead from all the detail oriented going-ons at work.
I’ve been relying heavily on a few different resources, and have fallen in love with them. In a totally platonic way, of course. Anything else would just be creepy. I love them so much, I’m sharing them with you (one at a time, mind you. Don’t get greedy.). New Year’s resolution to lend humanity a helping hand ? Check 😉
K.M. Weiland is the author of a number of resource books, including Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. I’m in the juicy middle of Outlining Your Novel at the moment, and it’s been invaluable for getting my mind stuck out of the rut it’s been wallowing in with The Rogue Saint. It’s refreshing, as it talks about a task that authors know is essential, but approaches it with just a slightly different twist. Rather than plowing through the usual suspects of Inciting Incident, First Plot Point, Climax, and so on, it talks about asking the ‘what if’ questions, brainstorming, and general scene sketches. Don’t get me wrong; it’s almost impossible to have an outline book without discussing the aforementioned Inciting Incident, etc., however the book doesn’t make them the focal point. She discusses the advantages to writing your prep work and initial outline by hand, which I’ve found to be a super useful exercise. The main novel will still be written electronically (if you so desire), however there’s something freeing about have pages filled with your own chicken scratch. Three cheers for tangible progress! Plus then you can pick up your handwritten outline, and plunk it into a useful tool like Scrivener (note: not a sponsored post, I just freaking love the program), and not go wandering off into the electronic void with your story.
She also has an amazing resource website, http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com, which cheerfully carries along in the same vein as her books. It approaches well-known topics such as creating conflict, and where to start your story, but from a place a step, or five, to the side, discussing the topics in a new way. Her novel approach (see what I did there?) to tired material makes it fresh again, automatically stimulating all that grey matter in your brain. It’s amazing – learning about the logical pieces of a book, yet feeling a stirring in that beautiful, dark mess of your inspiration, from which your novel is given life.
Unfortunately, my giant lotto win has yet to come in, and I can’t finance a copy of her books for everyone just yet, but if you’re stuck and grinding your gears, please; do yourself a favour and check her out. This little dose of inspiration may be just what you need. You’re welcome.
“Creativity is a wild mind, and a disciplined eye.” – Dorothy Parker