Whether I’ve blown it at work or reacted poorly at home (hypothetically of course), I often need a fresh start. Why? Because I’m human and I have a tendency to get in a rut. Sometimes my ruts are grounded in bad habits or faulty beliefs.
It’s not great for me as a human being, but it’s terrific for fiction. The first step to making a fresh start for me or my characters? Figuring out our default settings.
I often hear practicing writers ask, “What if I can’t think of anything to write about?” Sometimes they even have notebooks full of observations, but they feel like none of them are good enough for a story.
I’ve felt the same way, but there are more opportunities or seeds for ideas in our notebooks than we think. It might be an image, a snippet of a conversation we overheard at lunch, or a social issue that grates against us. Once we have the seeds, how do we take those seeds and develop them into stories?
If you’ve ever had the middle of a manuscript sag and feel flabby, congrats. You’re a writer! One of the questions I ask when get stuck in the middle of a manuscript is this: “How can I make this worse for this character?” One of the key elements you might use is the very thing we try so hard to avoid on a daily basis: abrasive people.
How can an abrasive character push your character’s arc, keep the plot moving, and deepen the theme? Read on to find out.
Can you steal ideas from other stories? What if someone steals your ideas? In fact, are your ideas even good enough at all? If you’ve ever asked questions like these, I have good news for you.
The first time I wrote a novel, I didn’t think about genre until the first draft was done, and I began trying to untangle my mess in revision. After two painful years (mostly comprised of avoidance, procrastination, and general despair), I hired a developmental editor who began our first phone call by asking, “What kind of book is this?” and “Who is your ideal reader?”
“It’s for everyone,” I said. I could hear the rise and fall of my breathing in the silence.
“No, it isn’t,” she said in a kind, but firm voice. Within minutes, I realized I had skipped a clarifying question that would guide every step of the book process from the plot and characters to cover design and marketing.