Posted in writing

The Writing Diaries, pt. 4: Flopsy, Mopsy, and the Runaway Bunnies

“Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were– Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter. They lived with their Mother in a sand-bank, underneath the root of a very big fir-tree.

‘Now my dears,’ said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, ‘you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don’t go into Mr. McGregor’s garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor. Now run along, and don’t get into mischief. I am going out.’

Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail, who were good little bunnies, went down the lane to gather blackberries: But Peter who was very naughty, ran straight away to Mr. McGregor’s garden, and squeezed under the gate!”

Bunnies are cute, I think most people can agree. But if you’re a writer, the word might trigger something a little different in your brain. Plot bunnies are story ideas that appear from out of nowhere, and refuse to go away until they are written. I’m sure all writers have dozens of stories and ideas swirling around in their heads, which is that magical brain fodder used to craft new and exciting stories. But what if you’re knee deep in a project, with a couple of K’s written down and all of a sudden…out pops a cute little plot bunny—bright eyed and bushy tailed? You’re then caught between two differing ideas, each demanding your attention.

I don’t know how other writers deal with the notorious plot bunny, but that saying about rabbits multiplying has never been more true. I’ve reached a bit of a rough spot in my current project, and I’ve been feeling stuck. But since I’ve run into a wall with one project, ideas for new stories seem to be cropping up everywhere. A few weeks ago, I was flipping through an old notebook, and stumbled across a story idea I’d completely forgotten. After I read the short scene, whoosh, my imagination started running on double time. I had to wrangle in my impulses, not to dive blindly into a new story so spur of the moment. Especially since I’ve already committed to another.

My question is this—how do you manage those shiny new ideas when you’re already working on a big project? As of now, I don’t feel equipped enough to juggle two stories at one time, so I’m trying to keep my focus on my main project. But that doesn’t change the fact these new ideas are growing, and evolving each day. I can try to ignore the characters inside my head all day long, meanwhile I’ll still hear them bickering amongst each other.

Right now, I think I’m suffering from a bit of the, grass is always greener on the other side syndrome; I’m struggling with one story, yet these new ideas sound so much better, and more intriguing. While working on my last novel, I experienced the same thing, during one of my many rounds of edits. I’d grown tired of that story, so I started plotting for my next project. I remember thinking that my next novel was going to be amazing. The ideas were flowing so easily, I couldn’t wait to begin writing. Now that I’m actually writing that novel, the rose-colored skies have begun to gray a little. I’m not going to give up though, or cave into the new ideas—especially since I’ve already written 40k words. I think it’s just a matter of forging ahead and pushing through the tough times.

My current project has so much yet to develop, and I’m actually I’m looking forward to it. But I need to find a way to match the excitement I feel for these new ideas, with the project I’m already working on. I’m going to have to dig deep, and rediscover those little nuggets of inspiration that encouraged me to first begin this novel. When I have a moment or two to spare, I’ll be jotting down those new little treasures that pop up (when I’m least expecting them). So if you’re looking for me, I’ll be out in the garden setting traps for some very naughty bunnies. But don’t worry, I shan’t be making any pies…at least not yet.

~

What do you do when you’re feeling bored with your story? How do you manage when a brand new story comes knocking on your door and says, “hello, may I come in?”.

Leave a comment to share your thoughts with me!

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in writing

Tick-Tock This is a Clock

I have a question for you.

What is Time? 20200802_061137

Everyone talks about this elusive creature called Time, but has anyone ever found it? What does it even look like? Is it some sort of genie, that grants all of your wishes? Or is it a nasty troll, that steals moments away from you before you can get to them? Joking aside, my question today is, how do you find time to write?

As writers it can be difficult to find the best writing time. A time when your brain is fully functioning, and ready to be let loose onto the paper, or when the hundred-and-one other things you do are taken care of (for now). I usually tell myself that after I finish this thing, or before I do that thing, I can write. But before I know it, the end of the day is looming and I realize it’s too late for writing. The whole day has gotten away, because I was too busy waiting for the right time.20200730_195516

But what is the right time? So many authors have tried to tackle this issue with their own tips, suggestions, and schedules, but none of those things have stuck with me. And lately I’ve been struggling with fitting writing into my day. Even though I don’t have a full-time job, the day easily gets filled up with so many other tasks, chores, and projects.

But here’s the thing; there’s always going to be dishes that need washing, or laundry waiting to dry, or a million other things on your to-do list. It’s a never ending cycle. So I’ve learned that the perfect time to write is now. In between all of those endless tasks, you might have ten, twenty, or even thirty minutes to spare that can be used to make progress on your writing. You don’t need to set aside a whole afternoon to write, you can write now.20200801_184617

I know there are some days that writing is just not going to happen, and that’s fine. It’s important to allow yourself space to breathe. But there are other times when you want to write. You wake up and tell yourself that today is the day! You’re going to sit down, and work on that exciting scene… But first you just have to do this little task, or that little chore, and then the day will be yours. The hours will tick by, the sun will go down, and then it’s time to head to bed. You’ll sit there baffled, wondering what happened, because you were supposed to write today.

When you rewind all the moments of your day, you’ll see the moment when you finally sat down at your desk, with a few minutes to yourself. And what did you do with those minutes? I haven’t checked Instagram for a while. Oh! A new video was uploaded, I should watch it. And so on, and so forth, until the window closes, and it’s now time for you to make dinner. This kind of thing happens to me a lot, and it’s something I’m trying to work on. Maybe you feel this way too, or maybe you have much better time-management skills than I, but I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one.

A daily reminder I tell myself, is that life doesn’t follow a pattern. Some days are busy, some days are slow, but through all of it, there’s always a few minutes free to be used at your will. And if writing matters to you, you can use those minutes for all they’re worth. I’m learning that to be a writer, you don’t get to spend endless hours building up your word-count; you might only get a quarter of that. Every day is new, and different, and should be treated as such. And chances are, even on the busiest of days there will come a moment when the opportunity arises to write. So seize that moment, before it’s too late.20200724_153058

I hope this post inspired you to keep going, even when things are rough, and it feels like writing is getting further away from you. Take heart friends. Keep calm and write on.

 

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in WORDS, writing

The Writing Diaries pt. 3: Potato-Potahto-Tomato-Tomahto

Hello!

Welcome to part three of the Writing Diaries. (If you missed the first/second post, you can start here.) Today, we’re going to discuss how you tell your story.

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When you think of your favorite story, what comes to mind?

Often, when I think back on stories, whether it be in the form of a book, a TV show, or a movie, the first thing that comes to my mind isn’t necessarily the plot – it’s usually everything else. Essentially, story and plot are one in the same, but I consider plot to be the black and white road map, whereas, story is the rainbow of color that makes it unique.

Say you’re planning a road trip – your plot is the destination, and your story is the route in which you take to get there. You might take the scenic route, or you might take the highway. Either way, the path you choose is up to you. While the plot is still the ultimate destination, how you get there is what really matters. You have the freedom to expand, and explore across a vast variety of landscapes. And if you happen to stray too far from the path, you always have your road map to get you back on track.

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Here’s an example of plot vs. story – if someone asked you to describe the plot of a particular book, or movie, you could probably do so in just a couple of words, and it wouldn’t sound very exciting.

Someone: “Hey what did you think of the plot for The Lord of The Rings?”

Me: “The usual, hero must destroy the evil thing to save the world.”

Not all that gripping.

But if you’re asked to describe what the story is like, the imagery, and nuances require a bit more detail.

Someone: “Hey what did you think of The Lord of The Rings?”

Me: “It was awesome. The hobbit, Frodo, and his friends, had to battle evil forces, on their journey to Mordor, in order to destroy the One Ring, that held great powers, in the fires of Mount Doom. They had to go through the terrifying, Mines of Moria, and I’ll never forget how real the dank cold, and darkness felt. Oh, and I loved it when they visited the elves in LothlΓ³rien. I wish I could live in a tree house like they do.”

That statement still describes the plot, but it also shows a glimpse of the route, that brought the characters to their destination.

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To bring this back into context, my novel right now, could similarly be condensed into a short statement; hero must stop bad guy from doing bad thing. Sounds pretty generic, right? A dozen stories with the same problem probably popped into your mind when you read that. But if so many stories fit that idea, what sets them apart? How you choose to tell your story, a.k.a., the path you take, is what truly matters. The places, the faces, and everything in between are what makes each story unique, and memorable.

While the ultimate goal in many novels is to defeat evil, we don’t necessarily read stories just to find out if good will triumph over evil. We read stories to experience new worlds, and see life through the eyes of the characters who live there. Through books, we are able to see things we may have never imagined, and feel things we never knew we could feel.

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It’s our job as writer’s, to bring our characters to life, and open the door to their world, to create lasting images, feelings, perceptions, and experiences that readers will remember for some time. As a writer, I’m still learning, and like anything else, storytelling takes practice to fine tune your skills and expose your flaws, along with determination and a certain amount of vulnerability, to do better on the next round.

By taking time to develop and explore your story world, you might find that it opens your mind up to new possibilities that may have gone unnoticed, if you’d only taken the highway. And if you’re like me, and lean more towards the pantser side of the street, you may find this idea of exploring your world to be an unlikely key to fleshing out your plot as well. At one point, I was struggling with how to move my plot forward, but I was able to find the answer I needed hidden in one of the physical features of my world. (The answer to my struggle, came from within the story itself!)

Remember, a story is more than the plot. It’s the people you get to know, the places you get to see, the life you get to experience – all through words on a page. Don’t be afraid to explore new avenues and leave no stone un-turned. If you want your story to affect readers, you’ll have to give them something to remember. So be sure to infuse your story with as much richness of life, and character as possible.

“Hey Siri, let’s take the scenic route.”

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This little series is dedicated to exploring, and documenting the different threads and shreds it takes to write a story worth reading. So thanks for reading, and I’ll catch you next time.

Lady S

 

Posted in WORDS, writing

The Writing Diaries pt 2: In The Beginning

Hello friends, how are you doing? I hope this post finds you well.

I’d said that I would be posting each month, but with all that is going on these days, my blog has slid down the list of my priorities. But after much thought and consideration, I see that was a mistake. Sitting at my desk, chin in hand, staring out at the blue sky and bemoaning my existence – I realized something that had been staring me right in the face. I saw plainly that life is not on hold, contrary to what we’ve been told. The sun is still shining, birds are still singing, and life is brimming just beyond the front door. With that in mind, I built up the courage to finish up the draft that had been sitting untouched for over a month.20200315_191259

I bring you – The Writing Diaries: In The Beginning.

In this second installment, I’m going to cover exactly how I began my outlining process for my new novel, and what worked for me. As the title states, I’m taking you back to the very beginning…

In late 2018, as I was finishing up my [then] current novel, I felt that it was time to prepare for the next one. One day, I was wandering among the many notebooks at Michael’s craft store, and I figured it was the perfect opportunity to buy myself a shiny new notebook for my new outline. I love writing on smooth paper, so I chose a Rhodia dot pad. (My favorite, by the way.)

I took my treasure home and opened it up to the first page, ready for the story that had been building inside of me for years, to unfold across the silky pages. But with my pen poised above the paper, no words came. I had decided that it was time to officially begin, but I didn’t know where, or even how to start. Should I begin with chapter 1? The first plot point? The ending? Since it was only my second novel, I didn’t have a proven method for getting my brain into gear. (And I still don’t.) I knew that many authors like to list numerous possibilities, all with a what if attached to them. So I gave it a shot, but it wasn’t giving me the answers I needed.20200411_155059

I knew the general direction of the story, but I was having trouble conveying that idea on paper. So I wrote a short opening scene. It wasn’t much, but it was the first real glimpse I got of my novel’s world. For the very first time, sights and smells were described through the senses of my main character. Colors and feelings came to life in just a few sentences. Somehow, that small scene provided me with enough inspiration to get my creative juices pumping. Though it was more like a vitamin shot, which gave me a little boost, yet left me hesitant to start on the actual outline. I got a look at the surface skin of my story, but I needed to go deeper and work on the skeletal structure.

I drew a little map of what my world looked like, physically. Next, I wrote down some bits of information about the technology used there, the way people lived, and how the social structure was aligned. Then it was time to get to the actual story, but I still couldn’t find the traction to prompt my characters into action. It was then that I realized I needed to go back – years – and even centuries before my novel takes place. You may think it’s unnecessary to go so far back in time, when your characters weren’t born or even thought of yet, but that was exactly what I needed.20200411_155238

I knew that backstory was important, but I didn’t realize how necessary it was for getting my own brain into motion for developing the future of my story. Taking a moment to go down history lane, tracing all the way back to the exact domino that will effect the course of events for years to come, is vital for building a firm foundation under your story. And most surprisingly, the words did come – flowing easily from my pen.

As I traversed the past, I was amazed at how much information I gathered. I found answers and explanations I would need later on, that I may not have known about if I hadn’t gone back in time. If you’ve hit a road block, and you’re having trouble moving your story forward – why not go back? Even if only a fraction of that backstory makes it into your novel, that knowledge will keep your feet grounded as you wade through a sea of new ideas, and concepts.

What about you? What is one thing that helped get your story off the ground? Leave a comment down below, I’d love to hear from you!

 

Thank you so much for reading,

Lady S