The Writer’s Memoirs 4-18-2012

For the past week, I’m ashamed to say that I’ve been avoiding writing like the plague. It seems to me that during the week, school and the whole “learning” thing completely zap my brain of any creative energy, and by the time I get to the weekend, I’m so completely drained that all I want to do is collapse on my sofa and sleep until Monday. Unfortunately, that’s not very productive.

So I’m trying to figure out a system that utilizes my time and gives my muse something to work with, but so far no luck. Thankfully, however, summer is around the corner, which is when I usually get the most done, so hopefully I’ll be able (and more motivated) to write more soon.

Writing Tidbits 4-14-2012

Music and Writing

Over the years I have heard many different opinions on listening to music during writing sessions. Some say it “gets you in the mood”, while others say it is distracting and/or unhelpful. Personally, I tend to lean towards as little noise as possible. There are a few times when I listen to music, usually instrumental, but for the most part, I just make sure all the TVs are off and none of my neighbors are mowing their lawns.

I used to take a page from Stephenie Meyer’s book and create a soundtrack for my books, but I’ve fallen out of the practice, mostly because I tend to get so engrossed in picking the right songs that I forget about the actual story. I’m very easily distracted, and I find that I can’t make any stops, so to speak, on the story’s road. In order to be productive, I can’t afford to let myself be swept away by anything other than outlining or writing.

This is one of those practices that varies by author, and I’m very curious to know what other writers do. Is music a part of your writing session, or do you prefer a different environment?

The Writer’s Memoirs 4-11-2012

This post was actually supposed to have been up yesterday, but unfortunately things didn’t quite pan out as I’d hoped. Life has been rather chaotic for the past week or so. I started back at school again on Monday, which meant much less time for writing and blogging, and added to that, yesterday I had to attend a birthday party that lasted more than 3 hours.

I haven’t made a single bit of progress with Glenbrooke, but I am proud to say that I’ve gotten a good 50 pages into a very intriguing book (which I just might review next month). I’ve committed to plotting out the next 2 chapters by Sunday, so hopefully I’ll at least get that done, if not more. School just sucks away all my time, but thankfully I’ve only got another month and then (finally!) some free time, at least for a week or two.

The Writer’s Memoirs 4-6-2012

So in the past week I’ve been getting quite a bit done as far as outlining. The plot has definitely grown and filled out, and thanks to one of my new favorite techniques, the characters have come a long way as well. The technique I’m talking about is interviewing my characters.

I first found out about this technique (though really, it’s not exactly unheard of) in the book Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K. M. Weiland, which you can read more about in https://thenighttimenovelist.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/what-im-reading-4-3-2012/. I started out with the basic “What is your name?” and look what happened:

Name?

Anna. Anna Clark.

Do you like your name?

I suppose so.

What does your name mean to you?

I don’t know. My mother chose it; it was her sister’s name. She died as a young girl.

Really? How?

I’m not sure. Mum mentioned something about a disease of some kind. Cancer perhaps.

How did this affect her?

She was my mother’s only family other than her grandmother. I know from her stories that they were very close, so I imagine it was very hard for her. Whenever she talked about Anna, Mum grew very…She seemed far away, as though she were with her sister instead of me.

So when did Anna die?

Well, I know my mother was sent away to boarding school when she was thirteen, and Anna was a few years younger than her. I think Anna died while my mother was away.

That must have been very difficult for your mother to deal with.

It was, I think. She was always very protective of me, and I’ve always thought that had something to do with the guilt of being away when Anna died.

What was her relationship with her grandmother like?

Mum rarely talked about her. I don’t think they got along very well. I know her grandmother died a few years after I was born, and I’ve never seen her. I think Mum cut off contact with her after she left school.

Where did she go to school?

A Catholic school in Spain, I believe. She hated it there.

Why?

Well, she didn’t really believe in God to begin with. I wouldn’t either if I were in her place. And she sometimes spoke about the corruption of the church; the nuns and priests must not have treated her kindly.

So what happened after she left school?

She didn’t go to university. I think she started working at a bookshop in London. She stayed there for a few years and then quit to work at a flower nursery. It was always her dream to be a florist.

Originally, I’d planned out all the questions I was going to ask, but after the first three, I was too intrigued to stick to them. Anna was opening a whole new treasure chest that I never even knew existed. Her mother’s past, which I’d never really considered before, brought on a slew of explanations for why Anna is the way she is, and the impact her mother had on her.

I’m still not done interviewing Anna. Each question I ask fills in another plot hole, another blank, and I’m really loving how connected I feel to her now. I’m beginning to understand her on a far deeper level, and the effect it’s having on the story is truly amazing.

What I’m Reading 4-3-2012

With my recent dive into outlining my novel, I’ve decided to start reading some more of those how-to-write-a-novel books that might help give me some ideas. The first book on my list was Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K. M. Weiland, and I must say, it’s chockfull of great ideas. As a very lovely bonus, it also only costs $2.99 if you buy it in e-book format. The author also has a free e-book on her website about crafting characters which I’m really looking forward to reading once I’m done with this one.

K. M. Weiland has a lot of great advice tucked into this little book, and she guides you from the beginning to the end of outlining. The first chapter focuses on misconceptions about outlining, how it supposedly “limits” your creativity (which, by the way, I’ve discovered is complete nonsense), and she takes off from their, showing you how to craft a premise, character sketches, and a load of other things to help you with your outlining. What I’m really enjoying about this book is how customizable her ideas are. It’s not a rigid plan that you have to stick to every second of the way; I’m free to utilize some techniques, tweak others, and even completely forgo a few. Weiland gives you the foundation you need, but she lets you do the building on your own, which pleased me quite a lot since this means I can really make the outlining process my own while still using a lot of her (very useful) methods.

Though I finished the book a few days ago, I find myself going back and reading various sections that I’ve found especially helpful. I’ll probably be re-reading this book a lot throughout my own outlining process.

If you like, you can check this book out on Amazon.com, and while you’re at it, take a look at her website if you’re interested in that free e-book. You’re required to subscribe before downloading the book, which bugs me just a tad, but from the few pages I’ve read, it looks good, so I’ll quit muttering about it sooner or later.

As always, have a great day!