Monday, September 26, 2011

Plot Development

        The question I am asked most frequently is: Where do you get your ideas for stories? This question is not easy to answer because there is no one answer.

        My ideas come from everywhere. From reading the newspaper, to observing what's going on around me, to my imagination, to dreams, to conversations, to movies, to...well, you name it. Once I get an idea, I write it down before I forget. 

        But an idea for a story is not a story; it is the seed from which a story might grow. 
How does one go about developing an idea into a story? Again, there is no one way to do this and everyone has a different technique that works best for them.

        Following are some ideas you might want to try:

Work Backwards--If you know how you want the story to end, try working backwords, developing the events that would lead up to the ending. 

Conflict--For a story to be interesting, the main character must have some conflict or trouble to resolve. His/her problem could be internal like shyness, or external, like getting lost in a scary forest.What problems can you create for your characters?

Link the Events--The events and characters you write about must be linked in some way. In other words, everything in the story must have a reason for being there that ties it to the story.

Suspense--Your writing should suspenseful, making the reader want to know what is going to happen next.

Make a List--Another way to come up with a story is to make a list of five events and/or people that are not connected. Now think of interesting ways to connect these events and people. 



        Suppose you list an old woman selling vegetables by the side of the road, a beautiful mansion with a gate around it, a fancy red sports car, a rich young girl, and a squirrel. 
   How can you combine these five things and people to make a story?

        Suppose the young girl is riding her bike when a fast moving red sports car swerves to miss a squirrel in the road, knocking the girl off her bike. The car doesn't stop, but the old woman comes to her aid. 

        The old woman manages to get her to the front door of the mansion. The door opens mysteriously and once they enter, strange things begin to happen. Or, perhaps, the driver of the car lives in the mansion. 

        You can take this anywhere you want--it's your story. 

        I hope this has been helpful. Have fun and write often.    

        What ideas do you have for developing stories?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Putting Emotion in Your Writing

         We want our readers to relate to the characters in the stories we write. One way they do this is by feeling the same emotions as the characters in your story. 

        To help your reader feel that emotion, try this: the next time you read a passage that evokes an emotion within you, study that passage.
  • What words did the author use?
  • What sentence structure?
  • What kind of detail was included?
  • How was body language described?
Then try to write a passage of your own to evoke that same emotion.

        Also, you can learn by observing others around you. The next time you see someone become emotional, study the body language of that person and others around her.

         How would you write about that incident so that the emotion was conveyed to your readers?

        Remember--the more you write and the more you re-write (edit), the better writer you will become.

        Have you written a paragraph that contained emotion? Send it to me--I would love to read it.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Becoming a Writer


Do you think you would like to write well enough to have your writing published? If so, here are a few tips to get you started:
  • Write some every day. Like anything else, it takes practice to do something well. But writing by itself isn't enough. You have to learn to write well.
  • Have someone, preferably someone who writes better than you-a parent or teacher for example-critique your work
  • Don't take their critique personally, learn from it.
      Read books that have won awards and magazines that interest you. Notice how the author expresses action, dialogue, develops characters, begins the first page, and develops the story.

  • Observe. Observe. Observe. Observe life all around you, the colors, sounds, smells, how people interact, how we talk, how animals behave. Apply what you observe to your writing.

  • Keep a journal to record your observations and ideas. Keep your journal with you at all times so if a story idea comes to you, you can write it down. I write down all my ideas, interesting names, and anything that I might use in a story.  

  • Again, write every day, even if you don't feel like it. You never know when an inspiration might creep into your mind.

  • When you read something that causes you to feel some emotion, whether it be sadness, anger, or laughter, study the author's writing to learn how he made you feel that emotion. What words did he use? How were the sentences formed? Look at the details. Then, try to write something of your own that will bring that same emotion to your readers.
        What suggestions do you have for developing your writing skills? 

(Check back later, I'll be adding more suggestions on Becoming a Writer)