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Monday, June 19, 2017

Coming up with a Plot (from scratch)


Anonymous said: I often have ideas for a scene or a character but there is no plot. How can I expand these ideas into stories? I just don't know what to do with my ideas to get a story out of them. Most plotting tips require that I know at least the beginning and the end of my story. But I don't even have that.




Hi Anonymous,

I've heard of other writers having this same problem, so you are not alone! Here are some ideas that come to mind when I think about this.

First off, you have ideas for characters or scenes, and that's a starting point, and you probably (I'm assuming, because it wasn't that long ago) saw my post What to Outline When Starting a Story, which can give some guidance on what to consider. However, if you have no idea where to even come up with a concept for your plot that post can only be so much help.

Monday, June 12, 2017

How Many of These Writing Books Have You Read?




As I've talked about on my blog several times, an important part of growing as a writer is learning about writing. For years I've wanted to compile a list of writing books I've read, liked, and recommend. Today I'm happy to say I now have that list to add to my blog (perfect timing for anyone who likes summer reading). I'm sure over time, this list will be added to.

Many writers I've talked to have read quite a few of these books. How many have you read? And is there one I need to look into? (You can comment at the bottom).

If you haven't read any of them, cool. Now you have a list to chose from should you ever want to.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Writing Villains Who are Slightly Insane

luna-barry said: I love all of your super helpful and informative writing advice, and I was wondering if you have any tips on something I've been stuck on for a while now? I'm trying to write a villain who is insane, but not over-the-top (like the Joker, or Jim Moriarty etc.) Someone who feels more like they should be on medication, then a completely hopeless nut-Job. Any tips?



So I’ve been trying to think of how to answer this. To be honest, it might be a bit beyond me, as I don’t have much experience working with this specifically, also, I don’t struggle with insanity or other forms of mental illness.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Are Your Conflicts Significant?



Every once in a while, I hear writers talk about the importance of writing about significant conflicts. And they're right. Stories need to have significant conflicts to be interesting. Often the promise of significant conflicts is where tension comes from. Significant conflicts are particularly important in the opening page or pages of your story.

Significant conflict does not necessarily mean an extreme conflict, and this is where I see people get confused. We are often told that something extreme needs to happen in the opening to get the reader's attention, like a bomb going off. While stories can open this way, they don't have too. While those conflicts are significant, they aren't the only kinds of significant conflicts.

I have seen plenty of story openings with insignificant conflicts. This might be something like the protagonist being out of toothpaste or a cat being bored. Sure, there is a conflict of some sort, but it's insignificant. Who really wants to read ongoing paragraphs about a character being out of toothpaste and how inconvenient that is? It's little better than having no conflict.

Monday, May 22, 2017

How to Outline When Starting a Story




Last week I started talking about outlining, specifically focusing on story structure and what to outline. You can visit that post here.

Usually when people talk about outlining, they are either referring to what to outline or how to outline. So today, I'll be talking about different ideas on how to outline.

One thing that I probably should have mentioned last time that I'll mention today is that much of outlining stems from brainstorming, so if you are having a difficult time writing down an outline, it may be because you haven't brainstormed enough. Some writers brainstorm and do an outline simultaneously. So if you are having trouble, ask yourself if you have brainstormed enough.