Michaeline: Let’s Have Fun With Writer’s Block! Strategy #2

Give your characters a new dimension through home puppet theater! (Photo: Michaeline Duskova)

Give your characters a new dimension through home puppet theater! (Photo: Michaeline Duskova)

Today’s strategy: Tunnel under writer’s block with home puppet theater!

Before I started writing for real, I made stories with my sister. During the long summer vacations in Nebraska, we’d watch soap operas in the morning, and in the afternoon we’d hang out in the cool basement with our Barbies and create new stories of betrayal and love and intrigue. We only had one Ken doll, which gave our stories a nice triangle status. After that, we were only limited by our imaginations and our crafting skills. (-: Fortunately, we had very good imaginations.

So, strategy number two for overcoming writer’s block is Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Baby it’s Cold Outside

snowOkay Mother Nature, I get it, summer is over.  You can stop trying to convince me.

The forecast for this week is rain, rain, and more rain, which is great for our drought-thirsty land, but not so good if you need to be out and about on the roads.  Looks like this weekend will be spent curled up in front of the fireplace with a good book and a warm adult beverage.  Well, since I haven’t had a functioning fireplace in years, it will be more like wrapped in a cosy quilt with a purring lap cat.  Hopefully someone will bring me a warm adult beverage.🙂

While I’m waiting for my beverage, I think a little bit of Random Word Improv will be just the thing to keep me warm.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Kay: Joss Whedon on Getting It Done

Don't let your manuscript expire in the cold of winter over this holiday season

Don’t let your manuscript expire in the cold of winter over this holiday season

Now that we’re well into December, I’ve been squaring away travel plans and thinking about Jilly’s post on not letting your WIP go stone cold dead over the holidays. I’m planning to take my laptop with me, but it’ll just be dead weight in my suitcase if I don’t open it up and turn it on. Will I have time to write between the demands of old friends and a three-year-old? Jilly said that even five minutes is enough to jot down a note or a thought that you could expand later. That’s probably true for a lot of people. It takes me a lot more than five minutes to get my brain into the book. It takes almost five minutes just to boot up my laptop.

I’ve tried various techniques in the past to boost my productivity. I envy the writers who write one, two, or even ten thousand words a day. Is a five-minute sprint worth the effort, or should I just invest in a pack of Post-Its? How can I cram some decent writing time into my holiday vacation time?

While pondering this question, I sought enlightenment from the masters and found an interview with Joss Whedon, he of Buffy, Firefly, and Avengers fame.

Continue reading

Elizabeth: Characters and Christmas

2008-xmas-dsc_0498As I mentioned in last week’s post, I spent a few days recently at the Happiest Place on Earth (Disneyland), taking a digital break and doing a little mental refresh.  The weather was good, the fireworks were spectacular, and it was great to disconnect for a little while.  Now that I’m back and the holiday decorations are up (mostly), it’s time to work on my manuscript.

Though I don’t have a daily word goal this month like I did in November, I’m trying to follow Jilly’s advice and to make sure my story doesn’t get lost in the holiday / year-end crush.

Right now I’m focusing on getting to know my characters a little better. Continue reading

Nancy: WU UnConference Lesson 2 Con’t: Backstory as the Backbone of Your Story

This scene from Moonstruck packs a punch because we know these characters' backstories.

This scene from Moonstruck packs a punch because we know these characters’ backstories.

In last week’s post, I nattered on about Lisa Cron’s message that backstory is the decoder ring for any story we write. This week, let’s take the discussion one step further. Let’s talk about putting some of that glorious backstory you’re creating into your current WIP.

Gasp! Egads! Not the Dreaded Backstory!

Before you go running for the exits, hear me (channeling Lisa) out. As the author of Wired for Story and Story Genius as well as a long-time writing coach and teacher, Lisa has researched lots of brain science to back up her theory that not only do we need to create our characters’ backstories for our own authorial edification, but also for reader enlightenment and, ultimately, bonding with our characters. Our brains use story to explore different aspects and possibilities of the wider world so we can learn lessons from those experiences without putting ourselves in harm’s way. (Lisa puts it much more elegantly in her books, and really, you should be reading her books!) And because our brains are incredibly efficient machines, they will use the same techniques to decipher fictional stories as they do real-life events.

Let’s think about that in the context of character for a minute. Think back to meeting someone important in your life, for example, your significant other or your best friend. Continue reading

Jilly: Don’t Leave Your Story in the Cold Over the Holidays

dont-leave-your-story-in-the-coldCan you believe it’s December already? How’s your month looking? Busy?

May I add something to your schedule? Earmark a few minutes each day – five, ten, fifteen, whatever you can shoehorn in – to make sure your story doesn’t get lost in the seasonal brouhaha.

Even for a holiday humbug like me, December is a time sink. It was worse when I had a day job – closing the payroll ten days early with the extra headache of bonuses to calculate and pay; a year end to prepare for; and in the middle of the financial scramble, parties to organize and/or attend for staff, clients and suppliers.

I’m glad I don’t have to do that any more. My life is also relatively quiet on the family front, but my calendar is still filling up. Multiple catch-ups with friends and ex-colleagues who are home for the holidays. A birthday trip to see the Abstract Expressionists at the Royal Academy. A night at the theatre. A few days with my mum, even though she doesn’t really know it’s Christmas anymore. Visits on mum’s behalf to her friends and ex-neighbors. A haircut. Gift and grocery shopping. A rare opportunity to see my expat brother, who’s flying home for a couple of weeks.

In the midst of all this activity, my immediate writing priority Continue reading

Michaeline: Let’s Have Fun With Writer’s Block! Strategy #1

A beautiful mermaid surrounded by adoring fish

A lady with quite a few fish to fry in this story. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

December is here, and whether you are at the beginning of winter or the beginning of summer, moping over writer’s block is just a burden we could do without. The season is too busy, and too full of potential fun. So, I’m going to set aside goals for this month, and just have fun with my characters in my brain. If some progress happens, great. If it doesn’t, then at least I wasn’t moping the whole damn day.

This week’s technique is Continue reading