Jeanne: How Much Research Is Enough?

The Screwtape LettersLast Saturday, I was hiking with a friend who was around for the full pre-publication lifespan of The Demon Always Wins. (I started working on it in May, 2012 and didn’t publish until September, 2018.)

She mentioned that she’s reading Dante’s Inferno.

In preparation for writing The Demon Always Wins, I read:

 

 

  • Dante’s Inferno
  • Milton’s Paradise Lost
  • The Book of Job (multiple times)
  • The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
  • Books about the Book of Job.
  • Critiques of The Inferno.
  • Critiques of Paradise Lost.

Continue reading

Michaeline: YouTube Boyfriend

I spend entirely too much time on the internet, but when it pays off, it pays off big. I stumbled upon a virtual boyfriend audio clip on YouTube today. (ASMR Roleplay: I’ll be your muse [Comfort for Artist’s . . . .  8:32)

It’s a ten-minute romantic interaction with a boyfriend. I find it a fascinating model, because it’s very direct and intimate with the listener (second person POV comes in handy for once, babies!), yet it’s got a distinct narrative. It’s almost like an audio book.

This particular story has some cringe in the beginning – I find the boyfriend too bossy and condescending (although, I feel some women and men might find him very caring and “doing it for my own good”). As the story goes along, though, the boyfriend is encouraging (the listener plays the part of an artist with creative blockage, and the boyfriend offers to be their muse), and there is a lovely part where he reminisces about “our” plans together.

Quite honestly, when I have writing blocks (which is ALL THE GODDAMN TIME), I would prefer NOT to be encouraged. It makes me feel guilty. However, when it’s a fantasy boy, and not a real person, it makes a lot of difference. And . . . if I wrote a story about a perfect lover who said and did all the right things, it might be quite comforting. More importantly, it could be comforting and fun for other people, as well.

I’d be very interested in hearing what you think about this format – the ten-minute short story, read aloud and then distributed through 21st century technology. Does it spark any ideas? Or would you just rather read a well-loved romance novel again for the umpteenth time?

(Nothing wrong with reading a well-loved romance novel again for the umpteenth time – I do it several times a year. It’s just that I’m so pinched for time lately that if I could find the niche “YouTube Boyfriend” that massaged all my buttons, and did it in ten minutes flat, I’d be ecstatic.)

Justine: Mood Music Playlists for Writing Sad Scenes

working to musicI know several of the Eight Ladies (myself included) have used music playlists for writing, either because it “goes” with the book they’re writing or, like with me, there’s a certain Mozart playlist that generates a Pavlovian response within me to write. When I hear the music, my inner storyteller kicks in.

This is all well and good except the music I listen to is pretty upbeat (for Mozart, anyway) and I was having a hard time getting into the right mood to write some really dark, painful, sad scenes (not my typical mojo).

So I pulled up Google and searched “saddest classical music” and the first hit that came up was Continue reading

Jilly: Did You Watch the Royal Wedding? Why?

I’m writing this post on Saturday morning. I plan to be finished around 11.30am UK time. Then I’ll grab a cup of coffee, fire up the BBC’s live streaming and watch Meghan Markle marry Prince Harry and become Duchess of Sussex.

According to the BBC television commentators, the global audience for Harry and Meghan’s happy day may be more than a billion people.

A billion? Why? Continue reading

Jilly: Which Story Would You Tell?

“Where do you get your ideas?” is supposedly the question most asked of successful authors.

I collect and hoard story starters from here, there and everywhere (Alexis grew from the juxtaposition of two fascinating anecdotes shared by my hairdresser), but my all-time favorite source is the BBC website.

Most weeks I stumble across something weird or wonderful that makes my brain fizz. I bookmark them in a folder called ‘story stuff’ and forget about them until I’m looking for ideas or inspiration or just something a little different to get the wheels turning.

I had one of those days today, so I took a stroll through my story stuff file. There are more than a hundred nuggets in there, but here are a trio of good ones.

A sci-fi classic: Continue reading

Jilly: Time Out

Time OutDo you ever allow yourself the luxury of an unscheduled time out? I don’t do it very often, but I’m declaring one today.

I’m really happy with the way my WIP is shaping up. I wish it would come together faster, and I have lots of discovery work still ahead of me, but I like what I have so far, and I have a clear idea of the remaining scenes that will get me to the end of the first act. I think it will take me about two weeks to get there, and I’m really excited to write it.

I expected to wake up this morning refreshed and raring to begin, but out of nowhere I feel drained and mentally lacklustre. That’s not a feeling I want to infuse my story, and once I get started, I want to write through to the major turning point without losing momentum, so I decided to award myself a day to recharge.

I might think about my story – I almost certainly will – but I won’t set myself any specific tasks. No word-count goals, no problems to solve.

My plan for the day Continue reading

Nancy: Borrowing From the Masters

In this terracotta relief circa 450 BC, Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, tries to make Penelope recognize him.

In this terracotta relief circa 450 BC, Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, tries to make Penelope recognize him.

There’s nothing new under the sun, or so say Ecclesiastes, Shakespeare, and conventional wisdom. When it comes to writing, there’s truth in that. You’re not going to be the first to write a love story, a murder mystery, or a journey into the depths of misery of the human soul. But, so continues the thought, that’s okay because you’ll bring something else to your story that no one else can – you.

Sometimes writers go even further and base a story on the structure and meaning of an existing work. In fact, they do it all the time, sometimes quite successfully (West Side Story, anyone?). Borrowing from existing works such as mythology, fairy tales, and Shakespeare allows us to learn from the masters as we write, and can give us guideposts for our own writing. And it’s not all bad for readers, either, as readers’ minds to attach to the familiar, even when it’s barely recognizable, and hopefully a story will bring enough new twists to surprise and reward along the way. Continue reading