Elizabeth: Cold Starts and Fresh Starts

Stories waiting to be told

Sometimes the hardest part of writing is getting that first sentence on the page.  There is nothing quite as demoralizing as staring at a blank screen, fingers poised over the keys, with a mind completely devoid of any creative thought.  Diana Gabaldon refers to her approach to combating this common writing problem as her cold start process, which she discusses here.

This week on the blog we’ve been discussing our own cold start processes.  In their own posts Justine, Nancy, and Jeanne each focused on their cold start processes for existing stories.  Many of their steps, like re-reading what was previously written, making sure to have a story-plan in place before even starting to write (spreadsheets and planers and outlines, oh my!), and working up a scene skeleton (with characters, beats, goals, etc.) echo some of methods I’ve used in the past, with varying degrees of success, depending upon the story in question and the amount of effort I’ve been willing to expend (day jobs can put a real crimp in one’s creative inclinations).

There are, however, two things I’ve consistently found helpful when I’m really focusing on writing. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Back to Basics – A New Story

Stories Yet To Be WrittenOkay, I’ll admit it. I’ve been hanging out with new stories.

I know what you’re thinking: “The Traitor is not finished. You’re supposed to be working on the revisions so you can send it out into the world. There are agents waiting!”

You’re right. You’re right. But there are other, new, enticing stories just clamoring for my attention. When I’m in the shower, while I’m driving to work, as I’m cleaning up dead ants – there they are. When I’m in bed, attempting to get to sleep, my brain says “Hey, watch this scene for story xxx. Isn’t it great?” or “Hey, what do you think of this fun bit of dialog?”  Story ideas I had years ago are randomly popping up in Technicolor with surround sound. A little disconcerting, but I’m not complaining.

Working on The Traitor pales by comparison to all of these bright, shiny new ideas, but I know this way madness and an unending string of partially told stories lies.

What’s writer to do? Continue reading