Advice, Writer's Block

Overcoming Writer’s Block Tip #6: Write What You Want to Write When You Want to Write It!

Photo by Suhash Villuri on Unsplash

Sometimes, when writing a story, we get bogged down by the erroneous notion that we should write in order, from beginning to end. We may have an idea for the ending, but can’t figure out how to start, so we sit and wrack our brains, staring at the ceiling.

I’m here to tell you that the writing police won’t arrest you if you write the end or the middle first! You may leave the ending at the beginning or write the story working back from the end. The key here is to follow the energy. Ignore the voice that says “You should do X first.” Instead, follow the voice that says, “I’m excited to do Y.”

I wrote the climax of the novel right after I wrote the opening paragraphs because the inspiration struck. Later, as I approached the end of the novel, I became more and more worried about whether I could pull off the ending. When I finally came to it, I re-read the climax I had written almost a year before. I ended up revising it, but that first draft gave me the courage to hammer out a new ending.

When I began my second novel, I started by inventing my own theory about ghosts. I didn’t even have a plot. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. In the past I might have bogged down with despair, telling myself all kinds of untrue things. But I was having so much fun writing it, so I kept going, even though I didn’t know what it was or where it would lead. Later, I was glad it was written, because it had become boring to me. Instead I was all about plot, and as I was sorting out my character’s interactions with ghosts, I was glad to have my supernatural rules mapped out.

Here’s a Corollary: Digressions are Maps. Even if you are writing things that are digressions or not that interesting as scenes, write them anyway, because you need to write them in order to understand your plot or your character. You can always take them out later. Every once in a while, a student will hand me a story that starts with a long summary of the world the story is set in. Instead of telling them, “You did this wrong,” I tell them, “These first pages are your notes, your sketch. It’s important you wrote them, but the reader doesn’t need to read them. You can jump in with the action.

Happy writing!

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Advice, Writing Prompts

Describing Faces: Significant Detail

Most novice writers, when describing their characters, mention only hair and eye color and figure they’re done. However, hair and eye color are the least telling aspects of a person. You don’t have to tell us a lot about how your character looks, but give us some physical details that set them apart from other people and somehow symbolize their character, such as a wide mouth for someone who is expressive and has lavish appetites, or a Roman nose for someone who has that certain gravitas.What we mean by significant detail, is detail that does double duty, that tells us how a person looks as well as how they feel or behave, what kind of personality they have. The length of their eyelashes or color their hat is irrelevant when they are setting by a hospital bed watching their mother die of cancer. However, their bitten fingernails or dark circles under their eyes are significant.

A good way to develop your ability to describe people is to practice. I’ve composed a series of faces, paired only by similarity of hair and eye color to show you how DIFFERENT people of the same hair and eye color look.

Directions: Spend 60 seconds per slide. Quickly write down what distinguishes one face from the other by describing one or both faces using concrete detail about the shape and composition of face and features. Think about the spacing of the nose or eyebrows, or about the shape of the chin or forehead. Do NOT use judgement words (such as pretty, handsome, ugly, mean) or make assessments about personality. Simply describe what you SEE. This can be hard, at first. Try one or two slides with your writing group or in class. Compare notes, then continue. If you get stuck, try some of the metaphors from the sites below.

URL:

500 Ways to Describe Faces: While I don’t hold with everything said on this site, it has some great ideas in the first three sections for face shape, colors and animal metaphors. For this exercise, avoid the opinion adjectives like (“frank” or “cheerful”). This is not a permanent ban, just a temporary one until you get a handle on really seeing and describing the physical.

Don’t stop practicing here. Keep a notebook with you or use your phone note taker, and when you’re standing in line at the store or sitting in a coffee shop, do some people watching and try to jot down one or two significant and distinguishing physical traits of the people in front of you. If you find you are always describing chins and noses, force yourself to notice different traits like forearms and feet.

Happy writing!

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Advice

Is it Okay to Use True Stories to Make Fiction?

This it TikTok post that relates to yesterday’s post.

@literarylatte

New Country, New School, New Reality, the truth in fiction at laledavidson.com#booktok #indiebookstore #writertok

♬ original sound – Lâle Davidson, (she, her)

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Advice

Tips on Writing Dialogue

Here are three quick tips on dialogue. No comments on my stellar acting, please! If you can’t watch this video, try this:

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Advice

Overcoming Writer’s Block Tip #4 Follow the Energy, and Try, Try, Again

If you have any writing block tips, add them below! I love to hear from you.

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Advice

Overcoming Writer’s Block Tip #5: Play

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Advice, Writer's Block

Overcoming Writer’s Block Tip #3: Sprint

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Advice

Overcoming Writer’s Block Tip #2: Write About It

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Advice

Overcoming Writer’s Block Tip #1-Stop and Go

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Advice, poetry

Using Tiktok to Memorize Poetry

Who knew this medium could help you revise and memorize? First you have to find a poem that fits easily into 60 seconds. It can’t be much more than 20 lines, because you need to speak slowly if you want people to really absorb it. Normal speaking rate for public speaking is about 150 words a minute. For poetry, I’d go slower. You have to do so many takes that it forces you to learn the lines and to make better decisions about how to say them. Add a little music, flip the camera around to record something besides your face once in a while, and voila!

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