Monday, October 25, 2010

A Fall-Themed Haiku for a Gray Monday

The gray, cold weather we have today (a foregleam of November I fear) made me think of this haiku I wrote several years ago. So I hunted through my files to read it and thought I'd share. It's a good day for some Fall-themed reading!

Hot Chocolate
Crippled leaves fly through
summer into frosty hours
of hot chocolate

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Get Ready for NaNoWriMo 2010!

It's hard to believe it's already that time again! I'm sure a lot of you are prepping - at least mentally - for NaNoWriMo this year. I'm not participating this time around, but I've tried two different approaches to getting ready to write a novel-in-a-month in the past. The first time, I got a concept the night before I started and winged the entire book. The second time, I did a little planning about two weeks ahead of time. How did each approach go?

Winging it landed me in some trouble. By the end of the month, I had plenty of words, but the last few days I was writing frantically just to finish the story! I kept writing and writing and couldn't figure out how to wrap things up. I did make it but just barely. However, I had such a blast the entire month that everything that went wrong with the story paled in comparison. If I had had time I would have started all over again the next month.

Planning certainly helped my story move along easier. I still had surprises but the plot was a lot more cohesive than my first attempt. So that was nice even though I had a lot more trouble making my word count last year. On the downside, I really didn't enjoy the process as much. I did have a lot of other things going on that month that kind of sapped my fun, but I do think part of it was that I was almost too prepared. I know that sounds odd, but I think the planning, while useful, diminished part of the fun - at least for me.

Now everybody's different and if I do NaNo again in the future, I'm not planning a lot beforehand. If you've done NaNoWriMo before, what is your favorite way to go about it? If you're trying it out for the first time, what's your approach?

Friday, October 15, 2010

What's On Your Music Playlist?

Music has always influenced my writing from helping me develop entire plotlines and characters to just getting me through a project. I usually get obsessed with a set of new songs, listen to them a million times over a couple of weeks, then move on.

My current playlist goes something like this:

"Cosmic Love" Florence + the Machine Cosmic
"Round & Round" Selena Gomez and The Scene Round

"For What Reason" Death Cab for Cutie
"When Love Takes Over" David Guetta (feat. Kelly Rowland) When
"To the Sky" Owl City To
"Kings and Queens" 30 Seconds to Mars Kings
"Secrets" OneRepublic Secrets
"DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love" Usher DJ

What's on your playlist right now?

Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mood for Inspiration

We all know setting can add a lot of depth to a story. Sometimes it becomes more like another character! There's really nothing like working with a real place and using all your senses to bring it to life on the page. I recently walked part of the Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island. We didn't get the sunny, warm day we anticipated, but I enjoyed absorbing the ominous mood the clouds and wind created. And I got a few shots that captured the atmosphere to some extent.

What do these images make you think of? Could you spice up a scene or two in your story with some moody weather action? Of course, I thought it would make a good setting for a murder. But that's just me.






Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Recycling Your Emotions

We all know characters need some level of emotional depth. But getting there isn't always easy, especially when characters may face things that we never have. Sometimes it's enough to just imagine how you would feel in that situation. Other times, you need more reality in your fiction. How can you create it? One way is by taking your own emotions and applying them to your characters.

What do I mean exactly? Well, we all experience a range of feelings, even on a day-to-day basis. And I think it's safe to say we've all experienced at least one heart pounding emotion, whether good or bad. So even if we've never gone through exactly what the character has (e.g. witnessing a murder), we have deep, raw emotions from other experiences that we can draw from.

Let me illustrate: In my upcoming novel, Dead Locked, a good friend of my protagonist is murdered. This along with several other scary events leaves Imogen following a trail of emotions as well as clues. Have I experienced these exact situations? Happily, no. But I did lose my mother several years ago, which led to other weird and somewhat scary events, and I was able to channel those feelings and direct them into Imogen. I even cried writing certain scenes. So while the event may be different, the emotion is very, very real.

This won't always work if the emotion for you is still too new. I could not have written like that right after my mom died. A little distance can help. It may also take practice. The idea of taking emotions out of context and applying them to fiction does not come naturally to me. I've had to work at it. My sister (a songwriter/producer) does this brilliantly and without thinking and always has. I've had to make a conscientious effort to learn. But my characters are two-hundred percent better because of it. And it's becoming second nature now, which is a plus.

If you're like me and have struggled to pull emotions from your characters, maybe it's time to put your emotions to work. The Writer's Idea Book by Jack Heffron has a lot of prompts that help you to use your background and feelings in a fictional setting. A lot of these exercises helped me start making better use of my own experiences. Above all, keep writing! That's always the best way to improve.

How have your personal experiences enriched your writing? Do you find it easy or difficult to use your own feelings in a fictional context?
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