Category Archives: fiction writing

>Create a Scene

>Grand Central Station in New York City. It’s beautiful, bustling, and a good spot for something exciting to happen. If you need a jump start for your writing this week, take a cue from this photo. Pick someone out of the crowd (or more than one person) and write a scene. What is the person saying or doing? Why is he there?

If you’d like to share what you’ve come up with for this prompt, post it on your blog or website and link to it in a comment. Have fun!

Photo by Max HUSSON

>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?

>Choose Your Destiny

>One of the most difficult decisions can be where to take your story next. You can brainstorm and brainstorm, listing the choices for all eternity it seems. But eventually you must make a choice. I think for some writers this is easier than for others. I’m a person who likes to keep options open. I like to have choices, but settling on just one sometimes requires telling myself to just make up my mind and move forward.

Instead of just taking the first idea, I do think it’s good to see if you can do better. But the fact is you can change everything a million times and never finish the story. I found participating in NaNoWriMo was helpful for curing this. You have no time to hem and haw over where to take the story. You have to make up your mind fast.

How can you settle on an idea when you have several good options? There is no right answer and many ideas can qualify as the “best.” I choose the ideas that I love and make me excited to dig in. When I start to lose passion for a story, I look at the decisions I’ve made. If you’re not excited about a direction the story is taking, maybe you should go back to brainstorming and choose an alternate path. Writing should be exciting, even when it’s hard. Never lose sight of that.

That’s my Monday rant. On a different note, check back here tomorrow for an exclusive interview with my novel’s heroine, Imogen Bell. It’s part of the character interview blogfest hosted by Echoes of a Wayward Mind. It’s not too late to sign up if you haven’t already. See you then!