Writing Wednesday (1)

Writing Wednesday 2

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Welcome to Writing Wednesday, my new weekly feature where I discuss my works in progress, project ideas, editing struggles, or anything else related to the world of writing. Feel free to grab my button and post your own thoughts on writing!  Leave a link to your post in the comments and I’ll stop by.

Okay, so I have a confession to make.  Since completing NaNoWriMo in November, I haven’t touched my manuscript. I haven’t even had the heart to go back and read it. That big ugly beast is scaring me. I’m afraid that if I read it I will realize that I need to give up on my dreams and resign myself to life as a non-author.

Here’s the thing that’s brilliant about National Novel Writing Month: I wrote a whole novel in 30 days. That’s exciting. I realized that my brain is capable of putting words into sentences that eventually turn into a story that has a beginning, middle and end. I learned that the story may have all the requisite components, but that it may also be terrifically boring.

Here’s the sucky thing about NaNoWriMo: I wrote a whole novel in 30 days. By the end of the experiment, I had some cool characters and a setting that worked okay, but a story that is so awful I had a hard time explaining it to others. “Um, there’s a girl who has this magical pet cougar. Not like MILF cougar but like panther cougar. And her dad goes missing and he turns out to be part of this secret political club that the king wants to suppress and since the king can read minds he totally figures this stuff out, right? So it turns out that the king can control everyone’s mind except for the girl’s, so he wants to make her his wife so they can be this power couple and rule the world, but he’s all creepy and pervy and besides the girl is in love with her former mentor who along with her sister is kidnapped by the king too, and the king uses them to manipulate the girl into agreeing to the marriage but before he attacks her and tries to consummate the marriage the cougar saves the day and kills the king but she dies. Then the girl decides that since she went through with the marriage she’s the queen now and should probably do good stuff for her people.”

I may or may not have written a book along those lines.

Still, the point of NaNoWriMo is not to write a good book, it’s to write a book. Any book. It’s an exercise in getting over the fear of having to complete an entire novel. It forced me to write quickly and without thinking. I just typed, and if an idea came to me, I explored it. The genius part was that it worked.

I’m not really one for big plot ideas. I have lots of ideas about characters and settings, but when it comes to the action, I usually draw a blank. It’s a big reason why I hadn’t written a novel before November. Imagine my surprise when I find out that even with no forethought, I actually can fabricate a story from beginning to end. I can make the characters do stuff. It may not be very exciting or interesting stuff, but eventually they will have to do something.

What makes this particularly funny is that I despise books lacking in action. It’s one of the reasons I’ve never been a big fan of literary fiction – too much character study with little action. Zzzzzzzzzzz. What I love to read are stories with complications and trials and missteps and lots of forward motion. When I sit down to write, I get carried away in who and where my characters are instead of what they’re doing. Bad Logan.

I’ve been jotting down some notes for my next project, but so far no story is coming to me. Hopefully an idea will come before I have to write a whole new crappy book. Trust me, no one wants to see the sequel where the girl and her cougar start the riveting process of drafting legislation or opening a peanut factory.

Where do you find inspiration for your plot ideas? Do you find it easier to develop characters or the story?

15 thoughts on “Writing Wednesday (1)

  1. For me, it's the plot that comes easily. It comes in a flash of brilliance (well, I think it's brilliance anyway lol), falls from the sky and right into my head. Usually in the form of a sentence.Characters take more work for me…lots of time detailing and filling out character worksheets.The trick with plot, for me anyway, is to always ask, "What if?" Example: Claude, the great oaf football player who knows it all, is shoved against Jenny, our delicate, unpopular, artsy main character, in a corner and asks her to prom.Sure, Jenny could fallow the typical tropes and say yes, but what if? What if she said no? What if she went Ninja and kicked some jock butt? What if she devised her own plot around his joker plot to make fun of her so he's the fool in the end?See? Ask what if and let your imagination run wild.And remember…practice makes perfect. Don't give up. šŸ™‚ If your NaNo project isn't doing it, write another one.

  2. I love long comments! This is great. I want there to be dialogue here. I think the "what if" device is a great idea. I think I do sometimes get these flashes of scenes/scenarios in my head, but I need to be better about writing them down, and then going back and trying the what if suggestion to wring as much out of the possibilities as I can. Great tip! Thanks Holly!

  3. I'm not a writer, mostly because I'm terrible at creating characters and plot. And writing dialogue. So, yeah, not a writer. Big, huge, gigantic congratulations for accomplishing NaNoWriMo! I can't even fathom the thought of writing an entire novel in a month. Even a bad novel. What a huge accomplishment! I hope you're proud šŸ™‚

  4. It was pretty nuts, but it also made me feel really pumped up and capable. I am woman hear me roar, etc. etc. šŸ™‚

  5. Congrats on finishing NaNoWriMo! I tend to focus more on character than plot at the beginning, which is why I'm currently reworking subplots on my WIP. I started with a basic idea ("kids on an adventure in space!"), and decided where I wanted them to end up, and that I wanted as many twists as a Guy Ritchie movie. I started writing with just that idea and kept layering on more and more complications and backstory. Now it's kind of a tangled mess but I still have hopes for it šŸ™‚

  6. "as many twists as a Guy Ritchie movie" LOL!!I think that's more my style as well. Develop characters first, then start layering in the plot tangles. I'm sure your story will turn out great. Good luck with it and keep writing!

  7. Congratulations on NaNoWriMo! I wrapped up with a measly 5000 words…but I suppose I was cheating anyway because I was re-writing my already written story.I generally don't even get ideas about characters, or plots…I start thinking of individual vignettes that usually come together in a plot in some increasingly convoluted way, and the unfortunate people involved in them generally end up becoming my characters in one way or another. Usually, I start with the very last scene of the book and work my way backwards. It's a bizarre process, and it keeps me guessing (even after the first draft is finished, which is something of a problem)…but I like to think it works?Although, since my writing bends historical, I tend to fixate on a setting before anything else.

  8. I'm definitely not a writer so I don't have any answers to the questions you pose but can I just say: the story that you wrote for NaNoWriMo actually sounds super interesting to me! Magical pet cougar! So is this novel high fantasy or urban fantasy?

  9. @Alyson – Whatever process works for you is great. No shame in working backwards. I think it's cool.@Aylee – It was more high fantasy. Vague time period, but definitely medieval-ish. Think Robin Hood. I'm glad you like the idea. I think there's something there, I just need to play around with it.

  10. When I started writing my fantasy, the world came first. The world shaped the characters and the characters shaped the conflict. My first draft was handwritten (don't ask), then typed and revised, then sent to a good friend who suggested (in a loving sort of way) that the ending really sucked. After a stunning epiphany, I wrote a bang-fab-pow ending. Am now struggling to find a beginning that works with the new end. The characters do tend to act the way they want, once you turn 'em loose.

  11. I've been thinking about your questions as I finished the Stieg Larsson trilogy this morning. Characters definitely propelled me into the 2nd and 3rd. There were times when the plot pulled together ominously and compellingly, but the author kept losing control, I thought. Could have been tighter. But which came first: twisty plot or twisty Girl??

  12. In response to your mom's question: Twisty plot or twisty girl? It's the tautology of the ages…I'll let you know how I end up ;)Your blog is: Amazing, Brilliant, Interesting, PrettyCan't wait to stop back for more, and maybe someday have something to say for myself as a writer/nonwriter (unknown as twisty plot hasn't gone there yet).@Alison

  13. @Debra – I think I read somewhere that the Dragon Tattoo plot was inspired by some actual events or an article he read. I could be wrong, but I think the twisty plot may have come first, which is interesting because it doesn't read that way. To me, it reads like he had this great Lisbeth character and wasn't sure what to do with her all of the time.@Alison – Thanks for stopping by! I hope you are well and that we see each other soon (if this is the Alison I think it is).

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