Thursday, 31 July 2014

Be your own Superhero! - 5 quick steps to setting up your story.

Haven't you ever wished that you had as much time or morale to sit down and start writing chajns of epic novels/novellas/poems, with no distractions, worries or temptations?
The sad fact is we all have, an even sadder fact is that there is no way around said troubles that doesn't involve quitting your day job and moving away from family and becoming a social recluse. If you approach writing from a business like manner and treat it like a small start-up company (which it is really) - you will feel more compelled to pour your heart and soul into not letting your business tank and nurture it like a small puppy or child, dependent on what you prefer more. To let your 'business' flourish and sparkle, here is what you need to do:

1. Brainstorm.
Now all businesses start from the basics. Acquire a nice new notebook that you love the look of to contain all of the scruffy notes, timelines, quotations, character bios, scene suggestions, bullet points, chapter ideas, ect. It doesn't matter how they are arranged, just readable enough for you to flick back through and understand what you've scribbled on the bus home.
Take your notebook and shut yourself in a quiet room along with a viewpoint of 'calm'. Personally I surf youtube to source the latest hour long videos with calm/atmospheric songs, and use that hour as a viewpoint to how long I need to write. When my music stops, I leave the laptop/notebook alone and carry on with something else for a while. Music doesn't need to be used if you simply gain nothing from it - your 'viewpoint' must mean something to you and encourage the creative ideas to flow.

2. Mind-vomit.
Looking at the brilliant brainstorm you have just created through delving through the inner sanctums of your mind, I want you to take two minutes to fully take in the scope of your brainstorm. Get yourself a clean sheet of paper and write down 5 quick plot scenarios that have started to form in your mindset. Crack open those embryos and don't be afraid to get deep in there amongst the slush. You don't need to include a huge amount of insight to each possible idea, but just enough for your brain to connect to the plot associated with the words you've written.

3. Elimination.
One by one, I want you to eliminate idea by idea, purely by how confident you feel enough to be able to look at the one or two sentences you've written and make a snap decision of; "This won't work". In addition, you'll be started to sharpen your beginner copy-writing skills and killing off the components that don't feel right to you as you go. When approaching the last idea on the list that you've left until the end, take a good hard look at it, feel it. Imagine writing about that with scenario/plot/time frame. Allow yourself to visualize what kind of possible characters could be deep inside, locked away. If it feels as exciting to you, go for it and run. If not, start again from fresh from a different perspective or genre. Keep going until you find that muse you've been waiting for.

4. Digging.
Either by pencil or laptop, start with a random scene from what you imagine could be the very middle of the story that sprouted from your last idea. Start jotting down whatever falls from the brain down to the fingertips - it doesn't even need to be good, just enough practice for you to be able to ascertain what kind of story it needs to be, what you as the story-teller, wants it to be. I would suggest to take the most action-packed scene and run with it until you cannot possibly exercise anymore creativity into it. Here is my quick scene that I have literally this very moment just typed out, without thinking.

"Jared took his gloves and placed them back into the glove compartment. Stello would never be able to see the blood stains on the upholstery, he thought half with mirth and half with guilt. He could feel the weight of the dead man in the muddy bootof the old mustang, sitting on the back tyres and dragging the whole damn car down. Jared cliked his teeth and tapped the steering wheel impatiently. Stavros was late, late with drugs. He was either dead or laying face down in a ditch somewhere. Two possible dead bodies in one night and Jared was the one still standing, no drugs."

I opted for just letting my fingers slide over the keyboard to just see what I could come up with. I let the ideas flow to my brain and just kept writing although I had no idea where it was likely to end or become. Have a try - don't think, just feel the words.

5. Nurture.
Now red back everything you have written - seriously read it through with care, an open mind and thought process. Do you honestly see yourself recreating the plot around your scene? Do you see yourself putting hundreds of hours into this project to nurse and nurture your little seedling into the 80,000 word novel it deserves to be? If yes, then congratulations because you have taken the first steps into creating something beautiful and the next step now would be the planning process.

If the process has still left you stuck, take an hour to move away from your work and concentrate on something else fairly media related - such as reading a magazine, watching TV, playing a game, ect. After that hour I want you to return and write about any random scene that you have witnessed in that hour, it can be anything. Put your own characters into that scene and have them move along the same story line, eventually you will need to take the reins and decide what happens next, watch them come to life at your very fingertips and gain an imagination of their own. After writing as much as you feel you need to, have a read back through and piece together the events before and after this scene - what could have happened to the characters next? What could be their back stories? You could literally warp their entire world and bend it to your will! Next I want you to edit the small excerpt of text and take out any reference or name that could lead to plagurism; (which only applies to those who have taken the scene from any published media seen during the 'cool down hour' obviously).

And there you have it, in the space of a small amount of time not only have you managed to exercise that writing muscle, but you've also grown potential ideas from near to nothing and taken them to the next level where they sit, eager and awaiting you to finish their tales. Good luck with the journey and let me know how it goes!

Friday, 25 April 2014

Bloggity Blog #4: Channeling the inner writing hero.

Before you say it - yes I haven't uploaded any new material in a little while. Stop glaring, lower the pitchforks.
Amongst trying to find time to write Beneath the Door, decorate the house, work out how to build furniture and revise notes on my new job - I have decided to take shelter under the brick entrance of my workplace, shivering in the chilly and rainy atmosphere, and finally get something online.

One thing I find very common in the writing industry, are writers - both new and old struggling to find exciting new ideas and inspiration to channel themselves into and spend endless hours and sleepless nights pouring over. Now I have conducted a little experiment myself to see just how much I can stretch my creative muscles... The challenge I set for myself: "Write 25 new story ideas in the space of a working week".

I tried to procrastinate and insist to myself that it was a gone idea and I really didn't have the time. So what did I do to resolve this? I mentally battered the procrastination side of my brain and did it anyway. For five days in the small moments I was sat at my desk and needed a break from the computer screen, I jotted down ideas like my life depended on it. I retreated to every webbed, dusty corner of my brain and retrieved every sudden idea I could think of, to which I was then able to craft a brief synopsis, characters, scene, timescales, ect. The only thing I had trouble with, was picking out suitable names to suit my characters - which for me takes a lot longer. I want to lovingly bestow my creations with suitable names - so I gave them 'starter' names, which I may alter at a later date.

That aside, I came out of the week with 25 sets of plots, scenarios and worlds. Some of the ideas I came out with ended up really astonished myself into thinking; brainstorming really works! A few that really stand out in my mind involve a post- apocalyptic world, the depths of gritty london's past and numerous vast social spirals. Needless to say, my new shiny characters are really going to be stretched to the limit when I get around to writing 25 full novels based on these ideas.

Now if I can find time to imagine all of these ideas out of an empty brain amid my busy daily life - why are you still sitting there wondering what to do next? I challenge you!

- H x

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Bloggity Blog #3: Find that Inspiration!

I'm sat slap band in the middle of a busy shopping centre at the end of a very busy Friday - I'm staring at random passers-by and subconsciously working out their histories, presents and future from the few seconds that they glide by. Some look my way curiously, wondering why I'm staring back creepily wide-eyed. Others don't even register my existence and move along with their day.

My silent stalking session only lasted about ten minutes or so - but it got me thinking about possible novel ideas and what fresh new characters I could introduce. It may have made me look like a weirdo sat still on a bench for ten minutes with two big Wilko bags containing four sacks of rabbit hay - but stalking jokes aside - it seriously is a very productive way of generating inspiration for possible characters and scenarios.

1. For example; older woman stomping by in knee-length leather boots could be a desperate social-phobic, clutching onto her youth and afraid of stopping and taking a break, in case fatigue would catch up with her.
2. Another example would be an elderly man; struggling to walk properly - perhaps due to underlying medical issues such as arthritis or multiple sclerosis. He feels like he wants to stop and take a rest, but pushes himself on stubbornly.

Now let's take the older woman and put her under the microscope a little bit here and delve a bit into her history. Let's say her name is Margerie. Dear old Margerie could have lost her husband - Aldric (?) in a freak motor boating experience a year ago. She would have gone through the normal process of loss and bereavement - with a twist. Margerie could have been so distraught and very self-aware that she herself was getting on in her years, that she decided to buy a full new assortment of clothes and pick up those knee-length boots in a keen attempt to feel younger and alive again, despite the urge to give up and give into her loneliness.

For the elderly man who I'll nickname as Bill, he could have just come from a very recent Doctor's appointment that confirmed that Bill in a few years, would no longer be able to walk properly and would need the use of a wheelchair to get around, eventually even losing the ability to use his leg muscles indefinitely. Bill could have heard this and become absolutely confident in himself that he would never become such a liability to his loving wife and children. Let's say he makes himself a daily schedule - a walking schedule. Bill walks half hour to an hour a day to strengthen his leg muscles - before returning home back to retirement.

Two characters - very different backgrounds and issues. Both of which as the reader, you would instinctively want to know more about them and where their paths are heading. Naturally, you would want a happy ending for whatever character you can 'connect' to most.

However I will leave these two stories unwritten and let you decide their ultimate fate and what endings you would be most comfortable and satisfied with, in your own interpretations. But if I could simply sit still in silence and watch two completely random and unconnected strangers pass by me, whilst making up their histories and scenarios in my head, there is simply no limit to what imagination and inspiration can achieve.

Happy Friday!

- H