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Archive for October 21st, 2017

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Inspiration is one of the great tools of the author.  Without it, we would be, well, a reader.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with being a reader.  It’s an important part of being an author and books are magic.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” –Stephen King

 

Inspiration is as varied as the writers being inspired.  It can take on any form.  Music, taste, scents, the things you surrounding yourself with.

 

As a kid, I imagined having a Ray Bradbury Theater inspired writing office, filled with an eclectic collection of inspirational prompts.

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The adult reality: I’m lucky I now have a small desk crammed in the corner of the living room, where I am working in the midst of family life going on around me and dogs trying to wrestle under my feet.

 

We also can’t rely entirely on waiting for that inspiration to come.  We have to make it.  And when we can’t, we have to just plug away and work through it.

 

When you just can’t feel it, when the writing just won’t come, and you are sitting there telling yourself you suck, your writing stinks, why are you even doing this…

 

There is only one cure.  Just write.  Shut up. Stop imagining the criticism you think others would heap on you and just write.

 

Your writing won’t be perfect.  It won’t be spectacular.  Nobody would expect it to be.  That’s what the editing monster is for.  You can’t take that rough gem and make it shine if you don’t first dig it out of your imagination.

 

Here is why it is important to write even if you aren’t feeling it, even if the story won’t come and your mind is blank: by making yourself write, you are teaching yourself to write.  You are teaching yourself to be able to write whether or not you have that special pencil (ie George Stark’s (Stephen King’s the Dark Half) Berol Black Beauty pencil), the right location, the right mood, etc.  You are teaching yourself to take the inspiration from the act of writing and from the story itself.

 

What inspires?

I found my best, most inspiring moments of feeling inspired in one particular place and time:  At the camper, in the fall, waking up before everyone else including the dogs.  It’s quiet.  I sit at the kitchen table, the blinds open, and my view the array of fall leaves outside the window.  A cup of coffee.  Peaceful.

Unfortunately, that amounts to a handful of mornings each year that I can count on two hands or less and all in the span of those few short weeks.

 

When I can’t get the mood, I just write.

 

And if that fails, I edit.  I’d rather be writing, but just going back and editing can bring new ideas.  Edit your current work or something else that you put on the back burner.

 

If you are stuck and don’t know what to write, skip it.  Yes, just pass that scene over.  Leave a marker, whatever notes you need to remember what you were thinking and move on.  You can always come back to it and if it never comes then maybe the scene does not move the story forward and should killed.

 

Give them purpose and depth.

If a character is not inspiring, then make them be inspiring.  If they can’t drive your interest, they won’t drive the readers’ either.  Give them more depth.  More purpose.  Write a back story separate to the story if you must.

The same applies to the plot.  If the story itself is not enough to drive your inspiration, then something is probably missing.

 

If all else fails, add a Nathan.

Yes, Nathan.  You don’t want to meet Nathan.  Nathan is special.

Hunting_Michael_Unde_Cover_for_KindleIn writing Hunting Michael Underwood, I was in that very un-special place where I just did not know where to go next.  I knew what needed to happen to drive the story on, and I knew what I was leading up to.

I needed a catalyst.  Something to make the story implode.  Something that sucks the story into itself like a sinister entity in a B horror flick; that adds a new level of drama.  A sucker punch that neither the readers nor characters see coming.

 

I assumed I would edit it out on editing.

And thus Nathan came to be.  Nathan is unpredictable by nature. That makes the story unpredictable.

Nathan took a life of his own, added a whole new dynamic of drama I did not see coming, and pushed the story over the brink.  It was supposed to end there.  But Nathan spurred so many ideas that the story did not end.  Now I have to write another book in the series to reach that new conclusion, and it is not even about Nathan.

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But Nathan does live on.  The voices are still whispering to him.  The monsters are still trying to get out of Nathan’s head.  And now I have to write Nathan’s story too.

Don’t be surprised if Nathan shows up randomly in other stories too.  After

 

all, Nathan is Nathan.  Nathan is unpredictable.

 

What inspires you?  What drives the writing urge, making the words fly through you to the page or screen?

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