Posts Tagged With: writing ideas

How do I get inspired to write?

It Happened One Doomsday at Barnes & Noble

Hey, read any good books lately?

Everyone has a unique way of getting inspired. I spark ideas by doing tons of research. The world we live in is so weird, it’s impossible not to get inspired.

Before I wrote about the crystal magic in IT HAPPENED ONE DOOMSDAY, I went to plenty of lapidaries (rock shops), which are all over the place in Colorado.

I also attended quite a few gem and mineral shows, and visited metaphysical shops to talk to people who really believe in crystal healing. It was an eye-opening experience. I took some of those ideas and expanded them to a super-powered level to create the unique magic system in this book.

I also drew on my own experience working in an antiquarian bookstore, where we had boxes full of ancient books that were strangely worthless, because no one wanted to buy them. Some of them were centuries old, some of them in Latin, some even handwritten. Those inspired the magical books Dru studies.

Plus, I used to be a professional test driver. I tested dozens of prototype and experimental vehicles, sometimes in hairy conditions, so I had some real-life experience to draw on when writing the car chase scenes.

Somehow, all of that came together in this book. It was so much fun to write, and I’m deeply moved that so many people are enjoying reading it!

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Categories: For Writers | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

How Do I Finish My Novel?

Q:  Hi, I’m trying to write a novel about two people who meet by accident and then discover that they share an element of their two dark pasts.  I have a few general story ideas, but nothing concrete.  I know where I want to start my novel and where I want it to end, but it’s the middle that’s stumping me.  How do I figure out what to put in the middle of the book?

A:  It sounds to me like these two people want to get together, but story-wise there isn’t enough keeping them apart.  What you need is a little old-fashioned brainstorming.

At times like this, I like to break out a pack of 3×5 cards (actually, I’ll take any excuse to break out the cards, really).  Set a kitchen timer to 10 minutes and just start writing down ideas, one idea per card.  Don’t edit as you go; no matter how insipid or ridiculous anything sounds, write it down.  Force yourself to keep going until the timer goes off, and then keep going until you run out of steam. 

Now, here’s the critical part: stack up your cards and put them away without looking at them.  In fact, don’t even take them out again until the next day.  Then, go through them with an open mind and pick out your favorites.  Even the ideas that didn’t seem so hot when you wrote them might turn out to the the seed of something great.  Go with it!  Use these as the inspiration for another round of brainstorming, if you like.  Then, start writing!

Bonus tip:  You can read an article about brainstorming plot ideas here, written by yours truly:

How to Explode With Plot Ideas:

How about you?  Do you have a writing question?  Send me an email and I just might publish your answer here!

Categories: how to write a book, how to write a novel, writing, writing a book, writing a novel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How To Write a Book from One Image

Got writing questions?  Get answers!

Q:  I have this singular, compelling image that keeps getting stuck in my mind, and it has inspired me to write my novel.  But it’s just one scene, really.  Is there any way I can develop a story from that?  Can you give me any idea how to write a novel from just this one image?  

A:  Writers get inspired by the oddest things, don’t we?  First, write out that idea as completely as you can.  Don’t edit yourself.  Don’t try to plan it out or structure it.  Just write whatever comes to mind.  Not only what you see and hear, but the feelings that surround it.  What is this scene saying to you?  What does it mean?  What about it is something that everyone can relate to?  Keep going until you’ve exhausted the idea, or you run out of steam. 

Got it?  Good.  Now, here comes the fun part of the writing process: creating new ideas.

Grab a stack of index cards.  On each card, write one thing that could lead TO this scene or one thing that could develop FROM it.  How does this scene change someone’s life?  Who else could be affected by it?  What could this scene ultimately lead to?  What would have to happen beforehand in order to make this scene happen?  Don’t stop until you’ve written for at least 10 minutes and jotted down at least 10 cards.

Now, you’re allowed to take a break here and come back refreshed later.  When you do, sort through your cards and pick out your favorite ones.  Lay them out in front of you.  If you look hard enough, they’ll tell you whether your initial scene idea should occur in the beginning, middle or end of your story.

Once you’ve settled on a particular point in time, you can build forward and backward to it, using the creative writing prompts from your cards.  What comes before this point and brings it about?  What happens afterward as a result of it?  Keep writing, and before you know it, your single image will explode into dozens of writing ideas!

Do you have a writing question?  Send me an email!

Categories: how to write a book, writing a book | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Defrag Your Writer Brain in 3 Easy Steps

If you’re like me, ideas swirl around you all the time — stories, characters, settings, dialogue, and so on.  It sticks in your brain, so you write it down.  Before long, you have so many scraps of paper around you that a single gust of wind could turn you into a human snow globe.

This is not good.  You can write a novel only if you can find your notes — but how are you ever going to find a practical way to sift through all that stuff?  Ideally, you want to spend as little time as possible sorting your notes and as much time as possible doing the actual writing.  Well, consider your problem solved.  Just follow these simple steps:

1.  First and foremost, WRITE IT DOWN.
Don’t tell yourself that you’ll remember your idea later.  You won’t.  Human beings can hold something like seven to nine bits of information in mind at any given time.  Once you crowd things up with grocery shopping, errands, cleaning, that thing you need to tell your neighbor about his dog and the phone call you need to make — poof, your great idea is gone forever.  So write it down!

2.  Every so often, gather up your notes.
Empty out your pockets.  Clean out your nightstand.  Rip pages out of your notebook.  Pile up all of your notes in one convenient location.  One of those office-supplyish “In Box” trays should work nicely.  Or a shoe box.  Whatever.

3.  Pocket everything.
This is the key ingredient, the gem, the single best tip in this article:  Use pocket folders.  Or ordinary file folders.  Or those expandable accordion things.  Anything with a pocket that can hold different size scraps of paper.  Make one pocket per project.  If you have ideas for more than one book, make a different pocket for each one.  If you have a bunch of random story ideas, just make a “Story Ideas” folder.  You get the idea. 

Why pockets?  Because they’re fast.  You can pick up a piece of paper, decide which pocket it belongs in, and just drop it in.  You don’t have to worry about putting it in some kind of sequence, or pasting it into a notebook, or punching binder holes in it.  Or, heaven forbid, actually retyping it into a computer.  No, instead you can just drop it into the proper pocket and get on with your life.  In this way, you can dig through that massive pile of notes in no time.

And the hidden bonus is that it clears your mind.  You don’t have to worry about trying to remember all of those great ideas right now.  They’re safely put away, ready for you when you need them.  And now they’re sorted out by project, so you have everything at your fingertips.  How cool is that?

Categories: how to write a book, how to write a novel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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