I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve started my very own PODCAST! My lovely friend and fellow retreat facilitator Kerstin Pilz and I have joined forces to create a series of discussions about topics dear to our hearts – Let’s Talk Writing!
When I was travelling and working in Far North Queensland recently we recorded a number of sessions at ARTS NEXUS recording studio in beautiful Babinda – Madanji country, near where my father’s family had their cane farm in Innisfail.
Where can you find story ideas? What ideas are worth pursuing? Too many ideas? How can you narrow it down to just one to write about? In this episode of Let’s Talk Writing, Kerstin and I discuss where story ideas come from and how to make compelling stories from them.
So where do you get your story ideas? Some people dream them, others have a flash of inspiration or a sentence that comes fully formed. Others write from their own lives, or the lives of others. Some find story characters tapping them on their shoulders demanding to be heard.
What about you? Where do you get your story ideas? And what do we do if they seem to dry up?
Here are some images to use as prompts.
I find that even when I think I’ve got nothing to say, once I start writing the pen has its own wisdom. If we can only step aside and let the creative force that flows through all things flow through us, the words will come.
Give it a try 🙂 Pick one of the above images, put your timer on for 5 minutes and write like the wind! Don’t think, just write!
How did you go? I’d love to know. If you’re happy with how it turned out please post your piece in the comments.
Every writer knows the first draft is only a small part of the work involved in bringing a story to publishable standard. As Ernest Hemingway once famously said, “All first drafts are crap!” (I may be paraphrasing a little :)).
So how do we take a crappy first draft to something publishers are going to fight over? Rewriting! Or if we’re lucky just redrafting – though let’s face it if you’re a pantster like I was, you may have to write whole new sections. Twice I’ve cut back first drafts of 100 000+ words to 30 000 then rewrote the rest!
How do you self-edit?
The first step of any rewrite is the structural edit.
This looks at how the main elements of our story are working: characters, setting, voice, genre-expectations and plot. Mainly plot!
The best place to start is with a scene list – not just chapter headings but a list of every scene within every chapter. Include which characters are involved, where it’s set, what’s happening (clue – if nothing’s happening – cut now!) and the main focus of the scene, plus whether the scene is moving us towards Hope or Fear. Go through the whole manuscript and you’ll come up with a list of potentially hundreds of scenes.
Once you have this list it’s much easier to see any repetition, or worst of all, completely unnecessary scenes that are neither developing or illustrating character or moving the plot forward. This is when we press DELETE. Or, for chickens like me, this is when we cut these scenes and paste them into another document called “Good bits I may use later.” I have a few of these documents now for various projects and mostly they remain unused, but occasionally I’ll go back in and pull out a section that has become relevant again.
Your scene list will show you where your story starts to sink in the middle or if a character who was pivotal in the first half fades away in the second. You’ll be able to tell if a character is suddenly acting completely differently to who they were earlier, of if they have taken up too much page space – this often happens when we just go with the flow and let bossy or forceful characters have their way.
A scene list makes it easier to find any plot holes or if you’re building enough suspense or just having characters repeat themselves over and over without growth or change.
What tricks do you have up your sleeve to help you tackle the dreaded, but actually fun, second draft?
Have you got a project nearing the stage when it needs a proper evaluation and an objective rethink?
This special retreat, for women and non-binary writers with a project needing attention, has workshops to help you tackle the second draft, focusing on finding the heart of your story, distilling the themes, the structural edit, and plenty of tips to help with line editing and pitch documents too.
All in a stunning location with cosy single rooms with desks, beauty and peace, like-minded folk to share your story with in feedback groups, fantastic food and lots of fun.