Tag Archive | writing life

March 15 – Beware the Ides of March!

Today is the birthday of: Paul Heyse, Lawrence Sanders

Tip: Do you have a compelling opening sentence? One that draws the reader in and sets up the following action.

Thought: “Leave out the parts readers skip.” – Elmore Leonard.

Teaser: March 15, the Ides of March, is famous for being the day Julius Caesar was killed. Though it has been written about often, most famously by Shakespeare, write the assassination scene from Brutus’ point of view. Why did he do what he did? How does he feel about it?

March 14 – Pi day!

Today is the birthday of: Hank Ketcham, Pam Ayres, Kevin Williamson

Tip: Do you have compelling hooks at the ends of your chapters? Things that make your reader want to keep reading? Or do you put your characters to sleep—and thus your readers.

Thought: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Teaser: Today is “Pi” day (3.14 – a mathematical term but also today’s date.) What kind of pie would your character like to eat? Does s/he bake it from scratch? Or buy one and pass it off as his/her own?

Daily writing:

March 13

Today is the birthday of: L. Ron Hubbard, Giorgos Seferis, Robert Lanham

Tip: What is the action that sets off the rest of the action in your book? In a murder mystery, this would be the discovery of the body.

Thought: “Fiction writers are strange beasts. They are…observers first and foremost. Everything that happens around them is potential material for a story.” – Terry Brooks.

Teaser: You glance out your window late at night and see your neighbor digging a deep hole. You’ve always thought he was a strange character. Do you go out for a sneaky but closer look? Or do you do it overtly? What is he digging the hole for?

March 12

Today is the birthday of: Jack Kerouac, Edward Albee, Gabriele D’Annunzio

Tip: Make sure your characters have goals. They need something to strive for. What do they want? Why do they want it? Why can’t they have it? How do they get it? That’s your story.

Thought: “Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness, but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.” – Ernest Hemingway

Teaser: There is a ghost haunting you. Why? What have you done that brings this spirit to you? Is it a vengeful spirit? Or protective? Or impish?

March 11

Today is the birthday of: Douglas Adams, Jerry Zucker

Tip: Who are the main characters in your book? There should only be one or two—three at the very most. The other characters are secondary. Make sure your mains have the majority of the scenes.

Thought: “Desire is creation, is the magical element in that process. If there were an instrument by which to measure desire, one could foretell achievement.” – Willa Cather

Teaser: A “Tom Swiftie” is a pun-like adverbial tag and should be eliminated. i.e.: “We need a new lightbulb,” he said darkly. Write a short scene where you use as many Swiftie’s as possible.

March 10

Today is the birthday of: James Herriot, Johanna Lindsey

Tip: Sometimes it helps to have something in the ending reflect to the beginning of the story. You can do this with an object or situation that mirrors something in the beginning. For instance, if there’s a blackout at the beginning and the heroine has trouble finding candles or a flashlight, at the end, you could have another blackout, but this time, she has light handy.

Thought: “Creative ideas do not spring from groups. They spring from individuals. The divine spark leaps from the finger of God to the finger of Adam.” – A Whitney Griswold

Teaser: You’ve moved into a new home. While doing some cleaning, you find a loose board in a closet. You pry the board up and find….

March 7

Today is the birthday of: Georges Perec, Donald Barthelme, Paul Preuss

Tip: Check the way you begin sentences, especially dialogue. Do many of them start the same way? Do you have favorite phrases you overuse? Read over your manuscript and make a list of repetitions (and then fix them!).

Thought: “One had better not rush, otherwise dung comes out rather than creative work.” – Anton Chekhov

Teaser: Your character is creating a new drink – what is it? Alcohol or not? Fruit based? Flavors? What would it be used for (casual drinking, parties, kids, etc.)?

March 5

Today is the birthday of Michael Resnick (science fiction), Howard Pyle (children’s books), Frank Norris (naturalist), Charles Fuller, Jr. (playwright Pulitzer)

Tip: Turn off the internet. And games. And put away any other distractions. One game can lead to an hour of missed writing time. Looking for that one piece of research on the internet can cause you to lose hours in “oh, look at that” distractions.

Thought: “When I sit down at my writing desk, time seems to vanish. I think it’s a wonderful way to spend one’s life.” – Erica Jong.

Teaser: Go to your nearest public library and browse the stacks. Check out areas you don’t normally go. What can you find that’s new and different for you?

March 4

Today is the birthday of Alan Sillitoe (British poet), Johann Wyss (Swiss folklorist – Swiss Family Robinson)

Tip: Always carry a notebook and pen with you. Or have a phone you can make notes on (either visually or verbally). That way, when you get that brilliant idea for a plot twist, you’ll have a place to record it.

Thought: “The muse whispers to you when she chooses, and you can’t tell her to come back later, because you quickly learn in this business that she may not come back at all.” – Terry Brooks

Teaser: What is your book about? Boil the answer down to no more than two sentences. This becomes the basis for your pitch to editors and agents.

March 3

Today is the birthday of Thomas Otway, William Godwin, James Merrill, Patricia MacLachlan

Tip: Introduce all your characters in the first third of the book. If you bring someone in at the end, especially if they “solve” the plot problem, the reader will feel cheated and won’t come back to you.

Thought: I know some very good writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. – Anne Lemont

Teaser: If you are not hearing impaired, try watching TV without the sound on, using closed captioning. What do you feel like you’ve missed, if anything? Next, try blindfolding yourself and listening to TV? What do you think you’ve missed this way?