Monday, August 13, 2018

On Staying in Motion

You know, I think a lot of people shy away from creative work because the task seems too daunting.

An entire novel? Seventy-five thousand words (or more) on the page? Words that have to make sense and be entertaining??

A whole series of paintings? Each canvas five feet by nine feet? All speaking to a single theme?

An entire chapbook? Fifty to a hundred (or more) solid poems--words and phrases that move people?

You're kidding. Right?

Well, no. Because there's that old adage: Rome wasn't built in a day.

A novel isn't written in a weekend (despite what some "coaches" will tell you). Books of poetry don't fall from the sky fully formed. Maybe you can paint a canvas in a day. But maybe it takes weeks. And maybe--just maybe--you have to throw out six canvases before you find that magic piece.

But here's the thing: tomorrow is going to come. In 365 days you will be another year older. Why not have something to show for it?

Because if you can stay in motion--do one small task toward your creative work today, and another tomorrow, and another the next day--you're going to eventually get to where you need to be.

No, you can't write a book in a weekend, but if you can write a thousand words a day every day, you can have the first draft completed in about three months. 

Even if the steps are tiny--these minuscule little efforts that don't even seem worth mentioning--they will add up. 

Stay in motion. 

That is all.

Be Brilliant!

~Katie~

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Backfill -- Writing Tip

If your story moves at 100% the entire time--endless drama and action--the reader will likely wear out. It's also unlikely they will be able to keep pace without backstory, or exposition, that explains who these characters are, why they matter, and how they stumbled into the problems they're currently facing.

Exposition, however, does slow down your narrative.

This can be a good thing (it gives us a break from the action) or a bad thing (it can make us put down the book).

Nancy Kress (Beginnings, Middles & Ends) has a Swimming Pool Theory that helps with this:

"The stronger and more forceful your initial kick, the longer you can glide through the water. The stronger and more forceful your opening scene, the less your reader will mind a 'glide' through nondramatized backfill."

The key is balance. 

Give us that kick of action, then let us glide. Give another kick, then glide. . . .

Be Brilliant!

~Katie~ 

Monday, August 6, 2018

On the Things That Hold Us Back

You know what? 

Those things in your life that you defend yourself against are most likely exactly what you need to get rid of to grow.

Case in point: after college, I was afraid to move away from my hometown for a long time. I loved it because it was comfortable and familiar. My friends and family were there. I knew the roads and traffic patterns and where to eat (and where not to eat). It was so safe, and we (as humans) all crave a certain degree of safety. What would happen if I let all of that go? I'd have to start over somewhere new. I would be in unfamiliar territory. My routines would change. My whole LIFE would change.

The truth? My life didn't change a whole lot when we moved to the city. I still had my routines. It didn't take long to learn the area. And the changes that DID occur were mostly positive. Turns out, I refused to move for all those years, but I needed that move to break free and grow as a person. A new city has given me the courage to branch out and try new things and learn more about who I am.

I'm not saying you should pack your bags and move (though maybe you should!) but that there are things in our lives that we are resistant to--dead-set against--and that these things could very well be holding us back in certain areas of our lives.

Recognize them, and try to remove them.

It could be scary . . .

but it could also be worth it.  





Be Brilliant!

~Katie~

Friday, August 3, 2018

Just a Hint. . . .

I'm just going to drop this right here for your listening pleasure. 

Does it mean something, you ask? 

Why, yes. Yes, it does. . . . 






"Rise"

I used to be afraid of giving up
The road was just too tough
Out here on my own
My path was so alone
But now I see clearly
Everything within me
Is reaching up to the sky
I can see the world with open eyes

You can't let it pass you
Just take hold and grasp it
Now's the time to take a chance

With the strength of a thousand men
Climbing to my feet again

Dry those tears from your eyes
And everything will be alright
You know the rainbow's just in sight
Dust your wings off as you rise
If your heart feels overwhelmed
Just know you're never by yourself
Put your hand in mine, hold your head up high
And together we'll rise

Never lift your head up to the sky
And find yourself asking, "Why?"
Never see them eye to eye
With the hardships of life
But faith is where my heart is
Let energy replace my doubts
Won't let my trials get the best of me
I'm marching forth towards my destiny

You can't let it pass you
Just take hold and grasp it
Now's the time to take a chance

With the strength of a thousand men
Climbing to my feet again

Dry those tears from your eyes
And everything will be alright
You know the rainbow's just in sight
Dust your wings off as you rise
If your heart feels overwhelmed
Just know you're never by yourself
Put your hand in mine, hold your head up high
And together we'll rise

Together we can do anything
We'll rise
We can make it through anything
We'll rise
Together we can do anything
We'll rise, we'll rise, we'll rise

You can try to hurt me
Doubt me and desert me
I'll feel the will of kings
With my mind I'll plant a seed
And you know a tree will grow
And take me in
To safety's arms
I will ascend

Dry those tears from your eyes
And everything will be alright
You know the rainbow's just in sight
Dust your wings off as you rise
If your heart feels overwhelmed
Just know you're never by yourself
Put your hand in mine, hold your head up high
And together we'll rise

Together we can do anything
We'll rise
We can make it through anything
We'll rise
Together we can do anything
We'll rise, we'll rise, we'll rise

Together we can do anything
We'll rise
We can make it through anything
We'll rise
Together we can do anything
We'll rise, we'll rise, we'll rise

Oh ohh ohh

Monday, July 30, 2018

Workshop: Premises (Part 2)

The following post originally appeared in the June 2018 newsletter. If you're not already a subscriber, the link is in the sidebar. -->

Did you miss part one? Catch up here.

After determining to write something that may change your life, looking for what’s possible, identifying the story challenges and problems, and finding the designing principle, John Truby’s (The Anatomy of Story) next piece of advice is to:

5) Determine the best character in the idea

The character that tells your story should be the one who is able to sustain the audience’s interest. He should be fascinating and challenging and complex.

To discover your best character, consider the story you are aiming to tell and ask yourself: “Who do I love?”

Truby says that this question can even be expanded to include:

“Do I want to see [this character] act?”
“Do I love the way he thinks?”
“Do I care about the challenges he has to overcome?”

Then . . .

6. Get a sense of the central conflict

In this step, we need to know who is going to fight whom, for what, and why, and how this cause and effect pattern will play out in the story. Which brings us to:

7. Get a sense of the single cause-and-effect pathway

Remember: the plot of the story should flow logically with a “because X happened, Y happened, and because Y happened, Z happened” pattern. The story should not follow an “X happened and then Y happened and then Z happened” pattern.

“And then” statements don’t progress the story; in fact, they (most likely) only serve to link random events. If a scene has no effect on or outcome related to the key events that unfold, it’s probably best to delete it. It’s unnecessary.

8. Determine how your character will change throughout the story

In my opinion, one of the most satisfying things about reading novels is seeing characters grow and change as they undergo struggles and face their demons. A good protagonist will not remain static through a dramatic arc.

In fact, Truby says: “the basic action [in a story] should be the one action best able to force the character to deal with his weaknesses and change.”

Go ahead and brainstorm any number of potential challenges and weaknesses, and be creative in how you link the two. Your first few ideas will likely be clichés, so dig deep.

9. Figure out the hero’s possible moral choice

A moral decision is made based on a person's ethics, manners, character, and what they believe to be “proper” behavior.

“To be a true choice, your hero must select one of two positive outcomes or, on rare occasions, avoid one of two negative outcomes,” says Truby.

The options should be as equal as possible, with only one seeming slightly better (or worse) than the other.

10. Determine the audience appeal

Once these steps are taken, it’s time to ask yourself: “Is this story unique enough to interest a lot of people?”

Ten easy steps, right? Well, maybe easier said than done, but if you can at least get a few of these nailed down before you begin writing, you’ll be in a better position to craft a solid story.

Happy Writing!

Resources:


John Truby. The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller. Faber and Faber. New York. 2007