Thursday, December 13, 2018

Ideas vs. Situations

"I want to write a book, but I don't have a good idea."

or the flipside: 

"I have a great idea. It needs to be a book."

An idea, however, does not "a story" make.

An idea is a little spark that might set a story in motion, but it's not enough. 

What you're really looking for is a situation. 

Boy meets girl. 

This is an idea.

A German boy falls in love with a Jewish girl in the moments before Hitler's Army comes to town.

This is a situation. 

A situation demands the question: "what happens next?"

The idea is where the story starts, but the situation drives the narrative.

When inspiration strikes, make sure it's a situation (or figure out how to turn it into one). 

Be Brilliant!


Monday, December 10, 2018

What Lights You Up?

In The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, he talks about the two lives we live that are at odds with one another: our real life and the unlived life inside us (the life we WISH we could live). 

The line separating the two is (capital R) Resistance.

Resistance is toxic, he says, because it keeps us from growing into the person we're meant to become.

But how do we know who we're supposed to become? 

It goes back to determining what makes us light up.

To toss in the cliche: what would you do if you only had six months left to live?

Quit your soul-sucking job? Get those characters that have been swimming around your head for years onto paper? List your crafts and/or art on Etsy? Get your website up and running? Open that store?

If the answer is anything other than what you're doing right now, a serious change (or, at the very least, some serious soul-searching) is in order.

As scary as it sounds, it might be time to break down that wall of Resistance and try something else.

What lights you up, and why aren't you doing it?

Be Brilliant!


Thursday, December 6, 2018

On Stakes--Writing Tip

Readers want a character with a goal. 

A goal they pursue relentlessly.

They don't want a story about a guy who sort of likes a girl. They want a story about a guy who can't live without the girl, even if he doesn't realize it right away.

What's at stake?

What does the hero get when she wins?
What does the hero lose if he fails?

The bigger the stakes, the more satisfying the read.

Be Brilliant!


Monday, December 3, 2018

But What Do I Write About?

Write about something you know--some small aspect of your life--a personal experience or a world you're familiar with. Something that requires no research. Forget the facts; tell the story.

Don't worry about being perfect; just make it as good as you can.

Writing a book is hard. 

That doesn't mean you're not capable of doing it or shouldn't give it a shot. 

It just means that it's hard.

Be Brilliant!


Thursday, November 29, 2018

On Conflict -- Writing Tip

-Conflict happens when someone wants something he can't have.
-Conflict happens when someone wants two different things, but can't have both.
-Conflict happens when two people in the same orbit want different things (but also each other).
-Conflict happens when two people want the same thing, but there can only be one winner.
-Conflict happens when two people want the same thing, they can both have said thing, but they disagree over how to get it.

Putting characters at odds with each other (and themselves) is the quickest way to propel the plot and keep those pages turning.

And, let's be real, conflict is super-fun to write. :)

Be Brilliant!


Monday, November 26, 2018

On Killing Those "Darlings"

Note: this is a throwback post from June 2017, but the message is worth repeating.


I'm working my way through Screenwriting for Neurotics by Scott Winfield Sublett, which has valuable information not only for screenwriters but for all writers. The chapters on plotting have been especially helpful, but he also says something truly wonderful about killing your "darlings."

Your darlings, they say, are those words or phrases or sentences (or paragraphs or entire scenes) that you've poured your heart and soul into and that you love more than life itself, despite the fact that they really don't add much to the story.  

Sublett says: 

“You might say, 

'What a pity that my inspiration should go to waste!' 

But saying that is misunderstanding the nature of inspiration: it’s not a scarce resource but rather a limitless river that flows through you. There’s plenty more inspiration in that river, so please waste it.

Building a table would produce sawdust and wood scraps

Would you glue them to the top of the table so that they don’t 'go to waste'?”

Isn't that a fantastic analogy?

No: you wouldn't build a table--carving and sanding--then heap the "unnecessary" back onto it, no matter how interesting or "beautiful" it seems.
If it really bothers you, don't delete the darlings permanently. Move them to a "darlings" file. Maybe you'll be able to use them somewhere else/in some other project one day.
So go ahead. Tap into your limitless river, and don't be afraid to kill those darlings. There's plenty more inspiration where that came from. 

In fact, you are a well of inspiration, and the more you create the more creative you'll be.

Be Brilliant!


Thursday, November 22, 2018