I have been writing two books since January 2013, but I’ve been writing poetry for over fifteen years. It’s a different medium when you’re writing poetry/fiction/non-fiction. Toggling between the three really requires that you refocus and get into the spirit of what you’re writing. They are all different genres but ultimately you want your writing and the story you’re telling to connect with your readers. Here are 8 ways I stay fresh while writing a story.
1. Listening to the characters
I spent a great amount of time creating my characters. I name them like they are my children. I want their names to reflect a part of the character’s personality. No one in any of my books has a random name (e.g. I have a character named Thorne what do you think his personality is like?) During the writing process I often find myself typing with my eyes closed so that I can see the characters in motion and I’m just an observer describing the scenes to the readers. It’s an approach that works well for me.
2. Coming up with interesting plot lines
In the serial novels, I’m writing there is high drama and it’s fast paced. With each book in the series, I focus on two of the main characters and I wrap up the drama from the book before in the next book (sometimes). It’s a great formulaic process that allows me to outline the books and chapters to get the characters to go where I want them to go. I watch soap operas and listen to books on cd. I take nuggets from the writer’s that are putting on these productions. I listen to the writing and I jot down scenarios that would possibly work well in other books or in the series at a different time.
3. Using writing prompts
I have been using The Write Prompts site and that add dimensions to my characters and story. It helps the story move along and definitely clears me of writer’s block. Here’s another set of prompts that can help you get some good blog posts out.
4. Conversations with other creatives
The conversations I have with other creative individuals also shake divergent tactics out of my brain. I have a screen writer friend and when I get stuck on plot, I call him. We talk over things until I figure out a good fit for the character that’s giving me trouble. You’d be amazed at how good it feels to be a part of creative energy.
5. People watching (Uh, but not like a stalker because I’m stealth with it…
ok well stalkers are stealth too)
I go to Starbucks or Barnes & Noble and I eavesdrop on conversations and watch people’s interactions. All behind a book of course (stop giggling,…they think I’m reading) but you’d be surprised at how easy it is to gauge dynamics between a group of people by listening to their dialogue. I’ve gotten great nuggets and phrases for my characters from those people watching sessions.
6. Listening to the readers
I have some trusted readers that go through the book before I send it to the editor. They give me tips on how to engage the characters that I haven’t thought about as the story goes along. I send them three chunks at a time to read through so that before I continue with the story I can get real feedback. Writing a book shouldn’t be done in the dark, you should have a reader to listen to where you’re at with the story. That’s when the story will resonate the most with the person reading it.
7. Quiet and Music
I have to write in silence with the door closed and my eyes closed on some days. On others I listen to mood music to get into the theme of the scene. Especially if it’s a difficult action filled scene.
8. Don’t Force It
If I’m stuck in a chapter, I skip to the next chapter so I can possibly resolve what’s going on in the chapter I’m stuck on. I don’t like being unproductive when I’m writing. Writer’s block is a huge enemy of mine–he and I don’t get along.
What is it that you do to further your writing process? How do you broaden your character’s voices? [hr]