Your underlying theme.
The structure, plot, essence and premise…all in one sentence.
Your job becomes so much easier if you know what you’re trying to accomplish. If you spend your writing time winging it as you go, sure…give it a shot. Many have and succeeded… but… having a light in front of you to keep you on point is like a guide in the mountains. Sure you could get there without him, but he keeps you on the path.
Furthermore, if you have a hard time boiling your story down to the essence of one sentence, maybe you don’t really know what your story is about do you?
The beauty of this is it isn’t a rigid structure that you have to follow, it’s a compass, you just have to stay on that heading…
Now go make your own path.
If you’re looking to organize all your notes, thoughts and ideas in chronological order with some sequence that makes sense to anyone who looks at it…
Maybe there’s a better way.
It should be messy.
Your best thoughts come to you in the shower (make notes before shaving), while driving (keep a small recorder handy), while watching a movie or reading a book. You get the idea?
Messy is productive…
Organized may lack passion – the disarray of scattered notes, clippings, post its and scribbles is the stuff of genius…
Don’t try to squelch it, embrace it.
My notes for the second book featuring characters from Run for the Money are like this, and I wouldn’t have it any other way…
Give it your all, and let the scraps fall where they may.
of your comfort zone.
Does what you’re about to do intimidate you? Gives you apprehension? Second thoughts?
All the more reason to do it.
You staying comfortable is the easiest thing in the world, but it’s not what you want to do. When you’re daydreaming about the things you wish you were doing or want to do or dream of doing – they’re not getting done because starting them makes you feel uncomfortable.
And in the end, the satisfaction of staying in your comfort zone isn’t really comfortable at all, it generates frustration that leads you to seek more comfort.
Leaving you with this… that which you seek comfort in is the greatest source of your frustration.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Where we are today with mobile devices pulling our attention has been written about extensively and I can’t add anything to the discussion except this…
Create your own distractions.
When you click on whatever and get pulled down the rabbit hole…you have made a choice to let someone else’s creation sway your brain cells.
In other words, they win.
How do you win instead?
Create more than you consume.
Whether it’s writing, building, volunteering or starting a vegetable garden or a new project… anything that you produce yourself as a creative outlet is a win for you.
If nobody else consumes it, big deal. It’s your creation, create it for you and let the chips fall where they may.
Just know this…searching for “the juice” on your smartphone or on social media will have the opposite result: you will be drained.
The only way to get that “juice”…is from you. Now go do it and see how it feels.
is to write consistently. Whether it’s every day, every other day, Tuesdays and Fridays at noon…you must have a time and place to do this.
The experts say write every day…great if you can…sometimes us mere mortals aren’t up for that challenge, fine…
If you show up at a certain time and at a certain place…the muse will eventually know she has a job to do and will show up for work.
If you do this haphazardly…well then so will she. Give your work and your muse the respect they deserve and treat this like a job.
A job has start times, end times, and location. Make yours…
then show up for work.
…it’s an opinion. Thomas Edison
You know the type, the victims, the excuses coming a mile a minute, hopeless and everybody else’s fault.
You’re not one of those.
The ones who search out self improvement articles on higher possibilities, or random blog posts from strangers on the internet who might have a good idea…those are the ones who need it the least.
The ones who need it the most won’t show up here. They’re looking for the next ear.
The ones who don’t need it are too busy doing things to even take the time to consider failure as an option.
Be the one too busy, moving forward, doing instead of excusing…and a funny thing happens…
Doors open, progress gets made, a little every day…on to the next mission.
In K.M. Weiland’s book Outlining Your Novel she covers this well. The book is great in a lot of areas but regarding backstory I picked up these gems:
- We must give our characters backstory.
- Sometimes the most effective backstories are those that are hinted at rather than told outright.
- No lengthy flashback scenes…present backstory with a powerful punch and few words.
In addition… backstory may be better off staying inside your head. It may do the reader more benefit to have you use the backstory in order to drop into a fast paced read at just the right moment.
Do yourself a favor and read her book, especially if you have trouble with the outlining process…. and do your future self a favor by knowing ahead of time where this beast you’re creating is heading.