Is it ready yet? It’s happened to every serious writer. You start a novel or even a short story. You have a good idea, and maybe a great ending. But that’s all – and nothing else is coming to you. If you’re just starting your outline, that’s okay. But what if you’re 50 pages in? You’ve worked hours upon hours working on the next bestseller, and then . . .
Well, there’s nothing. What do you do? I can tell you this much. I will finish it If I’ve invested enough time to write 50 pages. I will not waste those hours.
Take a break – Don’t waste time agonizing over what you don’t have. I’ve found you can’t force storylines. Sometimes you just have to let them marinate. Take a walk. Watch TV (well, maybe not). Go shopping. Do whatever you have to do to get your mind off the story. That sounds counterproductive, but it may just surprise you when you get back to the keyboard.
Read – Maybe reading someone else’s material will kick-start your creative process. Reading another’s inspiring work might just lead you to your own inspiration – and your next chapter.
What if – After you’ve had a break and have refreshed your mind, try playing the “what if” game. What if this happened? What if that happened? What if he did this? What if she said that? What if they went here? What if they couldn’t go there? The possibilities are unlimited. Eventually, you’ll be able to break the ice and the story will flow again.
Hey, did I mention after a week of temperatures in the teens, it’s going to reach 52 degrees. Spring is getting closer – I think. See you next week.
Just a quick note to let you know there will be no Wednesday update this week. I will be involved in a very special project at our church all week. I’ll be off the computer as well, so if you need to email me, just know I will get back to you as soon as possible, but it won’t be for a few days. Sometimes things come up, and this is one of them. See you on the 24th.
We’ll skip the weather this week. Let’s talk politics – no, let’s not. How about video games? – no let’s not. Wait a second. Maybe there’s something to learn here. I’m not into video games even it helps my writing, but I did come across an interesting article at Inkitt. I never thought about it before, but there are actually games out there that can help you develop your writing. Anybody use video games to spark your writing? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you’re into video games, you might find these interesting. Check them out. Here are just a few.
Crazy as it sounds, Among Us is based on one’s ability to lie and get away with it. It may not send a moral message, but it might be a trait to infuse into one or more of your characters. Inkitt puts it this way,
“Learning to spot lies and invent your own is a priceless talent for any writer. Honing your focus by minding not only your own business, but everyone else’s can improve your character-handling skills. Ever have a side character disappear halfway through the book? Among Us may break you of that curse. Best of all, Among Us will teach you how to write villains, especially the nefarious, back-stabbing variety. Just listen to your friends lie and watch how they sway crews to vote out their saviors. It’s a primer on treachery.”
If horror is your game, then perhaps Outlast is literally your game. The Inkitt take –
“Horror is a messy, broad genre. Many doors lead to a night awake with the light on, but not every door serves every reader. Essentially, different thrills chill different readers. Outlast is worth playing because it gets just about everyone in the end. While there are plenty of other brilliant horror games, none sustain dread quite as well as this one. It’s deeply disturbing, frightening, tense, and even gag-inducing at times. The game juggles so many horror tricks its impossible to see where the next blow is coming from until it’s landed.
“Consider Outlast a shortcut to the screaming depths of your animal brain. If you can manage not to have a heart attack, it’s worth taking notes on the imagery, scares, and set pieces you hate the most.”
Red Dead Redemption:
Into writing a series? Check out Red Dead Redemption. As I said, I don’t play video games much, but the idea intrigued me. I have no first-hand experience. You’re left to do your own research, but this is what Inkitt says.
“Ever wanted to write a series? This game isn’t just a good story. It’s a good story plus a few more. The overarching plot, dotted as it is with full-storied side missions, lays the groundwork for what could serve as a perfectly functional collection of episodic novels. Plenty of other open world adventure games do this, too, but I would argue Red Dead Redemption does a better job telling its main tale.
“The story’s end isn’t just an objective (kill the dragon, beat your rival, rescue the princess). No spoilers, of course, but the story is everything at the end of the day, no matter how much players enjoyed their side quests, and that’s ultimately what makes or breaks a series.”
You may also want to take a look at Death Stranding and the Bioshock Collection. Death Stranding is said to be “one of the strangest AAA games to ever hit the market” – a mix of psychology and horror. If that’s your bag, go for it!
Inkitt says of the Bioshock Collection, “All the Bioshock games do at least one thing very, very well: they use the environment to tell the story. This includes critical world-building and game mechanic tips, but the closer players look, the more they discover.”
Okay. Enough on the games. Just something to consider. Whatever you can use to improve your writing, use. If the games help – wonderful. If not, move on to whatever does. Either way, just write, and I’ll see you next week.
I’m not sure why I always start my blog with a weather report. Maybe it’s just the first thing I notice when I awake. I peek out the window to see what’s happening. Maybe I can feel the weather change in my bones. Maybe it’s just part of my writer’s psyche. Who knows? All I know is the winds are high. The temperature is in the low teens. And the snow accumulation has reached about 15 inches. It makes for a wonderful day of writing. I hope you all are safe and healthy as we’ve hit the mid-week mark.
Last week I mentioned some editors that I find helpful, specifically ProWritingAid and Grammarly. Let me say I am not paid a dime for recommending any products on this site. They are just products I use and find to be extremely helpful. Your experience may be quite different. This week, I’d like to introduce you to FreeWriter, if you’ve not already met. You can get more information by going to the website at http://www.freewritersoftware.com, but here’s my take.
FreeWriter is not an editor in the same line as Grammarly or ProWritingAid. It is more of an organizing tool to help you develop, organize, and write a clean manuscript. It’s similar to Scrivener, but the name says it all. It’s free. I’ve not used Scrivener regularly, but from what I can tell, there isn’t much difference, except for the price.
FreeWriter allows you to break down your productivity chapter by chapter. The word count is always accessible and comparable to the other chapters. It makes it easy to plan the length of a story or article. It is especially good for creative writing. You can keep a character file on as many characters as you like and watch them grow as you write your story. Places and things can also be developed and updated in the same way.
What I find to be helpful is the Thoughts tab. From there, I can outline the next chapter or scene quickly and get on with the writing. I’ve always been a pantster, but what I’ve found is by keeping a chapter ahead in my planning, it is actually easier to write when the time comes. I can also store passing thoughts to add to the manuscript later. It connects to the web making research easier. It’s all right there. To make writing even more organized, there are labels, sticky notes, and index cards. The card holder allows you to keep things in order making it easy to just flip through as you write.
Okay. That’s my take on FreeWriter. Take it for what it’s worth – Free. Try it. It may work for you. Then again, you may not want to bother with it at all. Either way, I’ll see you next week with more. If you’re in the northeast, enjoy the snow, freezing temperatures and high winds.
Typical Pennsylvania winter weather – cold, sleet and/or snow; cloudy, threats of storms in the air. All told, it has been a rather mild winter, not like the ones I remember from years ago. It’s a good day to write.
The Marisol Deception is finally finished. For sure, this project was the longest I ever worked on. I started it in November of 2019 and it is now available through the typical outlets, but . . .
So let’s get to what’s involved with finally finishing. This is my process. I’d love to hear yours. You can lay it out in the comments section below.
I do all my rough drafts on hubpages.com. You can read them there. HP used to be a great community, a lot of nice, supportive people. The nice, supportive people remain (at least some of them), but HP has really dropped the ball. My chief complaint is even though I can still read others’ articles, the comment process has gotten to be too complicated and too time-consuming. Even though I still enjoy reading the articles, the social contact has dwindled for me. My primary purpose for posting on HubPages is to have an online backup. Enough said about that.
Contrary to what is usually recommended, I do a lot of editing as I go. I use two editors, ProWritingAid and Grammarly. I write a chapter on one, make the necessary corrections, then paste it into HP. Once there, I can use Grammarly as a double-check. I make whatever corrections needed, then paste it into a template to begin the final draft. Problem – the editors don’t catch everything, so . . .
Once the story is complete. I go back and reread from beginning to end, adding some here, taking some out there. I check for clarity, missing words, punctuation, organization, and whatever else needs fixed. Once I’m satisfied with the manuscript, I submit it and wait for my proof.
Here is where it gets really interesting. I’ve run it through two editors, reread it and made changes at least one more time before I do the final draft, then when I get the proof back, I go through it with a fine-tooth comb. When it’s in book form, the mistakes really show. I can’t believe there is still so much to correct. One more read, and hopefully, it’s ready to go.
When I’m finally satisfied with the project, it’s off to the printer, and ends up in somebody’s hands. I hope they’re happy with it. This process may not work for everybody, but it works for me. Now, I start the same thing over again with Black. I can already tell this will take me some time to finish. I have it scheduled for September. We’ll see how close I get.
Okay, so that’s it for another Wednesday. See you next week.
At 12:00 noon today, January 20, 2021, there will be a transfer of power from the Trump administration to the Biden administration. We know what the last four years held. What we don’t know is what will the next four years hold? The bottom line is neither Trump nor Biden have charge over this nation. God is still in control, no matter what the circumstances seem to show. You may think things will improve. You may think things will worsen. Only God knows. In the end, it will all work out for His purposes, not ours as we move closer to Armageddon.
It’s all in The Marisol Deception. Although it’s a fictional account, it’s based on the prophecies of Revelation, and it’s now available (in ebook form) at Amazon.com. Within a week yous hould be able to order from the website on the Books and Resources page. Over a year ago, before COVID, before the riots, before the national unrest, I conceived the story outline based on the biblical book of Revelation. It amazed me to see parts of the story actually happening in the news. These are exciting times as we watch Bible prophecy being fulfilled before our very eyes.
Seeing the end-time approaching should sober us. Where do we stand in relation to the true King, Jesus Christ? The days will become more difficult as we see our freedoms being taken away one by one. Who else can we turn to but Christ? I could be wrong, but I doubt America will see another president after Joe Biden. The prophecies are being fulfilled at an astounding rate. The end is coming quickly.
For a more thorough explanation, get your copy of The Marisol Deception, or better yet, read the book of Revelation. I wish you the best in the new year under the “new” administration. Remember, the ultimate power comes from God.
Weather Report – cloudy, cold, rain. Enough said. I long for the warmth of the Arizona Desert. But then, I’d come face to face with Marisol’s minions from lightyears away as they search for Kinsley and Tony. I’m not about to take that risk. I just finished proofing the manuscript. A few minor changes and Marisol will be born – from my imagination to the written page in paperback and e-book. That means you can still preorder the book before its publication next week.
I’ll be glad to finally put Marisol behind me. I started the story in November of 2019 – 14 months ago. The plan was to have it out by September of 2020. Such are plans. I have never come across so many distractions and interruptions. As a pastor, the church keeps me busy and that’s my first priority, but anyway, that’s all behind me (I think). One last read and it should be good to go. In the meantime, my new project, Black, has been put on hold until The Marisol Deception is completed.
I don’t like distractions. I don’t like interruptions. But they do happen. Let’s talk about it a little bit. Do you have ongoing distractions or just one time big hits? Can you control your interruptions or are they beyond your control? When they come, how do you handle them? What do you do? Help me here. Let your words of wisdom fall in the comments below. We can all learn from each other. Until next week –
I’m in suspense. I haven’t checked the weather channel yet. Do I need an umbrella? How about a snow shovel? A sweater or a heavy coat? Hey, this is Pennsylvania. They’re all possible at any given moment. Only time will tell. And so should it be with our writing – possibilities, but only time will tell. Throw in a twist here and there and mix thoroughly with suspense, and you have a good start for your tale. Let me give you some thoughts on suspense. What do you think? How do you build suspense? Let me know in the comments below.
1: Raise the Stakes
Two basic questions you need to answer are 1.) What does your protagonist want or need? 2.) Why does it matter? Let your character show your readers the answers to those questions? Although difficult to write at times, first person POV may be an excellent opportunity to allow your audience to see the goal through your character’s eyes.
2: Keep the End Zone Just Out of Reach
I love to watch football, but it irritates me when my team gets close to the goal line but fails to score. I feel all kinds of emotion from upset to anger to frustration. Isn’t that what fiction writing is about? To get your readers to react emotionally? Let them feel the “so close, but so far away” feeling that your character feels. Offer hope. Then take it away. Of course, we can overdo it. So slide in some minor victories along the way.
3: Throw in a Surprising Limitation.
Think the Nancy Kerrigan/Tanya Harding ordeal. Both were excellent skaters ready to compete against each other until the enemy crushed Nancy’s leg, eliminating her from competition. Her hopes were dashed, at least temporarily.
4: Raise the Fear Factor
Reveal what could happen should things not work out. Sometimes a quick detour into hypotheticals can be a way to scare your audience into sympathizing with the protagonist.
5: Morality and Cognitive Dissonance.
Give your protagonist a potential solution, but make it an unfavorable option. Could s/he accomplish the goal but at an exorbitant price? Maybe the death of a loved one? The demise of a marriage? Questions of morality can spellbind and hold your reader captive. I say, “Go for it!”
Well, gotta check the weather channel. Maybe we’re in for an ice storm. Enjoy your week whatever the weather brings, and I’ll see you next Wednesday!
First things first – I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. And now as we look forward to hopefully, a better 2021, I’d like to wish you a vey happy New Year. Truth be told, 2021 will be what you make it. Last week I began a compilation of Bible verses depicting the Christmas story. I want to continue the rest of the story this week, and next week, we’ll get back to some writing thoughts.
You see, that little baby born in Bethlehem had a higher calling than just to live as an example for us. He was more than a prophet. He possessed powers beyond that of a great teacher and rabbi. His sole purpose for entering the world was to die – to pay the sin debt that each of us has accumulated, He was God in the flesh. Follow the events that lead from the cradle to the cross to 2021.
Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.
After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.
In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
I’ll see you next year (2021) with some writing tips. Until then, do your best to stay safe and healthy!
As a child, I remember Charlie Brown reciting the appearance of the angels to the shepherds and their subsequent trip to Bethlehem to worship the Christ Child. There is so much more to the story. I’ve poste it below. All quotations are taken from the King James Bible..
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God . . . And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. . . .
When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
There is so much more to the story. We’ll look at that next week as we prepare for the New Year. Then we’ll get back to some writing tips. In the meantime, Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas!!!