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.