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Posts Tagged ‘writing tips’

Whenever, I’m going to begin a new story, I always start with a head full of ideas…and a big piece of blank paper.

I ask myself a lot of questions – the two main ones being:

  1. What’s going to happen in my story?
  2. Who do I want to tell my story?

WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN IN MY STORY

This is the plotting part – this is where I sit down and try to free my mind and just write down random ideas that come into my head. I don’t rearrange them into the story order until later – and some of the original ideas won’t get used at all.

Sometimes I even change what happens in my story as I go. Sometimes, the character decides they want to go in a completely different direction. In fact, the more I think about who the main character really is – and what motivates them – the more the plot for my story develops.

When I’m thinking about the plot for my story, I think about:

  1. What is going to happen?
  2. How is it going to happen?
  3. Why is it going to happen?
  4. When is it going to happen?
  5. Where is it going to happen?
  6. WHO is it going to happen to?

WHO IS GOING TO TELL MY STORY?

This isn’t as simple as it sounds. I am the writer, and yes…I am the one writing down the story…but whose eyes will I tell it through? Whose point of view shall I tell the story from?

If I tell it in first person point of view (using ‘I’); then I will probably have the main character tell my story. This way of telling a story lets me write what is going on in my main character’s head.

For example: I don’t do furry pets and family holidays – probably comes from growing up without a mum. (From ‘Letters to Leonardo’ published by Walker Books 2009).

I could tell it from third person point of view where someone narrates what is happening to my main character, and this lets me describe more how things look etc.

For example: Matt wasn’t into furry pets and family holidays. There had always just been him and Dad, and they never went anywhere.

If I want to tell it from more than one person’s point of view, I can do this is third person omniscient where I hop from one character’s head to another. This can be a great way of adding lots of different perspectives to the story, but it can get confusing if you hop around too much.

For example: Matt had never been on a family holiday. Dad worked every weekend so they never got to go anywhere. Troy’s family went away all the time. Troy wondered how Matt coped with the boredom.

Don’t be afraid to change to a different point of view if the first one you tried doesn’t seem to be working. And don’t worry about scribbling all over the blank paper in writing that your mother couldn’t read. It’s important to get your ideas down so they don’t become a mish mash in your head. Then you can decide the order later.

The most important thing with starting a story is to ‘Start It’. Don’t put it off any longer. If you want to be a writer…you have to write, write and write some more.

Happy writing:-)

Dee

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hatelistauthorUS author Jennifer Brown was one of the fabulous hosts of my Letters to Leonardo blog tour back in July.

So I’m thrilled to welcome her today to talk about how she wrote her gripping new YA novel, Hate List.

So, Jen, what is Hate List about?

Five months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria.  Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saves the life of a classmate, but is implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create.  A list of people and things they hated.  The list her boyfriend used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year.  Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

hate list full coverWow, what a gripping plot line.  Jen, Can you tell us more about how you wrote this amazing books – any tips ?

Research is important

Because Hate List was about the emotional journey of my character more than anything else, I focused most of my research and attention on that. I sent Valerie to therapy — literally I had a psychologist “do therapy” on her — and I analyzed every possible emotion and emotional reaction to its very core. Much of this I did before writing the story at all.

Most of Hate List was written in the wee hours of the morning. It was the best time for me to come at it with a clear head (the day hasn’t yet had a chance to muddle it up!) and get a couple solid hours of writing in before my little monsters woke up. I always start the day by reviewing what I’ve written the day before, just to get me into the flow of writing again, and then off I go!

Are you a major plotter or do you just sit down and write?

You have to do what works for you. I’m not a plotter or an outliner or synopsizer. I like to dive in and write; let the story take care of itself. Of course, that can mean a plot that gets a little wild in places, and my editor certainly worked with me to take out some subplots that threatened to “take over” the main plot. In the end, there were whole characters deleted and whole chapters completely changed. But, truthfully, this is the way I prefer to work. I bristle much less at having to delete and rewrite than at having to outline.

I found it very fortunate, while writing Hate List, that I also write a weekly humor column. The emotions in Hate List run very deep and threatened to take a lot out of me emotionally. Switching to lighter themes and emotions every week for a few hours helped tremendously. Also, during the time I was writing and revising Hate List, I would jot out humorous/lighter pieces of short fiction just for my own pleasure and, again, to lighten myself up a little. I came away with a few short stories that I’m planning to pursue as novel-length work, which means not only did they help my spirits, but they could end up being something really interesting in the long run!

“Hate List” is an amazing book, and it sounds like you’ve gone through an extraordinary process to get to this point.

Thanks for dropping in to chat to us about your how you write, Jen.

Dee

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Sheep+Goat book cover

Can’t wait for tomorrow when my good friend and fellow author, Claire Saxby drops in to talk about her wonderful new picture book, Sheep, Goat and the Creaking Gate.

Claire is going to give us some great tips on how she comes up with names for her characters and her books.

Drop in and say, ‘Hi’.

Dee:-)

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