I love writing in the storm, only being able to see a few feet in front of me at a time, as the story takes shape behind the veil, capturing it as quickly as I can type, as it comes to me through the clouds.
This is the way I like to write, I have tried planning my stories out, but it just does not work for me.
Nothing thrills me more than setting off into the wilderness grasping an idea in one hand and a hope and a prayer in the other. I can consistently kick out two thousand words, six days a week, with little to no problems. I like to give my imagination a rest day, at the end of the week, after an intense week of writing.
It is an exciting thrill ride, where given the right conditions, showing up consistently, on time everyday, it pays off.
“Inspiration exists, but has to find you working” ~ Pablo Picasso
But it is not a path for the faint of heart, many perils lie along the way, self doubt, the ridicule of others, crazy ideas that make no sense. But I believe if I show up consistently my ideas will come and they usually do, as the story reveals itself to me.
Sometimes as the self-doubt starts gnawing on my creative edge, usually around the 10k-20k mark, where I think, where is this story going, why am I writing it? I take an hour or two or just even twenty minutes to throw a quick premise down. To quell that inner doubter. I do it in the evening to separate it from my regular writing times. But it helps crystallize things in my own head, so that I can get moving again.
Here is my formula:
First I ask myself five fast questions –
- What is this story about?
- What does my protagonist want?
- What do I want to resonate with my readers?
- What’s the point of this story?
- Do I care about this story, what lies at it’s heart?
I grab a note pad and pen and go as fast as I can, I brainstorm the answers.
This is not a linear list, it’s just to get my brain thinking about my story, from a global view, like pantsing my draft, I pants my premise too. Knowing that thinking too much, at least for me, might scare the magic away, so I hold it loosely.
Then for about 10-20 minutes I try to nail my story to the page, in one or two sentences.
Here’s a formula for building a logline-
* a logline was once used in the movie industry to sell a movie to a studio, it is a great way to condense and crystallize your story.
It’s the one or two sentence summary of your story that not only conveys your premise, but also gives the reader emotional insight into the story as a whole.
Here’s an example from Star Wars:
Restless farm boy (situation) Luke Skywalker (protagonist) wants nothing more than to leave home and become a starfighter pilot, so he can live up to his mysterious father (objective). But when his aunt and uncle are murdered (disaster) after purchasing renegade droids, Luke must free the droids’ beautiful owner and discover a way to stop (conflict) the evil Empire (opponent) and its apocalyptic Death Star.
I take the example above and slot my story in, moving around the elements that I need to. Once my logline is nailed down, this becomes my guiding star that helps direct my story. Now I said helps, because if a better idea decides to show up with something unexpected that I love, I stay flexible to new possibilities. The truth is, for me at least, the bones of the story are already there, I’m just clearing off the dirt so I can see the shape better.
Then I file away my premise, as I hand it over to my unconscious mind to continue solidifying what my story is about.
This is like throwing creative rocket fuel on my story and away we go again. Normally I don’t hit too many bumps in the road, usually only once or twice, once near the start and occasionally once near the end. I’ll share my tips and strategies on how I get past the final bump in a couple of weeks, as I approach the finish line on my current work.
Finally I put my head down once more to write, the path way opens before me and I see the sunshine peeking through the trees, whispering softly, let us go, your adventure lies this way.
These thoughts, skills and techniques are my own, they are what work for me. So if you have strategies that work great for you, then awesome! Why don’t you share them in the comments box below, along with any other ideas or suggestions, or anything else you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you!
What works for you?
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