It’s a sunny day here in Luxembourg. The heatwave has eased, the rain has stopped, and it’s perfect weather for sitting out on the patio and pouring thoughts and words into my laptop.
I started looking through my Scrivener folder of “Unfinished Works“. More accurately, it should be called, “Started and Stalled“.
Some authors struggle to find ideas. I’m of the other type: story ideas constantly tumble through my mind, especially when I’m in the middle of redrafting a story. (I HATE redrafting.) So I type out a few notes in my “Unfinished Works” folder and get back to the task in hand.
(It also happens when I’m swimming, which is a terrible time to get an idea as my iPhone is not waterproof!)
Every now and again, I look through my Unfinisheds to see if there’s anything worth developing. It’s usually an unfulfilling task. I find sketches, first lines or paragraphs, or even whole chapters that lead nowhere I can follow – yet. Worse, I find the plots of movies and novels released AFTER I noted down the original idea. I really wish I had one of those author mind-reading gadgets!
But sometimes I strike gold! Today, I managed to fill out and reach a (to me) satisfying conclusion for two short stories. (Now I have to do the redrafting…) Major sci-fi authors have advice…
- Golden era writer Isaac Asimov’s advice was to finish what you write, submit it, write another. He also advocated writing every day, whether you feel like it or not.
- Ray Bradbury wrote a story every week on the basis that you can’t write fifty-two bad stories in a year. (Hmmm… not too sure about that applying to everyone!)
- Stephen King promotes writing for four hours every day and reading for the same amount of time. (Not easy if you’re holding down a job with a commute…)
As for the authors without storyline-polluted brains, I do sympathize.
In FaceBook’s many writing-related groups, I often see posts from would-be authors asking for plot ideas or even character names. Without an overview of the story, this is impossible to provide as a character’s name should fit the:-
- historical period (and social class)
- culture (and age of the character in that culture as popularity changes)
- geographical location
- gender (usually)
And (of course) it should match the tone of the story and hint at the character’s personality. Ariel “BuzzBrain” Starfighter is a different starship captain than Kurt Stone and in a different type of story.
Picasso said, “Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.” So steal an idea from a successful novel/movie/TV series and write it your own way. After all, the “Shades of Grey” series began as “Twilight” fan fiction, and “Fifty SHEDS of Grey” was a modestly-successful parody.
Back to redrafting… YAY!
Hmm… or maybe I’ll take my own advice for once? I’ll rework in my own way those stories copied in advance by other famous writers! Onward and upward!
Meanwhile, whatever you’re reading right now – ENJOY!