I am really annoyed at writing right now so this is basically just a rant, but maybe you’ll find it helpful, or at least you can share your frustration with me.
Writing is hard man… Imagine you come up with this idea and it’s precious and small and you just want to take care of it. You want to feed it until it becomes a fully fleshed out plot line and spend hours writing the idea. But the world is a harsh place, you might find out your idea is already very much so a thing, you might lose your excitement after just a few days or you might just not be able to find the time to write around all the other possibilities of what you can spend your time on. Even if you actually get to sit down and work on your book there are so many other challenges that I need to rant about.
Considering we’re a week through nanowrimo I thought I’d share a quick lists of sites that I’ve found helpful. Many of these are all from the blogs of published authors, and I woul recommend checking out the whole site because there is so much knowledge on there. They have made me want to write again so I hope they do the same for you. Honestly this is as much a reminder for me as it is for you.
Once you have your idea, what’s the next step? Now you need to develop the idea to a point where you can write it. This point is different for everyone, some people (called plotters) like to have the whole thing figured out before they start. Other people like to have the freedom to go wherever the writing takes them (called pantsers). Whichever of these you are I would encourage you to do some form of idea development. Here are some ideas of how to do that, there should be some that work for you. These are also good for when you get stuck while writing.
The first thing that I do when I am trying to figure out my plot is I think. I ask questions about what could happen, what the worst thing would be and what I could do to set up a really entertaining end scene. I think about my characters and their relationships with each other, I think about what they want and how they are going to grow. The more you think the more you know about your idea and the easier you will find your writing.
Pinterest is so great for writing. I have boards for all my stories because it helps me a lot to have characters and setting before me that I can see. It is also helpful to get the general feel of a book. (my board here). For some of my ideas I use the board for information I might need, photos of important objects in the plot, quotes, song lyrics. It is really versatile meaning you can do whatever you want.
Music is another thing that can be great as inspiration and everyone uses it differently. I know some people listen to music while writing, others listen to it while planning their books, some people use it to get into a scene that they are about to write. Some people have playlists for their characters, some have them for scenes, some have them for the whole book. Personally I use soundtracks from the lord of the rings movies because they perfectly fit the epic fantasy vibe I want. I also use a few video game soundtracks. Have a listen to some music and see what works for you.
Drawing maps is one of the best things I can do to work out my idea. A lot of the plot in my novels is conflict between nations or people trying to get places which is hard to fully figure out without seeing it in front of me. I have maps with different physical features like mountains and rivers and forests, I have maps with cities and roads, I have maps with climate areas. Maps are just so helpful. I would highly recommend you drawing a map. If you want me to do a post on how I make maps let me know.
When I am trying to figure out where my plot is going to go I write out my beginning, middle and end in bullet points, then I write paragraphs for each of these which leaves me with a nice summary of what is going to happen. This still allows the story to be unplanned enough for random things to pop up but it really helps me to figure out where I need to be when I get stuck. Sometimes I just have a really detailed beginning and a bare bones middle then no end because I don’t know what the end will be but having some idea of what comes next really helps me.
The last and most detailed way that I plan my ideas is to make a scene by scene list of what will happen. Sometimes this is for the whole book and sometimes it is only for the next little bit. Knowing exactly what has to happen next and being able to track different characters through the scenes is really helpful. Having a list of scenes can be helpful when you have multiple points of view and need to keep track of the emotional connections between scenes.
The Writing Process Series
Hopefully this has helped you plot your novel
I’ve been missing for a while, but now I’m back with this new series on writing called ‘The Writing Process’ or TWP for short. I don’t know how long this series will last, but I’m looking forward to sharing all my knowledge and experiences. So what’s the first step in writing? An idea of course. But how do you get one of those? Here are some ways to find ideas and inspiration for you writing.
Write it Down
A piece of advice that is commonly given to writers is ‘carry a notebook where ever you go’ this is a good idea because you never know when inspiration will hit and when it does you need to be ready to write your idea down for the next time you need one. Some of your ideas might be for characters or scenarios, settings or plot twists. Some will be a whole story and others will be little bits to add onto another idea. It’s up to you whether you keep these on your phone, your computer, in a notebook or somewhere else completely just make sure you get them written down somewhere so you won’t forget them. I have a folder filled with scraps of ideas that I might someday use in my writing.
Online there are thousands of great writing prompts. I generally use pinterest to find them, I have a whole board full of things that could be useful for generating an idea. Some are character ideas, some plot ideas and some are just random things that I found cool. (my board here). Even if you only write a short story or scene from the prompt you might find that there is some aspect of it that intrigues you and turns into a whole novel.
The Ordinary becomes Extraordinary
Have you ever had a thought like ‘what if I was the only person at my school’ or ‘what if what I ate was monitored by the government’. Those might be nothing, or they could be your next idea. You never know what you’ll come up with if you let your imagination run away with you. Why do you do what you are doing? What would happen if something was slightly different? You are the only one who can tell us what this new universe would be like.
The best place I find inspiration is in my everyday life. Sometimes I overhear something on the bus, or I remember something that happened, or I evaluate my hopes in a situation and that leads to an idea. Be critical of things, ask questions, have crazy conversations with friends and you never know what idea you’ll think up.
Fill the Void
Have you ever read a book and thought ‘I wish there were more books like this’ or ‘I expected more from this book’ or ‘this book wasn’t at all what I expected’? Well you can use that to figure out what to write. If you see a void in the book industry that you wish was filled, then write the book that fills it. If you liked elements of a book then write one with similar elements. If you didn’t like parts of a book then write about the concept without the bits that you didn’t like. If you had an entirely different idea of what the book was going to be like based upon descriptions of friends then write about that idea, or if you thought it would take a different direction then write about that direction. As the saying goes, there are no new ideas under the sun.
Please note that I am not endorsing plagiarism, but other people’s ideas can be a good starting point for one of your own. I find that writing lists of what elements I did like and which I didn’t can help me to figure out what I want to write about. This idea can also be applied to other art forms like paintings or poems. This method is great if you are looking for an idea, because most of the others are just what you should do if you come across an idea. This one is a bit more active.
The Writing Process Series
What other methods do you use to get inspiration? Let me know down in the comments.