Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Turning on the Creativity

"Where on earth did you come up with that idea?"

Sometimes I wonder that about things I see out in the world. Take this bottle cap tripod, for example. With it you can shoot steady photos without lugging around a cumbersome piece of equipment. Pretty genius!

I've gotten similar questions before about where my book ideas come from. People want to know--where does creativity originate? (And how can I get some?)

Turns out, part of the key is allowing yourself to be bored. If your mind doesn't have anything else to think of, it'll have to come up with its own entertainment. And creativity is really entertaining!

When I was a kid, I had really long bus rides to and from school. Being the last stop of the afternoon (and not having anyone else in particular to talk to), I had plenty of time to let my brain wander. Mostly I spent that time imagining disputes between random people, wondering what they were fighting about and how they would make up.

Before you call me crazy for listening to strange voices arguing in my head, let me just say that those long hours of imagination probably contributed a lot to me becoming a writer.

Ok, so you agree with the general idea, but where on earth are you going to find time to be bored?

How about in the car on the way to work or running errands? Turn off the music and sit in silence for a while. When you're at the doctor's office, don't pull out your phone. Make yourself sit and think. Daydream while you're in the shower.

But what are you supposed to think about?

Try thinking about things being broken. For example, what if all the cars in the world broke down? What would happen then? Or what if all the locks on all your doors broke? How would you keep your house secure?

For me, the broken things I imagined were relationships. For you, maybe it'll be something else. And maybe that something else will lead to a really great idea that could benefit everyone.

Be bored. Break things. Get creative.

Where do you find your creativity?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Behind the Scenes: The First Draft

Some people have a favorite part of the writing process. If I do, I haven't figure out which it is yet. Is it...

Research? (Aka "Ooooh, they did what with their urine???")

Plotting? ("Now which of you lovelies wants to die in act two?")

Drafting? ("Ha ha ha, that was a great sentence. I crack myself up.")

Editing? ("Ha ha ha, that was a really terrible sentence. I crack myself up.")

Right now I'm in first draft mode.  There's a great debate* over whether it is better to plot extensively before drafting or dive right in and see where the story goes.

Used to be, I couldn't plot without getting a severe creativity block. I'd have all these wonderful ideas, and the moment I tried to put them down in a notebook they would dry up like the desiccated bones of a once-proud magnificent beastie.

Now I can't do anything without at least a basic plot. I have to know where all the key events of the story take place or I could end up walking my characters off the plank instead of sailing them to the far corners of the world.

But neither (as I used to think) does my plotting stage become more in depth with each book. True, the one I was working on before this was plotted out to the scene by scene level. But with the most recent I've given myself a bit more freedom.

In fact, my plot looks a whole lot more like this:


There is definitely a general shape to it overall. I know what happens in the beginning, middle and end. But in between there's a bit of room for improvisation.

Do I like this way better? I'm not sure yet. I have noticed something unusual though--this draft is turning out to be a bit longer than my first drafts tend to be. Generally my first round of editing involves a lot of added scenes. But this time? I might end up having to remove scenes altogether! And that will be a first.

I'll say this for my characters, though: they are being very obliging! The other day I realized my lack of plotting had led to a bit of a plot hole, but before I could worry too much, my character said something completely natural, right out of the blue, that took care of the whole issue. Now that's cooperation! So maybe my characters like having a bit of freedom to stretch.

Fellow writers: Are you a plotter? A pantser? Do you find some happy medium?

And everyone else: When you go into a new project, whatever it is, how much work do you put in ahead of time before you really get started?



*For real! In some circles admittance to membership requires extensive grilling regarding the methods of one's writing process.**

**No, not really. Writing process is very much a matter of individual preference.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Newsletter Coming Friday

I'm writing this post...

to give you the news...

that I'm starting a letter...

to bring you more news!

Yes, it all sounds a bit redundant, I know, but I'm spreading the word as far as I can. My newsletter is launching on Friday!!! And to celebrate I'm giving away a copy of Under a Painted Sky to one random newsletter subscriber.

Under a Painted Sky came out last week, and it's already a really huge deal. I'm so excited about it because a friend of mine (and a simply lovely person) is the author, so I'm really glad to be sharing a copy with one of you.

If you would like to sign up for the newsletter and have a chance of winning the book, simply go here and fill out the necessary information. I will email the winner and send them the book in the format of their choice.

Happy reading!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

And the food worthy of my ode is...

*Dusts off the blog.*

It's been a couple weeks, yes?

We've had company on and off for two weeks (and more arriving any minute now). Plus the kid has been sick. In fact, I'm starting to feel on the verge of illness myself.

Which means that today you get the height of wit from me...

...an ode^ to macaroni and cheese.

*ahem*

You comfort me when I feel sick
My ailments you ease
I feel so much better after
Macaroni and cheese

My child loves you oh so much
He always wants "more, please"
Whatever would I do without
Macaroni and cheese

You are so easy to prepare
You make mealtime a breeze
In a pinch you're always there
Macaroni and cheese

*Takes a bow.*

Well, folks, that's it from me today. Have a good one!


^Technically not really an ode, just a trio of rhyming verses.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Audrey and Chaos Kid Review... Little People Garage

My son got a "new" toy yesterday. By new I mean it's a hand-me-down from his cousins that he's had for a while, but he only rediscovered it yesterday. The toy is a Little People Garage...



... and we have rather different thoughts about it.

Chaos Kid

Wow! This is cool! It's just the right height to climb on.

Me

I wouldn't, honey. The whole reason I took it away last time was because you kept sitting on it and breaking off the ramp pieces.

Chaos Kid

It has a ramp!? Awesome!

Me

In fact the whole garage is structurally unsound. Were this a real garage it would never pass inspection. Not that there are too many five-story tall monsters roaming around stomping on garages, but the whole thing is frightfully unsafe.

Chaos Kid

And it has a car! Vroom vroom vroom. What happens if I put it on this ramp thing you were talking about...?

... No way! Did you see that, Mommy? It totally just went around that curve all. by. itself!

Me

Yes, honey, but it's actually supposed to go all the way down, not stop halfway there. The car probably doesn't have a good enough turning radius. In fact, were this to scale, I doubt any real car would do much better.

Chaos Kid

Wheee! Oh, it didn't go as far that time. Huh. I wonder why... Need more data! Vroooooom.

Me

Likely because there's a bit of a bump where the pieces fit together. Flat tire alert!

Chaos Kid

Raaaaaaaamp!

Me

Did you see the lift over here?

Chaos Kid

A lift! Mommy, why didn't you say so earlier!?

Me

Yikes! The car keeps falling backward out of it. That's a problem!

"Hello, I'd like to use your lift, please."
"Sign this waiver first."

"But this says I take all responsibility should my car spontaneously slide backward from a two-story height! What sort of operation are you running here?"
Not that the alternative is much better. I don't actually see any parking spaces in this garage, and the lower level doesn't even have access to the ramp.

Chaos Kid

Oh, look at these flat sections. Roll, roll, roll the car. Vaaaarooooooooom!

Me

Hold on, it has a gas pump. And is that a hose? It has a gas pump and a hose but no parking spaces? Some garage!

Chaos Kid

Wheeeeeeeee!

Me

Well, at least you're having fun.

Chaos Kid

What's that, Mommy? Too busy checking out the ramp again.

In Conclusion

This garage would make absolutely zero sense in the real world, but as a toy it sure is fun for a toddler.