August 19, 2009

Plot Kitties to the Rescue

It's amazing how inspiration strikes you.

Lately, I've been struggling to figure out what to write in my fiction life. I want to be published and so much of my writing has been: Is this marketable? Is this new?

And while those things are definite things to consider, that shouldn't be the end all to what we, as writers, write. I was reading a friend's journal at http://www.livejournal.com and she casually mentioned that the reasons writer's write is that we have a story to tell and need to get it out.

That struck a chord with me.

You see, lately I've been sitting at my computer, brain bleeding, as I try to figure out what I want to write that will be the next best seller. Sure, I keep chugging along on my WIPs, but I painstakingly struggle to figure out what to write next.

So today, while cleaning out my cat's litter box, because seriously isn't that where every great writer plots? There must be something magical in those tiny little odor crystals. I digress... today while cleaning out the litter, I asked myself one question:

What story do you need to tell?

And instantly, almost like lightning, the idea struck me so hard, I actually sat down on the tile in my bathroom and stared into space for a good twenty minutes. The characters grew, the story arc wrote itself, and the complete novel popped into my head.

I don't think that's ever happened like that.

So next week, I'm starting in on it. I'm scrapping a few of my WIPs, not because I am sick of them or even am excited about a new plot bunny, but because I started those stories with the wrong motives and you can tell in the writing.

On Monday, I'm hibernating from the world for two full days and just writing it out. I'm doing nothing but pounding out that story. This week is light research, because the topic is one I've investigated before, but I do still need to nail down a few things. I'm going to write down the characters tonight and tomorrow, plot out a few specifics, but when Monday comes, I'm hitting the ground running.

And for the first time in awhile, I'm really excited to be starting a new project.

What about you? What story do you have to get out? What moments in your life brings about the perfect inspiration? And do you need to borrow some of my cat liter? I'll Fed Ex it to you immediately.

Clean litter of course. Let's not be gross.

August 11, 2009

Five

When I woke up today, I was craving a hamburger.

No -- not just a hamburger, a cheeseburger with so much cheese it would drip cheddar down onto the table.

Have you ever had that happen? Wake up and just be craving a certain kind of food? (And no, to squash any possible speculation. I'm not preggers.)

So I waited until lunchtime and fired up George - my electric grill, you do the math - and worked up a delicious patty of ground beef and plopped it on George for him to do the work.

While I was waiting, I did the hamburger dance and cleaned a bit. George moves fast, but sometimes I get so impatient.

When the time for the burger to be done, I lifted the lid and looked down and it just appeared to be perfect. It was juicy and had the grill marks and smelled divine. I flipped the burger off the grill, loaded it up with extra sharp cheddar and just the tiniest portion of sour cream.

I tossed a light salad to eat with it and sat down to ENJOY this burger I had been dreaming about all morning.

I took in a deep breath, picked it up, and sunk my teeth into its deliciousness.

And then promptly spit it out.

The burger was completely raw inside. Somehow, for reasons I don't even understand, George failed me.

And I've always treated him so well!

The outside looked perfect, but the inside was completely disgusting.

Then I realized it's a lot like that with characters. So often in writing we create these characters who seem like the perfect fit for what we want. They have flaws - just the right ones for the situation. They have strengths - but we're careful not to make them perfect.

We pour our hearts and souls into these characters and some of us writers use character sheets and method writing and a thousand ways to get to know each and every one of their characteristics and on paper, they appear to be just right.

But then it comes time to write them and sometimes we just struggle. We find that they're not doing what we want them to do and sometimes it feels so forced to write a scene because in your heart, you know that your character wouldn't do this.

So then you have to go to the inside of the matter and find out their motivations. You have to figure out why they do what they do and what made them have that personality.

Sure you can have a surly bad boy who loves kittens and works in a motorcycle shop, but never swears even though the only music he listens to is Metallica. And you can laugh and grin because you know that is just perfect for the story you're having.

But your readers want to know why. They want to know what made him love kittens and why he doesn't swear. What's his motivation?

So you can build the perfect character in your writing, but until you know why they do what they do? It's just raw meat.

August 10, 2009

Four

So far today has been relatively unproductive, writing wise. It's not like I planned for that to be the case.

Actually, I planned for just the opposite.

Right now, next to me, I have a list two miles long of all the things I wanted to do. I have characters to create and pieces to edit. I have brainstorming sessions to do and chapters to finish, but...

but there was a Milliionaire Matchmaker marathon on Bravo and I love to see people even more clueless on dating than me.

and then 90210 came on and I had to know if Jason and Kelly were going to get married! The show was totally banned in my house growing up and I have to get my adolescent fill now .

and then my cat got sick and I had to clean that up. Because seriously, you can't leave a mess. Ew.

and then the new Victoria's Secret catalog came today and I'm a sucker for their Pink line, so I had to daydream and plan on what to buy.

and also, in the mail, my subscription to Writer's Digest came and I had to read it cover to cover and dream about being published one day.

and two, brace yourselves, apparently I'm pre-approved for a loan of $5000.00. I was selected out of thousands of people and I had to investigate and rejoice and see how they got my name, considering I haven't ever owned a Citibank card or even gone to one of their banks.

and then my left foot itched.

and so did my right arm.

and then I realized that my sock drawer isn't color co-ordinated and neither is my closet.

and then, while I was color co-ordinating my closet, I realized that Fall clothing season is upon us, so I had to google the latest trends and see what I needed to buy to supplement my wardrobe.

and then my big toe started itching.

and then I realized it had been awhile since I painted my toes and they were looking a little chipped, so I had to soak them and treat them right, because how can I exist without good grooming and you really need to take care of yourself.

and then 90210 caught my attention again. That Valerie is so evil.

and then I decided to fix up my blog.

and then I decided that since I spent all that time arranging my blog and coming up with a new color scheme, I had to write a post because it would be ridiculous to go to all that work without actually using it.

Right?

Right?

So clearly, I've been far too busy today to write.

Clearly.