Friday, July 12, 2013

From the Beginning

The Writing Process


+ Summary: This is the "hook" that captures readers when they pick up a book at a bookstore or library.  Ideally, a summary states the basic premise of 
    your story, is written in the 3rd person, and has more questions than answers to hook your reader's interest.

+ Synopsis: Put your idea down on paper, from beginning to end.   Make sure key points of the story are included in your synopsis

+ Outline vs. Organic writing:  Outlines can help keep you focused when writing.   It is also important to ensure your story is organized into 3 acts, as this 
    will help streamline the process if your story is picked up by a studio to become a movie or television show

+ Character profiles (see attachment): Making these for even minor characters in your book or story helps with consistency in your story.

+ Scene building:  Like the character profile, it is important to create scene profiles.  Include sensory detail: sights, sounds, smells, 
   temperature, etc.  "An alley in Brooklyn" is not very good; "A dark alley on a cold fall night in Brooklyn, with the heat and smell of a burning barrel that the homeless 
   use to keep warm, Jacob winced when he heard the sound of sirens in the distance" is much better.


+ Always carry a pen or two
+ Carry a notebook or two
+ Cameras are great to capture ideas for characters, scenes / settings, etc.
+ Digital voice recorders are a great tool to get ideas down quickly
+ Business cards can serve as scratch paper to jot ideas down
+ Doctor's pen lights (less than $5 for 6 on or flashlights can help at night when going for a walk or to keep next to your bed

Digital Tools

+ Dragon dictation can help translate your recordings or dictation into word processing documents
+ Google chrome allows you to sync all of your devices so that all web pages you have open on your PC will also appear on your smartphone or tablet, etc.

Other Tools

+ Learn to type!

Writing Roadblocks

Avoiding Writer's Block

+ Doodle, paint, draw
+ Journal daily
+ Look for websites that provide daily writing prompts
+ Edit what you've written
+ Pick an item in your house and write a story about it
+ Use pictures as prompts
+ Pick a song and write the story behind it
+ Put the T.V. on and write a character profile on a character, news anchor, or write the next episode of whatever T.V. show is on
+ Stream of consciousness
+ Talk to elderly people
+ Talk to children
+ Volunteer
+ Exercise (it helps to be alone with your thoughts)
+ Visit celebrity websites like

+Why start your story at the beginning?  Use tips form screenwriters and film directors and write a scene that comes later in your story

+ Turn things on their head: Sci-fi in 17th century America, cannibal / human flesh eating cat terrorizes a neighborhood, snail mail thief mystery rather than murder mystery, etc.

+ Dreams are a great source of inspiration, but you forget them 5 minutes after waking up - so keep a pen and paper by your bed

+ News stories - ask "what if?"

+ Buy a Mad Libs book

+ Buy "642 Things to Write About" - has 642 writing prompts

+ Take a classic and change the genre a la Mad Libs - e.g., "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies"

+Subscribe to a writers magazine

Seminar Obsession

+ Avoid wasting time trying to "learn your craft" - Use that time to write instead.  1-2 writing groups should be your limit

"I don't have time"

+ Do character profiles on a news anchor or T.V. show character
+ Write while waiting at the doctor's office
+ Write while riding as a passenger in a car
+ Write immediately before going to bed
+ Write while in the bathroom
+ Write while in a restaurant eating
+ Write during breaks at work

"It's just a silly thing I wrote"

+ Don't EVER say that!
+ Take yourself seriously and everyone else will, too
+ Get business cards ASAP - No excuse!  Vistaprint has business cards for $5
+ Introduce yourself as an author - if someone asks what you've written, remember that nobody really cares what your answer is - so
  you can say "Where do I start?  Oh, here's my business card."  Just be prepared with an answer that makes sense without lying

+ Get a website / blog