My bags are packed and I’m running away for the month of April!
Of course this is only in a virtual world. April is the first of the Camp NaNo months and I’m exciting to take part.
The camps are a bit more laid back than NaNoWriMo, with less emphasis on 50,000 words and more on your cabin and new writing friends. This is the time to finish up goals which may not have been completed (guilty!) in November and re-connect with other writers.
I think this is what I love about the camps-the connection! No one understands your misery more than someone also going through the same process. This is the 4th year I’ve opened a cabin up, and I’m thrilled to see old friends return. This year there are new writers joining us and I’m looking forward to getting to know them as well.
There is a special bond that forms here, one that will never fade. Encouragement is freely given, helpful ideas are tossed around and constructive criticism is offered if asked for and venting is allowed at any hour of the day or night.
So, we authors set our goals and aim for our targeted number of words as we juggle or daily tasks, jobs and family. To those around us; have patience it’s only for a month.
Writers get their ideas from somewhere, but how many of your ideas come from things that have actually happened in real life?
Or, perhaps, the headlines from the newspaper provide you with your ideas? Was it the interaction between two friends who are close to you, or the activities of a coworker that you notice, sparking a new idea? You’re staring at the area around you, mingling with the people that are part of your daywithout them being aware of the fact you are plotting away..
Do any of your characters resemble real people reflecting their actions and habits? Or perhaps you’ve taken a vacation that was special and are now using it as a center for your work in progress. With little embellishments and slight tweaking, you create a new world for your story from the memories of your past. Most writers create a combination of what they have experienced and what they want their characters to experience. Places, faces, times, memories; a writer can use all or one to tell their story.
For instance, in my Citrus Beach Mysteries, the lead animals are derived from our own family pets. Many of the crazy things that Barney does in the books were things that our Zippy did in real life. In this same series, the town of Citrus Beach is fictional. But because there are so many well-known tourist attractions in the state of Florida is easy to draw reference from those places. I have been able to correlate the fictional location using references to these real places.
The tricky part for any writer is when you try to base your characters on someone you know. You must be very careful not to paint a complete picture of a live person when developing your characters. Instead, more of a fuzzy image is acceptable. From there, you can add your own twists and quirks to the character, making them more unique than the real-life person.
Using real-life occurrences such as kidnapping or bank robbery, or murder is not uncommon for fiction writers. This is often because it’s not the action or the crime that is so important to the writer. Actually, the solving of the case or the building of the sequence of interactions that lead to the final act seem more important to the writer.
The next time, when you read the statement so often found in books about characters and places in this book are fiction, not intended to resemble any live person or place:
You might need to wonder how fictional they truly are.
Everyone and everything has one. It’s how society identifies individual products persons and things.
Some titles might be different for the same object or person. For instance Nana, Grandma, Grandmother/ Papa, Pops. Grandpa Grandfather.
When it comes to our individual names, our parents took great care to select one that they felt would best represent their hopes and dreams for you. Some might be family names, others might be sentimental and others might have a meeting that’s known only to your family.
This goes for companies as well the name of the company might reflect the owner’s personal name it might reflect the type of business they provide. Or it might make you guess, which could possibly hinder your business.
As a writer you need to step back and look at your writing is a business. And the first major task is to come up with a good title. Because the title is going to be what catches your reader’s attention. It will play an important factor in the graphics of your cover and also in the search-ability in the bookstore and on the websites.
Of course we’re assuming you’ve written a good book, with interesting characters. The names of your characters should be easy to relate with or at least have a good meaning that you can explain to the reader.
For some authors coming up with a good title is one of the hardest parts of the book. They spend hours agonizing over a few words that mean so much. Your title can be something obvious, something catchy that’s going with the current trends of popular books. You might relate the title to an activity that happens in the book or even a spoken line between the characters of your story. But just like every other aspect of your work you need to give your title careful consideration.
There have been some really wacky titles out there. Wacky enough that they have caught on and held the attention of the reader’s. This has been a great tool in helping push those books up in the rankings. They make the reader wonder before they’ve even opened the first page what your book is going to be about. Remember, catching a reader’s attention and interest is crucial.
No I’m not saying you need to title your book wacky or anything outrageous, but I do believe we need to keep the title short, pronounceable and, if possible, memorable. I think if you’re going to go wacky you need to go way out there and titles that are wacky can get away with being long and preposterous.
Personally, my books tend to relate to the action within the book or specifically spoken line. Often I know the title of the book before I’ve even written it, thanks to a very thorough outline. But each writer is different in their process of picking a title. And unlike our children who we name for life; if we find our title doesn’t suit the direction of our book, we can easily change it down the line.
Go wacky, go sentimental, go scientific, but give it careful consideration.
Don’t mistake that faraway look in my eyes as boredom.
No, I’m not ignoring you either, and I’m far from falling asleep.
What I’m doing is plotting. There are ideas all around us and sometimes you must stop and think about how one little item that caught your interest can work into a story. How one little phrase you overheard can be worked into a conversation. Or maybe it’s a news item you saw the night before, that’s been sitting in the back of your mind, wondering how it can create an alternative universe or whole new world and a completely different series.
I would say half of my writing time is spent daydreaming. But not daydreaming in a useless way. These daydreams are a productive thought gathering, plotting exercise. Let’s face it our minds are our biggest tools, probably the only tool we need, other than a writing devise. When we let allow our thought to wander where-ever they want, we can produce some great concepts.
If we don’t use this tool regularly, it will become dull and foggy. We need to sharpen our minds and use it to the fullest potential possible. This might mean thinking of things outside of the realm of your normal everyday expectations. If you don’t use those tools and you allow them to become dull and unproductive, you’re heading down the road to writer’s block, I’m sure of it.
Fortunately, I have a very active imagination and I love to tell stories; never seeming to run out of ideas. Instead the opposite happens. Too many ideas bounce around in my head, often causing difficulty in concentrating on one story line at a time. Thankfully, I’ve never experienced writer’s block.
I keep my mind sharp and I keep thinking and imagining: creating scenarios out of nothing, forming conversations between characters and asking a lot of “what ifs. A good exercise is to have somebody just toss you a word. See what you can do with it; whether it’s a phrase, an object or an action— weave it into your story. Give your story on a new twist, make your characters do something unexpected. Remember if it holds your interest, it will also hold your readers.
Find a way of recording those ideas, be a pen and paper or your phone or your computer. Jot them down when you get them and please, don’t tell yourself that you’ll remember. It seems the minute you do this, you’ve already set yourself up to forget them. Honestly, with so many thoughts going to our mind daily just with our everyday actions it’s sometimes impossible to remember what we need to get through the day.
Don’t discard an idea or thought path simple because it doesn’t fit your current work in progress. Jot it down and put it in a file for future work. Keeping a file of ideas is another way to fight writer’s block or adding a twist to your story that will keep it original and interesting. So, what did you see or hear today that created a “what if idea”?