Ready, Set, Binge!

Have you noticed how we’ve become a society that loves to binge?
We think nothing of spending hours doing the same thing repeatedly. It starts with food and drink. Come on be honest- how many times have you sat in front of the TV with a bag of chips and been shocked to look down and discover the bag was empty? And you can’t even remember eating it?
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Our society has  always indulged, or binged, on drinking; some to the point of becoming addicted to the drink. And it doesn’t always have to be alcohol. Have you ever seen somebody that wakes up and grabs a soda first thing in the morning, filling up a 16 ounce cup? A cup  that never seems to empty all day?
As kids we binged too. That’s what Halloween is for- a time for eating as much candy as we could.
But it’s not just food we binge on. With the development of sites such as Netflix, Hulo, Amazon Prime (just to name a few) you can pick a TV series you haven’t seen a long time (or never) and watching entire series in one sitting. One season at a time. Do you realize that can be 8 to 12 hours just sitting there watching TV? We’re all guilty of it, even though we tell ourselves we’re not.shutterstock_1062695225
Even I do it. I may not watch eight or nine hours at a time, but I will watch more than one episode in a row. And I find that when I’m trying out a new series, I look to see if there are multiple seasons so I can watch them all at once rather than having to wait from one week to the next for each episode.
Our favorite movies are not excluded from this either. We will watch all the episodes one right after the other. Be honest how many of you done that with Harry Potter or Star Wars? Especially when the next movie is getting ready to hit the big screen. We hurry and grab all the other movies in the series, watching them so we’re ready for the new movie, that we have all the details in our minds of what happened and what might happen.
As readers I think we binge too. When we know there’s a series of books, we download all the books available and read them one right after another. Often we may not even buy the books unless we’re sure there’s more than four or five in the series so we can read each book in order, not having to wait months for the author to write the next one.
Is  this is healthy, I don’t know. Probably not. But it shows we can get caught up in the story the writer is creating; whether it is on the movie screen or pages of our book. And for the author that can be a fantastic thing.
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And even as a writer we binge. A prime example of that is the National Novel Writing Month. We force ourselves to write an entire book in 30 days. For some authors that’s normal. But for others, like me, we’d rather  write our book over three or four months. Or longer. (There is nothing wrong with publishing at your own pace.) Yet we accept the challenge and we binge; writing the words until we have over 50,000.
We’re always in a hurry to get things done and sometimes I wonder if we were to take it slower we might enjoy it more, savoring the writer’s words or the taste of those chips longer. And as a writer-enjoying the process of creating our characters and worlds.
Well July 1 is almost here, and I start binge writing again. This month is Camp NaNo. A new book, new series, new characters and settings. With the outline done, I’m ready to write!
So binge away!
What are you binging on? Is it a new movie series or a book series?
What’s your guilty secret?

https://VictoriaLKWilliams.com

A little Insight

Do you see me?
I think every author puts a bit of themselves somewhere in their story. Something as simple as a location you’ve been, to a favorite object, an irritating habit or secret longing. These things seem to find their way into the storyline.
Even fantasy worlds are based on something that the author knows or is familiar with. It could be something in your everyday life or something from your past but it’s hard not to use your personal experiences into your story.
Here, let me give you a couple examples from my writing…
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In the Citrus Beach Mysteries it’s obvious. Megan the main character is heavy into gardening, creating private landscape designs for clients. I own landscape company, also creating private gardens and planting container gardens. (visit my gardening blog! www.gossipfromthesoutherngarden.blog) What you may not know is that Megan’s dog Barney is based on our family’s beagle we had when my son was growing up. He’s in puppy heaven now, probably still stealing pizza.

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Storm voice reveals my love of nature and how mystical I think it can be. The combination of Storms and creatures from folklore along with and an ability to hear what others can’t gives my main character, Mac, a different take on a mystery. Add in an all-knowing cat, and I’m happy.

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Sister Station is written out of my childhood memories of living in upstate NY. My father was a railroad man for years, giving me the inspiration for this series.

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Finally, in my new series I am writing, the main character is a photographer. Now I am not a professional photographer, but I love to take pictures. And I live in an area where there’s more than enough scenery to keep me occupied.

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There are other things woven throughout all of my stories reflect my day-to-day life or something from my past. As you read my stories, you might find more things about me. Things I might not even realize I’m revealing.
It’s almost impossible not to have parts of your life and personality creep into your writing. It’s up to you to decide how much you let the reader see. I believe the more of yourself into your story the more real it will seem to your reader, pulling them deeper into your tale.
Now I’ve shared with you some of my secrets, probably more than you wanted to know. It’s your turn; tell me—what secrets do you share with your readers? 

 

www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Pinterest: an Authors Tool

Do you struggle to find inspiration for a new story or plot line or a blog?
I’m not talking about writers block. I’m talking about just needing that edge to move your story forward or to put a twist into it. Or maybe you need to help to describe something and you can’t quite visualize it on your own.
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What you need to realize is inspiration is all around you. Whether it be walking through art show or walking through Museum, inspiration is everywhere waiting for you to take notice. Think about it; the artist has already pinpointed the focus of the piece, they’ve even had it framed. The saying “writing is painting with words” comes to mind when I think of how these pictures have help inspire me.
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Most of us heard of Pinterest and probably used it . But it is also a great tool for the writer. For example, if you go to my storyboards, you’ll find I have storyboards for every book I’ve written, and every book I plan to write.   I drop pictures onto my board to help me keep hold of an idea, sometimes for a plot twist or an interesting fact about a character. I can go back and reuse these pictures. They can spike an idea help me describe the location, person or they can help me expand on something I already thought about.
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But before there was Pinterest, there was something called a magazine. You could find magazines everywhere. If you found you couldn’t afford to buy them, a trip to the library and would give you the opportunity to look through them. Travel, cooking, fashion, sports, hunting, the list of magazines goes on.  If you found inspiration about something new to you, the information was right in front of you.
The work of other people can give you inspiration as well. I was walking through the art gallery and I came upon a picture of a small little inlet, palm trees swaying boats bobbing in the water and a rustic old shack at the beaches edge. It was perfect for what I was thinking about. I hadn’t realized what I was looking for until I saw that picture. Getting permission from the art gallery, I snapped a quick picture and then I made notes. I would never post that picture because belongs to somebody else. Not without their permission, but it was enough to inspire me and get me over the hump.
So where have you gotten your latest inspiration from? Something you saw on the news, something you read in a magazine, or something you saw on Pinterest? Wherever you get your inspiration, don’t be afraid to run with it. However, I caution you to make sure you are not interfering with anybody else’s copy rights to the picture and you’re only using it for your own inspiration. If you need to use a picture in something you plan to post or promote with and you haven’t taken your self, pay to use it! Lawsuits are a serious problem, and besides, it’s the right thing to do! There are many sites you can purchase photos from, I use Shutter Stock.
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If writing is like painting with words, then find your inspiration and begin writing.
Paint the picture for your readers.

 

Paint a picture with your words.

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The air was motionless, and it wrapped around you like a warm wet blanket, making you gasp for every ounce of air you could drag into your lungs. A woman stood by the edge of the lake, still, in the early morning hour. She looked across the water noticing a  great egret flying low. If he tilted his head, he could admire his reflection from the clear water, as he glided silently over it. Turning her head a little to left, she noticed a kayak paddling in silence; the paddle making soft ripples on the water. The ripples extended out, hardly disturbing the calm still water.
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Looking down at her feet she saw the tiny dots on the water as small bait fish came to the surface to grab air, barely moving the water. As if they wanted to inhale the air before sinking back down into the cool water, away from the heat.  Even though it was early, the temperatures were building. The sweat dripped down the back of her cotton shirt into the waistband of her cut-off jeans. The hat on her head did nothing to protect her from the glare as the sun kissed the water good morning while it crested over the horizon.
Days like this caused temperatures to rise both in the air and in the people trying to live through the sweltering heat of summer. Emotions would be sure to heat up as the mercury swelled up the narrow tube of the thermometer. This was a perfect day for murder.
I don’t know about you, but this sounded a lot better than saying ‘it was a hot summer day at the lake where a murder would happen’.

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As a writer it’s our job to paint a picture with our words.
Our readers can’t be where we place the characters in our story. This is why the details about the settings and the characters surroundings are important to the tale. The reader needs to see this through your chosen words.
 (There are writers who excel at this, one of my favorites is Nora Roberts.)

The words you use can set the tone for something sweet and funny, or dark and ominous. The same scene I described could’ve easily been the setting for a holiday picnic about to begin. But because I chose words to create a darker tone, you pictured a different meaning. Simply by my adding those last seven words, I confirmed your interpretation.
But it’s easy to overdo the words, And I came close. There’s no reason to describe in minute detail every little thing happening in the scene.

Your readers possess an imagination, let them use it! Often it is the things left unsaid that create the most impact.

Read over what you wrote, read it out loud. Do the words do more than give the reader the facts? They should. Your words should cause an emotional reaction. Laugh, cry, cringe, gasp-make those words do anything but create apathy and boredom.

With that being said, I rather like the words I strung together for your example…   I think I might have a beginning for my next book; a scene with a murder on the lake.
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How would you write your next scene?
Who are some of your favorite writers that can paint a picture with words?

If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, be sure to click the follow button. And comment-I love to hear your thoughts.

www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Are you a gardener? I have another blog called Gossip from the Southern Garden.
Stop in and see what’s growing. 

www.GossipfromtheSouthernGarden.blog

Hidden Talents

I bet you didn’t know…

Anyone has ever written a book knows it’s hard work. Talent must also come into play.  Most of the writing is a combination, with an emphasis on diligence and comment. After all anyone can start a book, the glory comes by finishing the book. But a writer’s talent turns the hard work into something special and uniquely theirs.
You would think authors would exhaust all their talent into the writing. But there are hidden talents among a lot of art writers I know.
It never fails to amaze me when I see some beautiful artwork other writers create with things other than words.

I have one writer friend who is also an artist-she paints beautiful scenery.

Custom-Covers-ExampleAnother one does fantastic book covers, they take your breath away.(http://www.llynara.com).

Basic RGB Karen Kalbacher is my cover artist, and she is a writer.

Another mentor who has guided me from the day I first started writing has enough talent in her words she not only writes for herself, she’s a ghostwriter. Plus, she paints.

Not all talent involves painting. There are fantastic types of crafting out there from woodwork to stitchery to creating gardens. A sweet friend and mentor does wonderful crafting, enough that she’s getting ready to open her own shop! Everybody has their own niche of what they do best couple, using these talents as a release from the stress writing can bring.

I also have a few hidden talents. I love to do needlepoint.20180526_091940 When I’m not fighting with the cats over the colorful yarn, I can create nice pictures. Of course, that’s more patience than talent.

 I think most of you know I garden.ad 2016b This is my ‘real’ profession- and as the designer I use with flowers and foliage to create beautiful displays that people can enjoy. The mixing of textures using life plans to create a garden is very relaxing and rewarding for me.

And these are just a few of the many talents I’ve heard of other authors doing!

Chime in and let us know what your talent is.

It’s always fun to get to know each other, isn’t it?

www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Hear that Whistle Blow…

The warning gates are going down and cars are stopped. I see the man in front of me throw his arms up in dismay; the train is coming. And the whistle blows as the engineer sounds a warning blast.

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There’s something about the sound of a train whistle reaches deep into my soul and grabs hold. I don’t know if it’s the tone of loneliness or the promise of unexpected journeys the train may hold for its passenger, but there’s something that connects with me.
Perhaps because I come from a family that has a long history with the railroad. My father, my grandfather, even a few of my uncles, worked as railroad men, spending many years jumping from the rails to a car. They worked both on the rails and in the rail yard, day in and day out. Railroading is a hard industry and dangerous, but I didn’t realize that when I was a child. I just understood my dad was a rail-man.

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My grandfather would sometimes come and get me and take me to play on the train and I’d climb up into the caboose or riding around in the rail-yard. It might have only been for ten or fifteen minutes, but to this little girl it was an exciting adventure.
As I became an adult, the railroad seem to follow me. Every home I lived in with my husband- from our tiniest first apartment to the home we live in now -we have been within hearing distance of that whistle. Reassuring me, perhaps it gives me a sense home.
I’ve never considered the sound of a train to be irritating or a nuisance. I can remember the Realtor apologizing for showing us a house close to the sound of the tracks. Little did she know it was a selling point for me.

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There is a sense of Americana when you think of the railroad. Hobos, with their belongings tied up in a red handkerchief, tied to a stick springs to mind first. But there is more to the railroad than that. The expansion of rail stations and endless miles of track are part of what opened the western United States to settlement. Goods and supplies work their way from one coast to the other, connecting our country. Great men worked to expand the railroad, even to the south, like Henry Flagler. Much of our countries history results from the railroads.

Today that whistle sounds for safety reasons, but it means more, too. It’s like a cry to the wanderer in your soul. Do you answer it? Maybe. One goal I would love to achieve is to drive out West to take one of those long train trips through the Rocky Mountains. Nothing could be more romantic or exciting.

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I’ve even used railroads in my writing. If you’ve ever read my Sisters Station Series, you’ll know it centers on an old railroad station in a small northern town. The two sisters are revitalizing the station, giving it a new purpose for today’s world. It’s not a mystery, but rather a sweet story about two sisters with a goal, getting to know their new home and community. And as I’m sure you realize, things can happen in a small town which might take you by surprise.
Well, the crossings gates are going up, the train has passed by, and it’s time to continue on my way. Going in the opposite direction of the train on my way to work while the train it goes on its way to new adventures.

What direction will your next bit of writing take you?

www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Goodbye?

Yes!  

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Well, I’ve reached my word count for the April 2018 Camp NaNo challenge. As a matter fact, I went over my word count. And that’s a great feeling of satisfaction.
But, along with that satisfaction comes the knowledge I haven’t completely finished the book. There’s still more work to do; I have to come up with my ending.
 For me, the ending is the hardest part. I know what I want my characters to do; I know how the mystery has to end. Often, I might have more than one ending in mind, and I only need to choose which one best fits the directions my characters took me in.
And even though I have this knowledge, I still find the endings are hard. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to say goodbye to my characters. They’ve become such a part of me, as I’ve written these stories. The thought of shutting the doors on their adventures is a little sad.

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But wait — that’s why I write in a series!
 I don’t have to say goodbye to my characters; they can keep having adventures– as long as I can come up with ideas. As a matter-of-fact, some of my ideas are calling for spin-off series with minor characters from the main story. Now they are branching off on their, own seeking their adventures. Isn’t that great? I’m giving myself endless possibilities for new stories. Believe me, I will never in my lifetime be able to write all the outlines I’ve come up with. Mainly because I keep coming up with new ones. But I will have fun trying.

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There’s always the next story sitting on my desk waiting for me. Sometimes I sneak into it to add a line or two of outline, or I might even write the first chapter. Sometimes an idea just grabs hold of you and have to get  it on paper. I may rewrite it later, but the ideas needs to get out of my head, and onto paper. This will free my mind to continue with the work in progress.

Meanwhile, on my desk is my current WIP, waiting for my attention.
Speaking of which, now I need to make a decision. Do I kill somebody in the story ending? Or perhaps a more gentle ending is called for, maybe a romance can work better?
See what I mean?

This is why endings are so hard for me. Because there are so many directions to take them. So, I guess I’m like my reader, I’ll have to wait until I decide which way to finish the story.

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 Or rather, my characters will tell me which way they want to go to find out their ending. 

 

VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Stolen Moments

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I think everybody has a “to do” list.
Some are short, some are long. A few might even be considered part of a bucket list rather than a to do list, but everybody’s got one. You’ve written it down are in the back of your head. We’re all busy; kids, school, work, writing. And there’s only so many hours in a day to get everything accomplished. Often things on today’s list get pushed to tomorrow, because there just wasn’t enough time.
But every occasionally, you find a stolen moment. A moment with nothing on your agenda, a moment when no one is clamoring for your attention and you can breathe.
So, what do you do with that stolen moment? Do you pull out your list and work on something else?
I think that’s what most people do. But here’s a novel concept; take that stolen moment for yourself.

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Grab a cup of coffee and go out and sit in the garden with a book you’ve been longing to read or a blank piece of paper to doodle on. Perhaps you can simply sit back, close your eyes, and do some deep breathing exercises. Not every minute, not every second has to be productive. Sometimes it’s healthier to be inactive.
Once I get over the guilt of having a stolen moment and taking it for myself, I find my mind wanders. I come up with some of the best ideas this way. Things that were in the back of my mind finally work their way forward; getting the attention they need, and yes, deserve
There used to be a time in our society when quiet moments were expected. After a long day’s you work came home, ate dinner, and had a quiet time. It might have been in the company of your family, or maybe sitting by yourself out of the back porch letting your thoughts wander. Personally, I think our minds were more stimulated because of this. We were forced to use our imagination in the days before there was a TV in every room and a phone in every hand. Everything wasn’t programmed for us on the TV or in a game.

Recently I had the opportunity for some stolen moments for myself. My husband was out of town, leaving me on my own with no obligations. It was amazing! The first thing I did? Turn the TV off. It felt weird, the house was too quiet, so I turned onto my old music to listen to. The stress and tension when out the windows.
At first, I just unwound. But then, the quiet moments led to productive thinking moments. A lot of “what-ifs” were tossing around my head about possible story lines. But rather than hurrying up and writing down an outline, I let them develop and nurture inside, without forcing them. By the second day I was ready for an outline. Because I had given the chance for the stories to form  on their own, my outline flowed from my fingers to the keyboard.

 

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Now I’m not saying you should get rid of your husband (because I really did miss him), or family, or leave your job for a week in order to be productive in your writing skills. But, if you let some stolen moments work their magic, you would be surprised at the results.
And here is an original thought: why wait for a stolen moment?
Why not set aside five or ten minutes every day for quiet time? We used to make the kids do it, at least to my house we did. Quiet time was for either book reading, or quiet play. No electronics, no TV. Set aside ten minutes for yourself every day. Develop this habit, and before you begin writing for the day, let your mind wander; almost like you’re exercising your fingers before you sit down to play the piano.

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Not being productive might be the key better production.

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

 

 

Travels

Have you ever wanted to get behind the wheel of your car and just drive?

No destination, no agenda, just drive. Would you head north or southeast or west? Would you stay in your own country or would you crossover one of the borders surrounding us? Do you head north to Canada or south to Mexico? Would you stick the city roads or are you the type to try to back roads of our great country?

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Some people pass through places, not making connections. Perhaps you’ll take your time; stopping at a small diner and getting to know the people. Asking questions about their lives and finding out what their hopes are for their futures can give you not only insight about them, but ideas for stories.

Maybe you drive straight through, stopping only for necessities, to reach your destination Your answers will tell you a lot about your personality: perhaps you’re a driven person, with a goal and agenda. Or are you someone comfortable meandering through life? Neither one of them is wrong. It’s simply who you are.

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For me if I were given an opportunity I would visit the small towns and explore the countryside. It would be a perfect way to find the sights most people won’t find on the cover of a fancy travel magazine. There’s something about driving by a field of cotton or corn feeling in tune with nature, wondering when the crops will be harvested. If I found a park, I’d stop to walk the pathways, find little creeks for skipping stones when the mood takes me, and picking wildflowers as they bloom.

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This sounds idealistic, I know, but wouldn’t this be a wonderful way of life? To sit back and enjoy what God’s given us. No timetables, no time clocks, only the ability to enjoy life and help a person or two along the way.

Of course, it’s only a dream. There are too many responsibilities in our lives; bills to pay, children to raise and preparing for the future. We are sometimes too busy putting away for the future that we forget to enjoy the present, and we never really appreciate the past.

So what if we can only wander the back roads of the country on weekends? We can still enjoy our own immediate environment. I would bet right in your own hometown there are small parks you’ve never visited, views you’ve never pulled off to enjoy. If you drive a little way out of town, I’m sure there are places to find that you’ve never even imagined.

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My challenge to you? Learn to enjoy what you have around you. Get in the car and take a ride, see what’s around your own town. Or better yet; get on your bike or walk, and find what’s in your own neighborhood.

Think of the possible stories you can create from all these new experiences and locations!

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

 

 

Far, Far Away…

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.

Writer.
Writer.

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.

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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.

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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”?

www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com