There comes a stage in writing, when an author wants, needs, would benefit from having someone else read their work. Having someone who is not attached to the writing, read it with fresh eyes and then offer feedback can be invaluable. Of course, this can be challenging too, but this is usually the stage when the author, the writing needs to be challenged in order to develop, to improve.
I think of ideas, pieces of inspiration as rhizomes. A rhizome is a plant that has an underground system of shoots and roots and tubers – like ginger, bamboo or mint. Each tuber collecting a new and separate idea, but linked somehow to all other ideas.
Sometimes I use fragments of sentences to inspire writing. I collect bits of sentences that I find interesting, store them away long enough to have forgotten the context, and then pull them out again to inspire new writing.
In ‘Selecting the right slice of life’ by Cate Kennedy, Kennedy talks about finding stories in fragments of ordinary life. It is a concept that is very familiar to me. I write to explore and discover my own meaning; I write to work life out. I have always written fragments: snippets pondered over or hastily scrawled. Kennedy says “…stories give our experiences coherence.” Snippets, I find, are quick to write ‘on the go’, they sit waiting to be developed further, or incorporated into some other piece of writing, or are simply left as they are: fragmentary, a complete moment.
Introducing conflict and tension into your writing doesn’t have to mean guns and fights or anything that overly dramatic. Tension can seethe just below the surface, brewing but contained. Whatever form your conflict comes in, it is imperative to your plot that there is conflict. Conflict brings change; change brings conflict – both are important to keep your story moving, to trigger the events that form your plot. Louise Doughty says, “A plot is about things happening. It is about change, drama, conflict.”
Try rewriting a piece of your writing, perhaps just a paragraph or so, using different tense: past, present, future.
This process of writing a novel is a totally fascinating experience: watching the ebb and flow of my creativity and motivation, working out what time of day I am most productive, learning how to be flexible with my routine, realising the importance of keeping some way of recording flashes of inspiration with me at all times, spending more time with my characters than my friends (or at least it feels that way!) and having it dawn on me that a novel contains a hell of a lot of words…and I have to write them all!
Try creating mood through descriptions that have a dual purpose. Does the description create a setting, a mood, an atmosphere? Write your description and consider how it will prompt action, and what sort of action the description suggests. Then write the description and the action will naturally follow.
This week I am trying to bring my main character, Annabella, into my head so that everything that happens to me becomes raw material. With each event or occurrence in my life, I wonder how she would react. I am building a sense of where I see her in life. This is helping me to notice things in my life that might be useful in my writing. Give it a try yourself: be observant – how can you use your life in your writing?
Today I am looking at Annabella’s goals and desires. To have the protagonist’s goals impeded by something or someone builds conflict in a story, and this is my intention today: conflict.