The computer can help you destroy enemies. No, I am not encouraging you to banish an enemy in the head with your laptop. Put down the CPU and stop eyeing the monitor that way! The ideal way to do them in is via print, regular or electronic.
“When someone is mean to me, I just make them a victim in my next book.” Mary Higgins Clark
The next time you’re cut off in traffic, have to interact with the king or queen of rude, or someone takes great joy in ruining your day, man your keyboard. Perhaps the person meets a comical end in your story or a tragic one. Why not let go of the crappy feeling they provoke and exercise creativity at the same time?
If you are writing a fantasy novel, your primary task is to weave a tale so rich that it feels real. You are the creator and as such you have the power to breathe life into every word tapped into the keyboard. The reader needs to experience the environment on your pages as their new normal. And when they reach the last line, the setting should beckon them to come back again, to yearn to climb back into that realm. After all, who hasn’t wanted to live in Middle-Earth after reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit?
Wait, someone just slid their mouse toward the x. Don’t go! Don’t you dare be afraid of world building. You can do this. Begin by imaging as many details as possible about your alternative world. Now write these thoughts down and describe the characters who live there. The next step is to develop the rules. Yes, even fantasy worlds have rules. Think of the aforementioned as a guide to the story, a reference to assist should the plot become a tangle of twisted words.
Give world building a try. When it is done well, it is a joy for the reader. In Dorothy Must Die By Danielle Paige, Oz has changed and it engulfs us, drawing us deeper into this strange world with every page turned. As a reader and writer, I’m encouraging you to build a fantasy world. Myself and other readers are waiting.
You sit down and power up the computer or tablet.You are met by your mortal enemy, the blank page. A blinking cursor taunts, silent mockery. You freeze, overwhelmed with frustration, trying to mentally force yourself to battle with this foe. Exhale, a strategy for standing up against the foe has arrived.
Start by leaning back and observing your environment. That’s right, ignore the manuscript and look around your creative space. Allow yourself to soak up the smell, sights and sounds. Type what your sense are experiencing. Make it a list or poem, the form of these words is less important than getting them down. The goal is to free your creativity by putting something onto the screen.
Okay, now that you typed something, it is time to open your current project. The computer knows that you are a force to tangle with and the muse has been summoned to your side. Go forth a slay the manuscript.
We are taught that stories are linear, they have a beginning, middle and end. What happens when this sequence disturbs the creative process? Look, it’s great when you are able to sit at the computer and plow away a to z. However, sometimes the plot wants to take a winding road.
The scene that your fingers tap into the keyboard starts in the middle of a story. Conflict has occurred, you write that portion and double around to the beginning. After the aforementioned sections are complete, you create the end. Crafting a novel this way can be liberating. Too often we worry about the mechanics and tie up the Muse.
Stretch out your hand. Here, take this invisible sticky note. This is no ordinary paper. It is a pass to venture off the linear story path. Enjoy every turn along the writing road.
I was a monster, I admit it. After completing a manuscript or poem, something horrible often happened. My creative side would dissolve only to be replaced by the Editing Monster. This beast slashed sentences and killed beautiful lines. In her quest for quality, she stripped the work down to the bone. What was left in her wake was not fit to be read. This morphing had to be stopped. With the help of a writers’ group, the beast was off.
Writing means editing but don’t let the Editing Monster destroy your work. Learn the difference between trimming the fat and destroying the manuscript. Clarify the sections that are too wordy, eliminate areas of redundancies. However, should the Editing Monster jump you, seek help.
Stuck on a plot point, stumped by clumpy dialog or battling writers’ block? It’s time to switch POV, to write through the lens of the sidekick. What does she/he think of the main character? What is the glue that holds their relationship together? How far will the sidekick go to support the friend? Are they the type to nurture, give a swift kick when needed, calm down the drama with humor or a combination of those behaviors?
Focusing on the sidekick has the potential to expand the dimensions of both the plot and main character. Slightly removed from the challenge, this character can also serve as a conscious, the voice that pulls the lead back from slipping head first off the ledge.
Stop staring at the section of your work that’s driving you slightly mad and play with the sidekick. At the very least this will trick the Muse into to taking a seat.
You are at a writers’ conference or at a party when the opportunity of a lifetime arises, a moment to pitch your manuscript face to face to an agent/editor. You have three options : A) Hyperventilate B) Runaway or C) Nail it and entice him/her to request a draft.
You may be inclined to go with A or B but giving in to this comes with a soul wrenching cost. The chance to meet someone in the industry face to face may never come again. You don’t want to blow this!
Okay, maybe you’ll grab option C. If so, I’m doing the Happy Dance for you. Let’s talk about how you will rock the meeting. Here’s the setup: You have been gifted with the invaluable opportunity to present a verbal pitch to the right audience. Imagine you are talking about your novel to a friend who has a limited time to hear about it. Be a warm storyteller. Give the listener a taste of the character’s personality, share what his/her challenge is and give the agent/editor just enough information to have them requesting more. A length of two to six sentences should be sufficient.
Still not comfortable with C? Practice on friends! These people are supposed to be supportive so feel free to lean. Listen to there feedback, refine and continue to practice. I know that you can become brilliant at giving the verbal pitch and will be ready to rock option C.
Middle grade novels offer writers a massive playground to express emotions, drama or to create a fantasy realm in. Authors are spinning tales of mystery, adventure and first love for fans ages 9- adulthood. Interested in writing a middle grade novel? Great, but first let’s go over safety standards.
Sex and violence are not welcome within this form of literature. Remember, the core of this readership are children. If the story requires a mention to a past dangerous situation, tread carefully. “Freak the Mighty” does a brilliant job of eluding to the main character’s violent father and his unforgivable crime. The actual danger that the child is exposed to is limited and the family’s tragic past is expressed as needed.
Moving along, let’s talk research. Writing a middle grade novel require research–read as many well written novels for this demographics as you can. You need to understand the layout of this road. Check out Crossover by Kwame Alexander or IF A Tree Falls At Lunch Period, The Lightening Thief, or So B. It by Sarah Weeks.
The final component needed to successfully and respectfully write for the middle grade audience is a willingness to step back in time and allow your inner 9, 10, 11 or 12 year old to help tell the story.
Ready? Go.read and write!
Your characters and plot don’t have to perfectly mimic other writers ‘. Perhaps the amateur detective in your cozy mystery is a librarian by day and kickboxing instructor at night. The romance in your manuscript may be between a forty-five year old woman and a thirty year old man.
Ok, still aren’t sure that it’s okay to veer off the road, consider “Monk”– the television and book series. The main character is afraid of numerous things. And what about Mary Poppins? She was unlike any nanny every penned.
Give yourself permission to create quirky characters and plots. If during the revision process, you feel the need to refine or reshape, go for it. Play outside of typical lines, you may like the results.
A good picture book is more than ink on paper. It is a portal to a creative world or a mirror of our relationships with family and friends. The tale invites us to take a journey.
Open a Dr. Sesus book and free fall into twisty words and tumble down rhythm road. Meet creatures only possible in the picture book zone. Read “I’ll Love You Forever” and feel five years old again. Let the words and images remind you of the love poured upon you at that age from a parent or caregiver. Remember these experiences as you select words and craft sentences. Be inspired to fully express the fantasy or emotion that your manuscript deserves. Hold nothing in reserve, pour honesty and creativity onto each page typed.
Open a picture book, see the colorful images and feel the vibrant of each written line. I dare you to revisit this amazing form of literature. It well help fill your creative well.