Does anyone ever lose that spark?

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Fenris
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Post by Fenris » December 7th, 2010, 5:28 pm

hooktonfonnix wrote:...and I needed to let my characters tell the story, and not shove them into artificial experiences.
I know what you mean. My WIP always seemed to take a turn for the worse when I was the one telling the characters what to do, rather than vice versa. I think the problem with it is we can make them take option B over option A, because that's what we want them to do. But we might not realize that we're going against their character--left to their own devices, said character might rather take option A. At least that's always been my problem in these cases: making the characters step away from themselves for the sake of the plot.
Hi, my name's Fenris. I'm a thousand-year-old monster who's broken free to destroy the world. Your kids will love me!

NickB
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Post by NickB » December 7th, 2010, 7:07 pm

I want that rock.

Great topic and posts. Thanks.

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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Post by NickB » December 7th, 2010, 7:41 pm

"...I got to wonderin' if sometimes we spend too much time chasing the story rather than setting the mental environment so the story wants to come back to us - so to speak."

Watcher55 would make a great marriage counselor. :)

I'm thinking now that good relationship-building/keeping How-To might benefit my writing as much as Donald Maas or Robert McKee.

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Watcher55
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Post by Watcher55 » December 7th, 2010, 7:53 pm

NickB wrote:"...I got to wonderin' if sometimes we spend too much time chasing the story rather than setting the mental environment so the story wants to come back to us - so to speak."

Watcher55 would make a great marriage counselor. :)

I'm thinking now that good relationship-building/keeping How-To might benefit my writing as much as Donald Maas or Robert McKee.
I charge by the hour - or the word - as the case may be. (That's 13 words = $130.00)

pwtucker
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Post by pwtucker » December 10th, 2010, 10:55 am

Coming late to the thread here, but it speaks to my last week of writing, so.

I had this great idea. I spent a few weeks, almost a month outlining, doing research, putting together a great cast of characters, driving around town re-imagining things. Then I got started, dove in, started churning out the words. Hit 20k pretty quickly, and then began to slow down. Hit 30k, and began to slow down even more. Began to stall, even, and then stopped at 35k.

Now I know that's still close to the beginning, but the plot was beginning to feel contrived, the writing shallow, the logic specious. I ran into the wall of a small plot dilemma and stopped. Two or so weeks went by, and I began to feel really glum.

This all changed a couple of nights ago when I sat down to force out another 500 words (reading good books helps inspire you), and suddenly my characters began to move according to their own internal logic. They shucked my plot, and started doing their own thing. And I was delighted! Because of their own volition they took the plot in a new and fresh direction, changed things up, made it exciting to write again.

Which for me turned out to be pivotal: the experience of writing has to be fun for me to keep the spark. Outlining too much can stifle creativity. Pre-determining everything can make it boring to write, like coloring in a picture as opposed to actually drawing it.

Now I'm tearing along. Wrote 5.5k yesterday, and things are only gaining steam.

So my advice: leave yourself elbow room in the middle. Make sure you have a powerful and bloody minded set of characters with proclivities, tendencies, desires and hatreds. Stir them all in together, and then step back and watch them sort themselves out. Let subplots develop, let characters derail your master plot, or go about it in a completely novel manner. Enjoy the process, and the middle should write itself.

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Watcher55
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Post by Watcher55 » December 10th, 2010, 12:04 pm

After getting proper rest, raking leaves, cutting wood and generally setting the “mental environment”, I remembered a technique that has served well in the past. It’s based on a game called “Who Are You?”

The rules are simple: You (in this case new (or established) characters, including “flat” characters) have to answer the same question (Who are you?) over and over without giving the same answer twice.

Depending on the dynamic (setting, character, situation . . .), the question can be asked in any tone you deem necessary. That means it can be a casual conversation over coffee, a light-in-the-face interrogation or anything in between.

I modified this from a technique I picked up at a professional development seminar I attended a few years ago and, oddly enough, an episode of BABYLON 5.

After playing this game Wed. night, I wrote nearly 1200 words yesterday. That's an unusually high count for me.

Just an idea - you can have it.

Fenris
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Post by Fenris » December 10th, 2010, 10:09 pm

Yep, have to agree with Watcher and pwtucker. My stories always (I'm serious. No exceptions) turn out better when my characters are at the wheel. In my opinion, it's better to have a completely nonsensical plot driven by amazing, believable characters than it is to have an epic plot with characters who are absolutely wooden.
Hi, my name's Fenris. I'm a thousand-year-old monster who's broken free to destroy the world. Your kids will love me!

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Watcher55
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Post by Watcher55 » December 10th, 2010, 10:11 pm

Fenris wrote:Yep, have to agree with Watcher and pwtucker. My stories always (I'm serious. No exceptions) turn out better when my characters are at the wheel. In my opinion, it's better to have a completely nonsensical plot driven by amazing, believable characters than it is to have an epic plot with characters who are absolutely wooden.
Unless of course if the character happens to be an ent.

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dios4vida
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Post by dios4vida » December 17th, 2010, 3:32 pm

Watcher55 wrote:I modified this from a technique I picked up at a professional development seminar I attended a few years ago and, oddly enough, an episode of BABYLON 5.
I love that episode. It's one of my favorites.
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Watcher55
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Post by Watcher55 » December 17th, 2010, 3:44 pm

dios4vida wrote:
Watcher55 wrote:I modified this from a technique I picked up at a professional development seminar I attended a few years ago and, oddly enough, an episode of BABYLON 5.
I love that episode. It's one of my favorites.
I still study the whole series (and commentaries). J Michael Straczinsky is a storytelling genius. I've watched that episode three time in a row one snowday.

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hannah_dreamergirl_3
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Post by hannah_dreamergirl_3 » December 26th, 2010, 11:28 am

I go through phases sometimes with my writing, usually I have two months of writing insesintly, cool off for a week or two and then end up doing loads of writing again. I think the creative part of my brain needs a break sometimes....but I would sya to walk away from a story thinking you'll go back to it in a couple of weeks/months is the worst thing you can do, truth is, you're not going to go back to it....you'll end up working on something else. So, when the going gets tough, plough on, you can always go back later and re-write the sections you did when the creativity wasn't flowing so magnificently, but if you walk away altogether, you won't go back and the cycle will just continue with every story after that. Even if you are not directly writing part of the story at least be making notes on possibilities for the plot or new characters to try and keep things fresh and exciting in your head... the truth is that writers are dealing with their stories for sooo much longer than their readers that it is fair enough that we can get board, so try and re-invent, take a little break, but always be thinking or making notes on that story and never walk away for too long as when you come back to it the inspiration and the closeness that you have with the story will be gone, you'll be no where near as 'in-the-loop' with your characters and their back stories when you come back.

Blimey that was a long one!!!
:-)
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stephmcgee
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Post by stephmcgee » January 3rd, 2011, 12:50 pm

I have. It's why I now have an abandoned novel and several short stories that sit unfinished on my hard drive.

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