The Writer's Mailbag: Installment One-Hundred and Thirteen
The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round
I know, I’m weird.
Live with it!
That song is stuck in my brain. Why? Because kids are getting ready to return to school, and that song always reminds me of school, so there you go….plus I’m ecstatic that I no longer teach school, that my summer vacation will now morph into my fall vacation, which in turn will become my winter vacation and…..well, you get the point.
And here we go with another great group of questions. Hopefully I’m up for the challenge.
Keep It Fresh
From Lawrence: “My one question would be how do you keep the inspiration for the stories fresh? I mean when you're in the middle of writing one story and have an idea for another one, do you start it, or do you make a note somewhere and think to come back to it? (and if so how detailed is the 'note'?)”
Okay, Lawrence, what are you doing, spying on me? This just happened the other night. I was outside at dusk, making sure the animals were all locked up and safe, and I was thinking about a short story I’m working on, and suddenly the ending to my current novel popped in my head. My subconscious had been wrestling with how to end that novel for a week and out of nowhere the answer came to me.
So I finished locking up the animals, went inside, sat down at the computer and started a new file with the name of the future novel and the word “solution” on it. Then I wrote the solution in sufficient length so I’d understand it when I returned to it, and I relaxed. My muse had spoken and I listened.
Yes, I always stop and write down new ideas, no matter what I’m doing. I have four separate files right now with future books as the titles. I haven’t started two of them and on two of them I’ve written the opening chapters. I’m good to go on them once I find the time.
From Rasma: “Thought provoking as always and as always the week has run by and I haven't been able to catch it by the tail. Here's an interesting question - is it possible to write about a fictitious place you just make up and can you make it seem real to your readers?”
Oh my, Rasma, I think my answer is a resounding OF COURSE IT IS POSSIBLE! Isn’t that what we writers do, make up stuff?
I’ll tell you my approach for town’s with fictitious names. I think of a real town I am familiar with, usually one here in Washington State. I just write a description for that real town using a fictitious name and presto, I have a fictitious town that seems “real.” I admit to being a bit lazy in this regard. I don’t have the time or the inclination to dream up a completely unique city, so I just borrow from cities I’ve known in the past. The other approach I have taken is to go online and find pictures of some random town. I look at as many pictures of that town as I can, until I get a real feel for it. Then I’ll use that town as my fictitious city.
Where one is really pushed in this matter, I believe, is in science fiction, where the futuristic city is described. None of my aforementioned tricks will work then, and the writer truly is constructing an imaginary city from scratch. Now that, to me, would be a difficult task.
- The Creative Exiles - Creative Writing Set Free
The Creative Exiles is a website for all creative writers, both poetry and fiction.
Sites for Creative Writers
From Shannon: “Besides HubPages, what (if any) other website communities do you recommend for creative writers?”
Well, Shannon, the first place I’m going to send you is The Creative Exiles, a site started by my buddy John (Jodah on HP) with a little help from his friends. Check it out. I’m pretty sure it’s right up your alley. It’s a place where your creativity is encouraged and no restraints are placed on you. I just know you’ll fall in love with the format and the community there.
The second site I want to mention is for those looking to make a little money. It’s a relatively new blogging community called NIUME. It’s creating quite a stir, like HP once did six years ago. It’s got the financial backing to pull it off, and they are starting to make payouts to their writers, so check them out and see what you think. They call themselves a collaborative blogging site, but really, think of HP with freedom and better payments.
Mind you, I am not giving a recommendation to this site, but merely mentioning it. I’ve posted one article there on a trial basis, so we’ll see what happens.
I can come up with more but that should be enough to keep you busy for one week at least.
Come to Life
From Eric: “I got a real live question for you. I am working on a project where it is my job to personalize a diseased person who was shot and killed by Federal Agents while unarmed. (yes the kind of stuff in the news) Can you give me something like 5 steps to make a person real to others and not just a statistic?”
Eric, it’s a great question. One thing I would have to know before starting….do you know this person? Do you know someone who knew this person? You need some input before you can produce output. Interview people who knew this “diseased person.” Get a feel for the person, their hopes, their dreams, their philosophy of life, how they treated others….you know, what made him/her unique and memorable.
Then you can start making them real to others. I always return to the simple fact that really, when you boil away the bullshit, we are all very much alike. The Homecoming Queen in Topeka, the wounded vet in the Bronx, the homeless guy in L.A., and the coal worker in West Virginia, they all have similar hopes and dreams. They all knew, or know, of love. They all have favorite memories and experiences and yes, they have all suffered.
Then remember that we all share the same five senses. We all know what it means to cry over a loss, or cry over an act of love. We all know anger, fear and elation. We all have smelled death, felt a touch of kindness, seen the beauty of nature, heard a sparrow early in the morning…..well, you get the point.
To make a person real to readers, you need to connect the readers to the commonalities. Make that person someone they can connect with by pointing out those commonalities….that, I believe, is the key.
Good luck! I’d love to know more about that project.
Join me on my writing website/blog
- Artistry With Words | Helping writers to spread their wings and fly
Helping writers to spread their wings and fly
More Questions Please
That’s it for this week, but I’m already fielding questions for the next Mailbag, so send them to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave them in the comment section below.
Thanks so much for the visit. I know you are all busy and I greatly appreciate you taking the time to spend part of your Monday with me.
Be looking for my new Shadow novel, “Shadows Over a Hangman’s Noose,” coming in late October.
Peace and blessings always!
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc) #greatestunknownauthor
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”