Give Your Story a Backbone

What’s missing in your story?  Try a story structure.  Focus your story more.  Give it a backbone.  If you’re a plotter, you may have already done that.  But if you’re a pantser, like I used to be, you probably didn’t.  You just went along with the story following it wherever it went.  This is fine.  Some great stories were created that way.  But I guarantee those same stories went through a rigorous round of revisions as well.  The best part is that once you’ve found your focus, it will be so much easier to cut away the excess material.

How DO you find your focus?  Start with a story question.  Figure out what your character wants.  Figure out your character’s wound, which is shaping his world and holding him back.  What or who is physically standing in his way?  And what is he afraid to lose?  Don’t forget to add a ticking clock to add tension.

Now get going.  Grab an eraser and get to work.  Kill your darlings, as they say.  Underneath the rubble of words you just might find your masterpiece.

Thought for the week: Pearl

A pearl needs some time and a lot of sand to rub up against to become its shiny self.

“Get to Work” Playlist

I don’t know about all of you, but for me, sometimes getting to work can be quite a challenge, especially since I work from home.  There are so many distractions!

So I’ve developed a system, or rather a series of mind tricks, that I can use to get myself to work OR back to work if I’m taking a break.

  • The most recent is the “Get to Work” playlist.  It takes a little time to make the playlist, but once it’s done, the results are so rewarding!  The bonus: you get your creative muscle working by picking out songs.  One song I chose was recommended to me by a good friend.  It’s called “Over and Over” by Madonna, in the early years.  The tune is very 80s, but the words are what count.  She reminds us that we must get up again, over and over.  Think of that Weeble Wobble toy that can’t stay down!
  • Make tea or coffee.  The simple act of getting up can really get you going.  Before you know it, you’ll have forgotten all about the tea until it’s cold 😉
  • Have a mantra or two that you repeat to yourself to get moving.  Add a little action, like a punch or a high kick, and it will really solidify your start.
  • If you’re really down, go to your list of affirmations–the reminders of all the things you’ve accomplished and all the positive messages you’ve received over time.  Everyone needs a little encouragement, time and again, to quiet the negative voices in the background.
  • Practice gratefulness.  Nothing like reminding yourself of what you have to help you forget what you might be lacking.  It helps cure boredom, too, which is really just a form of fear.
  • If you have a work space, get up and get it ready for work.  The simple act of cleaning off your desk can make you feel ready to tackle new projects.  Just don’t let it turn into an all-day cleaning marathon 😉
  • Take 15 minute breaks at the end of each hour with a reward (nothing too distracting).  It might sound counterintuitive, but it actually helps refresh the mind so you can go longer and stronger.  It’s good to give the eyes a break from the computer screen, too.  Practice blinking to keep those eyes from going dry from too much staring.  Some healthy rewards include doing a few yoga stretches or taking a quick walk, having a little protein snack, or drinking more water or tea.

So go make that playlist.  I guarantee that even after one song, you’ll be ready to get to work.  And FYI, if you’re in the middle of a project and you feel stuck and want to bolt–Don’t.  Turn on one of your songs, instead.  It often does the trick to keep your body in the chair long enough so you can work through the problem creatively rather than run away from it.

Now get to work! 😉

 

Collecting Words

I recently finished reading the book A Snicker of Magic about a girl who sees words all around her and collects them.  She shares them with her best friend but is too shy to turn them into poetry and speak them in front of a group.

Here are some of her words and what she says about them.

Offering

Sacred

Everlasting

“Words that belonged in a sanctuary filled up the spaces between the three of us.  But those words looked as fine there as they’d ever looked in a church, and I wondered if there was something sacred, something everlasting, about melted ice cream and summer days and good stories.” –Natalie Lloyd, author

I believe sharing stories is a sacred act.  It creates an everlasting bond between you and the listener.  Don’t be afraid to use your words or share your stories.  The world needs them to survive.  Stories are the glue that holds us all together.

I used to be afraid to share my stories, too, but not anymore.

As an exercise, I decided to collect some of my own words and see if  I could string them together into something meaningful.

Marshmallow

Poppy

Magic

Magic marshmallow dreaming leads to red poppy success.

Try collecting your own words and fitting them together like a child playing with blocks.  You might just build something really unique.  Something that can hold you up.  Something that can change the world.