I decided to start a series of new projects. I’m not going say exactly what those are, but you will know soon enough. Anyway, as with all projects you need to start with an idea. I could sit at my desk, plot out fresh, new thoughts, create brand spanking new characters, and think of wonderful new scenes to set them in. I could, but I won’t. Why? I get one day a week to myself to actually write, any other time is stolen during nap time, and only if there’s no house work that needs to be done.
So this is where my word hoarding comes in handy. With all the files and note pages I have kicking around I could easily write 4-8 projects, with storyline and characters already hashed out, and that’s without ever needing to go into the files of deleted scenes or re-worked stuff from published work.
Recycling these old ideas was something that I thought I might do one day, but was more concerned with simply saving so I could look back and go “wow, this is what *insert story* was in the beginning? My how it’s changed.” Yet here I am, going through all these bits and pieces, setting what I currently think are the gems and reference or outright using them in the stuff I’m working on. It’s probably good for the little creative environment that’s set somewhere in the back of my brain, which much like my hard drive probably holds every single idea I’ve ever tapped out on the keyboard for possible future usage. It may even help new ideas to grow and flourish when I finish these projects I’m working on (and/or when I get more time to write than in between dishes and diaper changes.)
Do you hold on to ideas? And if you do, could you ever recycle them?
An Example of an artist who constantly inspires
MP3 player © vectorlart – Fotolia.com
I write to playlists. Each one composed of songs that inspire or really relate to the story I’m working on. But I find a really good song, with well written lyrics, makes me want to write.
Whether it tells a story itself, or just has amazingly emotional lyrics, I’m always in search of a great tune. If I’m lucky, I find one that I can listen to multiple times a day, everyday, for months on end and never get tired of it.
For instance, a catchy song like “Call Me Maybe” may find it’s way onto my playlists, but it will never stay around because it’s just beaty filler that doesn’t do much more than give me energy. Better for a long walk than a writing marathon. But “20 Good Reasons” or “Good to You”, songs that have some power behind them may make their way on a permanent playlist, retired from future projects but can still be listened to on repeat without issue.
And of course there are songs that I’ve stumbled across melodies that I have yet to tie to a story but I feel desperately need to be. I feel like I’m wasting a good tune if I can’t find a project that it “fits”. I feel worse when there’s an artist that has a lot of these and I can’t seem to use them properly.
Maybe I’m the only writer out there who feels this way, or maybe there’s a ton of us that have a folder filled with amazing pieces of work that they just don’t use. But then again, I may be the only one that uses a song only once. Either way, I hate feeling like I’m doing an injustice to something that is trying really hard to plant the seed of a story in my head, but it just never seems to be ready.
Admit it, as a writer you sometimes picture people (actors, musician, models, the guy who works at Starbucks) as characters in your work. They aren’t the exact some people, just a player to picture, someone to fill the role of the person. No one will ever know who it is (unless you tell them), and your readers are going to come up with someone else entirely.
But knowing who you’ve casted, do you ever repeat your physical muses? The thought crossed my mind when I was watching a show where I could sit and point to actors that appeared in the creator’s other works. Almost never as the same character (unless it was a cross over or a cameo), but to me they’re still, say, “Mer’s Dad’s”, “Rick’s ex-wife”, “The guy that shot everyone.”
I also had trouble separating the mental casting of Tom from Unscripted Transformations and a character in a yet to be published novel. It drives me nuts that the characters kept crossing over, even though I described him to look different. I think that’s one reason I skipped over it and edited my fifth piece instead.
So could you ever reuse a physical muse, or would you be unable to separate the characters you created.
My only child with my favorite “child”
Every single parent says they don’t have a favorite child. Maybe this is true, as I only have one little cutie, but I know as a writer I do have a favorite “child” of sort.
Whether you consider your entire novel or just your characters as your brain children, you know you have a favorite. Just like you have a favorite book as a reader. I know I do. I’ve never been afraid to admit it either. I have no issues saying An Altered Ending is still my favorite piece, and considering that I have quite the stack of finished pieces (most which will never see the light of day/the internet) that’s saying something. It’s still the one I’m most proud of, that gets me giddy happy, and that I can reread and not feel slightly bored because I know the story so well I can recite it in my head. Oddly enough, the playlist for this brain child is not my favorite, and is actually comprised of some of my least favorite songs and artists. But, hey, what ever gets the juices flowing.
And, admittedly, if I had to say only my characters could be my favorite children, it would still win. Why? Simon. After writing How We Began and getting much more in his head than I had while writing him the first time around, I like him even more. Though Mister Eddie Lansky is a close second. Why none of my female characters? They are the narrators and all important player in these tales, so why don’t I have them as a favorite? Well, they’re seconds. They’re up there, but I think it’s because I’m a woman creating fantastic men that I tend to favor their male counterparts.
So what about you? Do you have a favorite “child”?
Do you reuse characters? I’m not talking in a series, I mean do you take a character you used in a story and place them again in one that’s totally unrelated?
I attempted to do that in Unscripted Transformations, but wound up having it be a sort of sequel to Heart Pulled to Pieces. In a first draft for a story that has yet to be published (I’m still working out the kinks) I brought in a pair from An Altered Ending, though since they don’t relate to the story I’ll probably hack them later on. But now I have an idea for a new tale, and I’m thinking of bringing in one of my characters that I love but who didn’t last long in the story they were in.
You see, I believe if a character is awesome they should have their story told. You know, if they haven’t already. Or maybe, like in Eddie’s case, the story that’s yet to be told. I’m also a big fan of when other authors do it. One that brings characters from their other books into their stories quite often is Emily Giffin, and it’s always a treat for me to read who she’s brought in from her other books. Maybe some people get annoyed by this, or think it’s cheating. Maybe it is, but who cares. I like the connection, the six degrees of separation that is so true to real life that doing it in story telling seems to make the world real.
What do you think? Do you love or hate seeing characters from previous books appear (either as major roles or supporting) in an authors other works?
Parting is always such sweet sorrow, especially when it’s with characters you love. Last week I released How We Began, a story that (in reality) was in the making for 3 years. Being the prequel to An Altered Ending meant that I worked with characters I already knew and were fond of, and though I didn’t start to write the story until late 2011, the possibility of working with them again had been around since I finished writing AAE back in 2010. I guess I just figured that if these characters were still lingering in the back of my mind then they weren’t finished.
Well, now their story has come full circle, and while there is still a big space in between one tale and another I can’t honestly say I think it would make a good story to say what happened. Still, as I sit here writing this post, listening to some of my favorite songs from the playlists of both novels I realize how much I’m going to miss these characters. Could they make a cameo in another book? Maybe, it’s a possibility, but it’s not as fun as diving into their lives. Do I know what comes next for them? Yes, except (again) it wouldn’t make a good story.
I’m sure this is the same feeling most writers get. It’s like saying farewell to a good friend who, though you’ll be keeping in touch with, won’t have nearly the contact you once did.
So, fellow writers, is this the case for you? Or perhaps you’re a reader who feels this way after finishing a book?
So I was doing pretty good. I had my word count on par, I had no worries about finishing on time. And then I got slack.
And by slack I mean I haven’t written anything since Sunday.
So today, when I’m supposed to be at 25000, I’m… Not. Guess what I’ll be doing today.
I don’t have good reasons as to why I fell behind. I’ve had a couple of “tired” days, chose to edit over writing, and found myself slacking after dinner every night. I’m not making excuses, I know full well what I’m doing when I don’t do anything.
How’s your NaNo going?
Day seven, and I’m back in the game! It tried to pull me under, drown me, take me out, but I fought back. So I smugly sit and enjoy a cookie and a tea, thinking that, now that I’m back on track I will stay there. Here’s hoping.
So how did I get out of the big, scary jungle?
I spent all day yesterday (and by all day I mean from when I woke up to about five o’clock) writing in an effort to catch up and make my project a little better than my half assed attempts in getting my word counts. I’ve caught up, and gave myself almost a full day’s worth in buffer in case I miss a day. I’ll admit I slacked off a little bit at lunch time, but only a bit. I did some plotting so I at least have a little more in the story line department.
How is your NaNoing going?
HELP! I’m sinking!
Day five and I’m not only behind on my word count, but I also had an epiphany for my novel that I should have had weeks ago (and thought I did. My bad). It’s that kind of “AH HA!” moment in plotting that you just know what your story is going to be about. Luckily, the crap I started writing beforehand can still be salvaged, but it wasn’t a whole lot of words anyway.
Still, I foresee myself taking a day (or three) being dedicated to writing. Not today, though. No, today I get to sit in a waiting room with a notebook to try to write. Or at least make a copious amount of notes.
Yep, NaNo has me deep in the water this year.
How are you doing with yours?
I know, I was excited for it before. Now, though, I feel very unprepared. I was sick not once but twice during October with barely a week between colds. Sure, a cold is nothing, and it shouldn’t have held me back. But I can’t take anything for it, and naturally getting over something is extra tiring (especially when caffeine is also out). So my editing fell way behind and I still have 10 chapters to do hard edits, then put all the changes of all 38 chapters into the digital file, and then edits round 3. Plus I need to do my 1667 words a day.
So I’m pretty sure NaNo is going to kick my butt this year. With more doctor’s appointments this month, and needing to have all my Christmas gifts/cards ready for mailing at the end of the month (thanks to my inability to travel starting in a week), November is already a busy month for me. Add the challenge on top of it all, and I think I’m going to have to take all of December off just to recoup.
But this may be my last year for NaNo, at least for a couple. I liked doing it last year, and I”m sure I’ll have fun again this go around. I just need to schedule well (excuse me while I laugh).
What challenges are you facing this NaNoWriMo?