A Mom Blog Social Network
She's a very talented writer, and she is here to share some of her expertise with us. Feel free to ask her any questions you may have about her post, her experience, her writing, etc.
“How do you get your ideas?” Stephanie asked me.
I can’t pinpoint where exactly the ideas come from. Sometimes I see someone who interests me and I start wrapping an identity around them. Sometimes my imagination continues a dialogue I heard or read somewhere, and it becomes something new and independent from the original. There are times when my emotions run high and I need to create a safe place to explore them, so I create a world in which a character can behave the way I wish I could. Then there are characters who come to me, full-blown and real--often while I’m driving or in the shower.
The ideas just are... If that makes sense?
I could start a hundred stories a day. It’s continuing the story that’s challenging. Structural elements: conflict and resolution, increasing stakes, keeping the characters and their world believable and consistent, these are the things that keep me up at night.
“What’s your process?” Stephanie asked me.
I don’t know about a process, but here are my three best pieces of advice:
• Listen to how people talk. Not just accent or word choices, but syntax, colloquialism, body language, tone of voice. Really listen to them. Watch their reactions to what other people say to them, to their environment. Think about how you’d describe them with words.
• Let your experiences in the world guide your language. Basically, avoid clichés. Everyone has heard or read about wind which whistles or howls, so unless that’s really your experience of the wind you’re trying to capture on the page, find your own metaphor. Maybe for you the wind weeps, maybe it skips or dances, maybe is shoves or flirts or drums.
• Save your ideas. Even the losers. Not every idea is a winner, but hidden in the junk pile might be the seed of something amazing. I carry a notebook and pen with me almost everywhere, and I have a digital recorder in my car for those pesky inpirations that come while I’m driving (that actually happens a lot).
What to do with the observations and ideas? Just write. Let the story come. I try not to force a story. I often have a destination, but I like to let it get there organically. That’s not to say I don’t outline, but I never consider an outline a fixed or rigid thing.
And remember, a first draft is just that.
Thanks for sharing with us, Cameron!!
Comments are open. Fire away!!
Thanks so much for having me here, Stephanie. It's a pleasure, and I'm frankly humbled by such a generous intro.
I'm so happy you agreed!
Thank you Cameron for the wonderful advice and thanks to Stephanie too! I just began to write my first short story (I mostly write poetry) and I agree that finishing the story and following through is a challenge! Especially since I don't get very much time to dedicate to my writing. It's definitly a weakness I need to work on.
You're welcome, Dana. One of the best bit of advice I ever heard for keeping up momentum is to start a new scene before you walk away--but don't try to finish it. Always leave in the middle of an idea; your brain will worry at it in the background, and you'll be compelled back to your work faster.
That's a great idea, Thanks!
How true. How many times have I experienced this - and it was not even for writing or a story. It was simply the worrywart in me. Now, if I put down all of my nagging fears, I might have written tons of stories! :-)) :-D
I have a couple thousand words of a story that I loved, but it never went anywhere. Recently it's given up some of its characters to another project--and I'm loving where they're taking me.
I never thought of that. I have some interesting characters that might have better use elsewhere. Hmmm...
Thank you, Cameron, for these ideas. They are truly handy. :-) Thank you Stephanie for your hard work. :-)
You're quite welcome. Any excuse to eavesdrop in Starbucks, after all. "Oh, no, excuse me. I'm not eavesdropping... I'm a WRITER."