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Create the Storm, Then Tame It!

Today, I want to talk about brainstorming. I love that word. It succinctly describes what goes on in a writer’s mind when in the throes of creating a novel.

I imagine we all spend large blocks of time stirring up the storm. Thinking up characters and scene ideas and twists and cool ways to bring out the themes we want to explore.

A mind is an amazing thing! But it can be hard to harness that storm of ideas and funnel them into something cohesive. I picture Ol’ Ben out in the storm with his kite, the key dangling from the string, hoping lightning will zap the kite and travel the string to the key.

What then? Did he stick the key in a jar, hoping the electricity would be trapped like a firefly? I can’t remember the story.

Can you really trap electricity in a jar? Maybe if you have a tight lid. And then what can you do with it? Well, a few smarties figured that out, and now I can turn on a switch and voila! Light. I’m grateful for electricity because it powers my computer. Continue Reading…

What Writers Can Learn from Fred the One-Eyed Cat

Today I want to talk about a one-eyed orange tabby cat named Fred. Some of you are saying, “Oh, yeah, I LOVE Fred!” And others are saying, “Uh . . . Fred who?”

Why should I spend time blogging about Fred? Is he some famous kitty? A character in great literature? No, quiet (well, he does meow) Fred is just a cat who has a role in the terrific movie Gifted.

But not just any role. Some might argue that Fred is a secondary character in the story, and while that may be true, he is actually a carefully crafted plot device for the story. And that’s why I’m bringing him up in this post.

While he rightly is a participant in what could be labeled accurately as a literal and iconic “pet the cat” (or “save the cat”) moment, he has a much more important part to play in Gifted. Continue Reading…

Writers, What Are You Missing?

Here’s the truth about missing things. Sometimes we have no clue what we’re missing. Something’s just not right. We feel a bit perplexed because we know something’s off but we have no idea how to identify what it is.

I’m talking about our writing, in particular. Though, we might feel this same way in other endeavors—building a piece of furniture, painting a picture, composing a song, decorating our living room.

Have you ever had that niggling feeling that you just haven’t nailed it?

This is a very common feeling among writers. There’s nothing less helpful that giving a friend a chapter you’ve written and he tells you it’s pretty good. But you can tell by the tone of his voice (or email) or the look on his face that he wasn’t all that moved by what he read.

And it only confirms your sneaky suspicion—you already knew, in your soul, that the writing wasn’t spot-on. Continue Reading…