I’ve had a lot of fans asking me questions about writing. I thought I would take some time to post info on here, so I can go into more detail than on my facebook fan page for DEMON KISSED. There isn’t much room to write a response over there.
Personally, I write because I have to. It’s a means of expression. It’s the same reason why some people paint, and others sing, or play an instrument. Creative expression is a do-or-die thing for me.
I’ve been writing stories since I was ten-years-old. They mirrored folklore when I started, and slowly developed into fantasy.
When I was younger, I would hand write my stories. They grew from a few pages to several hundred. I didn’t edit much then. I wrote to write, and for no other reason. I followed one storyline, that I loved, and the stack of papers grew. I kept them in a Robert Frost folder that I got from my middle school. I still have that stack stored in there today. It’s fun to go back and see what the mind of a child came up with. Some stories were so imaginative, that I surprised myself when I went back to read them later.
My first and foremost tip is this – Write.
Write because you love it. Write because you have to.
I had no intention of seeking publication with my early writings. I did them for me, and no one else. That type of writing is important, and will foster a sense of self that you can’t get any way else.
When I was in 10th grade, I wanted to write poetry. I sucked at it. I remember sitting on my bed, trying to spill my feelings onto the page in a few eloquent words, and finding I filled up both sides of the page.
It looked like a story, not prose. I forced myself to slash down the words, choosing more vivid images, and stronger words to tell the story. Eventually my poems became what I wanted – a reflection of my soul.
In college I had no trouble writing papers. None at all. While other kids thought writing a 10 page paper sucked, I totally thought it was fine. I still remember getting the assignment for my first 30 page paper. The entire class looked ill. I thought about it for a second, and knew I could do that. No problem.
I have a secret for you: The people who write, just to write, have a much easier time writing when writing’s required. I think the longest paper I had to write for my masters work was 75 pages. By then, I thought 30 pages was fluff.
Natural writers have a very unfair advantage, because we have been using words, molding them to our will, long before someone told us we had to. We think it’s fun.
And dude, it totally is!
So, onto how do you keep the storyline straight in your head, work out the plot, and subplots. Several of you asked me about this, and different writers do it different ways. For DEMON KISSED I utilized several methods. First, I collected my ideas, having a general idea of the flow, but unsure of the secondary conflicts. I made outlines. That helped me see how the story was progressing. The only bad thing about sticking to an outline is that ideas come to me while I’m writing, so I’d abandon the outline. So it’s there to help, as a guide, but if I want to go off-roading, I do that too.
At one point, I tried making a storyboard. That’s where you take index cards and write out your storyline, and post it on a cork board. This works really well for linear thinkers. I mapped out my main story line at one point, but the secondary plots that wove in and out were more difficult to capture on cork.
Personally, I think very abstractly, so linear isn’t my thing. My cork board now holds notes I make to myself.
Notes were the best thing I did to keep the plot moving forward, and keeping things straight. It’s not like I’d forget huge things, but I found little details (that help tie the whole story together) would come to me at odd times and be quickly forgotten. Now, I jot down whatever I’m thinking and stick it on the board. When I adapt the idea into the novel, I toss the note. That was a HUGE help.
The most challenging thing I’ve encountered, so far, is having enough guts. Yeah, I wrote the entire novel before I told anyone. I sat down one day and decided to write. My storyline formed and I just kept going.
For me, telling people that I did it was the hard part. I write, paint, sing, play the cello, so it’s not like it’s a shocker to anyone that I’d do something that I love. At the same time, it’s like learning to fly by jumping off a cliff. You’ll find out if you can’t do it when you hit the bottom. That’s a pretty brutal way to learn, but you’ll learn über fast. That is the Holly way of learning things – things that weren’t covered in school.
Have a good week!