I am thinking about cradle songs and their origins.
I am thinking of their patterns and intent.
I am planning a poem about a refugee mother singing a lullaby.
That lullaby is full of love and hope.
That lullaby comforts them both.
I am imagining where she sings that song.
I am seeing her when she knows that hope is gone.
I am seeing her pick herself up and keep on dreaming on.
Will you join me and listen to her song?
Will you put yourself into her journey?
Will you welcome her to your shores?
Will you add your own verse?
May your week be full of things that spur you to climb any wall keeping you back from achieving your dream, and don’t forget to have the climbing gear you need on hand and the perfect climbing boots…
I’m busy writing a chapter book and finding out lots of things about famous people and their pets. Audrey Hepburn and a fawn, Mozart and a Starling, and Abraham Lincoln and a pig… Non fiction genres definitely calling.
I love being in the flow of writing on a daily basis, but there’s always walls to climb … even if it’s for the characters.
So today for PiBoIdMo – I was inspired by this post Plot Twists that Zing. You just have to head over to it and have a read of that post and look at the books it talks about. I just loved it!
I am looking for story ideas that have a clever twist, an xfactor that makes you want to read from the title alone. It’s about pushing the limits, nothing is too crazy or out of the way.
It’s going to be fun. What will I put into my magic zing list? What is my recipe for zing, gleaned from the Picture Book Den, fabulous blog. Plot Twists that Zing?
Think of a favourite animal, in my case from Far North Queensland where I used to live, or maybe go with one of the animals I know well like guinea pigs or Minor Birds (make sure it is something other people don’t write about though).
Combine it with something kids love, pirates, fairies, wizards, magic, or dragons.
Give them an unusual problem that doesn’t come immediately to mind, maybe drawn from a reality show, house sharing, cooking, music talent show.
Remove something essential from a fairy tale and put something else in it to make it zing.
Check no-one else has done this, and then adopt the process again, until I have generated several ideas, then pick one to work with.
I hope you find your zing today too. I am going to apply this same rule to my chapter book. Already I am excited about the writing day.
So I told some writing friends recently about my plotting dilemmas and the fact I don’t want a first draft that is a total mess.I need some navigational instruments and am actively looking for them.
Some of them nodded their heads in understanding as if this was a challenge for them too.It is definitely a matter of learning to put on a number of creative plotting hats. Remember Debono’s hats. Well this post is focused on the blue hat (planning) with a touch of the green hat (ideas) and the red hat (emotions).
1. Choose a method that works for you.
The most wise thing I heard today was use a method of writing that works for you! There is no one size fits all, although there are key things a story has in it that you should keep in mind.
So whether you cover a wall with post it notes with the main crisis and turning points marked out, use a spread sheet, start with a line and write, or do a whole outline of scenes before beginning, nobody can tell you ‘that’s not right,’ as long as it works for you and makes you keep writing until your first draft is complete!
The litmus test for me, is that if I stop writing for any reason, it’s time to experiment, and try something to kick start the process again. And what works one day, might not work the next day. Does this mean I need to give up?
No way, it means developing a deeper resource of techniques to keep me going.
2- Tension in scenes
The main thing I am keeping in mind today as I write my chapter book is to put tension into my scenes and think about that goal/conflict/setback structure, that propels the reader to keep coming back.
3 – Be playful and open to change
I had hoped to begin my first 3000 words written with the assistance an outline of a realistic story. However my outline ended up combining a more fantastical picture storyboard of the same story idea in front of me. As I looked at both I decided to combine the two into a new story.
I loved the visuals of the storyboard, and I liked elements of the more detailed outline for keeping me on track for a bigger story. The result of this decisions was that my story went from being realist to being fantasy – change number 1.
The picture book story boarding was done with Storybird by the way, and was heaps of fun. It put magic and imagination in visual play into my creating the plot process.
4 – Listen to your characters
Then as I wrote the characters had an impulse to behave a certain way that I had not predicted, and began to come to life. An extra character came into being, and he could be important in the story. Some characters faded away as not important to the first book in a possible series at all. I was delighted to see the characters emerge and have possibilities for tension with each other. Important for scene dynamics.
The setting was still realist as it had been in the draft in some respects, but the initial challenge I was going to have for the character changed. This is a huge change, and it was scary for me to ditch the old challenge.
5- Have a plan B
My outline by this stage looking decidedly shaky, but I kept on with the opening reaching about the right length, and took solace that I still followed a more general idea of Michael Hauge’s Six Stage Plot Structure.This resulted in the establishment of my characters, the challenge for the main character, and the reaching of second turning point.
6- Give it a good beginning, edit before moving to the second act
I took the first 3000 words I had written over two days with my initial plan, and rewrote them with this in mind and was much happier with the text overall. I tried to build more surprise into the chapters, and tension between the characters, even if they were characters who most of the time get along well. I rearranged a few things. Then I kept writing, happy that the editing had strengthened what I had done so far.
The future holds …
Now I am heading into my second act. I’ll be back to report on that when it’s finished, as this journaling takes up valuable writing and research time from my other projects. However, I wanted to share and reflect on this process, to see if I find the same thing happening for my next book (that’s promising talking another book after act 1 of the first one).
So there you have it, a combination of seat of the pants writing, and planning.
Now I am going to study two blogs on plotting and creative storytelling from the – Wasted Poetand this post on Pixars 22 Rules of Storytelling and just go over that opening one more time before moving on. I think if my set up goes well the rest is going to follow! I feel like jotting down some ideas for scenes, having a cuppa, and finding ways to more me through the next act.
We’ve come along way from the ink blot and skull personality test, or have we?
Today I was surfing the internet, checking mail, facebook,doing writing research wanders on an artist I am developing as a character in a short story and decided to do some quizzes. You know the ones that tell you ‘your inner self.’
There are some funny ones out there, like ‘what breed of guinea pig are you’, and some more classical ones like ‘Which Greek Goddess are you?’ and for literary types what character you are in particular books.
What is the purpose of these quizzes? I first came across them in Women’s Magazines whilst waiting at the Doctors or Dentists. I saw them as something to entertain the reader and a partner to astrological charts. I later did some more serious ones whilst a first year psychology student, and then my children did various ones when being tested for academic giftedness or assessed for counselling to cope with bullying and social situations.
Personality tests were developed in the 1920s, and were a set of questions designed to reveal the psychology and character of a person.
But their origins go back to the psuedoscience phrenology where the human skull was used to determine a person’s personality and propensity to criminality and later proven to be ridiculous.
Science came along and tided this up and now they are used for army entrance, occupational health, employment testing and it’s a billion dollar industry.
One of the challenges with the tests is that participants can choose what they think is the best response, rather than what is an honest response of their true personality. I remember my son absolutely hating all of them and saying ‘it’s so obvious what you should write to be perceived as normal, and someone really strange could just pick all of those without any worries.’ (He is I should add quite a ‘normal’ person (whatever that means), if somewhat shy unless with guitar in hand.)
But along with the serious tests developed by psychologists and social scientists, which try to scientifically collect the data with likert scales (strongly agree to strongly disagree per topic) there are the popular pop quizzes you see pop up regularly as apps, on facebook, and online.
These are presented in a fun way, without scales, and often with a visual basis. They are usually quite short!
From a creative writing point of view I think they would be useful for characters in a novel to do them in waiting rooms, and let the reader know about themselves that way. Or a scene with two friends discussing their results would be fun!
Playbuzz has several of them that seem especially popular with my friends. People seem to love sharing something about themselves after playing these games, especially if they like the results and feel that somehow the quiz really did show them for who they are.
“Goddess of Marriage (Queen of the gods)
You have a very patient and motherly disposition. You look after all of those you care about in one way or another. Your patience is made of steel and you hardly ever get angry. Many say you are gullible but you actually see more than they think…however sometimes you have a tendency to let people step all over you anyways even when you know they are doing just that!”
“You were born to play Princess Leia from “Star Wars”! :You are a real independent, funny, and smart person. You have tons of charisma, you are lovable, talented and people are just drawn to you. Basically, you’re BADASS. You’ll be the perfect princess Leia!”
Cypress Tree: Your friends say you are an old soul. Like this ancient Cypress, you have seen the sands of time wash over the word, and as a result know all of the world’s mysteries. Some may say you are stuck in the mud, others admire your steadfastness and large amount of heart. Keep up the good work Cypress, but don’t forget to shake things up when they start to get to normal for even your old-fashioned tastes.
You got Paranormal! You are interested in something supernatural and interesting! Maybe some mystery and unexplained occurences Recommendation: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
One of the challenges of some of these quizzes is if you know anything about what is in the quiz when given a choice. I attempted the ‘What Muso Type are you?’ but didn’t like or know most of the music listed, so I am not going to bother to do or share that one. But then there are so many you can just find one that you feel like doing.
The type of quiz you choose may say more about you than the actual quiz.
Are you more Frodo than Sam? (Would someone who hasn’t read or seen or liked Lord of the Rings take this one?)
What kind of gun suits you (really would a peace loving person take this one?)
What Avenger would you marry? (Fictional character)
I am sure my daughter would do any quiz with guinea pigs or dragons in it.
My eldest son would avoid them all like the plague while my youngest would sit on the fence and do some with his sister for fun.
So what are your favourite personality quizzes, what did they teach you about yourself and have you ever constructed one?
So signing off,
It ‘s June who has discovered she is – Hera, Princess Leia, with inner Cypress, and about to read more paranormal.