Ideas: A Journey of Thought and Change (Guest Post)9:23 PM
Hello, Life of a Random readers! If I don’t know you already, it’s a pleasure to meet your acquaintance :)
When Skylar asked if I would write a guest post, she suggested I write about a specific part of writing, which was good because a) I love writing and b) I know a lot about writing.
But then a little problem arose. You see, while I might know a lot about writing, I have yet to master the art of applying these "skills." I'm still floundering, knowing exactly what I need to be doing, but having trouble transferring my perfect, nebulous vision onto paper.
Ideas are a different story (was that a pun?) I'm not usually the kind of person who struggles for ideas. I can hear almost anything and start constructing a premise around it. Call it a blessing. Call it a curse. All I know is that it makes math class somewhat bearable.
But ideas are fragile. They might be powerful—like, the ideal challenging, oppression opposing, truth bleeding, mending a broken heart kind-of-powerful—but even the most powerful of ideas are easy to misuse. Drop it once, and you're probably fine. A little smatter of glue and it's good as new. Drop it a few more times, and it'll shatter to pieces.
In short, once you've already used an idea a certain way—a bad way—it's hard to reconstruct that first glimmer into something new and tangible.
Sometimes, finding your way sucks.
I’m a plotter—I like figuring out my story before I start it. Otherwise, I’m fighting through murky water, and that’s not my thing. I assume these same principles of adapting are the same for pantsing. Just replace the word "outlining" with revision, and you’re set.
It takes a lot of dreaming to construct an idea with plot points. It takes even more time to expand further. And then you have to throw logic in the mix—because logic.
In attempting to plot these vague ideas of mine into stories, I’ve tried my best to come up with a system that works for me. This has lead me to two principles:
1) Think Ideas Through
Stories are hard, so when a supposed solution to your plot problem presents itself, it’s easy to just accept it and move on. But that solution might not be the best. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, I know you’re probably lazy (I am, too.) But make sure to think it through. Does it make sense with the rest of the plot? Will it allow for forward momentum? Is it consistent with your character development? Is it something readers will actually want to read?
2) Let Ideas Change
Okay, so you’ve finished outlining your new work in progress (or you’ve finished the first draft, if that’s your cup of tea) and now you read it through. But OH NO, something’s off. The plot point you labored tirelessly over, the plot point you spilled your tears into, the plot point you fell in love with—it’s garbage (no offense). And the last thing you want to do is put in more effort to a) come up with something new, and b) have it make sense with the rest of the story. You’ll probably try to convince yourself it actually does work or that maybe you can just tweak a few things and make it all right, that this one little blip isn’t affecting the story that much. Don’t. You’ll thank yourself later.
Have you had any bad experiences with ideas? How do you go about formulating a plot despite of these obstacles? Do you agree with my two principles?
Well, that’s all from me! Thank you so much for having me, Skylar! (No problem! Great post :))
Now that was some pretty awesomesauce advise. Going along with that whole awesome vibe, Catherine agreed to answer some questions ;) Here they are! Now we shall know ALL her secrets. Mwahaha.
1. Do you make covers for your WIPs? What programs/tools do you use if you do?
I’ve made one once before because it was an option on NaNoWriMo to add a cover for my WIP. Naturally, I took this as an excuse to spend a day playing around with the various photo-editing tools at my disposal. I had just bought one of those Bamboo drawing tablets for computer graphics, and it came with a sketchbook app and Photoshop Elements, so I played around with those until I created a somewhat acceptable cover.
2. Favorite type of female MC to write?
I really like my female MCs to be dry, snarky, and bold—but human, too. It always bothers me when characters are only defined by their strength and not allowed to have emotions like real, complex people. In my head, this is how I act, though my real-life persona has decided I’m better suited to be socially inept when faced with strangers.
3. Favorite type of male MC to write?
Similar to my favorite female MCs, I like snarky male MCs. I’ve actually never written from the point of view of a guy, so I can’t testify from experience (though I do plan to change that soon.) But my favorite guy minor characters have fit a similar—yet different--mold.
4. Do you write best with a computer or pen and paper?
That’s a great question. I’ve actually been experimenting recently with both. I’ve started writing the first drafts of my reviews and posts in messy, almost-illegible cursive, and it’s seemed to work wonders compared to the hours I used to spend staring at a blank screen. As for fiction writing, I’ve never tried writing without a computer. It seems like it would be too much work to transfer thousands of words onto a word processor. It does help me to zoom out the screen enough so that I can’t see what I’m writing. That way, I’m less tempted to re-read or try to blend the next sentence perfectly with the last. The same principle applies when I’m writing by hand.
5. What's your favorite genre of book to read?
Who knows? I used to think it was dystopian, but recently I’ve been leaning towards other genres like contemporary and fantasy. I’m really not picky when it comes to genre. If a premise sounds good or my blog friends rave about it, I’ll read it regardless.
6. Do you have a pen name like mwah?
Nope. I’ve thought about it, but I’m not sure if I could come up with a suitable new name. If I come up with something good, I might start using one, but it might be a little confusing since I’ve already been blogging for a year under “Catherine.” (A pen name does sound nice though. I’d be like a spy in disguise, morphing my persona for my own selfish needs. Watch out, blogosphere.)
7. How are you getting Internet connection in space? (Ehh. It'll make sense if you check out Catherine's About page.)
I made a deal with a couple of shady aliens. Why do you ask?
8. What's your favorite expression/voice adjective (for example: befuddled, screeched, snickered)?
Hmm… I quite like it when people confess—or mumble, proclaim, promise, and whimper. A snickering sidekick is also a nice surprise.
There you have it. Watch out when dealing with Catherine. She has alien connections. If you still want to risk it, then you can find her in loads of places like: