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Green Room - Week 4 - Day 7

I was listening to the Patrick Ness (A Monster Calls) interview on The Writers Panel podcast on the way into work this morning and he was talking about his process.

Still not done with it, but I took note when he pointed out that the old "A Writer Writes" should be "A Writer Writes ANYWAY" and talks about the challenges that writers create for themselves to keep going and make things interesting. In occurred to me that Idol itself is one of those challenges.

He also said that the first thing he will do for a novel is write the last line. Not "this is how it ends" but rather the "this is the emotional goal", so he knows where the book needs to go.

How do YOU start new writing project? What have you found to be the most successful "entry point" for your work? Does it change or is it fairly consistent?


How was your weekend?


Have you been reading the entries for this week? http://therealljidol.livejournal.com/966583.html Who should be getting more love than they are currently receiving? What are the things you suggest folks take the time to read (if they are on a busy schedule and can't get to everything). Make sure to spread the word. Just don't say it here... say it anywhere you can!


( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 9th, 2017 01:47 pm (UTC)
Holy cow... FIRST??
Jan. 9th, 2017 01:52 pm (UTC)
Haha! First!
Good Morning all!

*Opens the Danish. Cheese Danish, raspberry Danish, almond...Whatever is your fave*

Hmm, entry points for my writing. With Idol, I try to use the journal aspect and cull through my memories and find something in my past, or present, that fits the prompt.

I don't write the last line first, but I've always tried to view my foibles and successes as learning experiences, so, often as I write, my goal is to express what happened and what I discovered about myself in the process.
Jan. 9th, 2017 02:01 pm (UTC)
My entry points are always super varied. A lot of the time I'll start with a specific piece of dialogue or a scene that's stuck in my head and then build around it, but, really, it could be any part of the piece, depending on where I'm drawing my inspiration from.

Years ago, I had an enormous problem with not writing linearly. I would write all the scenes and major dialogue pieces that I was excited about, but then I really struggled with going back and connecting them and writing the more 'mundane' filler that made it a fully realized work. This left many, many unfinished pieces. I still do this to an extent, but I'm better now about pacing myself and balancing the stuff that's ~fun to write and the stuff that has to bridge those parts together.
Jan. 9th, 2017 05:24 pm (UTC)
I actually wrote my novel with bits and pieces all over the place to start with. And then I'd go back to that when I'd get stuck on a scene. It actually helped me fill in the story in between and finish it, I think. But I guess that method doesn't work for everyone.
Jan. 9th, 2017 02:47 pm (UTC)
That's a really neat idea about writing the last line of a novel when you're starting. One of the problems I've had trying to write novels is that they're just so big. When I'm writing a short story I can hold the whole of the story arc in my head at once - I know the shape of it, where I want it to go, even if I don't know exactly all the details of how it will get there. Novels intimidate me (and I haven't managed to properly finish one yet) because of how much more there is. But maybe that trick would work for me... Hrmm....

For some strange reason I sure do like prompts to get started with a thing. It helps me narrow down my ideas and focus in on something specific.
Jan. 10th, 2017 08:56 pm (UTC)
When I'm writing a short story I can hold the whole of the story arc in my head at once
Ditto. Ditto. *cries*

I find that issue starts when the target story is going to be in excess of maybe 1500 words-- which is still a short story for most people!

I do like the author's suggestion, though. Also, I liked "More Than This" better than "A Monster Calls," but hey.
Jan. 9th, 2017 03:14 pm (UTC)
Don't get me started on A Monster Calls. I saw it this weekend and I have a HUGE rant/warning to others worked up about it. I'll summarize it by saying if ever there was a movie that needed a trigger warning, this is the one. For me anyway. YMMV.

On to the question: I've never really thought about how I start a new project, but I tend to think of my writing as scenes. For example, for my week 1 entry I had an image of the character huddled in a dark ship's hold picking away at the planks. From that I got the story. For longer works, like the Continuing Epic or my gay elf fanfic it's a series of interconnected scenes that tie together into a (semi)coherent whole. I know what the last scene will be, but I don't know how everything before that connects to make it possible.
Jan. 9th, 2017 04:04 pm (UTC)
I haven't read the book or seen the movie. We were talking about seeing the movie based on reviews, but knowing virtually nothing about it. Now I'm curious what would spark that reaction though... anything spoiler free you could offer?

(now that I think of it, maybe they *did* mention something in the interview. But I thought that was "something people knew". Now I don't want to mention it though in case they don't. :D)

Jan. 10th, 2017 01:11 am (UTC)
I can't really say anything spoiler-free unless you know what the prescription they show at the beginning is for. All I can say is that the first half of the movie sets up a story that's fantastic and darkly hopeful and then right after the monster's second story that is literally smashed all to pieces and turns into something extremely depressing.
Jan. 10th, 2017 01:56 am (UTC)
I don't know about the prescription. But I do know what "the nature of the monster"/theme of the movie. (from the podcast)
Jan. 10th, 2017 10:53 am (UTC)
The theme of the movie is DESPAIR.
Jan. 9th, 2017 04:06 pm (UTC)
Weekend was good, cold, but good. Thank you, Gary. How was yours?

I don't do much writing outside of Idol, so thank you for Idol, but my process for starting an entry often depends on the prompt. I tend to take the first day or two to volly the prompt around in my brain to see if it hits anything. Sometimes it connects right away, to an image, a word, a conversation, or a memory, something I can work with. Sometimes not so much. There have been a few times when nothing, absolutely nothing connects (like this past week) and I am groping in the abyss and it's cold and dark and empty. Seriously empty. And when I find myself at the laptop with a blank document in front of me and it's two hours to the deadline, that's when things can happen that I simply cannot explain. Trying to explain it seems like tempting fate or something worse. Sometimes I will run with an idea, get about halfway through and realize it's not going to work, open another page and try something else and it works. I guess what this means is that I don't really have a process. Maybe I will someday, but in the meantime I am learning from all the other Idol-ers. And that's all good.
Jan. 9th, 2017 05:56 pm (UTC)
My weekend? Pro - visited with Idolers. Went to Disney. saw the manatees. The Steelers won. Spent time with family.

Con - That time with family was when I went to a funeral of my (future) sister-in-law's Mom.
Jan. 9th, 2017 07:45 pm (UTC)
Your Pros are all kinds of good!

Your con...so sorry for your loss...spending time with family and friends is one of the strengthening aspects of funerals.
Jan. 9th, 2017 08:07 pm (UTC)
I should have put "pro" that her Aunt (sister of the deceased) used to run an Italian restaurant and afterward made an *amazing* dinner. So that was good as well.

Edited at 2017-01-09 08:07 pm (UTC)
Jan. 9th, 2017 08:31 pm (UTC)
Italian food is the best! So is Mexican food! (Smile)
Jan. 9th, 2017 05:38 pm (UTC)
My weekend was good. Saturday was pretty relaxing. Got through a few library books that I had to return by tomorrow. Yesterday was long and intense, but fun. Auditioned to return to my main improv troupe YUM, and learned they might add me to one of their other groups as well, which I'm both nervous and excited about. Their format is more challenging and something I've told people I don't think I could do, but that's one of the reasons I ended up saying I'd be up for the challenge of doing both groups. The other reasons were, I'd get to work with one of my favourite improv teachers again, because he directs them, and I wouldn't have to pay anything extra to be part of it, so it's more improv training and shows with no added cost. Not everyone was offered this kind of opportunity too, so I felt very privileged to be asked if I was interested. I guess all my hard work over the last couple of years is paying off.

Additionally, I produced my first improv show. There were some snags, and we didn't sell quite enough tickets to break even, but we were only out about $40 for it, so that's not so bad. The most important part and why I'd call it a success anyway is that I'd managed to do a pretty good job of bringing together people from two different improv theatres - both on stage and in the audience - and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. There were even a few non improvisers in the audience. It's this kind of thing that reminds me how much I've grown as a person over the years, because I never used to be capable of being social enough to pull off something like that. I wasn't the kind of organiser that people wanted to do things with.
Jan. 9th, 2017 06:05 pm (UTC)
The first thing I wrote for this week's entry was the ending. Pretty sure that's the first time I've ever done that.

For me, I always write by hand first. Usually, I start by writing the transitions. So if I want to write about

The Other Thing

I start by writing how I'm going to get from This to That to The Other Thing. Doesn't always work, but it's the way that works best for me.
Jan. 9th, 2017 06:45 pm (UTC)

For Idol, it definitely depends on the prompt. For my books it depends on the action/ event in a certain chapter. I think about how I want the reader to feel or what message do I want the reader to get.

Weekend: super busy with seeing the movie, LION adoption group friends, birthday dinner w my 7-yr-old grand nephew who loves Longhorn. Yesterday was writers Group and tutoring.

Jan. 9th, 2017 07:35 pm (UTC)
Many ages ago, in a high school advertising art class, at a time when I was desperately trying to cure myself of dedicated procrastination tendencies (still am!), I was amazed to discover that allowing myself to mull over the prompt for half the allotted time, led me to success. Leaping straight into work did NOT work in my favor. Ever since, I have followed the same technique, for either art or writing.

Once I begin writing a piece, I start at the beginning, allowing some extra thought for the opening line/scene. I then proceed through it, start to finish. Breaking most writing advice, I edit as I go, as that is when the scene is clearest in my mind. Nine times out of ten, I discover some clever way of adding in a zinger near the end that brings the writing full circle in some way. Then, MOST IMPORTANTLY, I literally sleep on it. Nothing is more important for developing a well-knit story. I average re-evaluating my story about four times. Thanks to deadlines, I then put it out there. (Post script, I even did that with this comment, though I only reread it twice. Okay, three times.) (Post post script: Yup, I hit the magical 4 times. :/

Jan. 9th, 2017 08:34 pm (UTC)
I write non-linearly, so oftentimes, the ending has been begun...but not the actual last line. That's the flourish for me that takes the place of writing out The End. And I always know that it's the last line.

Entering...for me...requires finding my love interest in the story I want to tell. I write a lot of character-revealing scenes which don't make it into the final product. An expanded Character Sheet, if you will. These scenes help me get the flavour and timbre and feel of the character...see if something about him/her hooks me enough to want to tell his/her story.
Jan. 9th, 2017 10:33 pm (UTC)
I usually sleep on the prompt, and often an idea or snippet of dialogue comes to me as I'm doing breakfast dishes. I almost always use a notebook and see what it looks like on paper first, as I scribble around. Writing starts with doodling for me, and when words start to fill in the doodles, I'm off. The idea/ dialogue becomes a complete plot and I can envision it- and I generally have my ending point/line.

I do write linearly, almost always outline whole piece first, and strike or fill as I'm going along. Characters have a personality that also gets drawn in along with plot. It unfolds in my head as a movie progresses on a screen. Hell, if I could add a soundtrack I probably would.

I'm a perfectionist so when I'm finished first draft- here comes the REAL slash and burn, baby! Don't forget formatting. And editing, editing, editing. I know what I want to convey, and if it seems unclear to me, or I stumble over it while reading, I'm pretty sure you will too. That is when would like to have someone to bounce off of.

Plus there's puntuation, tense, and dyslexics untie! (Heehee) And no Word Program for a lowly Kindle.

I carry little notebooks wherever I go also and write down whatever strikes my fancy. A phrase, a gesture someone made, observations, things like that.

Jan. 9th, 2017 11:21 pm (UTC)
I have to have mulling time. I'm a better writer in my sleep, so I like to have a general idea of what I want to write before I go to bed and start writing when I wake up.

I think Stephen King refers to his "boys in the basement." I like to think of my "wise old woman" in the back of my brain. She's always at some kind of cooking pot, you know?

Usually if I'm about to write anything worth reading, I start with either an image (like women disappearing into the woods) or a character voice. Sometimes, like this week, I never get past the voice of the character, which I think is why a lot of my fiction is in first person.

Deadlines are essential. I will never stop mulling without an external deadline.

Like lrig_rorrim said, novels are hard because they're so long. I've started a bunch of them over the past thirty years or so. I'm beginning to see I'm never going to finish one. I think if I ever publish a book it's going to end up being a collection of related short pieces. I'm starting to think of that as doable.
Jan. 10th, 2017 01:14 am (UTC)
I've been struggling with my novel for the last year. This year (technically at the end of last NaNo) I decided to do it as a series of stories. I guess they could be chapters, but thinking of them as interconnected short stories helps me more.
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )


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