Writing tips

How do you kickstart your muse when you're stuck writing?

#Throwback Thursday

This post originally appeared October 25, 2009. None of the advice to kickstart your muse has lost its relevance. . .

I’m back from a weekend writing retreat and feeling recharged. It’s one thing to say “If I just had a chunk of time. . .” and actually sitting down and writing. I pushed through and finished my latest W.I.P.

How can you kickstart your muse?

How do you kickstart your muse when you're stuck writing?

 

  • Don’t get out of the habit of daily writing.  It’s easy to do. Life intrudes and “I’ll write tomorrow” can become a mantra. Instead, set your alarm for 10 minutes. You’ll be surprised how much you can write in that time and how much over the limit you’ll go.
  • Turn off your inner editor. Don’t search for the perfect word. I’m a fan of XXX. When in doubt for the best word, the name of that character in the 2nd chapter, or whatever it is that you’re stuck on, insert XXX. When you come back to it during your edits, it won’t seem as important.
  • Don’t reread what you’ve written. In preparation for this retreat, I printed off the last ten pages of what I’d written. I never looked at them. I started from the last sentence and pushed on from there.
  • Even if you think you’re writing dreck, it’s good dreck. Not every building can be the Taj Mahal. Sometimes you have to start with a straw hut and make a lot of improvements.

Now that my book is done, I have a week to go through it and make my first cut of edits. On Nov. 1st, I’m starting a new story. I won’t be shooting for the full 50,000 words, but I’ll be participating in my own version of NaNoWriMo http://www.nanowrimo.org/ and taking my own advice.

Happy writing!

****2017 Cheryl returning****I’m not sure which book I was stuck on as I don’t keep a book diary (bad me), but from the MSWord doc files I have stored, it might have been Tall, Dark and Slayer. Buy it here.

Thank you for joining me in the WayBack Machine.

I want to take my Alexa Rank to the next level with My Friend Alexa

 

 

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THE THREE ACT STRUCTURE is one of the most popular ways to plot a novel or screenplay. It’s the backbone of countless novels, TV shows and movies.www.cherylsterlingbooks.com

For today’s AtoZChallenge, the letter “T” is for the Three Act Structure.

(Today’s post on the Three Act Structure is an excerpt from The Plot Thickens:21 Ways to Plot Your Novel.)

THE THREE ACT STRUCTURE is one of the most popular ways to plot a novel or screenplay. It’s the backbone of countless novels, TV shows and movies.www.cherylsterlingbooks.comTHE THREE ACT STRUCTURE is one of the most popular ways to plot a novel or screenplay. It’s the backbone of countless novels, TV shows and movies. It keeps the story moving, the reader turning pages and box offices busy. In its simplest form it consists of three parts:

  1. Beginning
  2. Middle
  3. End

Of course, much more is involved. Your daily trip to work has a beginning, middle and end. Hopefully, it’s uneventful, but boring isn’t what you want for your novel. Let’s re-label the three parts into:

  1. Setup
  2. Conflict
  3. Climax

Much more riveting, isn’t it?

Let’s look at each of these in depth.
Continue reading Three Act Structure, Today’s “T” for the AtoZChallenge

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NOT ALL STORIES REQUIRE the addition of one or more subplots. Some main plots are so rich that to add more would detract your reader.

Use subplots to deepen your story

NOT ALL STORIES REQUIRE the addition of one or more subplots. Adding more to a rich, layered, and textured main plot could detract your reader.

NOT ALL STORIES REQUIRE the addition of one or more subplots. Some main plots are so rich that to add more would detract your reader.On the other hand, subplots can:

  • Deepen characterization by revealing flaws, strengths and growth.
  • Deepen theme.
  • Add complexity and momentum by diverting the reader’s attention from the main story, forcing tension until they can return to the main plot.
  • Introduce back-story, which in turn layers inner conflict, motive and invokes sympathy with the reader.
  • Introduce new characters.
  • Develop relationships.
  • Break up long scenes.
  • Control story tension.
  • Deepen conflict, making it more credible and complex.
  • Subplots can involve the main or secondary characters or both.

Like the main plot, subplots must follow the same rules. They should have a beginning, middle and end. At the end of the story, tie them up in the reverse order in which they were introduced. If “A” is the main plot, “B” is secondary and “C” is tertiary, they should be introduced as A, B, C, and closed out as C, B, A.

The subplot should not overshadow the main plot. Whatever happens in the subplot, never lose sight of the main line of action.

The number of subplot scenes should not outnumber main plot scenes.

Do not introduce so many subplots the reader is distracted from the main story. One to three is the rule of thumb. It’s hard to make characters and their problems distinct after that.

Subplots come in two varieties:

  1. Parallel. The characters know each other through a common link—the workplace, a vacation resort, a wedding, but their stories are independent of each other. This can be difficult to pull off, but the characters can learn from each other and influence each other’s storylines.
  2. Interwoven. This is the most common type of subplot. Tie the subplot to the main plot and any other subplots and increase the complexity of the story. The subplots should affect the main plot. If the subplot can be omitted from the story without affecting the main plot, does it belong?

Subplots should cover three areas:

  1. There should be connections between the sub and main plots. Interweave the relationships. The outcome of one affects something else.
  2. They should add complications to the main plot. If the hero is fighting for a promotion, reveal his alcoholic background, have his sponsor fall off the wagon, or he should.
  3. It should contrast the main plot. Don’t repeat what’s established, but explore different tones, purposes and ranges. Portray a variety of experiences to add depth and complexity to the overall story.

Adroit handling of subplots will enrich your story.

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