Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Eavesdropping story prompts

I get to overhear some really unusual conversations in my office at times, and sometimes I think they'd make great prompts for stories. Here's a selection of a few of the exchanges:

'Why haven't you gone home?' 'Because I'm chasing bodies up the Wrekin!'
(For context, the Wrekin is a big hill in Shropshire)

'I've done the flasher.'

'I never showed you a picture of Mr Sausage, did I?'

Does anyone else overhear things that make good prompts?

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Characters who will not shut up!

This week's WriYe questions is about characters who will not shut up. Do I have any characters like that? What's the cure? Or is it helpful?

Actually I don't often have characters who don't shut up, and usually when they do go off - or when I get really into writing a particular character - they go where I want them to end up even if they do something different in the middle.

So yeah, sorry to be boring, but there's no interesting answer to that one!

Monday, 27 February 2012

How do you deal with writer's block?

Writer's Block. Two words that strike dread into the heart of any aspiring author.

I had a bad case of De Quervain's Tendonitis in my right hand at the end of last year and it meant I couldn't hold a pen or type properly for a good six weeks. It was very frustrating to keep getting ideas and not be able to jot them down. I even resorted to recording myself notes on my phone so I'd have something to come back to later.

But over the last month (typically, since my tendonitis cleared up!) I've found I've been having trouble thinking of ideas, and when I do get an idea I have no idea what to do with it. This, I'm finding, is infinitely more frustrating than not being able to write down ideas.

I've been quite lucky and not had this problem very often before, but it's really annoying me at the moment. I've tried my 10 word prompts, where I take 10 random words and try to fit them into a story, I've tried random story generators, and I've tried using pictures as prompts, but it's still not shifting the wroter's block.

I'm hoping it's going to be something that will just disappear in time if I keep plugging away, but if anyone's got any good tips on how to get rid of writer's block that would be really helpful!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Same Universe, Different Series

This week's WriYe was more of a prompt than a question:
Stories in the same universe, but not necessarily part of a series. Same Universe, Different Series (SUDS). Maybe.
The first thing that leapt to mind was fan fiction. I love writing fan fiction as a way to get myself writing. Without having to worry about creating characters or settings, I can just get into the story straight away. Once I'm there I'll find myself making up new characters for people to interact with and then, sometimes, they even take on more of a life of their own and I start writing stories about them, with only passing reference to the canon characters of the universe they inhabit.

One example of this is Dawn Bell. She started off as a minor character in a Heroes fanfic I was writing, based on a dream I had. Se was just as someone that Peter and Claire happened to bump into and then go off to another adventure. But I really liked her as a character. She'd got an interesting ability, to be able to 'push' abilities from one person into another. In the story she first appeared in I had her push Claire's healing ability into Peter so that he could heal a gunshot wound.

Then I started thinking, what if someone wanted to use her ability to get more power for themselves? And suddenly she was the star of her own story, with just a quick reference to Peter and Claire at the very start of the story and a whole raft of new original characters to interact with.

Same Universe, Different Series.

It's not just fanfic writers that use this trick though. How many stories have been set in the Marvel universe, with crossovers between various characters, other characters making a debut in one series only to go on and get their own stories, and hidden references to other superheroes in various comic books, TV series and films.

I could probably think of more examples, but I'm going to stop there. I'm getting all nostalgic about Dawn Bell now - high time I resurrected her for another adventure, I think...

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The Weird Things You Do When You Plot

The latest WriYe Blogging Challenge was to admit the weird things you do when you plot. Honestly, I don't think I do anything weird when I plot!

Generally when I have an idea I jot it down in my notepad (or in my phone if I don't have paper to hand), then transfer it to my computer to flesh it out. I think about characters, then the story, then the details of the settings, and jot notes down as I think of them, then I rearrange them into some sort of order and save it.

Next I open a copy of the file, change the font colour to something bright, and start expanding on the sections in a black font, deleting the coloured text as I use those ideas. By the time I've finished doing that I've usually got a pretty cohesive plot outline, and sometimes even a couple of short scenes drafted out if inspitation has struck!

Sometimes I'll use Star Trek Online's character creator to get an idea of what my characters will look like, and that can help me when I'm writing later, or if the character is supposed to have a particular quirk. I'm not sure if that counts as weird, but it's the oddest thing I can think of!