Writing Idea Jar

We all have those days as writers. Days where we just don’t know where to start, or what to work on. What do you do about it? Well, being a creative type, and having a great love for looking things up, I figured it would be great to talk about making a Writing Idea Jar.

What you need is based fully on what you would want. You can have a mason jar, maybe a box, or even a little notebook. Whatever appeals to you as a writer. You will also want something to put your writing prompts on, colored paper strips, index cards, or that little notebook. Whatever is your flavor.
Then, the most important piece of this is the writing prompts or writing exercises. I will give you a few to get started, but know these are only a starting place! Inspiration can come from anywhere, add things as you think of them.

  • Write at least 100 words about a dog and a pair of eyeglasses.
  • Write at least 400 words about a betrayal, a theater, a note and a pair of dice.
  • Write at least 100 words about a mirror and a historic item.
  • Write at least 200 words about a period of severe weather, a clue and a locked box.
  • Write at least 250 words about a natural disaster, a bridge, and a boot. Focusing on one character’s internal monologue.
  • Write at least 300 words about a secret, a knife, a horn and a hunter.
  • Write at least 400 words about a banishment, a cloak and a weapon.
  • Write at least 300 words about a rebellion, a treasure and a lamp.
  • Write at least 350 words about a meeting, a dream and a clue.
  • Write at least 150 words about a loss, a newspaper, a farmer, a scroll and a school. Focus on dialog.

Hope you find this helpful in creating your own little Writing Idea Jar, or box, or book.  Let me know any of your ideas!

Camp NaNoWriMo Tools

So, today’s post is a little behind.  That is because right now I have been hard at work writing.  Camp NaNo is in full swing and I have managed to make it to over 10,000 words!  So far I am on par with where I need to be to finish on time!  This is all very exciting.  And since I am so focused on NaNo, today’s post is going to be about some tools that I have found useful.  Hope you find them of use as well.

With Camp NaNo this month, the tools we like to use has been on my mind. So I would like to cover a few things that I find useful when I write.

I can’t talk about NaNo tools without of course mentioning the NaNoWriMo site along with Camp NaNoWriMo.

Index cards have to be my number one tool. I use them for almost everything. I love index card plotting and they are also great for character sheets.

To go with those index cards I use recipe or 3×5 photo pages. They keep my cards together and in order as I am working through my story.

I have also found report covers handy. You can put those photo pages and printed pages in it. Keeping my current work in progress together and easy to find.

Yarny has become my new favorite writing tool of all time. This website gives me versatility and allows me to keep great notes and outlines, without it being in the story, while still easy to pull up with the story. It shows the amount of words on the bottom of the page, for each individual section and you can set goals for your writing notebook and it shows up at the top corner of the screen adding all your snippet together. It also fades everything into the background while you are typing, showing only your words as you type. Best yet, it is free!

I am sure there are lots of other tools I use, but these are my favorite mainstays.  What about you?  What tools do you use?  What has been the most helpful to you?

After the End

Well, you guessed it the work is not finished with the words The End!  Putting your writing away for a short time can help you look at it with fresh eyes.  That is when the real works begins (that is NOT to say the writing of the story wasn’t real work).  Before you ever start to edit, you always want a finished first draft.  Revising is a multi-step process, so we will start with what you do after the first draft is on the paper.

First, celebrate!  You have crafted a story.  That is a great accomplishment.  Give it a few days to just rest, so you can come back to it with fresh eyes.

Next, you should prepare yourself.  If you come to rewriting with a bad outlook it will transfer into your story.  Instead look at it as a way to make your writing and your story better.  Every time you look at it, you will make the writing better, making the story all the better for it.

Moving along, print your story if it is on the computer.  Having a hard copy gives you the same experience as your reader.  Make sure you double space your copy, so you have plenty of room for notes.  Then after it is printed read it through, don’t worry too much about notes at this point.  You are just getting the full picture.  A few quick notes are alright, but you want an over-all picture.

You want to start with the big issues and work your way down to the small ones.  By looking at the story you were trying to tell, and the underlying story you see. Ask questions about your story, about the structure of the story, about your characters and the scenes.  Delving deeper into your story and its background will help to strengthen your plot and help bring out the story you are trying to tell.

Now put it away for a short time again.  Let your changes percolate and your subconscious think on your story.

After you have done all of that, now is time to rewrite your story.  You can rewrite the whole thing, or you can copy and paste and just rewrite pieces.  Just do what works for you.  The beauty in writing is it is personal, and you can do whatever works.

After the rewrite it is time to refine your hard work.  Now it should start to look like a good story.  You are ready for the fine tuning.  Twist the characters into the people you want to show the world.  Remember to ask yourself if the little pieces you just CAN’T do without, make sure that they will not make the reader aware that they are in fact reading a story.

Lastly, you polish the piece, giving those final little touches that will make your story shine above the rest.

You have now had a brief glimpse of the process of story writing – looking at everything from beginnings, middles and ends, along with everything in between.