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Why Flash Fiction is my Cure for Brain Drain #authortoolboxbloghop

The Author Toolbox Blog Hop is “a monthly blog hop on the theme of resources/learning for authors: posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.” Want to jump into the writing tool box? Search #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join via blog, click here.

Thank you Raimey!

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This week, I’m preparing to teach a writing workshop to honors eighth grade English Language Arts students. I’ve been asked to talk about Flash Fiction. Thus, my purpose for today’s post and why I think it’s the best cure when you really need to refocus and shift your thoughts.

  1. It’s like real life when you stop to think about it.

No matter where I am, memories or flashes of my life slip into my thoughts and steal my focus for a brief period of time. I might be sitting at my desk working on the design of a new logo for a school, and suddenly I’m hearing the voice of my son from earlier that morning chattering about some funny story that made him laugh in school, or hear the sound of my daughter’s voice bellowing down the hallway to some book on cd or karaoke song she played and practiced in her room. There’s always a beginning, middle and end. It’s brief. It’s meaningful. It’s relief in the busyness of my day.

  1. The challenge to think of something new.

Ever tried to write with visual props?

When my writing partner introduced me to the idea of trying to write multiple pieces a week, I laughed. I thought, How in the world can I shift my focus so fast? Writing prompts are all that’s needed. When using them, I find it’s helpful to let your mind wander and then stop on something that makes you hold your breath. I combine quotes with visual faces, landscapes, animals, sparkly bubbles. Typically I write with two, sometimes three. Pinterest is my go-to tool. I have a board called writing prompts where I keep visually intriguing pins. What works best for me, is to limit myself with an amount of time to focus on one story. When I make up my mind, I usually commit myself to three pieces a week. I assign a deadline and set the clock. Usually these exercises take place during a lunch break and begin on Monday. When the hour is over I shift my focus again. I allow myself to reread the story later that night after the kids have gone to bed. I edit it. Then I share it with my writing partner. The next day at lunch, I might take another look, but by Wednesday, it’s time to move on to a new one.

  1. Low pressure to be perfect.

With Flash Fiction, I allow myself to shove every lengthy novel idea I have out of my head. The prompts are the perfect visual distraction. I free write and let my mind wander and don’t focus too deeply on the histories of my characters, because as I know about me, I go pretty deep into their stories. It’s also a major point of Flash Fiction mentioned in Writer’s Digest. You can read the full article here.

  1. Surprising outcomes.

In my practice with Flash Fiction, I came up with four very different stories from my usual topics of interest. It was surprisingly fresh and gave me a new view about how far I could push my brain.

 

  1. The pace is fast and complete with a beginning, middle and end.

I try to keep my Flash Fiction between 1,000 – 1,500 words max. It’s also great exercise to help focus on a point of conflict, the moment we define our theme and hold back our character’s most wanted thing in the whole world, and finally create a conclusion in a brief and satisfying period of time.

Question. What helps you create new and different story ideas?

Lastly, here’s my favorite quote about challenge and adventure:

Finish Your Book. Write for Big Moments #AuthorToolboxBlogHop #WriteTip

The Author Toolbox Blog Hop is “a monthly blog hop on the theme of resources/learning for authors: posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.” Want to jump into the writing tool box? Search #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join via blog, click here.

Thank you Raimey!

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It’s funny how as a kid you think you have all the time in the world. Each day spans forever, and when the sun dies and the moon is born, I hardly remember lying my head on that pillow, closing my eyes and starting all over the next day with a new sun.

In writing as a kid, I’d let my mind run away with my fingers. I’d write until I didn’t know where to go and I’d stop. Maybe it was dinner time. Maybe I’d lost the daylight. Maybe I had a tree to climb and a wind to catch in that tree. I did hardly ever finish a book though, well, at least not a lengthy one.

Now, I know why.

As a middle-aged adult, I realize I can’t just sit and write without a plan. Planning has become everything, especially in regards to writing, no matter how unfun it sounds.

Today, I’m thinking about planning Big Moments in any working story before the creative writing part takes hold of you, your fingers fly, and you write all those wonderful scenes and chapters. My resource today comes from my second favorite writing book, “Outlining Your Novel Workbook,” by K.M. Weiland. I wish I’d found this book in 2008 when I decided to get serious about writing, but alas, the book came out in 2014.

The 5 Big Moments begin after you think of all the possibilities in your story. After the Log Line, and your Premise.

Ever had that brain block moment, where you stop and you don’t know where to go?

The questions in this book help get you past that and it’s a real workbook, not just a text. My resource last month is also another great tool to make your mind buzz with possibility.

So what are the 5 Big Moments?

They are moments when the character is faced with a no turning back decision. They impact your main character in an uncomfortable way where the motivation or want is clearly at risk. The main character doesn’t get what she desires the most. She squirms. A decision has to be made. Change has to result. Settings blossom out of a big moment and all sorts of complications result moving your main character into the next Big Moment, 2, 3, 4 and finally the climax. I love how this resource book makes me think of these 5 Big Moments and then asks me what are potentially 4 complications that result in each moment. I would have stopped at one had the book not pushed me forward. Also, never never give your main character what she wants, else the risk and the suspense dies.

I won’t spoil the rest of the working questions in this chapter of the book, but now I find myself unable to plot my own manuscript without it. Ever come across this resource? Do you plot out the Big Moments in your story before you start writing a real single line?

Author Toolbox 1: My Top New Manuscript Planning Resource #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

The Author Toolbox Blog Hop is “a monthly blog hop on the theme of resources/learning for authors: posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.” Want to jump into the writing tool box? Search #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join via blog, click here.

Thank you Raimey!

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Looking for that perfect resource book with both exercise application and examples of successful work?

90 Days to Your Novel, A Day-by-Day Plan for Outlining & Writing Your Book, by Sarah Domet is my favorite thing these days. I’m currently Day 6 into the writing exercises. I’ve already defined 10 characters, four of them pivotal, threaded in background scenes, favorite places and personality quirks to include as I write. I can honestly admit though, I won’t make the 90-day mark. My timeline is a little longer. Sometimes I use one exercise to span two to three days.

Favorite Points on Scene Development

“Scenes are modules, a single unit of your novel … a reader should have learned something about the characters involved or about the unraveling plot,” (page 36, Domet).

  • Write for the reader and not the writer. As a writer, I love to get lost in detail and scenery. But a reader wants to know the who and the what, and not just the wow.
  • Include the main character as early as possible in any scene. Domet suggests as early as paragraph two and no later than paragraph three.
  • The middle of any scene should be heavy with conflict pushing against the main character’s nearest and dearest wish.
  • The end of a scene should show the reader a new character insight, a metaphor, or leave a question that makes it impossible to not turn the page and want more.

Points on Character

  • Need some writing prompts to get into your main character’s head and body, and all of the minor ones too? I LOVE the Biography worksheets in this book.
  • The “I Care Factor” is the connection to aim for which moves your reader through the book.
  • Emotion is conveyed in many different ways, and it’s different for each character both in public and private settings.
  • Write for the senses and express what they feel through word choice and physical characteristics.

A thought to ponder: Think of a moment in your life when you and someone else experienced the same emotional event. How did you handle it in public vs. private? How did they handle it? Would you blush? Would they? Would you tremble? Would you burst out in a slew of regrettable words? Maybe this someone you knew stormed off.  The worksheets in this book helped me figure out these reactions in all of my characters. I wrote three short scenes; first, one character who experienced intense emotion in a comfortable location; next, I wrote the same character freaking out in a public place; and finally,  I wrote a combined scene with two of more of my main characters. The best part is how everything I wrote can be used down the road in the book.

I hope my thoughts today helped. Heard of the book? Got a favorite tool you use to flush out a new manuscript? I’d love to hear it.