We all had to start somewhere, didn’t we? Sometimes that place is… horrible.
My about goes into detail, but suffice it to say… it’s bad.
I’ve heard the opinion that your first million words should be burned, never to see the light of day… But I’m a very sentimental person, and I still have all those notebooks from 8th grade. I have all that wonderful, horrible material.
Why do I bring this up? Because I think I want to post some of it.
Why on earth would I do that? Well, there are a few reasons…
I know, usually, where I’d like to start. I have my point A.
I know, usually, where I’d like to end. I have my point B.
For me, it’s only natural to write what I know, and wait for inspiration to show itself so I can write a part here or there. The Worldtree Trilogy is a mess of sporadic passages and half-finished chapters, written whenever the mood strikes me. (My poor boyfriend is my acting editor, and he no longer has any idea what the timeline of events is like because of this.) I’ve been trying very hard to write in a linear fashion; The Bizarre is the first project written mostly in order. But I recently had a huge bout of inspiration for the end, and, so as not to waste it and forget everything, I fell to temptation. I wrote the end.
So, I ask you, how do you write? Is it a bad habit to write the beginning and the end and fill things in as you think of them? Is it bad instead to try to force things in a linear manner only to be disappointed by the course of things later?
Back in 8th grade, I had a bunch of creative friends and a few of them decided to allow friends to create characters for their stories (this is cool in some ways, but also gets you things like Kokuei, whose hair color I couldn’t just leave simple… “black hair… with green bangs… with blue streaks… and white tips”).
I decided to take this a step further since my parents had a nice new computer and printer, and I made up a form. I started having friends design characters for… the project devoutly-to-be-hidden-away-from-the-light-of-day (my boyfriend is supposed to love me. Even he laughed in my face. If it were a drinking game where you do a shot every time you laugh, you’d be hospitalized by page 10. More on that here, if you like.).
I have long since lost my character development sheet, but it was to the effect of:
Character basics: name, race, age
Character-istics: height, hair color, eye color, tattoos, scars, etc.
Character quirks: accent, rampant phobia of butterflies (seriously, why did anyone let me make characters for them?), etc.
Character favorites: food, drink, color, etc.
Character back story: origins, goals, motivations, etc.
I was trying to think of inspiration for a post. That got me thinking about trying to find inspiration for writing, and, well… I’ve really enjoyed Writer’s Digest’s prompts lately, and was wondering about creating my own, so I would have a funny story to post and maybe get someone to try it themselves.
So I started looking around my apartment. Then I opened up the pictures on my phone. I was curious to see if say, choosing three things and basing a story on them would be an effective writing prompt. But given that I take a lot of pictures of cats, have a large assortment of sci-fi and fantasy LEGOs, and collect dragons, there isn’t a lot of diversity to be found to base a story on. There are pictures of weird mushrooms and bubble tank particle tracks and boggle and oh look more cats and stupid answers to freshman chemistry questions and more cats… you get the idea.
So, what I guess I’m saying is… I don’t look for inspiration. Well, I do… but I inevitably fail; I’ve never been good at it. It either comes to me in this weird brain full of dragons and chemistry and oh look a kitten and monkeys and toast and otters and lizards and scented candles and half-formed book ideas and mostly forgotten dreams and holy cow how many cats are there in here!?
The best I have so far is designing a mad-lib, filling in the words, and taking off from there. Which actually sounds pretty fun. I may have to do that.
So what about you? Do you guys have any suggestions for coming up with your own exercises (and I mean other than Googling them- sometimes you just have a notebook, and not the computer kind)?
If you share your own prompts, I’d be happy to give a try at them!
In April 2012, I had the opportunity to go to Jordan for the International Conference of Young Chemists. Between the culture, the food, and the people, it was amazing enough, but the most incredible part by far was visiting the Roman ruins in Juresh and the ancient city of Petra…
I’m going to be very honest about this: I have weird dreams.
The first of my highly developed, extremely bizarre dreams was in my freshman or sophomore year of college. My brain decided to combine the movies Alien, The Abyss, Virus, Sphere and an episode of The Outer Limits (Manifest Destiny, if anyone’s interested). It was some bizarre conglomerate where Sigourney Weaver was in charge of a futuristic submarine sent to explore a crashed spacecraft (with a second-in-command alien that looked strangely like Mordin Solus, though I had never been exposed to Mass Effect before), and found it empty. Then the crew started going batty and dying, and the alien, who had tried to destroy the ship and was locked up, revealed that he was able to commune with the lifeforms. They were microbes of some sort, but highly intelligent, and they were responsible for the negative effects that were ongoing. However, the alien race were benevolent, and asked to be destroyed rather than to cause humanity’s downfall. Between the alien and the humans and the microbes, they caused an overload to the power core, destroying them all and saving humanity.