Writing A Novel: Loves Of Life

May 22, 2014 by

Writing A Novel: Loves Of Life

Today’s exercise in the process of writing a novel is another notecard project. This time, the question requires you to probe deep inside to fond times in life. It should be a good exercise.  If you’re not in the process of writing, maybe this will help, too, in the process of self-discovery and reflection.

Go buy several stacks of 3 x 5 notecards and keep them with you where ever you go.

Go buy several stacks of 3 x 5 notecards and keep them with you where ever you go.

The question is simple:

Who have you been in love with and how did they affect your life?

I’ve been asking readers to take out a stack of 4′ x 6′ notecards in doing these exercises and write down thoughts that come to mind. I’m in the process of writing a novel and these lists, like the ones we’ve been working on the past month, are going to hopefully come in helpful when I get to a point where I’m doing character sketches and needing to add meat to the bones of my characters so they’re realistic, life like and sincere.

At heart, I’ve always been a romantic and hopeful for true love. Unfortunately, throughout much of life, I’ve had a hard time finding it for one reason or another. Moving because my dad was in the air force didn’t help. We moved from one place to another and back again constantly, meaning I got good at getting to know people and starting relationships, but not getting to fulfill them or engage in them long term.  Yeah, that has made for a lot of later pain in my life. But it seems the more the days pass I find that those who didn’t move as much as I did have had their own share of similar issues, so maybe that really isn’t it.

But back to the exercise of the day.  Who have you been in love with? How did they affect your life?  You can add another set of cards for defining what love means to you.  That should take you through several days of reflection.  And remember, this isn’t something you need to do for five minutes and be done with. Each of these cards and questions for them are something one can do over time and will be much more helpful and powerful if it’s done that way.  Remember, life is a marathon, and so is writing a novel. They don’t just pop up out of no where and write themselves. It takes lots of time, effort and thought. Story is a metaphor for life, says Robert McKee. And so goes this exercise.

 

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Writing A Novel – Self-Reflection Questions

May 20, 2014 by

The past few weeks I’ve been covered up with notecards. I’ve not been doing this series of exercises as regular, having moved on to plotting, but these still are important.

I also realized I’ve been saying 3″ x 5″ card when I’m really using blank 4″ x 6″ cards. They have more space obviously and one can get them at Walmart for $0.84 per 100.

TODAY’S EXERCISE

So with your notecards, I suggest you do this study.  It can be good for you if you’re developing characters for a novel, or just trying to get a handle of what’s going/gone on in your life.

So here are four important questions to ponder:

If I could go back in time and fix this, what would it be?

Who has had the greatest impact on you? Why?

What was your darkest hour and how did you survive it?

Suggestions about plotting out a story are coming soon. There still are more important questions to be pondering in self-reflection before we get there. Remember, if you are indeed writing a novel or major work, this isn’t meant to be something you just dive into and it’s done over the weekend. If you want to write a serious, logical piece of work, it’s going to take time, research, and of course, a lot of self-reflection, because most likely, you’re going to find a lot of you meshed into the lives of your characters.

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Writing A Novel – Learning From Mistakes

May 2, 2014 by

Writing A Novel – Learning From Mistakes

Airplane Sunrise

Airplane Sunrise (Photo credit: ClaxtonCreative)

The most powerful lessons we learn in life are from our own mistakes. Sometimes they’re silly mistakes. Sometimes they’re gross miscalculations. Sometimes we gambled too much and lost.

Over the past two weeks we’ve been going through a series of daily exercises designed as a self-study, even for someone who may not ever write a novel, short story or screenplay.

The gist of the exercise is simple. Take out a stack of blank 3 x5 notecards, title, number and date them, and then add a list of items associated with the exercise.

EXERCISE:

So here’s today’s challenge. Make a list of what you have learned from the mistakes you have made in your life. Maybe this just needs to be one lesson per card.  It’s up to you and as always, there are no wrong or right answers and you don’t have to share them with anyone else but yourself.  But the premise here is that when you go to writing and creating your characters, you’re going to want to create an arc for them over the length of the story.  That means they start at one point and hopefully, after crossing a couple bridges from which there is no return, they end up at a different point in their lives. Usually in storytelling that means they go from a negative aspect in their lives to a positive one.  They go from being a lazy drunkard to an energetic community leader hero and find redemption, etc.  Over simplifications, but I hope you get the point.

Well to write about those things, wouldn’t it be easier to have something of a list in hand BEFORE you really get going down the path so you have a better idea where you’re going?  And what better a thing to weave in some realness into your characters by dealing with things that you have truly experienced or seen in the lives of others?

Thinking about writing a novel? Now do you understand why this is so important for a writer?

Now thing about how important it still might be to someone who may never write a thing in their life, but instead used this one blog post to make an important life change….

 

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Writing A Novel – Characteristics of People I Like

Apr 29, 2014 by

Writing A Novel – Characteristics of People I Like

An essential part of a good story is being able to add good qualities and flavor into the lives of your characters. You want to create empathy between them and your readers.  Even your antagonist needs to have a soft spot so your readers/viewers can relate to him/her in some way.  It just makes for a better story.

And so today we continue on with our self-study exploration questions that hopefully will help make it much easier to come up with good things about your characters based on this series of exercises.

The good thing about these exercises is that they also can be helpful and beneficial to someone who just wants to learn a little more about themselves.

Last week we began this series and did some exercises. Saturday’s was to get a stack of 3 x 5 notecards and write about things you like. Yesterday’s was things you do NOT like.

Today we’re going to analyze that a little deeper.

To do the exercise, just fill out the top of a card with a heading, in the case of today’s exercise–Characteristics of people who I have liked–and then number the card in the top right corner. I also like to add the date somewhere so that two or three years from now when I come back to these, I’ll have a better frame of reference as to what was going through my head now versus then. When you fill up a card, start a second, third … as many as it takes.

Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.

And if you’re doing these exercises for the benefit of your future characters, think about exposition you will do and even dialogue you will write where this will add an extra dimension to your characters.

Okay, so here’s today’s exercise.

EXERCISE

What are characteristics of people I do like? Is it just superficial as in the way they dress, or look or can you probe deeper and really see somethings. Are they like how you want to be seen?  Are they how you are seen?  What do they do you do not?  What do they do that’s similar?  Keep probing, there’s a lot of good that can come from this.

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It’s Saturday – Time For A Mental Break

Apr 26, 2014 by

It’s Saturday – Time For A Mental Break

My three girls, Reagan, 14, Chandler, 17, and Haley, 14. Yes, that makes R&H twins....

My three girls, Reagan, 14, Chandler, 17, and Haley, 14. Yes, that makes R&H twins….

Since Monday, I’ve made a daily post on the aspects I’ve been using to begin writing a novel. Today is Saturday and I’m going to take a mental break–at least here on the blog.  If you’ve been doing the exercises, you probably should take one, too. (If you’re too tied to it, the next exercise is the opposite of the one from yesterday–things you don’t like….)

Following these exercises has put me on a rewarding and interesting road to self-discovery.  This week I’ve heard from friends on Facebook who have said they’ve enjoyed the exercises and have even gone out and bought 3 x 5 blank notecards to follow in stride. That’s satisfying and invigorating. It gets back to my ClaxtonCreative.com mantra of “telling stories with purpose.”  I’m fulfilling my purpose that I feel God put me here to do.

When God Redefines The Possible

To find inspiration, breakfast and the comfort of chaos, I tend to float around a coffee shops, etc. to feel connected and more importantly, to get my butt out of this chair. It gets quite uncomfy after a while. Yesterday morning, I had another pleasant turn that only God could have engineered. Fate is much less cunning to be able to match this feat.

I met a waitress who is on fire for God in a way one seldom meets in this life. When she was introduced to me through my “regular,” Jessica, and she found out what I was doing, she, too, said she was working on her own novel and was about a year ahead of me. She’s writing a Christian novel and from the fire in her heart, one can only know good things will come from her words. There can be no other possibility. Like I have done so many times before, I shared with her about Dr. John Ed Mathison’s book, When God Redefines The Possible.

Good things have always happened in my life when I’ve been associated with that piece of work, so I’m hoping this young lady, clearly half my age, will find some power and inspiration in John Ed’s work to be able to help her in her own walk and in her own write. It is amazing how God bumps us into the right people at the right time.

I said Monday in my first post about writing that I was on an adventure journey. And like the best of them, you run into people you did not anticipate and learn things you did not know before. Aspects that make life and adventures all that much more rewarding. She said she’s veered off of using an outline to write with and though she didn’t use the term, is being a “pantser.”  (We’ll get into what all this means in coming posts.)

Okay, had a late night. My eldest went to her prom and my twins came over to help get her ready and pose for pics.  This picture sums up what my life is all about–telling stories with purpose, God’s purpose, for the benefit of Him, and the benefit of these three angels–(L to R: Reagan, Chandler and Haley.)

A post about Netflix’s series, House of Cards, is slated for Monday as well as new exercises.  Thanks for reading. It’s time for a mental break.

God bless.

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