“A writer should write with his eyes and a painter paint with his ears.”
— Gertrude Stein
Strong writing is a unique feature of capable authors. It is not merely words strung together, copied and pasted, from society’s lingo.
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You may have had ideas come to you in a flood, or you may labor over them until they’re fully delivered, but they all have one thing in common: they need to be developed into literature. So let’s go over some techniques to help you make the transition from a great idea into a great piece of writing!
~ Write them down: An outline or a paragraph for the more complicated ideas, or a sentence describing the simpler ones, will help you retain your thoughts later.
~ Keep them organized: Index cards, filing cabinet, files on your computer, a binder. If you have multiple categories, you may want to divide them by color-coding the subject files.
~ Choose a subject: Now you have to pick! Consider the big ideas first. You may be able to combine a few into one story, but too many will confuse your reader. More is not always better! Consider your target audience, and focus in on that one idea. I would not recommend starting several writing projects at once. You could bounce from story to story, never finishing anything—or worse, get discouraged and give up all together.
Now that you have your idea, it’s time to get writing! But how can this small seed develop into a thriving story? Here are some ideas…
~ Find a Writers Group: In person, or online.
~ Talk it out: One of the best ways I’ve found to develop a story is to talk it over, then talk it over again, and then some more! Have lunch with a friend or spouse, and share your ideas with them. Call another writer; you could be a sounding board for each other’s work. Using a tape or digital recorder can also be helpful. The idea is that sometimes listening to your thoughts out loud can be enough to get you moving forward in your plot.
~ Try Visualization: Play your story out in your mind like a movie. This is a powerful and creative processing tool. Picture your characters—what they look like, the environment they’re in, and what your senses are hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, and tasting. If you can picture it, it will be much easier to write. Photographs that represent settings or characters that you’re working on can also inspire you.
~ Sketch or Doodle: Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, this can be very helpful. You could draw anything from a character, a setting, such as a castle or house, or even an aerial view of the land your work is set in. They don’t have to be worthy of publication; they’re simply to help you “see” your story better.
~ Charts and Graphs: This could come in many forms, from: a family tree showing genealogy, a timeline with a sequence of events, a chart with the climactic moments of your story, or a graph of your characters’s personality traits. The point is, it has to make sense to you and help your writing to move forward.
~ Storyboarding: This is simply using still pictures (photographs or drawings) to tell a story. Screenwriters and cartoonists commonly storyboard, however, it can be a very effective tool to lay out the storyline of a book. This could also be done in small sections on a dry-erase board. You don’t have to be great at sketching; you are simply creating images that are significant to you, or using words or word groups to keep track of where you are in your story. Including character descriptions, geology, dialog, or location can also be helpful.
~ Puzzle-making: This method consists of writing down storylines on strips of paper so that you can shuffle events around until you’re happy with the sequence. It can also be used to arrange a family tree, show relationships between characters, or just to keep track of your ideas. This can be time-consuming, however, it’s a great way to show the flexibility in your plot.
In writing, the hardest obstacle to overcome by far—is SITTING DOWN AND DOING IT! Our lives are busy, and we have many demands on our time, but if you are able to carve out a time each day—or even a couple times through the week—you will be pleasantly surprised with the outcome. I hope these ideas have been helpful to you, and have sparked your creativity.
J. D. Scott is the organizing member of Abba’s Writers in Phoenix, Arizona. She leads, instructs, and teaches critiquing and story development to its members.
In 2013, J. D. Scott became part of the team at A Book’s Mind as a Publishing Consultant. She enjoys working alongside writers, helping them fulfill their dreams of becoming published authors.
Before being bit by the writing bug, J. D. Scott spent 20 years working with children as a nanny, mentor, camp counselor, and youth-group leader. With a heart for today’s youth, she set out to write books that both entertain and inspire them to rise above the current culture and see their true value.
She continues to live out her life’s passions of writing, publishing, and counseling/mentoring women and children.
For more tips on writing from Robin Lloyd-Jones, click here.
For more tips from GoinsWriter, click here.
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