Inspirational thoughts and random writings from the alumni and friends of Quad-Cities Christian Writers Conference.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Help! I'm Stuck!

By Lisa J. Lickel

We've all been there – lost either because we didn't follow directions through poor sense of direction or miscommunicated instructions. Either works for when you get lost in the maze of your writing. You need to write material that makes the reader care to keep with you, to find out what will happen next, to absorb every word until the last one.

But…at this moment you're either staring at albino cows lost in a snowstorm, or the Gordian knot your heroine or topic managed to get in to when they wandered away from you. How do you get from Crisis to Aha!?

a. Call the cows

b. Go for a walk

c. Kill someone

Less messy is Brainstorming.

Good brainstorming starts with "What If."

Pacing, vacuuming, mowing lawn, or sweeping the garage are acceptable multi-tasking jobs that can help you while you begin this process; however, at some point you'll want to record your thoughts.

Conflicts – or problems – usually fall into two categories: plot or character for fiction; content or teach-ability for nonfiction; and consist of being unsolvable or solvable. A writer builds tension by using these conflicts; to create tension, a writer adds elements to the storyline or takes them away.

Some of these methods include adding new surprise characters which do not always have to be human – pets with a quirk (think Charlotte's Web); a natural element like weather or earthquake; a favor element – friend or stranger asks something (think fairy tales); something needs to be learned.

For taking away elements, consider what can be lost – freedom, choice, things both or either loved or hated. What if the character recovered or received the goal without working for it? Loss through death; loss through carelessness (guilt); theft, natural or unnatural means. Think loss of mentor: now the student has to figure out how to carry on.

These and other ideas are some of the things we'll expand upon at the Late Night Chat on April 8 at the Quad-Cities Christian Writer's Conference. We'll brainstorm together on your individual works in progress, whether fiction or non, adult, historical or children's. We might do some role-playing or take a field trip through the lobby; we'll definitely make charts. There will be chocolate. I hope you’ll join me.

1 comment:

  1. I am so thrilled about the opportunity our conference has this year to do some "after hours" learning with Lisa! Plan now to make this a part of your QCCWC adventure!