Tag Archive | Brainstorms

Three stories, five books and not enough time

I realized today that I have actually started three separate books. I’m stunned. And worse, I don’t know what to write.

  • Mermaids: This story revolves around a political turmoil in a mermaid world. Nessa is the youngest daughter of the king but wants to be queen. Under their government, she can be elected as queen.  However, it is only through the Adamahs, humans who have been changed to mermaids, that she can do this.  In this I have the election, and the result afterwards, and it’s really awesome. :)
  • Intentional Accidents: This story revolves around two characters, a pirate and an assassin. They’re stories  interweaves into smiliar threads and storylines but I only know about the pirate. She is feeling lonely, hurt and wants off the pirate ship but doesn’t see a way to get off. A police man unknowingly gets on the pirate ship and encourages her to find her own way. The assassin is also tired of her life, wants out, but doesn’t know how to leave. I haven’t dealt with the assassin much, focusing on developing the pirate story, then the assassin, then merging them at the end.
  • Mindskill: In mindskill, a doctor develops telepathy as an implant. He implanted his daughter without her knowledge, understanding that soon it would be a necessary skill to survive. He dies though before he can tell her, in an “accident” and she must discover the truth for herself, along with a plot to take over the world and a plan to keep those with this skill safe. This was going to be my shot at writing a trilogy (Which is a huge task, let me tell you.)

I’ve written 36 words of Intentional Accidents (9,455 words), 93 pages of mindskill (25,000) and 61 pages (16,000 words) of mermaids.

Here’s the problem: I like them all. I stopped mindskill because I needed to develop it more. I stopped Intentional Accidents because I needed to skim and I didn’t know how to. (I’m playing around writing the ending scene to that.) And I’m currently writing mermaids (which may not end up being mermaids, which makes me sad, but that is fact.)

I have every intention of finishing all of these. All of them are probably good. But how? I’m mean, seriously, I probably have enough to write about for three years (at least), not to mention that I  need to write synopses to send these books out, and I want to write Sagi’s tragedy (short story), and I’d really like to write one of the stories my friend and I write out (novel), and I’d like to edit Hope (or at least make a logical decision whether to toss it), and edit Giant’s Wife and–

*stops for breath*

I just have too many ideas I think. How do I choose?


What to write when there’s nothing to write.

Without any thoughts.I had this problem a lot and I’ve talked about it a lot. Nothing is coming out. And the fact is, no matter what I say on here, it’s still not coming. Nothing I do is coming.

So here’s my plan. I’m just going to write whenever I can. I’m not going to try to plot out anything. I’m not going to find anything complex. I’m not going to do anything. I’m just going to write.

See, I think it’ll come out similar to Samuel Brackborn. With this story, I just started writing and I came out with what I came out.

My theory with this is that the more I write, and just keep writing, the more plots I’ll get and the more I’ll keep using that part of my brain that I need to use in order to continue writing.

I honestly don’t know if this’ll work, but that is my plan. I suppose as part of my plan, I also need to not watch as much TV. Even though I watch only an hour of TV a day, by the time I get home from studying, have dinner, do dishes and all, I don’t have much time left to myself. So we’ll see how this works out.

Use your brain!

I encourage you to please seriously consider these words, because more often I am finding in movies the existence of plot holes that should have been addressed and yet are left unattended like an open sore. Know this: Few manuscripts with a plot hole will survive much longer than ten years.

Many books require no thought from those who read them, and for a very simple reason; they made no such demand upon those who wrote them.

Charles Caleb Colton, Lacon, 1820

Walking past a thousand story ideas.

Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.

–Orson Scott Card

This quote made me think that I’m missing something. And because of that, I’ve decided to start Prompts of the First.  The basic idea is I’m just going to bounce out with a bunch of random ideas for writing. Anything that comes into my mind that oculd possible, with some delicate writing, be made into a story.

Understand I’m not asking you to write the story for me. I am merely recommending story ideas for you to write and make your own.

Why am I doing this?

Two reasons. First of all, when I started looking for writing prompts, they were all too specific. Examples:

  • You have been captured by cannibals. How do you try to convince them not to eat you? If that fails how do you attempt to get away?
  • In the middle of the night, you get an urgent call from a friend you haven’t talked to in years. Something terrible has happened. What is it and why is he/she calling you? (Okay, that one might be fun.)
  • You’ve left town—ditching your old, miserable life—hoping to start a new life for yourself. You’ve given yourself a new name, fake background and style. Write about your first encounter in your new town.
  • Storms have knocked out the power. You find the flashlight and make shadow bunnies on the wall, but you can tell the kids are not amused. So instead you decide to tell a scary story. Create a story that would scare even the toughest of teenagers.

I didn’t like that. I wanted something a little more vaguer, that doesn’t involve me.

The second reason why I’m wanting to do this is I want to notice more of the plots in every day life. I want to notice seven or eight of them a day. Right now, if I can come up with thirty prompts, I’ll be happy, but this’ll be an ongoing goal for me throughout the month.

At the first Monday of the month, I’ll share them with you. Feel free to post your own however.  The more the merrier.

That being said, here we go.

  • What can you hide in a tooth?
  • A death ray that feels like a gust of hot air. Once someone crosses it, they’ll die, but no one can see it.
  • If you stop feeling a part of your body, it stops existing.
    One word– Shape shifters.
  • By now, everyone has secrets–the kind of secrets that’ll cost a man his life.

So, there are my five ideas. Hopefully, I’ll get more next month. And maybe…. i’ll remember to write more down, because I know I had more.

do it your own way

So, I have recently been attempting to try something called the snowflake method of writing. (Forgive me absence of a link. I have very poor internet at the moment so finding it is difficult. If you are very curious, look at previous Friday posts.) Basically, you write small summaries of your story, and summaries of characters, and you continue to expand them until you have a good enough synopsis of everything that you can just write.

So, I tired it. I got as far as step three, where I write a synopsis of a character, and got stuck. First, I’ve never actually seen a synopsis of a character and second, although I have upward of ten characters, the story I think is mostly only told from Daria’s POV. Third, some of characters were stubborn and didn’t tell me what I wanted to know when I wanted to know.

So i resorted back to my old fall back. I went back to paper.

I don’t know what it is about paper or why I can operate better with paper, but ever since I started writing, I have almost always done my brainstorming on paper. Just scrap paper with my microbiology notes works well enough. And I fill these pages with tiny, tiny little letters and sentences and thoughts.

And it worked. Mostly.

I figured out some of the characters’ names. I figured out what kind of scenes I need. I figured out a lot of plot holes. I figured out almost everything that i couldn’t figure out on paper. The only thing, that I know of, that I haven’t figured out yet is what happens to one of the character’s sisters.

So the only other question I have is if I want to change the POV. Orginally I was going to write this much like I wrote Shad, with only there being the main character, Daria’s, POV. But now that I’m looking at it and I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe, I want to put in more POVs.  Particularly, if I can do it, the captain’s, because that would add a lot of tension if the reader knows why Daria suddenly got a promotion, but Daria doesn’t know why.  (If you have any thoughts about putting the antagonist’s POV in a story, I’d really like to hear them.)

My only problem is it might make things weird, but I think it might be worth it to have it weird.

Anyway, lesson learned: If you know that something works, sometimes that is your best bet when you’re stuck in a story. Sometimes something new works, but sometimes the way you’ve always done it works too, and we have just stopped it for whatever reason.

I’m going to start working on the outline, and maybe I’ll be writing it by next week. (This is a real time post, if you care, so next week is really next week.) No such luck with Shad though. These synopses  seem harder than I thought and I’m lacking the motivation to write it.

Places to Plot

I have often lamented the fact that I am having difficulty plotting, and the higher my stress level, the less I can plot.

That isn’t to say that there are some places that I can plot very well in and as such, I will share them with you because maybe you’ll be able to use some of them.

1) My dad’s green chair. My dad has this giant, green chair that is in the TV room of our house, and, especially on lazy days, I can sit in that and daydream easily.

2) My Bed. Weird, I know, but sometimes I get the best plots early in the morning, when I still have a chance to lie in bed and stare at the ceiling or while my sister is reading before bed and I can’t fall asleep because the light is on.  This is perhaps the best times for me actually.

3) On walks. Recently, I’ve taken to walking to school, because all I need to bring is my computer and a lab book. And these quite, random walks are sometimes the best to plot on. (I actually figured out to write this blog post on one of those walks.) Walks are sometimes the best, because usually you can talk to yourself  aloud while walking and no one can hear you well enough to think you’re crazy.

4) Staging a conversation: I will start off random conversations in my head, and let them go from there. I got much of my idea for Shad from this and Samuel Brackborn based on a line I kept saying to myself.

5) Any quiet place: I suppose this is a catch all, but it is the truth as well. Many of these places I listed work best when it is quiet. It is also why places like swings, trampolines, around the creek, ect, work out well for me. Sometimes, things like malls might work, but not often.

So,  maybe this’ll help you too if you are struggling for something to write because of your lack of plots.

when drawing opens doors

I haven’t had any plots in forever. Nothing good. I blame school, because in  all honest, school sucks my plotting skills dry. So even though I want to write and plot and all, I have nothing and therefore, nothing gets written.

So, slightly off topic, I’ve been thinking about how to make a knitted mermaid today. And because it seemed like fun, I decided to draw a mermaid. Picture came out awesome, except that everyone thinks she is in the net when she is really rescuing the fish from the net.

And for some reason, this is opening up all sorts of plots. She told me so much of her culture.  Things like, the reason why no human has ever seen a mermaid, not really, is because they wipe the memory of anyone who sees them. And they would be mammals, which is kinda a duh, but isn’t. And they have these elite group that frees fish, because obviously they would have domestic fish just like we have domestic animals. Maybe something with them doing genetic splicing to allow people who humans thought drowned to live as merpeople under the water, so they still live, but they’re second-class citizens to the real merpeople. And all sorts of things.

Problem is, this sounds like a really awesome world to play around in, but I don’t want to write a mermaid story. I want to write my assassin story.   I want my assassin to talk to me.

So maybe, like my sister’s been pestering me to do, I should draw her picture. But I don’t have anything to draw for her because I know nothing about her. Absolutely nothing, except that her brother is about nine years older than her, her parents died when she was 10, and she’s lived on a pirate ship ever since. But maybe then, she’ll talk to me.

why to draw pictures

So, I said a while ago that the best way to stop writer’s block is to draw a picture  of something related to the story. Some stories, I draw more than others. Like Time of the Dragon Slayers

We have one of Justin and Natlie talking, actually just before the town meeting results are found out.

Then I have one with Natlie shooting a dragon at the end. I actually messed up because she should have had a quiver but I forgot it until I colored it in. My bad.

Then this one… yeah. IT’s at the very end. That’s all I’ll say. I’ll probably end up sticking all the pictures into the story actually, because I like doing things like that.

Now, those pictures I all drew AFTER I wrote the story. So how does that help me with the current story? How does that help me to write.

Two examples:

This is a picture from “Miles’ Love”. Now, for those who don’t know the story…. too bad. I’m hoping to work on it like mad tomorrow and get it posted starting next Sunday. We’ll see how I feel though. [EDIT: After my sister read it, she pointed out how boring it was and as such, it never actually got posted. I’ve never had the motivation to fix all the problems with it.]

But what I discovered in this one was I was so concerned because Miles has a prosthetic arm. Originally, I had problems because guys typically don’t go around wearing really long short sleeve shirts (like the guy in red). However, because of the commit that he makes to himself that it is almost like winter from the country he’s been living for the past three years, it made much more logical sense that he would be wearing a jacket or long sleeves, thus, no worries about how long his short sleeve shirt  goes.

Moving on.

This is Carmen. You know nothing about Carmen. Carmen is a new character from a story I’ve been tossing around in my head since December time and I finally decide to write.

What you need to know is that she is a doctor working as part of a research group in an area that most people say women can’t survive because women are too emotional. (They say.)  Truth is, too, that right now she can’t. Her life is basically falling apart an things far apart worse the further you get into the story.

What’s so important then about a character I haven’t said anything about? Well,  when drawing her I realized that she probably has been trying to be as much unwomanly as possible. So, she pulls back her hair into a ponytail all the time, especially while working. She just wears a basic shirt and pants, nothing low, nothing clingy. The only reason why she’s wearing it in the picture is that she is on vacation. And now I have another thing to play around with in the story.

I know; it seems strange that I can somehow get that from a story. And I know that not everyone can draw well. But sometimes it just doesn’t matter. Just do what works, for you.

consistency between stories

When we write, we all have ideas. Generally speaking, ideas and themes always have some common elements. However, it takes work to notice the common elements that are generally in a story. Here are some of mine.

Finding oneself: Who are you and what is your purpose? I find it interesting that is one of my predominate themes. Shad was making a way for himself in a world that didn’t really want him as a sweeper. Hope found out who she is throughout the whole story and where she fits in, as did Ka’yam in that same story. (Someday, I’ll write something about Hope.) Kontyo, again, struggling as a sweeper. Not so much in Dragon Slayers yet though. We’ll see.

Government is stupid: Yes, I have very negative opinions about our government right now, and many of those feelings leak over into my writing. In Hope, Ka’yam frequently made comments about the government would have won the war if they weren’t so stupid already. In Shad, the government underpaid the sweepers and kept them from doing more things. (However, common people were involved as well.) In Mindskill, if I ever wrote it, one of the main characters has a huge complain with the government an wants to do a major reform. Kontyo, because he left because the government didn’t maintain the prisons well. Again, not all. Dragon Slayers doesn’t have it as much (which is fascinating because that is my first political story), nor does Giant’s Wife, if I think about it.

Well-to-do characters: I don’t know why, but generally I have some well-to-do character involved, and not always as a pompous jerk. In When Darkness Swallows, Kontyo was rich. In Shad, Kontyo was again, from a rich background. (Keep in mind I wrote Shad before Kontyo). In Dragon Slayers, Justin is from a rich family. In mindskill, Vanessa’s father was extermely rich (takes to being a neural surgeon.) Heddwyn was rich in Giant’s Wife. (not raised well to do, but rich because of his job.) Interestingly, I’m a far cry from rich.  Maybe that’s why I do write it like that.

Some of these common elements, however, do hurt the story.

Weak guy/flakey girl: I’ve written two of these stories now. The generally idea is the guy is hurting for some reason, and the girl decides to help him and eventually, does so. The problem comes when the guy is a rather strong character and the girl is this pathetic, happy, careful individual all the time. I did this with Giant’s Wife is an easy one to point to.

I don’t know how much we should be paying attention and either avoiding or embracing the themes that we set. Obviously, if you consistently paint a false picture of one group of people, you are going to lose both credibility and readers. On the other head, if you always have the theme of finding identity, people who like those kind of books might be more likely to read it. I think that it ends up being something carefully balanced between good and bad.

And if you’re thinking that you don’t have any themes, think again. We all have biases and it is only logical that they sneak into our writing.

Anyone else notice themes within their writing?

Also, mini announcement. Starting either today or tomorrow (we’ll see what time I get home today) I will begin posting “Dragon Slayers” like I posted “Giant’s Wife”, one section at a time, every day. (Unless I get three comments telling me not to do that because it’s annoying and you’d rather read it all at once.) So keep an eye out for that. That becomes a bonus post every day too.

bookstore = desire to write

So, if you are new to my blog you might not know that I live in small town South Dakota. Due to this slight location difficulty, I can get to a book store perhaps once every couple months, due to it being an hour away. But, bookstores are always a source of interesting emotions to me.

Being a science fiction writer, I often find myself checking out the recent release and other books that appear good in science fiction/fantasy section. I never buy books in the store and rarely do I buy books off of Amazon. The reason? A lot of it has to do with I’m too worried about getting a bad book. A lot of it has to do with my strict determination to maintain a sense of morality in what I read, that sense of morality being low swearing and low on sexual references/sex, if any.

But worse is that recently I haven’t found anything that I have actually wanted to read. I’ve liked some Orson Scott Card books, so I think I’m going to see what he does outside of Ender’s universe. (I saw Treason today and it looked interesting.) And actually Asimov looks very interest in some of his other books, so I’ll look at those. But in general, the new books are rather dull.

Which leads me into why bookstores are very unique for me. They make me want to write. Either I am incredibly unique in my interests, or there are other people out there who want to read what I want to read.

So my solution? I’ll write what I want to read. Obviously, that isn’t the best solution in the world. For one, it means that my writing skills don’t really improve with what I read. But in all honesty, is what is put out right now worth basing one’s writing skills on? I learned almost more about characters from reading a Charlotte Yonge (circa 1850) than I have from anything else. And I don’t see what people are doing thus far in science fiction. For all I know, someone has already written every story that I want to write. (Although my opinion is that by writing something that may have a little bit of three or four authors ideas, along with some of my own, it automatically becomes all mine. That is a whole entire blog entry.)

I would like to be able to read the kind of stories I like but I don’t know how to find them. Actually, what’s really bad is sometimes I want to just sit down and read a story that hasn’t been written at all, just to know where it ends up. But I like the idea of writing and by seeing how much  there isn’t in Barnes & Noble to read, it makes me want to write, and get published all the more.

On one other note, there seems to be a lot of fantasy published right now. I’m not sure why. Maybe it has to do with the Twilight craze or something. But my (probably faulty) logic is that eventually publishers are going to stop wanting to publish fantasy and go more towards science fiction again. I need to be there with my book, sooner rather than later, because if this happens, I want to have a shot.

Since, another one of my (probably faulty) logical deductions is that recently publishers have been accepting younger authors’ works. It used to be the case that authors were generally in their fifties or sixties and now they can be younger. If, for some reason, they see this as a bonus (more stories to be written by a younger author = more money maybe?), then I also have an advantage. (Although being the eldest of four, turning twenty-two this year and still hardly anything done in life, I’m questioning my youth on occasionally. Mentally, I’m still very young but age wise… ? Yeah, okay, I still look like I’m a teenager.)

So, this ended up being a giant ramble but to summarize so you’re not completely lost, I want to read good books. But good books are difficult to find, even in bookstores. So I write the books I want to read and hope that someday (preferably sooner) they’ll be published so others can read them as well.

One thing that I would like to ask published authors if you are reading this. I would be much more likely to read your book if I knew what I was getting into with morality before I began reading it. Don’t need to know the details like how many times they say F***. Just general comments would suffice. Thank you.