This month, I’ll steer back and forth between discussions of pure craft (like today’s prompt) and discussions of confronting things like writer’s block (see yesterday’s post). I know that you are all in different places in your work, and you have very different needs. We will find a way to tackle your issues, never fear!
The most important thing is the easiest: write for fifteen minutes today and tomorrow and for about 27 days after that. Many of this year’s participants are teachers, some of whom are already headed back into the classroom. KEEP WRITING!! You only have to do it for fifteen minutes a day until the end of the month. Think of how much you are learning about writing that you can share with your students!
Back to Think Big, Write Small. ::adjusts glasses::
When writing a novel or novel-length piece of work, you need to keep one eye on the Big Picture; the grand arcs of your story, whilst keeping the other one on the smallest possible details that will allow each scene to carry the strongest impact possible.
This can give you a headache.
I sketched out my notion of the Big Picture on Tuesday. Today we focus on WRITING SMALL. Pick up a book that you adore and flip to a memorable scene. I’ll bet you a cheeseburger that the author made very deliberate choices in the details she used. (If you want, go through and highlight some of these choices.) These little decisions; the fabric of a character’s skirt, the memorabilia on a dusty shelf, what she puts on her salad, her choice of taking a taxi or the subway – they all serve a number of purposes. Details given nuance to a story, they help the reader experience the world of the characters, they move the plot forward and they can give insight into a character.
That’s a lot a work for small tidbits of information!
Ready… “As great scientists have said and as all children know, it is above all by the imagination that we achieve perception, and compassion, and hope.” Ursula LeGuin
Set…Find a place to write where you are guaranteed you will not be interrupted for your fifteen minutes. Lock yourself in the car, hide in the bathroom, put on a disguise, find a new coffee shop, and sit with your back to the rest of the world. By any means necessary, carve out your fifteen minutes and protect them with your life.
Today’s prompt: Choose one of the following.
1. Take a chapter from a favorite book. Identify which details are mission-critical. Rewrite a couple paragraphs and change the details to the point where it impacts the rest of the book. If you have a Work in Progress (WIP), you can do this to one of your own chapters.
2. Write a rough draft of a scene set in a middle-school cafeteria. Have your character go through the lunchline. The kid in front of her is mean and nasty. The kid behind her is much kinder, but is afraid to show it, for fear of bringing the wrath of the bully down on her head. Brainstorm the Write Small details you could use in a scene like this to set the scene, move the plot forward and give us a sense of who the main character is.
Scribble… Scribble… Scribble!