Monday, September 20, 2010

When the page is blank, and the cursor's blinking, how do you start a story?

Some tried and true answers would be great.  Not everything works for everyone, but we all could use tips.  So let's hear yours.

See you soon!

Welwyn-on-books

29 Comments:

At 22 September, 2010 , Blogger Quenby said...

I haven't done creative writing in a long while, but I write a lot of essays and articles.

I start with first impressions on a topic-- my initial opinions, feelings, and biases. I list authors I know are involved in my topic and their arguments. From there, I list arguments that refute my own. Any nicely worded sentences that pop into my head, I'll add to the jot notes, even if the sentence has no rhyme or reason at the time. If I dream a good phrase, I'll jot it down in the notebook next to my bed.

My notes provide the map from which to traverse my essay. It's more than an outline or a brainstorming session. It really is a lifeline.

Once I have that, I prefer to start an introduction to act as a further guide. Setting out my thesis first, even if it changes, is essential to guiding my discussion. It prevents me from wasting time going in an unnecessary direction. Time management is important in this regard. Many academic writers would say otherwise--that they leave the intro until the very end. That seems absurd to me. It only makes sense that we know our starting point, even if the destination is yet unknown.

 
At 24 September, 2010 , Blogger Welwyn-on-books said...

Yours is a great way to write non-fiction, Quenby. But that doesn't mean you can't help us writers of stories or poetry. I would like to point to the emphasis on beauty of writing and clarity of logic in Quenby's post. Both those things are absolutely essential in fiction, too. And there's lots more than that in Quenby's post that can help creative fiction writers with the blank screen blues

1. Any nicely worded sentences that pop into your head, ... jot down

2. Any phrase that has that dream-like quality of just *feeling right* ... jot down. (I do that too. And it's *always* those phrases that never get edited out!)

3. Keep a notebook next to your bed, with a flashlight so as to keep bed partners from killing you over a great idea in the middle of the night. If you're really working hard on something, a great deal happens on that thing in your head at night. Research has shown that most of our creative work occurs while we sleep. So you might wake up, write something down, go back to sleep... Or you might wake up the next day, write it down, then drink that coffee that somehow appeared beside your bed without you seeing.

4. *Brainstorm* to provide the map. I usually do this with myself out loud. I ask myself questions and then I tell myself answers. Or possible answers. I call myself names if the answers are dumb. It's schitzoid but kind of fun. If you're interested, *ask*, and I'll give you an example.

5. Cause and effect events. *Ask*, and I'll tell you about "The Cause and Effect Journey" from beginning to ending to crisis to somewhere before the crisis to ending. This is not an outline. Nor is it a piece of paper all by itself. Things happen offstage. *So if you want to know how to create the cause and effect map, ask.*

6. Quenby says she starts at the beginning. I sort of do, too. But really, sometimes it's hard to identify what the beginning is. If you want to know how I figure out where to start the real writing, just ask.

7. The question about whether or not to know your ending before you can start to write is kind of moot. There is no ending before you start to write. Right? Or is there????

Quenby, thanks for taking the time to give us all your method. It'd be great if other people would give us even just one idea they use to avoid the Blank Screen Blues.

 
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