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writing inspiration

Writing Techniques to Set You on the Right Track

Writing Techniques to Set You on the Right Track - Beth Rodgers

Written by Beth Rodgers

I’ve always wanted to be a writer.  So, I’ve picked up some book writing techniques over the years that I have always used to my benefit, and I hope to help you use for your own benefit.

Even as a little girl in elementary school, I wrote journal entries describing the desire I had to be an author.  Journal entries are especially helpful for those writers who are lost in their own writer’s block and need more techniques to get them out of it.

The main issue that I encounter in my own writing is introductions.  I most always end up pleased with my choice of title or opening paragraph, but they give me more trouble than they’re worth.  So, I sometimes come up with or search for story starters and poem starters as a means of helping me think of beginnings.

When I was in middle school and early high school, I was in love with the idea of learning how to write a story (I still am!).  I had fun.  Writing wasn’t a chore; it was a pleasure.  I loved learning how to write a story, an anecdote, and other styles that teachers would provide.  It was also enjoyable to increase my knowledge of literary terms, including learning to define words like “anachronism” and consider how to use those devices within my writing.  It is because of these early experiences that I feel I have garnered some expertise in the matter of book writing.  

When eighth grade rolled around, I parodied the pop culture phenomenon that was Beverly Hills, 90210 and wrote my own version: Lathrup Village, 48076.  

Your writing does not have to be yours to be inspired by you.  You make it what it is.  Find ways to pull the most useful items you have and use them to structure your own writing.

As time went on, young adult stories seemed to fit me to a tee, as I was a young adult myself. Junior year of high school was the year that cemented my desire to be a full-fledged author, as I wrote my first novel that year.  I used tips and techniques that my junior year English teacher provided me with, as well as some of my own that I had garnered from my own writing experience.  One of these tips was to watch for redundancy.  Learning to make sure that you are not becoming overly repetitive with what you have to say is important in any type of writing.

My first novel started out as a short story I had written my sophomore year.  When first assigned, it had to be 3-5 pages, and about anything we wished.  I wrote about the most unpopular boy, a main character named Phillip, who likes the most popular girl, Susie, while dealing with his best friend moving away, and gaining a new best friend while using quick wit and a caring manner.

Little did I know I would continue this young adult novel-in-the-making my junior year and add in new  characters, along with some surprise return character cameos who served to further complicate the never-peaceful teenage lives that the main characters constantly led.  

This just proved all the more that conflict sells.  People enjoy reading about the trials and tribulations of others and possess a desperate desire to see how it all turns out.  

My use of character development, conflicts, twists and turns, and a passion for my subject matter are central pieces of the puzzle that make up the book writing techniques that I use.  

TV and movies serve to delineate this point all the more.  As an avid TV and movie viewer, I am constantly spotting potential book writing techniques and strategies that writers use to keep their audiences at the ready for anything that might possibly occur.

Some TV and movie writers like to start at a season or series finale, or with a particular scene, and work backward to what they feel will be the best starting point.  Others remain mysterious and keep you guessing to see what will happen next.  This is useful in TV writing, but is prevalent in movie scripts, as they have a shorter amount of time in which to tease you with potential scenarios and keep you guessing to find out which will actually come to fruition.  

It’s amazing to look back on shows that have been on for years or have gone off the air already, and realize that the whole plotline, or at least the vast majority of main ideas, have definite ties back to the very first episode of that series.  A great example of this can be found when watching the pilot episode of Friends.  If you have watched most or all of that series, re-watch the pilot and see what I mean.

Going back in time a bit, the astute Ben Matlock and Lieutenant Columbo solidified the power of a few key phrases and wording styles as they investigated their cases and solved them with barely any trouble.

Perspective is very important in writing, especially when writing from a specific point of view.  You have to be able to see what you read, watch, and write as positive, negative, happy, sad, or a gaggle of other emotions in order to truly know that you have tried every angle to make your writing shine.

So always view your writing as a glass half full.  Watch TV and movies to see and hear the masters at work.  Read your favorite authors to investigate for yourself how great minds work.  Write a novel, book, play, or even a doctoral thesis.  Use techniques that you have learned and that you are learning as you are in the process of writing.  Open your mind and see all the possibilities that writing offers.

The Love of Writing

 

ladybugWritten by Debbie Manber Kupfer

 

At eight years old I turned into a ladybird. The story prompt in the Puffin Post said to choose a creature and write a story from its point of view. I spent days wandering around my house and garden in Barking, a working-class borough of London, peering into my dad’s magnifying shaving mirror and imagining my life as a tiny red, spotted crawling thing. Then I wrote that story and sent it off to the magazine and I waited.

Two months later I tore open the envelope that held my Puffin Post and scanned through the pages and there was my name in print – Deborah Manber. I’d got a mention for my ladybird story. And so it began: my love of words, of dreams, of stories (and as that first story involved me turning into an insect, I guess my love of shapeshifters started here too.)

As a child I filled notebooks with tales. I wrote a series of school stories, based around the playground. I even remember the titles – Rodney and Me (about a large Old English Sheepdog that hung out around the school playground – the only dog I ever truly was comfortable with), The Day the Workman Came (about when the playground was torn up and the equipment reminded me of huge monsters breathing fire), and Parents Week (a week when we got to go out to work and our mums and dads sat in the classroom. I didn’t understand back then that the parents might actually have enjoyed the swap!)

Each time I wrote another tale, I escaped – escaped from the meanness that surrounded me in that playground, but back then I never put the bullies in my stories (that would come later when I wrote P.A.W.S.) My stories were my refuge and apart from that one tale I sent to the Puffin Post, I never shared them with anyone.

Over the years I would continue writing. I wrote letters to an imaginary boyfriend in my teens. And as he was imaginary he wrote me beautiful letters back and sent me a handmade Valentine!

During college I wrote bad poetry in a black bound notebook that I believe still sits in a box in my basement. Maybe someday the kids will clean out the basement and find the poetry and laugh at their mom. My own mother, I discovered a couple of years ago, used to keep a diary when she was a kid. I found it when I was helping her move and she let me keep it. It’s a treasure. She wrote mundane stuff about her everyday life, which is fascinating to me today, but also in the back of the book are two stories she wrote. So maybe this writing thing runs in the family.

Both my kids write – my son recently started writing fan fiction for a game series he likes to play online. I felt very privileged when he let me read some of it a couple of nights ago (“but no editing, Mom, OK?”) Privileged and surprised. He has more confidence in his writing than I ever did at his age.

Since I’ve been published my mum has read each of my books and enjoyed them even though fantasy isn’t really her thing. My father enjoyed the genre, but sadly passed from this world before I became a published author.

Today I still find comfort and love in words. If I’m particularly tired or sad, I can sit down at my computer or just with a piece of paper and pen and write out an escape. Sometimes I’ll tear up the words, sometimes I’ll save them and eventually share them. But either way after writing it down I feel a little better.

Where Does A Story Line Come From?

Writers find inspiration all around.
Writers find inspiration all around.

Written by

Lauren Mayhew

The answer to that question is anywhere and everywhere. You can take inspiration from everything.

 

You know when you have an argument with someone and once it’s over, you think of all great things you could have said. In your head you are creating a story. That argument in your head could turn into anything you want it to… even murder!

 

Don’t look at me like that! Everyone’s had thoughts like that. Haven’t they?

 

Have you ever been walking home in the dark? Ever get the feeling that there’s someone behind you, but every time you look behind, there’s no one there? When you’re scared, your mind automatically goes into protection mode and you’ll start thinking about escape routes and how to get away if someone really is there. That could be an opening to an action packed thriller.

 

It’s not just scenario’s like this that can inspire you though. A few words spoken can start the wheels of your brain turning, as can a simple image. You just have to ask yourself the questions: What does it mean? Where is it? Why am I here? Am I with anyone? How do I feel?Answer those questions and you’re ready to begin!

 

I have personally taken inspiration from dreams that I’ve had – trust me when I say you wouldn’t want my dreams – and tragic events that have happened in the world.

 

You simply have to imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes. Think about how their life is going to change after this event. You don’t have to keep it completely realistic, it’s fiction after all. Has this tragic event altered reality in some way? How many people have been affected?

 

A story line can come from absolutely anything. You just have to ask yourself the right questions to turn it into something incredible. Once you have your characters, they’ll tell you the story, from then on, you just have to keep up with them!

 

Here’s a little exercise to end this blog. Here’s a made up book title: The Secret of Darling Forest.

 

Now, tell me what this book is about. You can leave a comment below! I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

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