Archive for January, 2014

January 15, 2014

Experiments in Creative Writing

Best-selling writing elicits emotions strong enough to move a reader to action. Could this apply to blogs?

Discovery writing + a good writing friend = happiness

A few years ago, a friend and I began collaborating on what we hoped would be a book-length project built around letters that two characters write to each other.

The idea was sparked when a mutual friend introduced both of us to Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, by Patricia Wrede and Carolyn Stevermer.  We loved it.

We also really loved the idea of writing back and forth as fictional characters. There are some definite advantages to collaborating on a work like this:

  • If you’re looking for inspiration, the other characters’ letter usually provides some.  Many return letters begin by simply reacting to what the first character wrote, but by the end of the letter, ideas seem to flow.
  • There’s a built-in support network here. Because we get so excited about what we’re working on, this friend and I talk by telephone, text and e-mail  several times each week. We convey our initial reactions to the letters, and this usually leads to long happy conversations about writing in general. It’s an easy way to avoid the isolation writer’s sometimes feel.
  • Because we have so many discussions about writing as an art, we both come away with ideas for making our own writing better. It’s slowly getting easier to see what’s necessary to a plot line and what can be left out. I appreciate that.

We do have some simple rules for ourselves. The most important one is that we can never, ever give away our future plot lines to each other. That’s hard when we’re talking about the letters, but also fun because we both love surprising each other.

The other rule is to discover-write this piece–no outlining allowed, at least for the first draft. We allow ourselves to do some character sketching and have some plot ideas in mind, and that’s it. The idea here is that we’re doing this for fun, and we don’t want it to feel like work.

Although it may take several revisions to really get it into shape, the project rolls ahead almost without effort. I’m excited to see where it goes.

My second experiment, to journal what I get done every day instead of setting goals, has mixed results. The winter holidays derailed me, but as life normalized, I found that focusing on the process rather than on a finished product is quite a bit of fun.  And I really love fun.

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