Tweet-chat 16th October – Inspiration for story ideas, plotting and planning.

Guest expert- Anita Belli

To find out more about Anita’s writing books, on-line courses, blog and Afternoon tea from Bookends YouTube see:

Participants: Maria Johnson, Julie Chang, Rekha Elaswarapu, Elizabeth Holland, Ellie Holmes, Sally Jenkins, Gerald Hornsby.

What helps to stimulate your creativity?

‘Taking a break from the screen, allowing my mind to rest and creativity to find itself again.’

Jotting things in a note book. Longhand helps the creative juices to flow. Finding which notebook had the note was a shared hazard as we all have piles of them.

Doing something physical like walking, exercise or another physical activity.

Inspiration is all around us and ideas can be sparked by anything from reading the newspaper to walking the dog. When your mind is relaxed then you are more receptive to ideas. Julia Cameron’s technique of writing morning pages can help to stimulate ideas, relax the mind and enable the flow of creativity. Julia Cameron also suggests having a regular Artist date, to feed the well of creativity. Her book The Artist’s Way, is a great investment for any writer.

Don’t force a story idea, allow it time to develop in your mind. Sometimes it may brew for months or years taking shape before it is ready to be committed to the page.

Nourish every part of your life. Your wellbeing is important as mental and physical fatigue can kill creativity. Sleep well, eat well and play. See my blog on this Restore and renew your creative spirit

Anita Belli and Gerald Hornsby discuss the inspiration for story ideas in Afternoon Tea from Bookends – Episode 1

What do you take into consideration before deciding to pursue a story idea?

Story has to excite the writer as they will be spending a lot of time with their characters. Some writers start with the characters, others the place and/or a situation.

The writer needs some knowledge about the subject for it to seem authentic and carry readers so that they believe in the story. Whether the story is a good fit with your brand and marketing plan. Also, whether you have already covered similar material in another story.

Do you have any tips for writer’s block?

Anita Belli guest expert has written a book Unlock the Block, available from Amazon. She also runs an on-line course. Top tips from Anita are:

  • Ask lots of questions
  • Play games
  • Write everyday
  • Get a notebook habit
  • Get a writing habit
  • Not everything that we write ends up in a book. Writing is a process.

Taking a break from the screen. Doing something else. Writing for a specified time everyday, even if it is just 15-30 mins. Julia Cameron’s writing exercises, including Morning pages are great for helping to overcome writer’s block.

How much plotting do you do?

Approaches differed from, taking a nanowrimo approach on the first draft to detailed plotting using the James Patterson approach of writing a 2-3k word synopsis before starting the novel. In-between these two extremes was writing a one page synopsis, the ten key scenes (C.S. Lakin – Live, write, thrive) and detailed character studies. The Hole in the Soul, approach was recommended for the character development (from Screenplay: The Foundations of screenwriting Syd Field). Summary shared here by Ellie Holmes:

What is the hole in  your character’s soul?

 What does the  character want or desire?

Why – the reasons the  character knows

Why – the subconscious reasons

 What is the  character willing to do to get  what they want?

How does  this change over the course of the story?

What could the  character lose if  they fail to achieve their goal?

Other resorces:

Gerald Hornsby shared a link to his book, Story Design: Helping authors create fiction through structure.

Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat – The language of story telling

Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake method of writing a book

Both of the above approaches and others are explained in Gerald Hornsby’s book Story Design (above).

The Plot Development Roller Coaster – exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution

NaNoWriMo website for preparation work on planning a novel.