Tag Archives: creative writing

Your Story Ideas Aren’t Enough

10 Mar

The other day I was on Twitter and saw someone tweet out something along the lines of, “YOUR STORY IDEA DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING,” and I about had a heart attack, because WHAT.

I mean, of course ideas matter. In fact, I’m one of those authors that keep lists and lists of ideas, because I believe they all matter. (At least to me. And that’s enough.) But I have to confess… That tweet gave me a heart attack, because she was right. Just because story ideas matter doesn’t mean they are enough. 

Don’t throw away your ideas yet. Stick with me. (In fact, extra tip: never throw away your ideas. You never know when something you drafted ten years ago will click with you.)

Now don’t panic.

Ideas are HARD to come up with. So many ideas have been done before a million different ways that it often feels impossible to put a fresh spin on anything. So I get it. When you have an idea that actually feels fresh—one that you are passionate about—that idea absolutely feels like enough, and to have someone blatantly tell you that it isn’t enough before ever giving you a shot is extremely disheartening. But it’s not meant to be disheartening. It’s meant to remind you of one, important truth: Having the idea is only the beginning. So keep these three aspects in mind when you’re feeling discouraged about your brainstorming:

1. Everyone has ideas. Millions of them.

But so what? How many of those millions of ideas actually get down on paper? How many of those ideas go forgotten in a desk drawer for decades? Who cares how many millions of ideas have been done before? Let’s concentrate on the millions of ideas and voices that haven’t been done before instead. Let’s concentrate on the fact that your idea is your idea and no one else’s. Your voice will make that idea new, your plan will unfold like no one else’s plan, and that in itself will make it unique. Do not get bogged down by the fact that everyone has a story. Let that inspire you to come up with as many ideas as you want to. Create a list. Keep that list. One day, any or all of them could become something huge in your heart (and then on paper)! Just because an idea feels flat one day doesn’t mean that it won’t click next year or the year after that. Sometimes ideas need a lot of time to fully form. Sometimes ideas need a little push.

2. PUSH that idea

Granted, because there are so many amazing writers who come before us, we all know that our ideas have to bring something new to the table. Your road trip story might be awesome, but it also needs to stand out. One thing I like to do when I’m drafting is to ask myself what I can do to push the story. Heck, get a friend involved. Ask them what they would do to make the story crazier or how to get the stakes higher. Truly ask yourself what the most unique aspect of your story is, and then take that aspect and pushhhhhh it. Don’t be afraid to get a little crazy, especially in the drafting stage. Have fun. Make mistakes. Start over. Try again. You might find an idea within an idea within an idea that becomes the book you decide to write. Just remember to actually write.

3. WRITE that idea

I think the main reason this person on Twitter said what she said wasn’t because she was saying ideas don’t matter. They do. Instead, I believe she was trying to remind everyone that if all you do is sit around and daydream about writing some story idea you had, you won’t get anywhere. You actually have to sit down and write. A few years ago, one of my friends learned this lesson. One day, he sat across from me at a café I used to write at and declared that being a writer can’t be that hard. (He’d watched me do it after all, and he had tons of ideas.) So I told him that if he wrote a book, I would be happy to beta read and help him. Less than a month later, he texted me a hilarious, heartfelt apology, because, though he had sat down and written six chapters, he was stuck and what he had wasn’t consistent or legible (his description, not mine). In fact, he never let me read what he came up with, because he decided right then and there that writing wasn’t for him. At least not yet. But what he was going through was perfectly normal for a writer. You have to make mistakes. Major ones. My friend had been playing around with his idea for years before he sat down, but once he sat down, writing wasn’t what he expected. Does that mean he should’ve quit? I don’t think so. (Unless he truly realized he doesn’t enjoy writing.) But one thing remains true. You can plan, plan, plan all you want, but writing a great book requires more than a great idea. It requires practice and patience and passion.

So sit down and try. Write those ideas, change your ideas, practice with your ideas, and one day, publish your ideas. But don’t listen to those that say your ideas don’t matter, because of course they matter. They matter to you, and that has to come first and foremost before your ideas can also matter to others. Pursue as many ideas as you want to. Experiment. Have fun. Find something you’re passionate about, because this is part of the publishing journey, and your ideas are the foundation you will write upon.

Ideas are the beginning of something great.

~SAT

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#MondayBlogs What It’s Like To Co-Author With Your Mother

4 Apr

Intro:

Recently, I had a blast working with young adult author Bronte Huskins and her mother, Sarah Newton. Together, they wrote the novel, Never Mind My Thigh Gap, a story about a young girl joining a model competition to overcome her insecurities while finding friends along the way. (I love this novel, by the way.) When they offered to write an article about their co-authorship, I invited them on here immediately. I hope you’ll enjoy their story as much as I do.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

What It’s Like To Co-Author With Your Mother by Bronte Huskins

The question, “So, what was it like to work with your mum?” gets asked a lot, with the expectation of the answer being, “It was very challenging” or, “It was so difficult and at times I wanted to rip her head off!” But the answer, the real answer, couldn’t be more opposite. Writing a novel with my mum taught me a lot about my writing and actually made me a better writer.

Working with my mum on a novel we are both passionate about was actually a really enjoyable experience. There was never a time where I got so frustrated that I had plotted how I would kill her in her sleep that night. Of course it was hard work; writing a novel is certainly the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, but I think that having my mum there writing it with me actually helped keep my sanity in check. She understood my frustration when the characters were being a bit too moany and cried with me as we wrote the ending. It’s an experience I’m glad I could share with her.

0 (1)The one thing I was surprised about was how much I learnt from co-authoring Never Mind My Thigh Gap. My mum showed me what my strengths and weaknesses were and how to play with them and use them to my best advantage. She taught me that I was great at characterisation, conversation and description, but not so good with the nitty gritty, in-between stuff, which she turned out to be good at. She made me a better writer and we just worked together as co-authors.

We managed to get a rhythm going pretty early on in the process; I wrote the main text and my mum would edit it and write Oscar’s point of view. This involved a lot of sending the book backwards and forwards, and doing it again we realised that it would’ve been a whole lot easier just to send my mum the whole thing once I had written the first draft. We know that now but despite this, I wouldn’t change a thing. It was a learning experience and was a real bonding experience. I can’t imagine writing a novel without her anymore.

My tips on co-authoring with or without your mother.

Start with a plan

The main tip I would give to anyone who co-authors is come up with a plan of action beforehand. Writing this novel could’ve easily turned into a disaster, but we planned the outline of the story before actually writing it. Even though the story did change as we went on, having the first outline was extremely helpful.

Learn to compromise

I would also advise that you learn how to compromise; the trouble with co-authoring is that it’s not just your book, you have to share your baby with someone else. Whilst it does take some of the pressure off, it does also mean that you have to combine your ideas with someone else, and not all of them make the cut.

Be honest

First with yourself and then with the other person. Often the other person may say or do something that you instantly have a negative reaction to. Stop first and think about what they are saying, could it be true, even if a little bit? I remember once my mum saying I use too many words and my first reaction was to scream at her, but she was right – I do and when I got over myself and listened to her, the book was better. Also I felt completely at ease being honest with her and not hurting her feelings. I never held anything back as I didn’t want there to be any tension between us.

Know your strengths

Part of this process helped us both get really clear what our strengths are. I am very good at character development and speech, my mum showing the reader what is happening and the emotional impact of the story. When we realised what we were both great at, it allowed us to settle in to our respective parts.

I know it’s not for everyone, but I found and still find co-authoring with my mum a great experience.

Bio:

0 (1) (1)I am an 18-year-old student at Bath Spa University currently studying Creative Writing and Publishing. My first book ” Never Mind my Thigh Gap” is based on my own experience of entering a model competition to get over my body image issues. I write about ordinary, everyday heroines who are more likely to don a new lipstick than a suit of armour. I want my heroines to be real and relatable, acting like a teenager does in real life; unsure, scatty and indecisive.  With my writing I want to inspire young girls who feel they don’t fit into society’s norm to be comforted by the down-to-earth related characters in our books and realise, in their own way they are heroines too.

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#SATurday Three-Year Blogging Anniversary

26 Sep

So, wow. Yesterday was my three-year anniversary of blogging right here on www.ShannonAThompson.com.

Three years.

The first photo I ever shared of myself on here with a similar one from today.

The first photo I ever shared of myself on here with a similar one from today.

My first blog post was on September 25, 2012. I never realized how much my life would change once I started this blog. For instance, back then, I had just started my last year of college at the University of Kansas. I lived in a townhouse with two other girls, and my bedroom was painted a deep merlot red. Bogart was almost two years old. I wasn’t publishing at that time, but I was studying English, specifically poetry. I didn’t have a job that year, but I did have my eyes set on a couple of master’s degree opportunities and law school. I drove a manual, a silver RX-8. I was writing Take Me Tomorrow. I almost always wrote in a hookah house. My laptop’s name was Weebo. I was twenty-one years, three months, and two days old.

Since September 25, 2012, my life has changed irrevocably. Two weeks after starting my blog, one of my college roommates passed away. I moved back home. I was published. I graduated from KU with a bachelor’s degree in English, with an emphasis on creative writing. I was published again, and signed on with a publisher. I started working for a publisher. My car stopped working. My publisher shut down, and I lost my job. I moved to another state on my own. My bedroom is now baby blue, and I drive an automatic pickup now. I signed on with a new publisher, and I started my own company. Bogart just turned five, and I have two other cats in my life, Boo Boo and Kiki. I write in coffee houses now. My laptop’s name is Luna-P. I’m currently writing many things. I am twenty-four years, three months, and three days old.

Back then, I just wanted to have a place to share books, music, and movies. I never knew it would change my life forevthree yearser. I cannot explain how much blogging can change your life, but I guess I can share my story.

I’ve thought long and hard about what to say today, but I don’t feel like
there’s anything I can say to express my gratitude for these past 525 blog posts. Today is my 526th article. I’ve been on here 1,096 days. I’ve had over 72,000 unique visitors. I never thought my silly voice would ever be heard, let alone by that many people. I am humbled.

Thank you for giving me a place in the blogosphere that I can call home.

~SAT

Minutes Before Sunset hit #12 in overall Free Kindle yesterday! (Woot. Woot.) We were also a #1 Bestseller in YA Science Fiction and Paranormal and Urban Fantasy! Way to go! Stay Dark!

12

#12 in overall Kindle!

Poster_Small_V - Book shop signingOn October 19, the paperback of Death Before Daylight releases! Two days later, on October 21, you can come see me at Headrush Coffee and Tea Roasters in Kansas City, Missouri for a paranormal talk and book signing.  It will be tons of fun!

Minutes Before Sunset: book 1

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylight: book 3

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

P.S. For all you Timely Death Trilogy fans, here’s a little Dark humor from comedian, Drew Ryan.

throwingshade

Writing Competition & Giveaway!

19 Aug
Please like my Facebook page!

Please like my Facebook page!

First: I’m going to be doing my first LIVE radio interview on August 20 at 9:30 a.m. (CDT.) Join us at Back Porch WriterI will also post a link to it afterwards if you’d like to listen to it later.

If you follow me on my Facebook page then you already know that I received three copies of the new edition of Minutes Before Sunset. And I was so excited! (Still am) They are beautiful. The coloring is just as I’d always imagined, front and back, and the wording has been delicately refined. On top of that, there’s only one extra page (because of the changed language) so you don’t have to worry about a much longer or shorter novel. The new edition means so much to me that I haven’t been able to put it down since, which is how I got my idea.

The new edition is on the left; the first edition is on the right. Sorry about the glare!

The new edition is on the left; the first edition is on the right. Sorry about the glare!

It’s already for sale for only $12 through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, etc. But I wanted to celebrate by giving three SIGNED new editions away to my talented readers. That’s right. Talented–not just lucky. I wanted to do my first giveaway that celebrates the talent of all of the writers I’ve met through this blog. So if you write–you’re eligible, and there’s more to win than just Minutes Before Sunset.

Check it out:

Now, this is a different kind of a writing challenge: I don’t want an entire story. I don’t want a single line. What I am looking for is an excerpt (no longer than 10 pages) and I want to see beautiful prose. There’s only one twist.

Do you have favorite quotes from a novel–those words that just stuck out from the page and made you think? I want to see that. I want to be reading along and see a life lesson hanging on the sentence but blending in to the descriptions. (You’re even welcome to bold it.)

Not only will you win a free signed copy of the new edition of Minutes Before Sunset, but you (and your book/websites) will be featured on ShannonAThompson.com in an upcoming future post, which we will discuss over email, so it won’t be spoiled for everyone else!

Okay. So one last time:

  1. Pick out an excerpt of your writing–no more than 10 pages. Also include genre and brief synopsis.
  2. Bold your life lesson line (or a quote you think readers will attach themselves to)
  3. Send it to shannonathompson@aol.com with the subject “Giveaway” before August 26. 

I will announce the winners on September 2, and, hopefully, have that post up the next time (as well as your prizes shipped to you.)

So what are you waiting for? Email me with those delightful entries! I accept all genres 😀

~SAT

Announced posts to look forward to:

August 21: Back Porch Writer (Radio Interview)

August 22: A Matter of Resistance: Release Party!

August 26: Competition Closes

September 2: Winners

September 25: One Year Anniversary

Website Wonders

30 Jul

Website Update: Minutes Before Sunset hit 100 adds on Goodreads with a 4.7 star rating! 

So I want to share more websites I’ve come across for writing and/or writing tips. But I’m really interested if any of you have done any from the first list. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how to reblog, so I’m clarifying this part is NOT me. I’m simply curious to see how others feel about this list, because I found it to be very unique in terms of writing tips. Granted, I’m only putting the tips down–not the explanation, so you should probably go to the article 😀

This is from VictoriaMixon.com (and here is the link to the article)

10 Things To Do To Become a Better Writer in 10 Days:

1. Spend one day being a troll.

2. Spend one whole day being silent.

3. Spend one day as a student of reality.

4. Spend one day with the lyrics of your favorite songs.

5. Spend one day writing and re-writing a single scene.

6. Spend one day on research.

7. Spend one day watching children.

8. Spend one day crying.

9. Spend one day laughing at things nobody thinks are funny but you.

10. Spend one whole day being grateful.

Shannon again. Whether or not you’ve read the article, what did you think of these tips? 

Personally, I really liked numbers 3, 6, and 7. I liked 3 and 6, because I think research is really important, but it can also be fun, and I think a lot of people forget that it can be fun. (That’s why I try to share websites like the websites on my post Writing Tips: Setting: Picking a Location.) I think 7 is great, because children can teach everyone a lot. Sometimes, as adults, we think too hard about things. I, personally, love learning when I’m around kids, because they remind me of the obvious–something that can truly morph writing, especially when writing about younger people.

But number 10 is perhaps the most important. Be grateful. I like that, and I value it.

So I wanted to thank everyone with a little piece of comedy from Rebecca Johnson (@johnsonr)

ia8yy

One last thing!

Today is my last post during July! So I wanted to take another moment to thank everyone for this wonderful month of sales and ratings of Minutes Before Sunset during the time it will always be Goodreads Book of the Month

Thank you 😀

I’m still giving away free copies in exchange for review, and I’m doing interviews as well–so feel free to email shannonathompson@aol.com at any time, and I’ll get right back to you!

Seconds Before Sunrise is still on the way, and the future seems…well…seconds away! I cannot wait for it, and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the writing tips.

Have a great week,

~SAT

Writing Tips: Keeping Track of Time

11 Mar

How many times have you been following a television show, and there is a full moon every episode? Or their clothes don’t change? Or the weather stays the same all year long, unless snow, rain, or sunshine is used for symbolic enhancement?

It’s unrealistic, and it drives me crazy. It may be a personal pet peeve of mine, but I doubt it. Even Florida doesn’t have sunshine every day, but writers seem to set weather and time aside, especially when they’re more focused on the storyline. At first, I completely agree. Write. Don’t worry about small details. However, I really think revision is necessary for situations like this. Time needs to be tracked. 

When I do revisions, I actually label each chapter with what day it is, what time it is, and how long the chapter lasts. Then I move onto the next chapter and then the next. At the end, I count how many days have passed, and I make sure my characters’ speech correlate to it. I wouldn’t want my protagonist to say, “You haven’t left me alone for weeks!” when it’s only been four days.

My best piece of advise? After writing every chapter, track how much time passes and make sure EVERYTHING correlates: time, seasons, moon cycles, etc. 

When I was writing November Snow, this was initially really easy, but for one reason–each chapter was labeled by a date. The only thing I had to do was print a November, 2089 calendar and follow it. It would’ve been difficult to mess up. But, when it comes to the other novels I’ve written, I had to pay attention much more, because chapters weren’t labeled. Time passed differently, and I had to pay attention to everything: days, seasons, moon cycles, etc. Some say the moon cycle is extreme, but, really? You can’t have a full moon every chapter. I’ve seen this happen one hundred times, and, as a reader, I notice, so I strive to pay attention to these things, extreme or not.

2089-11

This is an example of how I kept track of November Snow. Each chapter is on there, blue represented the viewpoint of Daniel, while pink was Serena. The yellow star is the full moon.

Not only should you keep track of time passing in the present moment of your novel, but you need to track your characters’ past. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written something, went back, and realized I contradicted myself on when one character did something. For instance, I might say Protagonist 1 met Side Character 1 at birth, but ten chapters later I say they met as teens. Even though we, as writers, like to believe we memorize everything we say (because it is so real to us) we don’t have perfect memories. As humans, we don’t even remember everything about our own lives, let alone hundreds of stories and characters we’ve created.

This is an example of what I create to keep track of a childhood. Daniel's list shows year, age, and interactions with other characters are bolded.

This is an example of what I create to keep track of a childhood. Daniel’s list shows year, age, and interactions with other characters are bolded.

I normally create tables, and they save my life during revision, especially if I take a few weeks off between writing and revision to clear my head. I really recommend trying this. It will help you solidify your world, and you will feel more confident about your creations, because you will KNOW–for a fact–that everything fits together perfectly.

~SAT

Check out my cover photo on my Facebook Author Page by clicking here. Don't forget that you have the opportunity to display your name and website here by joining the book cover contest before March 18th!

Check out my cover photo on my Facebook Author Page by clicking here. Don’t forget that you have the opportunity to display your name and website by joining the book cover contest before March 18th!

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