On Writing Stories

You’ll hopefully excuse me for offering advice on a subject that I make very little money from, but I do have certain tips that work for me when I’m writing that I’m going to share with anyone interested.  Maybe it will help you when you have writer’s block.

First off, I have been writing, mostly not writing, since I was a teen, around 1987 or so.  I typed out my first story on a manual type writer in my bedroom.  I don’t know what the word count must have been, I didn’t have a clue about such things back then.  I just typed out the story as it came to me.

It was a story something like The Dark Crystal, except my story was very violent and probably pretty bad.  I didn’t know about doing second drafts and third drafts to polish a story.  Anyhow, I tossed that story away sometime after.

Since then I have had stories in my head, but I could never really get them down and outside of my head, till recently.

Here are some tips I use to help me when I’m writing.  When I listen to certain music, typically one song, it inspires my writing.  I can see the scenes of a story, feel the emotions of some of the characters even hear dialog.  I repeat that song over and over and over while I am writing either a scene or the whole story.  It helps me to stay in the mood to write when I have something playing that inspires those scenes I need to write about.

I would avoid listening to something that takes you out of the mood you need to be in when you’re writing your stories.  I tend to listen to one song over and over all day long, but sometimes you just want to listen to something else or do something else.  Do that once your brain is fatigued and you just want to relax and do something to give your brain a rest.  After I finish a story, I usually find my brain has been drained and I need to take a few days off.

I’d say learning the structure of a story is important, but then I’d toss all that stuff away and just write.  This is just my personal view, but I believe trying to fit your personal story to someone else’s made-up structure is just going to cause your inspiration to stop flowing because you’ll be busy with “I have to put the theme on such and such page and I have to introduce all my characters in the first few such and such chapters.”  Just write, now if you’re writing to get published by the big boys/gals, then work with whatever gets you published, right?

When you’re not sure if your story is going to turn out right, just remember what you see in your head.  Is that what you want your story to be like when you finish it?  THEN WRITE WHAT YOU SEE IN YOUR HEAD.  Get those feelings, those scenes just like you have them in your head and by the time you are done writing, you should have the story you set out to write.  If you don’t really have a general sense of what direction your story is taking, I can’t help you.  When I write, I already know the general direction my stories are headed, I know pretty much the ending, I know a lot of what is going to happen.  I usually have to fill in a few chapters, but I find when things don’t feel right, I restart where it isn’t working out and I usually end up happy with the new approach.

Sometimes, when you are writing something and it doesn’t work for you, take your scene in another direction.  Sometimes you have to look at other possibilities to get your story moving again.  I’ve had to delete four chapters one time, usually, I just have to restart one chapter when I don’t like the way something is coming out.

Watching movies, tv shows and whatever else can give you ideas when you are trying to figure out what to do next in a story when you are stuck.  When I was writing my Western trilogy, I looked up outlaw gangs to see what they did and from that, I got ideas for my outlaw gang.

These are just some of the things I do when I’m writing.  I don’t write 80k novels.  My stories are 10k and although they may not be popular with many readers, I feel good writing stories this size.  I streamline the stories to the essence and I don’t have to keep adding conflict upon conflict just to drag out a story to 80k words.  Not that everyone does that, but at least my stories don’t have the potential of sounding long-winded 😛

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