Writing tips from inkpoppers
Posted by inkpop on March 8, 2010
inktip #19: inkpop members share best bets for maximizing creativity, creating cool characters, and getting a story rolling
You know the drill. For inkpop “inktips” columns, we usually hit up published authors and editors for professoinal advice. From “How to get a nonfiction book agent” with Kate McKean to “How to write a book series” with Sara Shepard, these experts have been around the publishing block and are chock-full of clever tips for inkpop’s aspiring teen-lit writers.
But what about looking inward and recognizing all the good ideas floating around inkpop Forums? Afterall, they’re just about everywhere you look. Here, we pulled together some of the best inktips …
DO A BRAIN DUMP
inkpop member MeanyAllysin is all about spewing—her story ideas, that is.
When she’s feeling a creative moment, she becomes a typing machine, putting all of her free-flowing thoughts into a Word document. “I write what I’m thinking as fast as I can so I don’t lose any ideas,” she writes on inkpop Forums. After doing an idea dump, she recommends reading over the work. “Highlight things you like, and insert a strikethrough into or delete the things you don’t.”
As a visually oriented writer, drawing and scribbling pictures of setting and characters on paper also works well for MeanyAllysin. “With drawing, you can go back and write down what you were thinking and feeling when you drew it, or even make up a story of what the picture is about,” she writes. “It’s a great way to brainstorm and get ideas in and out quickly.”
‘STEAL’ FROM YOUR FRIENDS
One of the best ways to make characters interesting and believable is by creating intriguing dialogue. inkpopper Cait Black is a fan of pulling from friends’ conversations. “Pick up on your friends’ quirks—words they abbreviate, slang they use,” she writes on inkpop Forums.
Carry a notepad to jot down interesting scraps of conversation you overhear. “The best quote I overheard: ‘What’re you gonna do? Come at me with a machete again?’” Cait Black writes. “You never know what kind of character or story could be inspired by a great quote.”
Going along with Cait Black, balletbug says you should always be prepared for good ideas to come at random moments—so carry a notepad! “You never know when you’ll get an idea, and it might be five-star material, but when you go to write it hours later, you can’t remember it!” she writes on the “inktips” by inkpoppers!” Forums thread. “My orchestra teacher told us, ‘A short pencil is better than a long memory.’”
STEP INTO YOUR CHARACTERS’ SHOES
“Let yourself ramble into a recorder,” writes EscapingMyImagination on inkpop Forums. “Don’t censor what you’re saying—just let it flow.”
The inkpopper recommends verbal idea generation because, she says, “When you write, you restrict your ideas to what you think should work. If you just let yourself talk you might stumble upon an idea.” She practiced this method of dictation for the book she’s working on, and says the process has helped her to develop plot.
MAKE LIKE MOVIE STARS
Going along with the general idea of talking through your ideas aloud, writingangel13’s top tip is to bring out your inner thespian.
“Whenever you are having issues staying in character or figuring out a particularly nasty piece of dialog, grab a partner and act out the scene,” she writes on inkpop Forums. She recommends starting with the beginning or the chapter or piece of dialog and reading it aloud. “Whatever jumps off your tongue after that is probably the natural direction the conversation would take,” she writes. “If you’re still having doubts, have a personality similar to the character repeat the exercise. It really works, and is also good if you are trying to figure out what a character’s reaction will be.”
DON’T LET THE INTRO SLOW YOU DOWN
If you’re having a tough time figuring out how to start the story but know other parts of the story, start there. “I learned that skipping the first line or paragraph is the best thing you can do,” writingangel13 writes. “I had been stressing about the hook and the first paragraph and drove myself up a wall.” As a cure tactic, she suggests skipping to the “action part” of the first or second chapter of a story.
inkpopper Elaine ‘Laney’ Obi agrees with writingangel13 and says that for her first romance story, she started smack-dab in the middle of a conflict. “I built the story up from there,” she writes on inkpop Forums.
“It really works, because once you know what your conflict is the story falls into place around it. And it sometimes makes it easier to build a good beginning to lead up to your conflict.”
inkpop Forums Topic: What are your best writing tips? Share with the inkpop community on the “inktips” by inkpoppers! Forums thread.
The inkpop blog is written by inkpopAmy