Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Wordsmith Collective Thursday – Feast or Famine of Story Ideas

May 26, 2022
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As writers we are used to juggling many writing projects at the same time or the complete opposite – nothing! (Although, I have to say my mind is crowded with ideas most of the time in MUSE central!)

These opposing states come with their own problems, each unique and as frustrating as each other. Firstly, ‘feast’ has us worrying which project to do first. Which one is the most strident in it’s demand to be written? Is it the right one to pursue? Will another story ‘vanish’ if we ignore it?

Secondly, ‘famine’ when ideas may be circling in our minds, but none of them ‘stick’ or have the ‘legs’ to form a longer narrative. Or there is a void. This is a frustrating feeling, leaving us grasping for elusive or fragments of ideas, or something to write!

So what can we do to organize the jumble or utilize a fragment?

Let’s look at the multiple ideas first. Write down as much as you can for each idea – lay them out on separate pieces of paper or word documents. Organize each idea into genre or categories and then plot, character or scene and any other components of each particular story you do have. Separating the stories in this way allows us to focus on them, if not objectively, as least with a clearer vision. Once you have them in an orderly list you will see which idea has the most content. Now, comes the difficult decision – which one do you pursue? It might not be the one with the most detail, but another that attracts you to it for whatever reason. Take some time to really dissect the new idea. Can you envisage the plot arc, the ending, the characters? If one starts to ‘grow’ within your minds eye, or the majority of the narrative reveals itself to you, then that is typically your direction.

Now comes the void. How do we spark our Muse? There are many reasons for this dearth of ideas, illness, relationship problems, work commitments etc. As a writer we know that the act of writing is not only satisfying, but a real need. Our creativity requires it. This is the time to look at those filed away short stories, or fragments of ideas. We always have inspirational quotes, sentences, even whole paragraphs, that have languished somewhere in journals, notebooks or electronic folders. Take time to read through these, after all we kept them for a reason. Utilize writing prompts – writing anything helps us get back on track. Fifteen minute bursts of writing from a word or picture prompt can refresh our minds, spark our creativity and set us on a new course. Your prompt response might only be short – a poem, a paragraph, even a word association list, or it can develop into something. I recently used an image of a dragon’s egg to spark my Muse. It was going to be a short story but grew and grew into a three thousand word story! You never know where an idea can lead, and that is the beauty of story writing.

How do you handle the sparse and dense periods of your writing life?

What obscure stimulus has sparked an idea for you? 

How do you approach new ideas? Frantic notes? Plot arc? Character descriptions?

Have you experienced a story unwilling to stay quiet?

new idea

“The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out.  Every mind is a building filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.”     Dee Hock     

Designing Your Own Book Covers & Which Cover Is Your Favorite..?

December 19, 2014
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As a winning participant in NaNoWriMo, we are offered the opportunity of creating proof copies of our November novel. Part of this process is of course deciding on a cover for the book. I created one for my latest narrative, The Giving Thief. I liked the basic design and inserted a photo of a forest cabin. It will give me a good starting point when I design the final cover as I would like more texture in the final image. Once the narrative has been edited and revised I will be able to create a cover to intrigue my readers.

The Giving Thief cover

How did you decide on your proof copy cover?

Was it a generic one or did you design your own?

I found these links, which are really cool. Can you pick one or two?

The 20 Most Iconic Book Covers Ever

The First Edition Covers of 25 Classic Books

Quote – probably the most famous of all when it comes to a book cover:

Never judge a book by its cover
The external appearance is not a reliable guide to the quality of what lies within.
Prompt logoSo today’s prompt is: Find a cover you enjoy and then describe it.

Is It Really Cold Outside – It’s All Relative…

November 14, 2014
mandyevebarnett


clipart-weather

No matter where you live low temperatures are unpleasant, however ‘low’ is relative. Low in a normally tropical location maybe a summer’s day heat in others or a dry cold can be ‘warmer’ than a ‘damp’ cold. I spent the majority of my life living in England – the green and pleasant land. However, the ‘green’ was derived from a great deal of rain. I was used to it and never took much notice of the overcast days – it was normal. When I came to live in Canada, however my first ‘surprise’ was the almost constant sunshine. I was not used to it but really loved it. Such a simple change impacted on how I saw the weather as a whole. Now we can have -30 (and yes its cold) but we also have bright blue sky and sunshine at the same time. So the perception is a glorious day until you step outside!

This is our current 10 day trend:

Nov weather

As the global weather patterns change more of us are experiencing unusual weather. This can be warmer winters, colder summers and everything in between. So how do we reflect this kind of change when we are writing a story set in a particular location, where the ‘normal’ view is tropical, arctic or temperate? Do we continue to use the stereo-type perceptions of the location or utilize other ‘clues’ to the region with flora and fauna, style of buildings and accents?

It is a ‘new’ problem for writers, for sure, but with creativity we can overcome.

Have you come across this particular problem in a recent narrative you are writing?

Quotes:

Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors, played by somebody I do not know.

John Keats

We welcome all enquiries about the UK climate after all, we have more weather available in this country than anywhere else.

Sir Sydney Samuelson

Prompt logo

Prompt

Set your scene in a preconceived location then change it up…

Writing Perfection – A Continuous Process or a Myth..?

August 15, 2014
mandyevebarnett


practice

I came across this article today and it resonated with me. We all aspire to become an excellent writer and hold famed authors up in our esteem as the ‘perfect’ writer or writers. However, not every work they produce is ‘perfect’. This not only shocks us but also gives us solace in the knowledge, even our heroes can fail. I have found  a decrease in quality to be most prevalent in long sagas or series. Does the author become disillusioned or bored with the stories? A seven book deal may sound wonderful at the inception but by book five, is it still enjoyable?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-brown-hoffmeister/reading-great-writers-wor_b_1830842.html?utm_hp_ref=literary-prizes

Have you found one of your favored author’s work to be disappointing?

Which novel was it?

Why did it fall short?

Quotes:

Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success. Mario Andretti

Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.  Ralph Marston

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.  Aristotle

FunDay  Today’s prompt – if you choose to take up the challenge – is to find a sentence from one of your a favored authors that you feel you can improve upon.

 

Could or Should You Write Your Memoir..?

May 23, 2014
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memoir

Memoirs of the rich and famous populate the bookstore shelves and our curiosity ensures we pick them up, enabling us to get a glimpse into their lives.(Well, the part they are willing to expose, anyway!)  Some change our persepctive of that person, while others confirm our suspicions. However, what about the stories of ‘ordinary’ people? The ones that work, play, nurture, explore, and live out of the spot light?

Everyone’s story is unique and important not just for their families but the population at large. These glimpses into how life was lived in the past are so much more important than the dry facts in history books. I am currently watching ‘Call The Midwife” – it is set in post-war London and is superbly done. The TV series is actually based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, who worked as a midwife in the East End of London in the 1950’s. Even though it is recent history, the changes in our lives since then are remarkable – this is the exact reason we should consider writing our story.

After many years of pleading with my Mother, she wrote a beautiful story about how she met my father and their lives together. Many facts were unknown to my siblings and I – they may be small, incidental snippets to many but to us they are precious. I am in the process of transcribing the story and will compile a book, which will include photographs, poems, and letters and have copies made for the family to keep as a legacy to future generations. A true gift for the family.

I collaborated in writing a memoir workbook, which focusing on how to gather the ‘materials’ of your life to assist you in compiling your memoir. With helpful tips and exercises to ignite your memories, it is a superb book to get you started. http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca/retail/books/your-lifetime-stories

Lifetime

Have you written; or are you considering, writing your memoir?

What was your experience?

How are you compiling it?

Quotes:

A memoir is an invitation into another’s person’s privacy. – Isabel Allende

A memoir should have some uplifting quality, inspiring or illuminating, and that’s what separates a life story that can influence other people. – Mitch Albom

If you write a memoir, it can’t be about blame or hurt; it has to be creative. – Dani Shapiro

FunDay

 Today’s prompt – think of a favorite memory – a vacation, a childhood friend, a precious toy…and write about it.

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