|The author, Dane F. Baylis|
How Have I Done On My New Year's Resolutions?
No, That Really Isn't Where I Want To Go Tonight.
Yes the top part is tonight's prompt. Let me give you the synopsis. I'M WRITING MY ASS OFF! Short fiction, the novel project (Outline, major characters and scene list finalized, first draft underway), poetry...a constant as it has always been...This blogging challenge, The Ventura County Writer's Club, Google + Poetry Community's Weekly Post-a-Thon....My studies with the Center for Buddhist Education in Berkley...40 hours plus on the day job...Yup, that about damn well covers it.
Now then, on the topic of finding ideas to write about. What, was that too abrupt?...Come on now...You're really going to have to keep up or I'll have to institute quizzes....Finding topics.
The poetry part of my mind is strange that way. I've never really paid much attention to where the ideas come from. Sometimes it's something overheard on the radio or in a conversation I've eavesdropped on...(See the picture of me in the upper left? Memorize it! If you see me in public you might end up in a poem.)...or a phrase in a book or the newspaper. I also have the ethics of a blues musician...If it sounds good, I'll steal it!
Fiction is another story...(I know, but I never said I was above a pun!). I am a list writer. I will sit down and intentionally write out lists of ideas. Simple things like, dog bites man/man bites back...girl falls in love with priest...obsessed guitarist...whatever. Sometimes it can be words. I'll intentionally list colors, or words that invoke temperature, or words that are linked to water...Then I'll go outside and wait for the ambulance from the home to come pick me up and take me back to that well upholstered room. Sorry, I wasn't supposed to tell you about that.
I put the lists aside and let them marinate for...however long it takes, no recipes or formulas here. In the meantime, I return to the present hot project. Down the road I pull these lists out and review them. What I'm looking for is something that raises an emotional response. Does something strike me as funny...odd...sad...scary? If that happens I try to expand the feeling. What about the girl attracted to the priest? Does he show a complementary reaction? Is he non-plussed? Does she press her point or try to hide it because of shame?
I'm testing my own emotional reaction to the thoughts. Is it just interesting? Does it make me really uncomfortable? Does it revolt or anger me? The stronger my feeling the better because it is strength of emotion that your reader is looking for. If I feel lukewarm about something going in, how am I going to get the reader to want to come along? Does the emotional investment intensify as the story progresses? Then maybe I want to get rid of that opening and start where my emotions got really involved?
That's what story telling is about...hooking your audiences heart and getting them to laugh, cry, cheer or shout in triumph. Not everything that hits the lists I make becomes a tale. As a matter of fact the vast majority just goes back in the drawer. If I find one thing in twenty that starts the emotional kettle boiling I'm doing good. The key is that I take the time to do lists at least once or twice a week. Right now I have a backlog of ideas that have been expanded in to rough outlines that have some real potential. Enough to keep me going long past considerations of writer's block.
Accepting short fiction to 1200 words, poetry to 25 lines, and carefully crafted essays for the Your Work/Your Love page. Nope, still no pay, just glorious exposure! You can send your work to me via e-mail at email@example.com. Authors retain all rights. You can also follow or subscribe to this blog. There are gadgets for that on the right side of this page. I love the company and it helps with the search engine ranking. Comments, critiques, and questions are always answered in as timely a manner as I can manage between my day job, writing, studies, blah, blah, blah. There's a form at the bottom of the page for your use.
In the meantime, remember...live, love, write.
Dane F. Baylis