Category Archives: Writing Method

The Working Girl’s Guide to Journaling

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by Heather Harris Brady

One can’t knock the idea of journaling, as such. However, if you’re like me, scraping tiny tidbits of time out of a day to write journaling seems to be asking a bit much. Once you’ve got the kids on the bus, you’ve put in a full day at work and cleaned after the dinner that you cooked, I mean really. Get serious.

Then I read a blog post somewhere, and I’m sorry I forgot to write down the place, about a writer who does long mystery series. She keeps a short daily journal of notes to stay on track. Here’s how:

1) Each morning she starts with the date, perhaps a short bit on her mood.

2) Add any ideas that cropped up overnight.

3) Play with a problem scene or the one you’re on if you feel you need it.  Explore those bizarre veins of thought that might not be worthy of going into the text right now.

I do via a document in Dropbox and I add to it every morning. It doesn’t take very long and it has helped me immensely. Before, I would be constructing amazing snippets of dialogue in my head while I brushed my teeth or drove to work, but by the time I could write – ten or so hours later – they were gone.

But no more! I take a few minutes and get them down. Better yet, the document is always waiting for me wherever I am, so if I have ideas at lunchtime I can add on. Maybe someday I’ll have time to journal the way a writer is supposed to do it, with some intense character navel-gazing, but for now this has made my writing life a lot better and I hope it helps you as well.

Photo source: Wikicommons

Believing the Impossible

Although I’ve been a writer all my life, from stapling my own little encyclopedias together during snow days to high school newspaper and on from there. However, I’m only about four years into my journey as a fiction writer. During that time I’ve come to a good many realizations, one of which is – my mind works against me A LOT, constantly questioning and saying “THAT could never happen”.

So, to teach it a lesson, I’ve been working on a speculative fiction story as a NANOWRIMO fling. It’s got magic, a dual world ruled by women and many other exciting, potentially wonderful things. But even magic has to have some rules or there wouldn’t be consequences – you’d be able to “magik” your way out of every bad decision.

Luckily there are lots of amazing writers in this realm who’ve shared tips online, and I’m only going to list a few here, in case you’re considering your own magical journey – or maybe you’re in the middle of one right now!

Character-Driven Hero’s Journey
Brandon Sanderson’s First Law of Magic
Brandon Sanderson’s Second Law of Magic
Brandon Sanderson’s Third Law of Magic

Getting into characters: What breaks their hearts?

by Heather Harris Brady

Like a lot of you I suspect, I have pages and pages of notes related to characters, especially getting to know a main character. It’s all good information, and a good exercise but it was starting to get overwhelming. Then I saw a post today on Terri Eicholz’ great Engage Their Minds blog about making heartbreak maps. And that’s it really, isn’t it? When you get right down to brass tacks, whatever breaks your character’s heart is what is going to drive everything.

The process is simple:

  • Step one: just draw a heart shape and write all your character’s passions in it.
  • Step two: draw a line out from each passion to a bubble.
  • Step three: in each bubble write what would break your character’s heart about that particular passion.

Maybe it’s because I’m a visual learner, but I think this exercise is really going to help me crystallize the driving emotional factors behind my characters. I’m doing maps for each character and then I’m going to hang them up so I can refer back to them easily. When I get a good sample finished I’ll post it.

Elizabeth Gilbert on Creativity

by Heather Harris Brady

Quite some time ago there was a SNL skit where Al Franken (as Stuart Smalley) had a regular affirmation: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it people like me.”

I think as writers we all need to say that to ourselves at times because there’s no sugar-coating it, this writing thing is a hard slog! Here are two TED videos that might boost you up, should you need boosting at the moment 🙂 If I had a WordPress.org account I could embed them, but since I don’t the links will open in a new window.

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 TED Video One: Your Elusive Genius

TED Video Two: The Drive to Keep Creating


 

Apps Part II

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by Heather Harris Brady

In my last post we talked about using online apps to be more productive. I’m going to get a little more in-depth today on using apps while you’re writing.

I write a lot of historical fiction (using my ipad), so I’m constantly jumping around to fact-check. I use UX Write as my word processor, partly because it was cheap and partly because it can deal with .docx files.

UX Write also has a nice working relationship with Dropbox. As you can see from the above graphic, when I’m in UX Write I can choose my working files (under ipad) or jump into Dropbox where I store my historical research.

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Inside Dropbox I organize my research by writing project, noted above as Missfits 2 research. It’s worth noting that I do not ever save manuscripts or writing-to-be-published on any of the cloud services because I have a deep-seated skepticism of their privacy policies.

In addition to my Dropbox research library I also create mood boards and character inspiration boards on Pinterest (pinterest.com). Anything that isn’t conducive to either Dropbox or Pinterest I save in kippt (kippt.com).

I’m not receiving any kind of compensation for any of the services listed. They just happen to work for me, maybe they can help you out as well.

Getting more done with online apps

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by Heather Harris Brady

Whether you’re a writer, a teacher, a student we all need more time, amirite? When it comes to finding reasons not to write I suspect we’re all experts. Not that we need any help when there are so many things to do as a writer these days – build the platform/online presence, stalk research agents, participate in critique groups, on and on. I can say that I’m working on it at least, trying to find ways to streamline things to make as much time as possible to procrastinate write. Here are few (mostly free) online tools worth a look, besides Google Drive:

Images from quotes

http://pinstamatic.com/#quote

http://www.recitethis.com/

Picture editing and social media photo adjustments

http://www.picmonkey.com/

http://www.internetmarketingninjas.com/seo-tools/favicon-generator-crop-images/

http://www.autreplanete.com/ap-social-media-image-maker/#twitter

http://timelineslicer.com/

http://www.photovisi.com/

Infographics

https://infogr.am/app/#/home

https://magic.piktochart.com/

Dictation

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dragon-dictation/id341446764?mt=8

To Do Lists

https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/teuxdeux/id384291782?mt=8

https://www.wunderlist.com/en/

http://fanzter.com/products/streaks/

http://astrid.com/

If you’ve found something great let us know in the comments! Happy Valentine’s Day readers –

Photo credit: This is a press photograph from the George Grantham Bain collection, which was purchased by the Library of Congress in 1948. According to the library, there are no known restrictions on the use of these photos.

Jingling your way to a query

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by Heather Harris Brady

It’s been gray here for what seems like weeks, so I needed to post this picture. The fact that I am languishing in the leech-infused quicksand swamp of query-writing turns everything another shade darker. I think about queries all the time. One night while we were watching a few TV shows with the kids it dawned on me just how many older sit-com jingles are a form of query. Take, for example, Gilligan’s Island (RIP Professor):

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this tropic port
Aboard this tiny ship.

The mate was a mighty sailing man,
The skipper brave and sure.
Five passengers set sail that day
For a three hour tour, a three hour tour.

The weather started getting rough,
The tiny ship was tossed,
If not for the courage of the fearless crew
The minnow would be lost, the minnow would be lost.

The ship set ground on the shore of this uncharted desert isle
With Gilligan
The Skipper too,
The millionaire and his wife,
The movie star
The professor and Mary Ann,
Here on Gilligans Isle.

So this is the talel of the castways,
They’re here for a long, long time,
They’ll have to make the best of things,
It’s an uphill climb.

The first mate and the Skipper too,
Will do their very best,
To make the others comfortable,
In the tropic island nest.

No phone, no lights no motor cars,
Not a single luxury,
Like Robinson Crusoe,
As primative as can be.

So join us here each week my freinds,
You’re sure to get a smile,
From seven stranded castways,
Here on “Gilligan’s Isle.”

source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/tvthemes/gilligansislandlyrics.html

And of course, the Brady Bunch:
Here’s the story of a lovely lady
Who was bringing up three very lovely girls.
All of them had hair of gold, like their mother,
The youngest one in curls.

Here’s the store, of a man named Brady,
Who was busy with three boys of his own,
They were four men, living all together,
Yet they were all alone.

Till the one day when the lady met this fellow
And they knew it was much more than a hunch,
That this group would somehow form a family.
That’s the way we all became the Brady Bunch.
The Brady Bunch,

That’s the way we all became the Brady Bunch.
The Brady Bunch.

source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/tvthemes/thebradybunchlyrics.html

There are even examples written with the show’s voice:
Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed
A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed,
Then one day he was shootin at some food,
And up through the ground came a bubblin crude.

Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.

Well the first thing you know ol Jed’s a millionaire,
Kinfolk said “Jed move away from there”
Said “Californy is the place you ought to be”
So they loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly.

Hills, that is. Swimmin pools, movie stars.

Well now its time to say good by to Jed and all his kin.
And they would like to thank you folks fer kindly droppin in.
You’re all invited back a gain to this locality
To have a heapin helpin of their hospitality

Hillybilly that is. Set a spell, Take your shoes off.

Y’all come back now, y’hear?.

source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/tvthemes/beverlyhillbillieslyrics.html

Can you guess this one?
Boy the way Glen Miller played
Songs that made the hit parade.
Guys like us we had it made,
Those were the days.

And you knew who you were then,
Girls were girls and men were men,
Mister we could use a man
Like Herbert Hoover again.

Didn’t need no welfare state,
Everybody pulled his weight.
Gee our old LaSalle ran great.
Those were the days.

Meet and Greet!

Questions for the GUTGAA Meet and Greet
-Where do you write?
Any place I can find the time – the hallway at my daughter’s dance school, the kitchen table, my wingback chair – although this one is dangerously comfortable. . .
-Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?
The black and white lamp I found at a resale shop.
-Favorite time to write?
Any time!
-Drink of choice while writing?
Iced tea
-When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?
It depends, sometimes I put it on if I think it will help me get into the character.
-What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?
The inspiration was my exceptionally creative daughter, who loves fashion and mysteries. She is growing up as a Hispanic girl in a small country hamlet, just like my main character Celia.
-What’s your most valuable writing tip?
Just get it down on paper so you can start fixing it!
Thanks for reading GUTGAA friends!
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The Hero/Heroine’s Journey – Steps 1 & 2: The Ordinary World and The Call to Adventure

One of the happy extras to my writing journey is that fact that my children are both writing, now that they see me writing. I should mention that this has all come about without any interference from me. On their own and of themselves, they write. However, I cannot resist the urge to help them. I started writing in elementary school myself and I know how much farther ahead I could be now if someone had helped me more then.

So, without being too hovering, I find little opportunities to work in bits about writing. One such chance is during family movie night. Most stories include a hero’s journey to some degree, so I have started mentioning it here and there – in the moment – when they can recognize it for what it is.

Step 1: The Ordinary World/ Step 2: Call to Adventure

I’ve combined both these together because they often happen in sync. In these first few moments or few pages we can begin to get an idea of what our hero or heroine is like, just enough so we can begin to bond with them. But typically you don’t have to wait too long before they hear the siren call to adventure. In Rango, we meet the thespian chameleon who is directing himself (in his tank) in adventure “movies”. He is searching for meaning within his characters but when his tank bounces out of the car and shatters he is thrown into a real adventure.

When you start looking for The Call to Adventure you’ll find it everywhere throughout books and movies. What are some of your favorite siren calls to adventure?