Saturday, April 18, 2020

I’ve been working on the same story for months. The characters are good. The structure is good. But most of the “good” is still rumbling around in my brain.

I need inspiration.

I crack open a book from among the piles of books in my office, and I read some Steinbeck. Now I feel inspired. And I write. Reading from my literary mentors is how I find my zone.

Are you feeling uninspired? Have you used all the tools in your writing toolbox and nothing has worked? Try some of these methods from successful writers. Soon—maybe—you’ll sit down and work on your masterpiece.

Write a setting. Imagine a scene. Describe a setting as if you’re looking at a photograph. Go with the first thing that pops into your head. Is it a gray and rainy autumn day? Go with it. Once you finish creating this setting, decide what kind of scene might occur there. What are your characters saying and doing? How does the scene end?

Talk To Someone. Let the other person talk. In fact, the more they talk, the better. Listen and watch. Does she have a nervous twitch? Does he look at you with trust? Lust? Disdain? Nervousness? What do those things look like? What do they mean?

Read something you hate. Reading something you hate may inspire you to sit down and write something better. Identify what you hate about the writing. Is the author too enthusiastic about adverbs? Are their nouns surrounded by gratuitous adjectives? In what ways does this writing bother you?

Return to something you love. If you’re not interested in the fiction you’re writing, take some time to write about something you love. Maybe you long to be near the ocean, or you wish summer would come. Or autumn. Write about that. Veer your fiction toward a subject you love, if you can.

Watch television! Who writes scripts for television shows and movies? Writers! Watch television to gather inspiration from your peers. Do the characters speak naturally? Do they sound stilted? Does this have to do with the acting, directing, or script? What might make their words seem more natural? What's great? What is bland?

You have a story to tell, and it’s a story that we all need. Find your inspiration, and write!

James Elliott Mitchell is the owner of a small publishing.  He occasionally gets to work on his own writing. Learn more about him HERE.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

When I taught filmmaking I was constantly asked, “What does it take to be a success in the industry?” I’ve concluded that five principles are involved in every field of endeavor.

  • Philosophy. Personal attitude, persistence, will, focus, endurance, confidence, courage, self-honesty, fear, desire, goals, determination, and work ethic.
  • Business. Networking, marketing, social skills, promotional, deal making, professionalism, capital, efficiency, the economy, and even taxes.
  • Craft or Technical. The prevailing science, rules, and principles that govern the construction of the product you are producing.
  • Art or Creativity. Unseen things we bring to our work, like inspiration, emotion, talent, vision, insight, design, imagination, and ingenuity.
  • The Breaks. God or Luck, whichever you choose to believe in. We need breaks, but Luck and God are entirely out of our control.
Depending on the field, different aspects of these principles become more or less important. If I am a carpenter, once I obtain a job–assuming I don’t cut my hand off with a saw or something–I don’t need the breaks. My skill and experience become far more important to my success. If I'm a prizefighter, along with skill, I will need an abundance of determination, endurance, will, courage, and confidence.

In fiction writing, there are books aplenty that cover the technical elements, rules, and principles of the craft–everything from theme, plot, characters, climax, formats, exposition, foreshadowing, point of view, punctuation, sentence structure, and much more. These may make a story “correct,” but not great.

It is that indefinable Magic Something that makes a story great, that thing that moves your reader to an emotional response; happy, sad, fear, excitement, love, or hate. Without that, your story has failed no matter how many rules you obey. With it, you can break some traditional rules and still have a successful story. If you are not moved by your own story, don’t expect your reader to be.

You must give your creation spirit and life. You must implant in your creation that elusive, all-important, divine device that reaches into the soul of your reader and awakens something that they can spiritually unite with. You must become vulnerable enough to expose your true, honest, inward self–a piece of yourself that is unique yet common to all. You must transplant your heart into your creation with a beat so loud your reader cannot only hear it, but feel it. This will transform good writing into a living, breathing, thing, with an eternal life of its own.

Lawrence is the author of Free To Love, Tales from Springtown, and several other books. Learn more about Lawrence or his books at 

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