Archive for the ‘My two cents’ Category

Two Cents on Writing Short Stories

Posted: June 18, 2015 by writingsprint in My two cents, Writing
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Recently a good friend of mine wrote his first short story. He came away exhausted by the process and frustrated by some of the thoughtful, though still negative, feedback he received. I gave him a pep talk on just how hard writing a short story is. He appreciated it, so I thought I’d share.

Dude, make no mistake, writing a short story is HARD. Lately I’ve looked at them like sonnets. They have a rhythm to them, and a structure. Yes, anyone can make their own and do it any way they want, but if you take the lazy perspective and say “just write it” — as most people who don’t write will say — it will kick you in the ass.

The trick to writing a short story is to come up with a single problem that could be resolved in the space of a day. Or a weekend, tops, and only if you gloss over the events of the weekend. I know we’ve read longer short stories, but I think the good ones move fast. It’s easier to imagine big, complicated problems that spiral out of control. Fiction is NOT reality. In a short story, things tie together. You want to do this as much as possible to keep your story focused.

A simple short story looks like this:

  • Meet the main character and what they want
  • What they want has a catch — do they really want it?
  • Put the outcome in jeopardy
  • Force the main character to choose: take what they want and pay the price, let it go, or invent another option
  • Wrap up

My favorite short story that I’ve done is Slave Soldier — several of these take place over one or two mini-scenes:

Scene 1: Cartog meets Lord Sestra, who can take away his slave collar
Scene 2: Lord Sestra turns Cartog’s squad into psychos
Scene 3: Cartog realizes his commanding officer won’t help him
Scene 4: Lord Sestra tells Cartog that he and his squad will serve him or else
Scene 5: During their next mission, Cartog arranges for a friendly fire accident to kill Lord Sestra
Epilogue: Cartog meets Darth Jadus. This scene really wasn’t even necessary, though it puts a good bow on the story, especially for SWTOR players.

Start, finish; beginning, middle, end; boom, boom, boom. Small focus is TOUGH. One of these days I plan to write a short story about someone who wants a glass of water, for the exercise. He wants a glass of water… but a little boy wants water too… the plumbing is broken… and THEN WHAT?

For your first short story, you did a bang-up job. Congrats, man!

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Never Ignore the Muse

Posted: December 18, 2014 by writingsprint in My two cents
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A friend once told me, “Do the thing you’re scared of, and do it quickly.”

Hi all! Like I said before, I’ll be stopping by to drop in a post now and then while I’m working on The Lost Princess, rather than the daily posts I usually do.

Nanowrimo was a great way to get down all the ideas for scenes that I had knocking around in my head. It’s a great way to try out your crazy ideas, too, because there’s no time to do anything other than churn out content. It’s difficult to plot during Nanowrimo because plot takes thought. It means answering questions and dealing with funny little issues like cause and effect. Nanowrimo is like dreaming. When you reach a dead end, you either run through the wall or magically teleport yourself somewhere else. You can’t stop writing. It simply isn’t an option.

So, since then, I’ve been taking aim at holes in the plot and working out what the story needs to be. New scenes have been written, old ones have changed. I’m daring myself to write scenes that are the equivalent of walking in a strange, dark room without a flashlight, where I can barely see and I don’t know where the light’s coming from.

Recently I was working on one of the early scenes. I’d done a lot of soul searching and figured out, a little better than “roughly” and not as much as “clearly,” where I wanted the story to go. I could sit down and keep digging, but I was dying to write something creative and I knew it. The digging that I had in mind was well-disguised procrastination. I’d been plotting for a week, busy for two or three days, and being chicken on three or four others. The scene’s in work now and it’s moving along fine.

It gets better. My muse was telling me to send the plot in a direction that was going to open up a completely new branch of the story. At first I thought, hell no. That’s the last thing I need. Then I realized that there are writers out there who are dying for a whisper from their muse. Anything at all. To have a path to an entire side story open up, that I didn’t even ask for? That’s like passing on a dream date with Angelina Jolie because you really prefer blondes. (I know, Angelina’s married. Hence the word “dream.”) It may become an anchor of the story, or it may never even get used, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you never, ever, ever ignore the muse. You just say thank you and write as fast as you can.

Who Needs Obi Wan Kenobi?

Posted: October 30, 2014 by writingsprint in My two cents
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I’ve begun to map the plot arc for my story, and in the story that I’m using as a template, the hero almost immediately meets a mentor: a wise, experienced man who can help him become the hero that he wants to be. Some famous mentors in film and literature include Mr. Miyagi (The Karate Kid), Obi Wan Kenobi (Star Wars), Abbe Busoni (The Count of Monte Cristo), and Merlin (Arthurian legend). I hadn’t imagined one for Risha when I conceived the story. In my mind she’s smart, capable, though raw, and about to take some advanced classes at the college of hard knocks. A mentor would add a motherly or fatherly dimension to the story to help her through that.

Would it help?

More to the point, what would it add to the story?

Mentors can act as a source of wisdom, give their heroes tools they need to succeed, and act as moral compasses as they find their way. They also spur the hero into action and help him or her overcome their fears. Mentors can be internal, like a heroine haunted by the memory of her parents. Finally, mentors can have their own agendas, passing on knowledge and wisdom and manipulating people to their own ends. (“Archetypes in the Hero’s Journey,” Melinda Goodin)

Risha certainly needs guidance. Her parents are dead and she has a troubled relationship with her guardian. She may turn to her peers, who at this stage of her life are smugglers and hired guns in the galactic underworld. It isn’t a path her guardian wants her to follow, but it’s the natural way she would want to go. Is there anyone she would listen to, other than herself?

Other than a trusted ally – a bodyguard, a family doctor – I have three possibilities on this one.

Until now she’s been acting in the underworld under the wing of her guardian. She may listen to an experienced criminal who can show her how to move on her own. Because she was noble born, she may listen to nobility, if that person were someone who had a clue and could help her get the revenge she wants. She’s sufficiently bitter that she may listen to a skilled assassin, but she’s so suspicious it’s pretty doubtful that she’d let someone like that get close to her. At least with her knowing.

I even considered a dark stranger who leads her to an ancient temple that’s been secretly watching the events surrounding her exile.

Do I want her to be lost and wandering, needing a mentor’s guidance? No. She’s already learned to kill, to steal, and how to operate a ship. She’s learned how to survive… but not how to live. Being a princess isn’t even on her radar yet.

At this point I’m going to say… I’m not adding a mentor to the story. Not right now, or at least, not a new parent figure. She’s going to have friends who have become her guides, which is something that her guardian doesn’t like, but it’s a product of the life she’s been forced to live. I do have a character in mind who will become her mentor, but now wasn’t the time for them to appear.

I’m going to keep this tacked up on my wall of sticky notes. We all need to learn from someone. Risha’s smart enough to know that she doesn’t know it all.

light writing

I need a title for the mer-person story that I just wrote. My and My Merman? My Little Merman? My Undersea In-Laws? I like My Little Merman. The story puts a weird spin on the idea of a romance between a girl and guy from two different worlds.

What worked well:

I liked Erica and Aaron, which is very cool because I didn’t know who they were at the start of the story. Do you want to know how much I knew about them? Erica was a spitfire marine biologist and Aaron was a surfer dude who was smart enough to be worthy of her, who happened to be a merman. I made the rest up as I went along. Aaron turned out to have his own spunk, and Erica showed her love for him, which made them both endearing to me.

I even liked Uncle Yurri. He had the quirky uncle thing going on. My uncles are some of my favorite people in the world. Jokers and wise guys, and they all have hearts of gold. Kenia was cool but we didn’t see enough of her. That’s because I didn’t want to crush the plot with too many characters being added at once.

I liked the magical, colorful, other-worldly sense of life on the other side of the vortex, and how Erica just rolled with it. Her simple acceptance kept it from standing out, which made it more immediate and real.

What needs work:

I want to see more of the relationship between Erica and Aaron. It’s the most interesting part of the story. Their life under the sea is just a spin. I do want to see more integration of undersea life with what we know, because that’s just fun—I loved Erica’s tail slap during pufferball, for example, and that merpeople had barbecues, too. (How are they cooking? A geothermal vent?)

I would love to find another crisis to wrap the story around besides the shark. A shark, a tornado, a burning building, it’s all an artificial way to bring the family together. We need something that’s an essential part of Erica that weaves through from the beginning to the end.

Which brings me to a very cool article that I came across while surfing the internet. Janice Hardy wrote a blog post on why character growth makes readers care. This is where I struggle when I write a new story. I don’t know the characters yet, so I haven’t figured out what makes them tick. To put it in a way that’s more useful: what their needs are.

Janice’s first tip: give your characters flaws. “Flawed characters with something to learn are more room for growth,” she writes. “The struggle to change helps endear a character to the reader.”

Erica doesn’t have a flaw. More to the point, I don’t see her struggling to change. If anything, she dives right on into the adventure under the sea, which surprises everyone. That’s part of where I was having fun with the story, so I do want to keep some of that. Hmm. While it’s cool to her, maybe she needs to learn that this is what her future husband’s family are. It’s not a gimmick, it’s an identity. It’s something she needs to respect. That may come as a shock to her. I’ll think about that.

So, by the end, if she did stay on land, would she still do her job? Would she do it differently because she met the merpeople? I have this image of her letting open the cages at a Sea World or something. It’s a bit treacle, but just an example of brainstorming.

I need to play with this.

P.S.: I’m starting to organize ideas to do National Novel Writing Month this year. That’s right, the Daily 400 is about to become the Daily 2,000. Unfortunately you won’t see most of it. The plan is to work on Dubrillion Burning, or the version that I want to publish, ’round the clock. I’ll be letting you know how the story’s going and the triumphs and challenges, in rough terms. I’ll be telling you more about it as it comes together.

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10 Books That Have Stuck with Me

Posted: September 6, 2014 by writingsprint in My two cents
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Name 10 books that have stuck with you over the years. It doesn’t matter what kind they are, or why you like them. They can be books you hate or books you love. These are mine. I chose books that I enjoyed and that have made an impression on my life.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. My favorite book of all time. I love Bradbury’s passion, and yet as manic as his writing style can be, the book has a compassionate heart.

Henry Reed’s Journey by Keith Robertson. The first novel that I ever read, in the fourth grade. To this day, I don’t know whether I adopted Henry’s slightly skewed sense of humor, or whether it was already there and this book just brought it out.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Other than Christmas, Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love the witches and the darkness in the story. My reading of it is that both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth do horrible things, for different reasons, but Macbeth can’t escape his warrior honor, and Lady Macbeth can’t escape her guilt, which I read as a subtle sense of decency underneath. It gives them both layers that I like to think about. When do good people do bad things? Can they be redeemed? How far do consequences reach?

The King’s Buccaneer by Raymond E. Feist. This is my favorite book out of the Riftwar and Serpentwar series. It’s gritty, fun, coming of age fantasy story with a pirate flair. What’s there not to love?

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. I loved dinosaurs growing up, and it’s such a simple concept: a dinosaur theme park. The book is filled with wonder, menace, and rollicking action. If you like dinosaurs, you’ll like this book.

Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. I read this in a weekend. It made me feel like a kid again! You know the story already, but I’ll summarize how it felt to me. Harry begins the story as an outsider. He travels to a magic castle where he finds a place to belong. A father figure. Friends. Wonders to dream about. Challenges to help him grow. And nightmares that kept him awake for six more years.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. To me this book is a prose poem, not a novel. It’s a meditation on old age, the sea, courage, compassion, love, youth, dignity, selflessness, endurance, and on, and on.

The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum. On my bucket list, I have the goal of reading all the Ian Fleming James Bond novels. Until then, this book is my standard. It opens with a sense of mystery that moves into a sinking sense of danger. The story becomes a whirlwind of threats and plots that draws the reader in until you’re holding on for dear life, just like Bourne. I’ll never forget the scene where I realized that the book had me thinking like a spy.

The Black Company by Glen Cook. A fantasy novel about the bad guys. For someone who had only read stories with noble heroes and quests, this book broke all the rules for me. Nothing is clean. Even the good guys are bad. This book encouraged me to give the bad guys a fair shake and let nightmares into the story.

Time for Sacrifice

Posted: August 4, 2014 by writingsprint in My two cents, Triathlon
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(Hey, that’s a good title for a book. Write that one down…)

Two days ago I received an announcement from my local YMCA that they’re holding a sprint triathlon at the end of September. Doing a tri has been on my bucket list ever since I helped a friend of mine train for one back in 2005. I would have done it by now, but life intervened: overtime. Getting married. Moving. Plantar fasciitis. Writing. Getting yoga certification.

All good reasons to get sidetracked, but the time has come. It’s one thing to see an opportunity. It’s another to have fate smack you in the face with one. The race is happening less than thirty minutes away from my house, and the swim leg is only 250 yards. Even out of shape and a few years removed from regular swim workouts, I should be able to handle that.

All that’s the good news. The bad news is that I have a very busy job, and I only have two months to get from the couch to the starting line. As I see it, I need to get my ass up early in the morning every morning between now and race day and whip my butt into shape. (I’m not helping myself any by staying up until 10:30 to make a blog post.)

This morning I did my first training swim. Here’s how it went:

250 yards freestyle: I made it! It wasn’t pretty, but I made it! I flipped over and kicked on my back for about ten yards near the end because my breathing technique has never been as good as I wanted it to be. Otherwise I did “fine.” The time doesn’t even matter to me. I’m glad I was able to finish! In case you really want to know, it was seven minutes and change.

I was shocked by how much yoga helps! All that body awareness is improving my reach and balance. My body feels lighter in the water than it ever has before. I think it’s because I have less tension sitting in my body.

250 yards kickboard: Ugh. Can I doing something besides kick for a while? That would be no, young man. Your kick is the only thing that keeps you from dropping like a rock when you’re trying to breathe during freestyle as it is. Make friends with the kickboard. Sleep with it under your pillow.

200 yards pull buoy: It should have been 250 yards but I was so discombobulated by it that I lost count. These things are just weird. My legs flip back and forth like I’m a six-foot tadpole. And what’s with that knot in my back? There’s a muscle between my right shoulder blade and my spine that doesn’t want to relax. It’s keeping me from stretching as far on the right as I do on the left. My swim teacher used to tell me, “I wish I could cut off your right arm and give you two lefts. Your left is perfect. Your right just doesn’t want to stretch.”

150 yards breaststroke: I was rounding out my 30 minutes at this point. Take it easy and work some other muscles.

As I changed in the locker room, I saw that finding my way to the gym and getting squared away at the front desk took me longer than planned. I didn’t have time to get my bike workout in. I still considered the day a win. I got my ass out of bed at 5 a.m. and succeeded in getting a good start in my hardest event. I’ll take it.

When opportunity hits you like this, go with it.

The Book Blogger Test

Posted: June 13, 2014 by writingsprint in Essay, My two cents
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books-that-is-exactly-how-they-workA fun little survey about books and you. Special thanks to Jodie Llewellyn for posting this on her blog and Brin Guivera, from whom Jodie found it in the first place.

What are your top three book pet hates?

1. Information dumps. I appreciate all the research that you did and all the planning that you did, Mr. or Ms. Author, but only tell as me as much as I need, when I need it. Take me away from the action with a page of exposition and all I’ll do is skip past it.

2. Characters who are idiots. I can live with characters undone by their egos, but even then, they should have good ideas that are undone by better ideas.

3. Rambling plots. That’s why I never started reading some fantasy series, when other readers told me that they just wouldn’t end. I’ll read a long series if I know that the author has an end game, but if they’re just picking my pocket to sell books, that’s disrespecting me as a reader.

Describe your perfect reading spot.

My favorite, ever, was sitting on a porch back in college, in a house at the top of a hill where I could watch the sun set. I sat there every night, reading and writing until the sun went down.

Tell us three book confessions.

Three? I have no idea. You already know that I write fan fictions, which means I’m a sucker for good stuff that other people write. Let’s see…

Here’s a good one. The first story that I ever wrote was a fan fiction about the original miniseries V. I put myself into the story, of course. I was so afraid that someone would read it that I threw out each page as I wrote it.

The first young adult book I ever read was Henry Reed’s Journey, and to this day I don’t know whether my sense of humor was already there or whether I adopted Henry’s as I read the book.

I’m a book hoarder. Letting me walk into a book store with cash is a very dangerous thing. I probably have thirty books waiting to be read.

When was the last time you cried during a book?

I haven’t when I’ve read them. I cried while writing this scene a few months ago.

How many books are on your bedside table?

One. There are four or five on my Kindle app, too.

What is your favourite snack to eat while you’re reading?

I don’t snack while reading. I usually read right before bed.

Name three books you would recommend to everyone

Fahrenheit 451. My favorite book of all time. It’s intense, passionate, vivid, mind-blowing, sincere, and close to the heart. You’ll want to read or write after it’s done.

Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone. A delight. You’ll remember how it feels to be a child who believes in magic — which is even more rich than being an adult who believes in magic.

The Old Man and the Sea. An intimate portrayal a man as he faces himself and nature. I like to imagine that Hemingway had a close friend like the old man and wanted to write a story that was a love note to their friendship. I’m not even a Hemingway fan — I didn’t like A Farewell to Arms — but I love this book.

Show us a picture of your favourite bookshelf on your bookcase.

Here you go.


From left to right:
Shadow of a Dark Queen by Raymond E. Feist
Timeline by Michael Crichton
Spooky Maryland by S.E. Schlosser
Agatha H. and the Airship City by Phil and Katja Foglio
Haunts by Stephen Jones
Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat
Secret Go the Wolves by R.D. Lawrence
The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z by Max Brooks
The Last Apocalypse and Warriors of God by James Reston
Life in a Medieval City by Joseph and Frances Gies
The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Paranormal by David Borgensicht and Ben H. Winters
The Black Company, Shadows Linger, and The White Rose by Glen Cook
V by A.C. Crispin
Death Star by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
The Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back sketchbooks by Joe Johnston
The Art of Star Wars by Jonathan Bresman
Anomaly by Skip Brittenham and Brian Haberlin
The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Superstitions by The Diagram Group

Write how much books mean to you in just three words.

Living other lives.

What is your biggest reading secret?

I want to read more poetry. This is new, and I haven’t had a chance to move on it yet with all the other reading I need to catch up on. Poets capture passion and life in a tiny space of words. I would love to write moments that make readers’ eyes pop.

Because prose makes an impression, but it doesn’t sound as good as this!

“Books: that is exactly how they work” used without permission.

A Million What?

Posted: June 7, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama, My two cents
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girl on bike tourToday’s Daily Post prompt is, “You just inherited $1,000,000 from an aunt you didn’t even know existed. What’s the first thing you buy (or otherwise use the money for)?” Realistically, I would invest it all and live off the interest, turning my energies toward writing full-time and teaching yoga part-time. I might even work toward teaching writing.

If not that, I would keep half and donate the rest to:

Greenpeace – Because they’re trying to save the world.

Amnesty International – Because they’re trying to save people who can’t save themselves.

World Wildlife Federation – Because they’re trying to save animals, who can’t save themselves.

The Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, California – People helping animals, animals helping people. I volunteered in their riding therapy department a long time ago, and was blown away by the good that they do.

The Stuttering Foundation of America – This one’s personal to me because I had a horrible stutter growing up. Have you ever seen A Fish Called Wanda, or The King’s Speech? Stuttering can cripple a child’s social skills. The good news is that it’s eminently treatable, and speech therapists can work wonders. To me they’re life savers.

Here’s what someone else might do:

The bank manager smiled at Anna. She said, “Look at all those zeroes. I’ve never seen so many on a personal account.”

“I’m shaking.” Anna held out her hand. The manager handed Anna a new debit card. “I can use this anywhere in the world?”

“Anywhere. If you need help, you have my personal number.”

Anna stood up. They shook hands. “Thank you so much.”

“Best of luck to you.”

Anna picked up her backpack. Her dog Rags wagged his tail as he got up. “Are you ready, big guy? Are you ready?” He barked. “Let’s go.”

Anna walked outside. Around her, busy businesspeople and their customers wove up and down the sidewalk, most of them oblivious to what a beautiful day it was. Anna noticed the people who did. She smiled at them. She had sold everything she owned except for what she could fit in her pack and on her body. The plan was to see the world on foot where she could, by boat or plane where she had to, until the money ran out, and write about the experience. Her heart felt like the sun beating in her chest.

Rags hopped into the cart that she towed behind her bike. He knew the drill. Anna took a long look at all 45 pounds of him. She was going to have thunder thighs before her walkabout was over. “Where should we go first, honey?” she asked him. He barked again.

“West? I think you’re right.” She scratched his ears. He lay down in the cart. Time to go.

Anna started pedaling.

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Work Has Gone Berserk

Posted: June 3, 2014 by writingsprint in My two cents

Hi all — FYI, no new posts for the next few days. We’re suddenly swamped and I’m pulling late nights to keep pace. See you on the other side!

Taking It to the Next Level

Posted: May 31, 2014 by writingsprint in Essay, My two cents
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write everything

We have a saying at my job: “What got us here, won’t get us there.” The idea is that we’re good at what we do now, but hard work will only get you so far. Eventually, you need to change the way you work in order to get better. To use a football analogy, what takes you down the field won’t work to punch the ball in from the five yard line.

Yesterday I was doing my morning yoga, and I got to a point where I was moving from half moon – a pose where you form a “T” with your body and stand on one leg facing sideways – to a standing split. It’s one thing to put your hands on the ground and lift up your back leg as far as you can. I was doing that in my first month of yoga. But what does it take to do the perfect standing split?

I thought about every aspect of the pose that I could imagine. If there was any tension, anywhere in my body, even between my eyes, I tried to relax it. I breathed, of course (you’re always focused on breathing in yoga). I straightened my leg, and realized out that I needed more strength in my upper quads. I wiggled my toes for a second, because why not, and realized that my foot had felt like dead weight before, and maybe it helped. I aligned my hips, and realized that I needed far more flexibility there, not just in my legs. I flattened my back, and realized that a flexible back would lead to more flexible glutes which would help my hips which would help me to lift my leg. I wondered, just wondered, if changes in my diet would help with my flexibility or muscle too, too. Finally, what about meditation? Would a clearer mind help me pick up the micro-adjustments I need to make?

That got me thinking, what can people do that take their writing to the next level?

Work hard. We all know this one. Start writing, and reading. Write the best that you can. Write the worst that you can. Write regularly, and at odd times, too. Finish your stories, then edit them to make them better. Read the things that got you interested in writing, so that you can learn from them. You’ll absorb it into your skin and it’ll color how you write.

Work smart. Writing’s about all of you, not just your passion or your inspiration. Use your head, too. Plan things out. Do research. Work on the elements, like character, plot, setting, tension, voice, motivation, and so on. A good craftsman knows how to use all his tools.

Get feedback. Use to find a local writers group. Your library may have a club. This is great for three reasons. Your fellow writers will give you great ideas and inspiration that you never would have imagined. It feels good knowing that you’re not the only one out there who has this strange, wonderful love affair with words. And it turns writing from a lonely pursuit to a social pursuit. I can tell you that the connections I’ve made from writing have been my favorite part about it.

Play. One of the best ways to overcome writers’ block is with play. Write 100-word shorts. Write haiku. Take a scene and turn your good guy into the bad guy and vice versa. Write scenes that will never see the light of day. Turn your own personal negative into a positive.

Let it cook. Sometimes you’re working too hard on something. Let go of it and do something else, especially exercise. Sleeping on it works pretty well for me, too. Your subconscious is still working on it. The idea you’re looking for may well pop into your head once you get out of your own way.

Broaden your creativity. Olympic athletes cross-train to fill in gaps left by specialized training. Writing is a creative pursuit, and there are all kinds of creativity. Learn a musical instrument. Take an acting class. Join your church choir. Sketch. Learn calligraphy. Sculpt. This is the insight that I picked up when I was trying to do standing split in yoga. Anything you do that makes you feel more alive will help your writing. Did I mention that I’ve started creating iTunes playlists for my characters, to get farther inside their heads?

Share your knowledge. You haven’t truly mastered something until you can teach it to someone else. Helping other people improve their writing builds good karma, and it’ll give you perspectives on your own writing that you never had before. Comment on other people’s blogs and share helpful thoughts with them, as well as contributing in your writers group.

These have helped me make breakthroughs in writing, and this is just what I’ve learned so far. Give them a try and let me know how they work for you.

What have you done to take your writing — or anything — to the next level?

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