Some raw unpolished thoughts on the article Secrets of the Creative Brain by Nancy C. Andreasen, subtitled A leading neuroscientist who has spent decades studying creativity shares her research on where genius comes from, whether it is dependent on high IQ—and why it is so often accompanied by mental illness.
Andreasen writes: I’ve been struck by how many of these people refer to their most creative ideas as “obvious.” Since these ideas are almost always the opposite of obvious to other people, creative luminaries can face doubt and resistance when advocating for them.
Powerful realization from that: much of my reality feels like hallucination because I’m the only one who sees it. When you go through life seeing things no one else does, and being mocked or pitied or shunned when you admit it, it’s no wonder we lose our emotional and mental balance.
Continue reading “Creativity Hallucination and Subsequent Punishment”
For the 3rd Monday in a row I’m taking more than an hour to listen to a podcast. I generally have little patience for podcasts; most have a very low signal-to-noise ratio. The 21st Century Creative, hosted by Mark McGuinness of Lateral Action, is all signal, no noise.
His first two guests were Scott Belsky of Behance and 99U, and Steven Pressfield, who doesn’t do interviews anymore—except when he does.
Eschewing the rush rush syndrome everyone thinks is appropriate these days, Mark takes his time, 60 to 90 minutes. Each guest ends the show with an artistic challenge; participate and you can win nifty useful books (and, not incidentally, grow artistically and personally.)
Make time for the 21st Century Creative podcast. Your art deserves it.
More about planning and process: a guest post over at Bane of Your Resistance. Drop by and say hello, and watch for details about the process (new and improved over my previous version, I might add) in next week’s guest post.
After I’d read An Uncollected Death and An Unexamined Wife by Meg Wolfe, she let me pillage her brain for thoughts on how she pieced together the stories, the mysteries, the characters.
How long did it take to sort the plot details for book 1? Creating the bits of the mystery, I mean. A month? A year?
It took me sixteen months to write that first book—there were two two-month spells where I couldn’t do any writing because of health and family problems, but of course I kept stewing it over in my mind even when away from the computer. There was a lot of time spent on learning to plot, then changing from a four-part to a three-act structure, which “felt” better to me. I was also learning to use Scrivener.
I developed the characters along with the plot. It really is character-driven. What happened was that I had many, many strands of interrelated stories that I braided together, changing and tweaking details by working backwards, then forwards again. The last third, Act III, went really quickly, once I got the first two acts properly braided. The same thing happened in the second book, and in this third one, as well. The second book took me a little over eight months to write. This one has taken me ten–I had some health problems again during the summer which really slowed me down.
Why the French Resistance? Special existing knowledge on your part, or just interest?
Continue reading “Interview with Author Meg Wolfe: How Do You Write?”
If you are an author, here are some tips for selling books on Amazon. There is no silver bullet for success. I can’t guarantee you will sell books if you follow my Ten Commandments. However, failure is almost surely guaranteed if you don’t have a successful plan. Keep in mind that it’s a tough world out there. It’s very difficult to sell books.
These commandments are written in order of importance and production sequence: Continue reading “The Ten Commandments of Book Selling (Guest Post by Alex Zabala)”
Guest posted this week at Elizabeth Spann Craig’s blog.
It’s called The Secret to Sales without Selling: Your Author Newsletter.
Fresh take on a familiar topic. Go show Elizabeth how much my readers love me, eh?
My friend, sometime lyricist, and most excellent editor Tom Bentley has finally released a book on writing.
Think Like a Writer: How to Write the Stories You See is both practical and entertaining. Much like its author, come to think of it.
I’ll let Tom tell you about it:
Continue reading “Think Like a Writer (You Want This Book)”
Well-written television has much to teach a novelist. The visual nature of its exposition reaches our brain differently.
It’s how Longmire taught me about assigning your character a symbol. It’s a concept I haven’t fully explored yet, but when it comes to Sheriff Walt Longmire, it’s been a powerful tool.
Walt hates trash. His small town deserves better, so from the first episode it’s a common scene for Walt to stop as he crosses the street to pick up some bit of trash and toss it where it belongs.
At first, it’s just Walt, picking up a gum wrapper.
Continue reading “Your Character’s Symbol”
I love it when someone signs up for my newsletter, I send them the official handwritten welcome note, and then I discover that they’re someone I can learn from as much as they can learn from me.
Continue reading “Structure: A Visual Approach”
I’m gathering resources to create some kind of structure checklist for my writing and wanted to share 3 useful lists and concepts I’ve encountered the past week.
Continue reading “Gathering Structural Support”
The most popular posts here at Someday Box are my deep dive into story structure called Your Story in 12 Sentences.
We love lists. We love step-by-step instructions. We love knowing exactly the right moment to do precisely the right thing so it all comes out right.
2 + 2 = 4, every single time.
Mix the right amounts of flour, sugar, egg, milk, and whatnot and put it in the oven at this temperature for that long, and it’s a cake, every single time. (Okay, maybe not every single time, but almost.)
Authors are people, and as people, we want checklists and step-by-step instructions, too.
Especially for marketing.
Continue reading “The Magic Formula for Marketing Your Books”
In the past few years I have started, but not finished:
- A coming of age story with a strong musical element
- The first mystery in a new series with a rather artistic protagonist
- The first mystery in a new series with a female protagonist
- A Jeeves & Wooster/P. G. Wodehouse-inspired light comedy with a mysterious twist.
They are unfinished, not because they aren’t good, but because I didn’t know how to make the last 1/3 (or 1/2 or 2/3) as good as what was already written.
Not because I don’t know how to use words. Never been a problem. I was reading at college level when I started Kindergarten back in the Jurassic Era.
What I didn’t know was, once you start building a bridge of story from over here and it spans half the chasm, how do you keep it from collapsing into the ravine until you can make it land over there?
In other words, what is the structure of a story?
Continue reading “In Praise of Robert McKee’s “Story””
I used to try to be the smartest person in the room.
What that means is I made sure that others knew how smart I was, and if someone knew something I didn’t, it was intimidating so I avoided them.
These days I like to go stand next to the smartest person in the room. And learn from them.
Continue reading “Standing Next to Smart People”
As a story structure geek, I’ve been thrilled to learn from Larry Brooks over at Storyfix.
And just as thrilled to discover the work of Shawn Coyne, by way of Steven Pressfield’s site.
An acquisitions editor for a million years, Shawn knows what it takes for a book to succeed. He knows what makes a story work, which is, as Larry keeps saying, the bare minimum, the ante, for this game. And he’s teaching it, a bit at a time, at StoryGrid.com.
The image below is the story grid for Silence of the Lambs which, though I have not indulged in either book or movie, is a classic example of story done right, according to Shawn.
Continue reading “Another Structure: Shawn Coyne’s Story Grid”
The world would not be complete without Jeeves and Wooster.
Most of you know Hugh Laurie as the irascible Gregory House, doctor extraordinaire, human being just barely. But years ago he and his best bud and comedy partner Stephen Fry played the leads in A&E’s televisation of some of P. G. Wodehouse‘s Jeeves and Wooster stories. Track them down if you like a good story and some 1930s English wit.
In one adventure, Bertie (that is, Bertram Wilberforce Wooster, whose last name was, in the mists of the distant past spelled “Worcester” like the shired sauce you put on your burger) and his greatest detractor, Sir Roderick Glossop, are both in black face (as in, we were going minstrelling down the pub with Al Jolson) hiding in the shrubbery outside Glossop’s own house, tearing and dirtying their formal dinnerwear (that would be tuxedos.)
How in blazes did they get there? Continue reading “Back Into Your Ending”