Category Archives: imitation exercises

The Unstickening, Part I

…or should that be “Unstuckening”?

Either way, I suppose I shouldn’t count my chickens just yet. But things are looking up with my whole tumbleweed-mind situation!

So, I decided to try Tess Hilmo’s advice and make myself a foldable outline/plot-diagram thingie, like so:

It was immediately satisfying to have just created the thing, if a bit scary (since it was still all full of blank boxes, and I only had pens). But I figured, if it didn’t work, no harm no foul, right? I would just toss it out.

So I got started, sort of doodling around while some friends played video games and shot the breeze, and eventually the problem occurred to me:

The boxes ask about Main Characters.

My WIP is more or less a romance. That means it’s got two main characters.

Continue reading The Unstickening, Part I

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Getting Unstuck

(done and done)

I’ve been stuck with a blank mind on BOTH of my works in progress for about the last three months.

And NOW I’m at the point where it’s almost intimidating to go back: what if everything I’ve done is terrible? Or, if it’s good, what if I’ve totally lost the ability to write like that?? Or what if it’s terrible AND I’ve lost the ability to do it?!?!?

Obviously this is brain-weasels running amok but it’s still giving me a hard time.

So, I tried some “not-writing,” per Turbo Monkey’s Sarah McGuire (and added her book Valiant to my TBR pile while I was at it). That… didn’t get me unstuck. I’ve had great success with that approach in the past (especially during college, where my roommates would all watch me playing Snood and ask tentatively how the essay was going) but unfortunately my mental landscape just looked like

So I decided to try the 13-step outline suggested by Chuck Wendig at his blog. But that also gave me Tumbleweed Brain (aka “Blank Paper Panic,” an issue that was freezing me in my boots.

Then I tripped over Tess Hilmo’s “Best Plot Help Ever,” a little paper foldable that sounded cute and fun and sort of like those MASH things or a ‘flapdoodle’ (srs education term for a folded-up/cut paper study aid) and I decided I would try one of those for each WIP and see if any gears started turning.

And turn they did — more on that tomorrow!

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When You’re a Spy…

burnnoticecompleteseriesSo, thinking about teams again: one character I really like is the goofy-but-loyal sidekick who comes through big. Sam Axe from Burn Notice is one of my favorites. And image-searching for pics for this post gave me such a yearning to re-watch the series that I’ve got the pilot playing in the background now. I love every single one of the main characters; it’s interesting to think that I almost quit after the pilot (only stuck with it based on a friend’s recommendation).

The Burn Notice team fits Crusie’s requirements for a team (eventually):  Continue reading When You’re a Spy…

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break the chain

fleetwood-mac
Do these guys count as a story team? Leader, Lancer, Smart Guy, Big Guy, Chick…?

Well, last night I was so exhausted that I finally broke my streak and failed to post.

🙁

But today is a different day! So here I am, ready to dust myself off and start again…

…except that I actually spent the whole evening grading, so now it’s time for bed. OH WELL HERE I GO ANYWAY!

As usual, the end of the month is turning tricky. But at least I got to watch some Leverage while grading! That, of course, was inspired by thinking some more about the “team” posts on Crusie’s blog and my own favorite teams.

I want to make sure that my YA cli-fi WIP involves the development of an interesting team, so I’m hoping that a combination of reading Crusie’s analysis, analyzing some teams on my own, and thinking about my WIP (possibly even just subconsciously, since who has any free time in Nov/Dec??) will help me work past some of the blocks I keep running into.

Crusie sets up these qualifications: Continue reading break the chain

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Imitation and Inspiration

spoon river anthologyLast week in American Literature we did one of my favorite projects–unearthed from the vault, so to speak–based on Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology. It’s a collection of poems, each written from the point of view of a former resident (now deceased) of Spoon River. The poems are intertwined, revealing the connections between the lives of the Spoon River-ers, showing town life from various angles.

What could be more fun, for a roomful of high school students, than to imitate that?  Continue reading Imitation and Inspiration

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