Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Capturing ideas evolved

OK, I thought when I figured out how to send and organize ideas using my cell phone and gmail that I had reached the end of my quest for a better mind trap. Well, that was before I set up my google voice account.

I haven't even started to tap the potential of this little miracle of modern technology, but I do know that all I have to do now is call and leave a voicemail about whatever idea or thought I have and voila! google voice transcribes the message into text. I don't have to worry about forgetting anything before I finish texting it.

While the transcriptions are less than perfect (spelling errors), I still get my ideas down in a third of the time it takes to write or text them.

What's next? google "thought"? I could just think about an idea and it would be recorded and transcribed somewhere in cyberspace...hmmm


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Capturing ideas

Wow, has it really been two months since my last post? Guess I was busier than I thought.

Anyway, I have been somewhat productive when time allowed. Making progress on the rough draft of my manuscript (2,738 words, yay me.)

I have also been working on better ways to capture all of the random crap (ideas, thoughts, etc...) that pops into my head, usually at the most inconvenient moment possible. I use to carry small pocket sized composition books with me wherever I went so I could jot down these random moments of divine inspiration. They work great, but it became too much of a burden to keep up with the little books and after losing one of them, I decided to find a better mousetrap.

Being the tech guru I'm not, it took some time devise a simple trapping technique for these rogue nuggets of creativity. I'm lazy and unorganized by choice, so my new system had to be compatible with my personality. Once I realized that I could text messages from my cell phone to my gmail account and filter the messages by their subject line, I knew i had found composition book 2.0.

In a nutshell; I get an idea for a story, a title, a character, a chunk of dialogue, whatever, I simply send it in a multimedia text message to my gmail. By putting relative keywords in the subject line, I can create filters to label the messages accordingly. When I need to retrieve the info, I just click on the appropriate label and every message I sent pops up instantly.

Easy, green, and I don't have to worry about it getting washed in my jeans.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Reading to write

I have seen a lot of advice lately about reading to improve your writing. I have also seen a lot of advice about reading books in the specific genre you want to write. I agree, but I've taken this advice a little farther.

I believe reading outside of my genre for specific elements and writing devices is also useful. For example: I have certain action scenes that require imagery involving guns and the mechanics of shooting guns. So, I picked up a couple Tom Clancy novels to see how he approaches these elements. I am not writing about covert operatives on top secret missions, but I can apply some of their expertise to my characters in my crime novel.

I plan on reading a few popular western novels to help me characterize a present day sheriff in my story. I don't have a romantic element (yet) but, if one arises, I will surely pick up at least one good romance novel for reference.

I hope that by reading and learning from experts in their specific genre's, I will be able to strengthen all the various elements in my story. As for the advice about reading to improve writing, I think this is very solid advice for developing your writing style and voice.

Read, read, and read some more. Write, write, and write better.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Character names, Time to write, and story ideas

A while back I decided to take a sack lunch to work and write during my lunch break in my truck. As it turned out, the only adequate shade in "Small Town" Texas was in the local cemetery. No problem. It was peaceful, quiet, and I actually have relatives resting there.

There was an unexpected benefit I found in my new creative environment. Names, lots and lots of names.

Just glancing at the grave markers, I was bombarded with character names for my stories. I wasn't taking complete names directly from the markers, but combining first names here, last names there, last names for first names, and first names for last names to create unique character names.

I also realized that paying attention to the dates on the markers, you can determine what common names were for certain time periods.

In addition to the plethora of character names, I came up with two more story ideas based solely on some of the unique names.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

The dreaded "B" word: Backstory

Ok, after reading some very informative discussions the other day at Romance University about backstory, I realized I had a very important scene in my story that was going to be backstory. So, following some of the advice I read to eliminate backstory, I decided to make this scene the actual opening scene (where it's supposed to be, duh me. I thought).

As a result, I have a great opening scene that I wrote straight through start to finish without any notes or my beloved index cards I have been ranting about. In doing so, I also eliminated some dreaded backstory. I love it when a burst of raw writing shows up ad spits out about 400 words worth of story line.

All was good (so I thought) until I read: The Black Sheep of Fiction Writing at Pub Rants by guest blogger Carolyn Jewel . The cloud of confusion surrounding backstory was back. Have I improved my story by eliminating some backstory and creating a strong opening or have I just turned the backstory into a prologue? Hmmm...guess I'll have to figure it out later as the story develops.

I guess the lesson I'm taking away from this is, use backstory very carefully if you have to use it. Don't use it as a crutch or a substitute for creativity. If it is key to the story and moves it forward, use it. If it stops momentum and doesn't add value, don't use it.

Still wishing I could type,

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Index Card saga continues....

When we last left our little wannabe writer, he had discovered a new and mysterious template that could possibly be used as an indispensable writing tool. We join him once again after a few days, and some long nights, trying out the usefulness of his new discovery....
Ok, after a few days of test driving the Index Card app for google doc's, I must say I am finding it very useful. First I transferred about 19 hand written scene cards to this template and saved it to a folder in my google doc's along with a copy of the manuscript (in progress) itself. Now everything is in one spot that is easily accessible from anywhere.

Then I downloaded the template from google docs in .ppt format to my laptop. Opened and edited it with no problems using Open Impress. In an effort to become less dependant on Microsoft software, I don't use Power Point and cannot say if it works as well with that program. I guess that it should work just fine.

So now, once I get all of my scene card created, I can edit and arrange them as needed to line out my story. Then I can print them out by scene or chapter and start writing. Well, it all sounds good in theory. We shall see.

Did I mention this cuts down on using real paper index cards. Gotta save the trees (for firewood).

Join us next time as wannabe writer boy uses the index card template to create his character cards.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Google Documents and index cards

 In an effort to organize and centrally locate all of my writing "paraphernalia", I've been using Google Documents as sort of my catch all for notes, copies of manuscripts, ideas, etc...Anyway, I came across this neat little index card template for Google Documents if anyone is interested:

Or if anyone is all ready using it, I would love to hear what you think about it. I plan on transferring all of my real index cards to virtual ones to see if I can better manage my mess and maybe save a few trees along the way (trees are better suited as firewood to bar-be-que dead animals).


Monday, May 11, 2009

Template set up, time to rock...

Finally got a suitable manuscript template set up, and i'm a blistering 173 words into my rough draft. Now I just wish I knew how to type.