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Thursday, June 16, 2011

It's all fun and games...

I’ve been attempting to outline the next story in my series The Devil’s Defiance and to be honest, it’s not going so well. With that said, I decided to do a search for writing games to make the process of plotting a little more fun and I’ve come up with a few things that might make it bearable. I’ll let you know when I get past this particular hump. Hopefully this coming week of outlining and plotting will go much better than the past week has been. Honestly, I’ve replotted this thing three times already. So wish me luck!
Back to writing games, I stumbled across Holly Lisles plotting workshop and found an interesting idea. It’s not a game per say but it’s definitely something that may work. Before you even start plotting write a list of what you, the author, want to happen in the story. Even if it’s over-the-top, even if you never use it, and even if you don’t like it. Write it down. These are what she calls candy bar scenes, the fun and exciting scenes that make you eager to write. Use this as a bargaining tool for yourself. You know you want to write this scene, you’re eager to write this scene but first, you must write to this scene. And once you have, the anticipation will have built so much so that writing these “candy bar” scenes will be a reward all in itself. Great concept.
Magic Hat: Another game I’ve come across is it’s like a raffle type game where you take index cards with a single line summary on each card, toss them into the hat, and when you get stuck draw a scene. And just watch how easily you can weave this scene into your story. It’s fun. You’ll be very surprised at how much linear writing will staunch your creativity and how easily games like this will let it break free.
Free writing does this as well. You can take this same game, write an object on each index card, and see if you can add this object into your scene somewhere. These are great daily writing exercises as well.
Create a character with a character chart, toss in some random traits, and write this character into your story to see if you can spice things up bit.
About Face: Right now, turn around and look straight behind you. Write for five or ten minutes about the first thing you see.
Where to Next? Wherever your story takes place, pick an exotic local or somewhere odd your characters could travel and see where your story takes you. And it’s easy to do this as a panster but even as a planner, you can play these games within your outline. Trying new things out may surprise you and give your story that twist it needs to stand out.
My turn: Pick up your favorite book and pick out a scene, read it and completely rewrite it as you would have rather seen it. Of course, don’t put this scene in your story. This is used to jump start creativity and get the juices flowing. Hopefully, some of these will help with plotting and ideas. These should give you something to work with besides just using the ol’ what if game.
I hope some of these work, both for you and me. Hopefully this will at least change things up enough that it’s not the same ol’ same ol’ for once. I’m looking forward to trying some of these out this week. Do you have any other games or ideas to jump start creativity you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them. And if not share with us you own stories about the dreaded plotting and writer’s block.     


  1. Suzie, these are great ideas. I'm familiar with Holly Lisle's candy bar scene method, and use it pretty regularly. I think I'm going to have to try the putting scenes in a hat and drawing one out, though. That might help me get out of a rut from time to time! Thanks for sharing them.

    One thing I tend to do is blind writing. I set an egg timer for a certain amount of time (ten minutes, half an hour, whatever) and then I turn off the computer monitor or put a piece of cardboard over the laptop screen. And I write. I write whatever comes out until the egg timer goes off. It's a great way of freeing up the creativity by turning off the need to make things perfect. When you can't see the screen, you can't see to fix typos, spelling mistakes, punctuation problems, rephrasing things--none of that. It's easy to go back in later and fix those things--but I get more out at first if I'm not fixing as I go.

  2. That's a great idea too, Mindy. I'm going to have to try that. Thanks so much for stopping in and sharing it. Sometimes, I think that's what most of my problem is. I stop to fix everything and then lose my train of thought. That might be the exact fix I need!

  3. Suzie,
    What fun ideas! I haven't tried any of them, but I love the concept. Sometimes we need a jumpstart. Sometimes what gets me out of a slump is brainstorming another person's story with her.

    Another thing I do that is similar to creating a character chart is writing my character's history. I may never use it in my story, but it helps me to understand my character better and makes writing him or her easier. Then I know how he or she will react in a situation and why.

  4. Hi Samatha! That's a great idea too! I think I may try that one as well just so I feel like I know my characters better. Great ideas, keep them coming!