Michele Regnold’s posts talks about about getting to know your characters by interviewing them. This is definitely a worthwhile exercise. If you want to read a book on the subject, I enjoyed Taking Your Characters to Dinner by Laurel A. Yourke.
I totally agree with Jyotsna Sreenivasan about the time needed to let story ideas percolate. (Remember our parent’s old coffee pots – percolators – that had that little glass nob on the top that, as the coffee was brewing, it would spirt up into that little glass nob. It told the coffee drinker that their morning wake up was brewing.)
I’ve even heard a writer friend say she goes to bed purposefully asking a story question, looking for sleep to help answer the question. Some people like to take walks outside to let the great out there push out the cobwebs to let other ideas in.
I personally haven’t had sleep or walks help me much. I generally get ideas after I’ve read, listened to, or watched particularly good writing. It doesn’t have to be anything related to what I’m writing about, because all good writing resonates, and it will remind me of how to make my own writing resonate too.
But most any time away from the keyboard or writing pad will help your mind mull over your writing without you even having to think about it directly.
Setting an idea or draft aside for “percolation” allows the brain’s subconscious to arrive at insights while we’re busy with something else.
Story structure is always something that seems to come up repeatedly over time among writers. K.M Weiland recently read “Wild Mind” by Natalie Goldberg (1990) and Natalie doesn’t use the word in same way most of use do. But the topic brought up some new thoughts on the subject for K.M. you might find interesting.
Here are a five important questions you, as a writer of fiction, can ask yourself to help you in making story structure your own.
If you are a plotter (a writer that likes to work on your plot usually via an outline before you start writing), or a plotter once the whole thing is written (using the exercise to make your story as strong as it can be), then this post, along with the others that K.M. Wieland has written (or will write) will be very helpful.
I liked I liked her line: The First Plot Point may take the protagonist to a new place, but the Third Plot Point makes him into a new person.
K.M also has a great archive of movie and some book plot points that can help you when you’re struggling with your own manuscript.
Deepen your understanding of story structure by examining the parallel functions of the First Plot Point and the Third Plot Point.
This is something that I see debated often and probably will continue to be a topic of discussion; I think because there isn’t any one right answer. Odd characters are fun to write so writers like to create them. And odd character often speak in odd ways. Or if you’re trying to portray a certain group or character by their/the character’s speech pattern, trying to make them stand out, dialogue is one way to do that.
But as K.M. Weiland notes in the post below, if you use slang, or even odd speech ticks, I agree, that a little goes a long way. Part of the reason for this is you don’t want the reader to stop and have to really look at a word(s) to try and interpret what you’re trying to say. Text should flow easily through the readers mind. An odd word here and there probably isn’t an issue, but if you make the reader stop too often, they may decide they need to unload the dishwasher instead of continuing to read your book!
Authors need to get the nuances of slang in dialogue right, because smart readers will always recognize phony speech patterns.