Long time, no blog. I wish I had a better excuse than “the world is being particularly soul-sucking and it’s difficult to concentrate on fun things like reading & writing blogs when with every Twitter refresh the globe slips more and more into chaos and fascism” but such is the life in which we live.
:: nervous laughter::
I can tell you a little bit about what I’ve been up to in the last few months, though!
I started a TPT store! Teachers Pay Teachers is a website where teachers and teacher-authors can sell the curriculum, worksheets, activities, presentations, lessons, class decorations, clip art, and whatever else they make for the classroom. Since I’ve been helping my mom, a 7th Grade Civics Teacher, out with her lessons the last couple years, I decided to start selling some of the products I’ve been making — and it’s going really well! Right now, I’m focusing on getting a full year of Civics curriculum up on my store (Happy Teacher Resources), but I hope to branch out into more American History, Literature, and Creative Writing resources soon!
If you have a Teachers Pay Teachers account, give me a follow! You should also follow my @HappyTeacherTPT Instagram — I post lots of pictures of the new products on here!
When I’m freewriting, I tend to write way more dialogue than action. My first drafts often read like screenplays. Sometimes, I won’t even put tags that explain who is talking, and I’ll have to scroll back through the scene weeks later desperately trying to remember who was who.
Take this chunk of dialogue:
“I said no one was supposed to go in there.”
“I thought you meant, you know, other people. I didn’t think you meant me.”
“I always mean you. I don’t care what other people do. I care—”
“Just — don’t do it again, okay? It’s dangerous.”
It’s not bad, is it? But we have no idea who is speaking, where they are, or what’s going on. So let’s see if we can beef it up a little bit…
A quick post for you this Monday, Happy Writers! NaNoWriMo is imminent, and I’m about to launch into an all-day flurry of schoolwork to try to get everything done so I have some nice, lengthy, juicy writing days later in the week. (If you would like to follow my noveling progress, follow me on NaNoWriMo.org!)
Today, I want to talk about scenework. Novels are broken up into distinct chunks — among these, acts, chapters, scenes, paragraphs, and sentences. Scenes are some of the most important elements of a novel — if your individual scenes aren’t engaging, a reader is never going to appreciate the bigger picture. You want scenes that reveal your characters and move the story forward — scenes that build like bricks to construct the big, beautiful mansion (or townhouse, or skyscraper, or complicated subway system) your book will eventually be.
So, what do you do when you can tell a scene isn’t working?
A confession: I really like scrolling through writing prompts. I find it fascinating and entertaining to read these little one or two-sentence snippets of story starters, and I’m always hoping I’ll find one that sparks some brilliant, intoxicating surge of creativity, some whirlwind of production from which I’ll emerge with a fully written first draft of something all story-shaped and impressive.
A second confession: This never actually happens.
I like looking at writing prompts. But I’ll be the first to admit that, until recently, I had no real idea how to turn a writing prompt into an actual story.
How do you go from a prompt like Someone at a grocery store runs into a problem and actually make a story out of it? How do you take A ghost haunts a classroom or a dog that can talk joins local politics or a man wakes up to a tattoo he’s never had before — a set of numbers counting down and actually turn it into a full-blown story?
It’s actually really difficult to take someone else’s idea and make it your own! Most of my stories crop up entirely in my own head, so taking inspiration from an outside source can be befuddling and unfamiliar!
Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you’ve been intrigued by a writing prompt but had no idea what to do next with it. Or maybe you have an assignment for a creative writing class and have no idea how to start. Never fear! I’ve compiled some tips and tricks that should help you turn those prompts into full-blown projects.
You don’t throw a shirt down on the ironing board all wadded up and just press your hot iron overtop it.
I mean, maybe you do, if your intention is to make some kind of shirt sandwich and pressing the wrinkles deeper into the fabric locks in the flavor or whatever.
But usually, you lay the shirt flat. You make sure the collar isn’t folded up, and you smooth down the sleeves. Then you get to ironing. Giving yourself that minute to prepare the canvas, so to speak, makes the work easier and promises you a better outcome.