Looking back at my Writer’s Notebook – Part Four

I’m still not even halfway looking back at my old notebook…

But I’ll make this my last musings on its contents.

One thing that’s surprised me straight away is that I originally was going to title the last in the Angel and Actors series novels, Drama Queens and Demonic Beings. So glad I didn’t.

My gift from my friend, Brett.

There are, however, a list of one liners for that project which was finally titled Drama Queens and Devilish Schemes.  All of the following, I’m sure I didn’t use. And I can see why.

“How do you know if you have character?”
“When you realise the empire is not worth saving.”

“But you weren’t born into money?”
“No. I actually have character.”

There are many pages of notes for this novel, followed by an idea for a romance titled Lost in Music, with the first paragraph written. I’m glad I left that behind.

Characters from Social Media Central in my notebook.

Experimenting with Science Fiction.

I did a one on one feedback session for TAYLeR, finally released as Social Media Central. It was centred around pitching, and it was here that I was encouraged to change the title.  I was also encouraged to pitch within Australia as the US was too large a market.

It’s interesting that early on I had a tagline for it – Where social conditioning begins. Perfect as a concept for writing it. I used “Murder is only a keystroke away” when I asked my fellow authors on social media for a tagline.

The futuristic city depicted in the manuscript.

More writing advice

Much later in the notebook are jottings from my time at the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans, including notes from a session with Felice Picano on the secret to a lasting career. The first point is – This is an endurance contest. So true.

Strangely, there’s not many notes from that session.

But now I’m getting to the part I really wanted to share with you.

Pixar Secrets. This was from an online article with advice for scriptwriters of Pixar movies.

  • You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
  • You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
  • Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
  • Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
  • Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
  • What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
  • Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
  • When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
  • Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognise it before you can use it.
  • Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
  • Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likeable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
  • Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
  • If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
  • Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

I originally was going to go through this notebook with a fine tooth comb, but there’s too much to report that I realised is not as interesting second hand. But for me it was a lovely way to revisit my writing career thus far.

Next week I have a real treat. I have a Q and A session with book cover artist, Natasha Snow.  Join me then.

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