Some thoughts for new writers

By Philip (Norval Joe) Carroll

It looks like others are giving their weekly Flagship blog a name, so I thought I would do the same. I’m going with “Random Ruminations Remotely Related to Writing.”
In a departure from how I normally approach this blog, I’m going to write directly about writing.

Last week on Lawrence Simon’s 100 Word Weekly Challenge at Lawrence asked us to tell how we get our inspiration for writing our 100 words stories, and how we write them. So while I was running on Monday night and thinking of what I should write in my blog post this week, I thought I would address just that.

I haven’t been writing long, about three years. Up to that point I had written the back stories for my characters on the Star Wars Galaxies MMORPG and after that, the City of Heroes MMORPG. I had one story bouncing around in my head for more than ten years, but hadn’t really written any of it.

It was the 100 word weekly challenge that got me started. I think I wrote my first one October 11, 2008. I’ve written one every week since. I did Nanowrimo that year and have still to edit that story. But my writing really began when I started doing the “Great Hites” podcast writing prompts. I think I wrote to every prompt from January 5th of 2009 until it ended almost 15 months later.

As a new writer I find writing to a prompt advantageous. The subject is right there, you just need to apply it to your own knowledge or experience set.
I’m an organic writer and never really tried outlining a story until last November when I knew I would be pressed for time to do a Nanowrimo. I listed all the scenes I assumed would be in the story and how many words I needed for each day and followed pretty close to what I had planned. Normally, I start with a prompt, some things I think should relate to that prompt and let the story unfold as I go. I find this enjoyable to experience the discovery in a similar way to what a reader, or listener of audio, would.

So if you’re a new writer take advantage of Jeff’s daily writing prompt and his Fictioin Tuesday. Don’t read through all the prompts trying to find one you like, or that you have a story for; none of them will seem like the perfect prompt. Instead, pick a day on the last month’s calender, go to that day on his daily writing prompt site and take what you get. Mull it over for a day or two and set your goal for five days to a week. Decide how many words you want per day to get to 1500 to 3000 words, and start writing.

After you write it, set it aside for a few days, then edit it for plot inconsistencies, character development, and conflict. Don’t worry about senctence stucture and punctuation until the next edit. Then, if you have a writer’s meetup group, have them go over it with you. They’ll be tons of help, and you’ll learn a lot as you critique others. If you don’t have the luxury of a writer’s group, send it to me or Jeff and we’ll help you get it ready for production on Fiction Tuesday. Hearing your own story on a podcast is uniquely satisfying.

Writing has been as satisfying and rewarding to me as climbing Mt. Whitney, playing the piano, or running a marathon. Give it a try and see what you can do.

Philip ‘Norvaljoe’ Carroll, is a Certified Orthotist, husband, father and grand father who is running his third half marathon this year on Saturday night. He’s hoping to get a new personal record of less that 2 hours and 15 minutes. (No. He doesn’t run very fast.)

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