Last week I discovered The Most Dangerous Writing App.
This writing app is such a simple idea. Type intensively for five minutes or the words disappear. Five minutes is the default. You can change that time for 3, 5, 10, 20, 30 or 60 minutes.
This is a challenge. You can’t overthink. If you stop for longer than five seconds, the words are wiped from the screen. It’s the fear that keeps you writing. (Sometimes I play around with that fear and deliberately stop, letting the app delete everything. It is good to know what it feels like to lose everything. And it doesn’t feel that bad, honestly.)
What have I learnt over the past seven days?
- Five minutes feels like the right period of time. It is long enough to not lose focus.
- I type 250 words in five minutes.
- Look down at the keyboard and not at the screen.
- Don’t worry about spelling mistakes. I’ll deal with that later.
- Repeating the exercise two or three times on the same subject adds depth.
Altogether a fun way to stimulate your writing. And it is free. What more could one ask for?
Childhood stories are about friendships, laughter, bravado, tears and pain. Ask yourself a few questions to spark those memories.
As a child:
your favourite toy was …
your favourite book was …
your favourite sport was …
your best friend was …
your favourite sweets were …
Your memories contain the sights, sounds, feelings, tastes and smells of your original experience. To step back in time, focus on just one sense.
Which sense to begin with? Ask yourself ‘What do I remember first?’ Is it an image, sound, smell or texture? Describe this first moment in detail to begin your journey into the past.
What do you believe? What interests you? What questions do you have? Are you looking for answers?
Commit to your beliefs. Let the truth come out through your writing. Start with the simplest beliefs and then spread out, allowing them to become complicated. What are the consequences of your beliefs? What is the good and the bad in them?
When writing your story, use this knowledge to influence your writing, but don’t make the mistake of telling us what you believe. Let us work it out for ourselves.
What the character says reveals more than pages of description. She reveals herself through her words; her thoughts, feelings and influence.
When she says “Politicians! They should be cut into pieces and fed to the lions” you know her better than if you had just written ‘She had extreme opinions on politicians.’
Read the papers and books, watch the news, listen to the radio, all the while making notes of any interesting ideas.
Can dull and boring ideas be made interesting? What if you raise the stakes, add twists, change locations? By reframing the facts, you will find the stories to want to write.
More than any other quality, contrast defines characters. By contrasting two characters, the strongest character dynamics are achieved. Almost any relational story that comes to mind, whether a romance, a partnership, or a friendship, probably contains contrasting characters.
Keep the association between characters tight. Ensure they need each other for things to work. Change the emotions of one of the characters. What piece of information (truth or secret) could cause problems?