Through the Lens of “Why?”

Friends,

Today begins another week. It is a new beginning for us all, perhaps after a long week or not-so-productive weekend. I look forward to Mondays for this reason.

I finished setting up my new work station today. What do you think?

It isn’t much, and I will have to expand my space for a new printer I just ordered. I am finally getting my own printer. It may not be all that exciting to you, but believe me–I have been in dire need of one for some time!

I think you’ll be glad to know that after I post this, I will get to writing for the rest of the afternoon…until dinner. On this day, [spaghetti > writing] 🙂

Something that has been on my mind lately is the notion that writing changes you as a person. It’s something, I think, that not many people–and not many writers–think about often, mostly because they’re so busy with other things to notice. But if you think about it, writing has quite an effect on a person. And that’s a good thing!

As writers, we should be aware of our surroundings, of how we perceive things, of how others act in certain situations. Why? Because those little, everyday things help fuel and inspire ideas that can eventually become story details. I read an article recently where the author (referencing how he comes up with story ideas) talked about how he can take a simple, perhaps mundane, thing or event and turn it into a story detail or plot device.

All it takes is to continue asking “Why?”

By this, he means he creates something complex and intriguing out of simple ideas or notions, just by questioning the situation. This is a good way to get creative juices flowing, which will lend itself to productive writing. If we approach our everyday lives in this way, there should (theoretically) be a never-ending flow of ideas that can help inspire our storytelling.

With regard to my own creative process, I use this method to a certain extent. For example, when I was writing my debut novel “Resistant” (available in print and ebook format on Amazon), I chose to create my content through two methods.

The first part, fact-based research, is a fairly straightforward idea. I researched information on France during the early years of the war, the time when the Germans invaded and occupied, the fighting that ensued thereafter, and finally the retreat in the final months of the war. Some of this I knew already, but I wanted to be sure I got things right (a good habit to implement, by the way).

The second part, what I call fictitious speculation, is the idea that, given what I know about the times in which my story is set, I try to ask myself, “What would this character do in this situation?” I use the concept of questioning things (mentioned above) but apply it in a different way. I don’t want to recreate someone’s real experience; I want to create something new, but inspired.

Therefore, I speculate on what might go through the character’s mind, and then go on from there. The only non-factual aspects of “Resistant” were the specific names of the characters and the specific events in which they were involved. Historically, everything else truly happened. I also ask, “What would be expected to happen on the part of the reader? How can I avoid this so that the story doesn’t fall into the realm of cliche, and so I can keep the reader turning the page because they’re interested?” This approach to my writing is something I find very effective.

This brings me back to what I first made mention of: writing changes us. If we truly want to write effectively, we need to let our writing infiltrate our lives and become part of us. So the next time you’re “out,” try to view your world through the lens of “Why?” You may just be surprised at what ideas come racing through your mind!

Is there anything that comes to mind now that you’d like to put on the table for discussion?

I’d love to hear from you!

-Eli

Back to the Grind

Friends

The material for “Unguarded” (Book Two) is developing nicely. After a weekend of rest and relaxation, it feels great getting back to work on my writing projects! If you’re an author and tend not to take breaks from your work, I strongly encourage you to give it a try. I understand the demands of deadlines and whatnot, but giving your mind a break from the constant flow of ideas and pressures of work will actually help make your project a better story!

There is so much I want to tell you regarding my next book, but I must keep it to myself for now. I am very excited to see where this next book takes me, and to see what more I will learn in the process.

That’s something else that you must do as a writer: be open and willing to learn along the way. It is very much a part of our nature as people to think we can handle a lot of what goes into creating something without being open to learning about what it is we’re creating! Writing is a very dynamic art. Words are written, thoughts change, and thus words are changed. This is a recurring process, and it should be. The first draft of a story shouldn’t be it’s final draft.

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Part of that process of changing words, thoughts, sections of the text, and so on is being open to new ideas and creativity. In my case, I have a history degree but that in no way means that I’ll know every fact and figure that I want to use in my book. I check and cross-check my information as I write. And that’s just content.

By “be open and learn along the way” I also mean that it is important for an author to understand how her/his industry works and where she/he belongs in it. Trying to navigate one’s way alone through the world of publishing, especially self-publishing, can be a daunting and almost impossible task. My advice? Ask questions.

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I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “The only stupid question is one that is not asked,” which mostly comes from the classroom, stemming from students’ fear of being embarrassed by asking something they believe ALL the other students know. Well, whether all the other authors in the world know the answer to a question brewing in your mind, it is still vital that you ask it. Whether you’re querying a friend, a publisher, or even another author…ASK your question.

That is all I have for write now (you see what I did there). I felt like having a more “stream of consciousness” kind of blog today rather than something more systematic. I hope you found something in it that you can apply to your own work, even if you’re not an author.

If you haven’t already, please check out my 4-star debut book, “Resistant,” which can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, WaveCloud, the Apple iBookstore, and Google Play. And if you do decide to purchase it, I ask that you please review and/or rate it after you’ve finished. Those reviews and ratings really help me out!

Until next time,

-Eli

First Book Jitters

Friends,

I am pleased to tell you that I just received the second of three portions that compose my story from a friend who is helping out with the editing. As I go through the text and revise, I can’t help but feel somewhat nervous but still very excited about the whole process. The excitement aspect springs from the fact that this is all a fun and new experience for me, and because I’m doing something that I truly enjoy. The nervous aspect still lurches in the background. What should my cover look like? How should I write my main character? Does something there need tweaking? Where is the balance between emotion and action? So many questions fill my thoughts as I revise the story. I just hope I can calm myself down and do this thing right.

However, I know that this is a learning process, as are many things when done for the first time. I find calm and inspiration when I watch YouTube videos or read others blogs and posts by authors addressing these issues. If you are reading this and you are in my novice shoes, I strongly advise that you look to those who have come before you for strength and inspiration as well. If you are reading this and you are an experienced author, I implore you for any guiding advice on these issues I am facing.

As for the story itself, here is a tiny bit of information…a teaser, if you will: the main character’s name is…actually, I don’t think I want to divulge that information just yet. Being a rookie author, I want to utilize the element of surprise and anticipation as much as I can. I will tell you this, however: my hope and aim is to get this book released through Amazon by May. I am working diligently on the project so I can get a good story into your hands.

If you have friends or know of anyone who would be interested in a historical fiction story, refer this blog to them, as well as the Facebook and Twitter pages, so they can follow along and keep informed on things.

-Eli