Going through the fog

Today I drove to work. I do that regularly, but this time there was quite a lot of fog around, and the early hour made it appear even heavier than it actually was.

I could not help but feel that going through the fog is a bit like writing. Especially when you write freely, without a real fleshed-out plan.

The area directly around you is visible. You have a reasonable idea what you have, what you can write about. It is what you see without straining your eyes. Further away there are shapes. Some you recognise, like trees, buildings, lamp-posts. The fog however eats up their exact shape, so they may have changed since you last saw them. Well, they probably haven’t. Although… did the house on the corner really look like that yesterday?

Going further away in the fog there are still shapes, shadows really. Things that probably belong there, but… what are they? What were they? What will they turn into? The mist shrouds their real nature, there is promise in these shapes, potential. And potential threat. Will they make life good, or are they there to ruin the story?

And then there is the material you can’t see. It is hidden behind the thick layers of low cloud and fog. You know it’s out there, waiting to be discovered, to be used, to appear and do whatever it can to and in your story. You can only find it when you “boldly go into the fog, where no author has gone before“, and seek out everything that is there, waiting for you. And yes, at times that can be a bit scary, when you go out on a limb into a realm you’ve never set foot before. There may be rock or solid ground, but you can also find yourself in quicksand.

This way, going through the fog is like writing for me. Exciting, and full of promises. Some of which aren’t kept. And some I never saw coming.

The seventh book, and writing in general

Yes, there is a seventh Hilda book. For a long time it was under scrutiny of my inner editor, and I found someone friendly and helpful enough to proofread it and slap me over the head if there are wrong connections and other mistakes. And there were several! (Thank you, Carol! You’re hired for book 8 as well!)

It is amazing how much pleasure and satisfaction I find in writing. Most of the fun is in the Hilda books of course. She is an amazing character to write. At times I just collapse behind the keyboard for laughter, and when I regained myself I always hope that the readers of the story will find as much pleasure in there as I do. The short stories of Lily Marin are so different. Those are the very difficult ones to write for me. There is so much going inside and around her, so much stuff she is dealing with while she wants to fit in despite being afraid to fit in, her fear of her alter ego being found out.

Sometimes I read again some of the stories I wrote. The antics of Hilda make me grin, that never fails. Is it strange to read (and laugh) your own stories, I wonder? Do other authors do that as well? For me it is a way to see what I did wrong, to find places and ways that I can improve my writing, as well as seeing how it has changed already. For that reason for instance I reworked the first Hilda story and put that out on Smashwords and Amazon.

And the final word is on Hilda too: I have started to write book 8. It is progressing nicely.

 

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Proven ways to increase your creativity

Someone I know posted this link to an excellent article on how to improve your creativity as a copywriter.

The post is not very long, and an interesting read as well.

Here is a sample of the text, to wet your appetite. Or not.

As copywriters we are constantly fuelled by our own creativity. It’s what separates us from people who can write but who can’t do it well. It’s what we’re paid for – to generate interesting and new ideas and then to apply and illustrate them. But the creative process is a strange thing. It is something that we grow to both love and hate. There is nothing more exciting and enjoyable than thinking up a new idea but there’s also nothing worse than being stuck with writers block.

After producing my first few hundred seo articles I realised very quickly that my ability to be creative was defining my success. In times of creative triumph I would be able to whisk out several engaging articles in the space of a few hours whereas in a creative lull it would take me a day to finish one piece. I decided that I wanted to know more about why I was being creative at  specific times and how I could tap into this state of mind whenever I wanted to. I ended up buying “59 seconds” by Professor Richard Wiseman which promised a whole chapter on enhancing creativity.

What made the book so attractive to me was the emphasis that it placed on evidence and research. I am naturally a very sceptical person and so I was only interested in advice that had been verified and confirmed. Professor Wiseman did not let me down. The book cites well over 100 different studies of research and offers practical advice that can be used to improve all aspects of day to day life. I was so impressed by the effect his creativity chapter had on the way I write that I decided I had to share what I had learned. Below is the best advice for improving creativity I have ever received.

 

Usually writing is fun

There are times that it is a bit of a challenge.

For the Charisma story I am trying to combine new clothes, football and a bus in the current chapter, and perhaps flowing those into the next one.

The first attempt did not go very well. The second did not go very well either.

It is probably time to do something else for a while, like make a start with the design of a cover for Hilda’s 7th story…

What’s in a name?

From one author to another: how important are character names to you? (Of course, all dear readers are invited to read on.)

Do you carefully search and select names for your characters? For all of them? Or just for the main character(s)?

I’m quite picky about names of the main characters in my stories. I usually know what I want from them. This means that I know if the name has to stand out or if it has to be very plain. Usually when one of my main characters has a secretive side I am prone to giving her or him a rather simple name, to emphasise the difference.

In the case of Hilda, my favourite wicked witch, there was a bit of a glitch in that scheme. I had originally no idea that she would become popular, so I just grabbed a name from the shoe-box of witches’ names (a.k.a. google), which was Grimhilda, and turned her into “Hilda for friends”. After so many stories it is no option to change her name, but that’s okay. I like Hilda. (Who would not want to be her friend?)

For my sci-fi stories of Breen and Kue I spent a lot of time thinking about the names. Sius Breen and Inui Kue are characters from a planet called Odis (Gods know where that name came from). Originally I had the idea of calling the planet ‘Breen’, but that did not happen. (In case you wonder about these stories: they are not officially published yet. They may be, someday. You can find them on the writer’s page of my website.) It was fascinating creating their world and culture.

For side-characters I am quite fast in deciding on names. Usually they are not that important, especially when they are ‘disposable’. Characters that I intend to make reappear will get a more thought through name, though. The closer they are to the mains, the better names they have.

“What’s in a name?” According to me, a lot.