Some wee changes to our blog…

Coloured pencils

Image via Wikipedia

As many/some/a smattering/none of you know, this is an eclectic group blog loosely orbiting the topic of “writing”.  We are all part of a writing group that meets every other week in the Phoenix area, and we started this up as a way to encourage us to both write a little more, and to explore some of our ideas in an open forum.

The only guide has been each topic needs to be somehow “related to writing”, which has resulted in everything from posting short stories to explorations of the female archetype in literature. It’s been fun, but also all over the map. After batting it around a bit, we’ve decided to do some loose themes to try to help us bounce and build off of each others input.  The first one, starting this week, is “ideas”.  Where do they come from?  How do you develop yours?  etc.  Our rotation of authors is two weeks long, so this week and next will cover the “ideas” theme.

After that, we want to try our one-word exercises. In our group, we encourage at least writing a short story every time by selecting a random word to use as a seed for a short piece.  It’s an interesting exercise as the word often puts me out of my normal thought patterns and I come up with some very odd (for me) pieces.  We’ll be picking a word and then each of us will write using that word as the inspiration.

What we need is the word!  If you have any word you would like to suggest, leave it in the comments below. Same for any topics/themes you would like to see us use.

We appreciate the ideas, and appreciate you taking the time to read our blog!

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What’s your story about?


img from Jerry @ Flickr

I realized I was becoming a big(ger) writing geek when someone asked me “what’s your screenplay about”, and without thinking I replied “Do you mean what’s the story, or what’s it about?”

Of course he meant what is the story, but it made me realize how much I can get my head wrapped around this particular axle.

The Story

The story is the what happens and who is doing it of the writing. It’s where I start, either with an idea or a character, and build things out. Some of this is just mechanics, but it is still a place I’m learning and trying to improve. Stories without good characters, plot, and development have a fairly small readership. Usually among insomniacs.

As it develops, though, something odd happens. The story becomes “about something”. A theme develops. Or maybe just a perspective. A deeper meaning.

What’s It About

This is where I usually get into trouble. I see a pattern or an idea in my story, and instead of continuing to develop my story I start to worry about the idea. I wrote a piece once that started to incorporate some religious ideas. Suddenly I realized I had a pile of things that could be metaphors – like a group that had 12 members, or someone showing up after being thought dead. I got paranoid. Was I making it too heavy handed? Too obvious? Were there better metaphors to use?

I upended the story to try and hammer in cues and clues that I felt better supported my developing theme.  It was no great shock that I ended up with a mess.

It’s About The Story

I put the story away for a while, and came back to focus on the story. I ignored the little yammering voices that were guessing, second-guessing, and third-guessing my subconscious motives and just focused on the story. As a result, I made more progress with that “inner meaning” than when I was obsessing over it.

I did some minor tweaking in the end to support the theme that developed, but I treated it as a fairly minor cleanup item at the end. It was something I did alongside cleaning up plot consistency and character dialog.

In the end, focusing on the story worked out much better for me, and is what most people really are interested in anyway.