Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hard Work Can Be Fun

How dweeby can you get? But it's true.

I love to write. It's my favorite thing to do--make up stories and please people with them. If I had been Scheherazade, and the Sultan had told me I didn't have to make up a story every night any more, I probably would have kicked him in the shin so he'd make me make up stories again.

The hard part, for me, is shaping the stories. Coming up with a story arc, a plot, an outline--making sure I have the details straight: those things are hard, for me.

Yet, this year, I've learned to enjoy those hard things. I don't know quite what flipped the switch. Part of it was my nephew, Joshua Stephen Allen, telling me to woman up and write a three-sentence outline of the three acts of my book: One sentence for the set-up and build-up, one sentence for the obstacles and one sentence for the solution(s) and outcome.

That was vague enough that I could do it without feeling like I was putting on a straight-jacket. And it actually made it easier for me to write spontaneously, because I didn't have to worry that I was going to fall off the edge of a story line and tumble to the book's death.

Now I'm working on a story bible for the series I have going, and that's being fun, too. My series is set in a neighborhood, and I've been stalling: I didn't want to research the length of a city block and the number and size of lots and all that, but I've done it. Now I know how many people live on the block. I know who some of them are, because they've been in the books and stories already. I'm going through a book of house plans and deciding who lives in what house, which is making me think, "What kind of person would live in a house like this? Is it a good house for them, or a not-so-good house? Why?" So, pretty soon, I'll have ideas for characters and ideas for plot points and then I'll have outlines for the rest of the books in the series.

Hard work, but I'm having SO MUCH FUN!

Marian Allen

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