For me, I want to read certain books, and for some reason, my favorite authors refuse to churn out a book a week–go figure.
So, I try to write the kind of stories I want to read. An idea occurs, a wild moment of “what if” and I must write it.
Sometimes it’s just a scene or a drabble. Sometimes it is a poem. Other times it will be a short story or a novel.
No matter where I am, I want to talk about books. Books and the craft of writing absorbs me. The internet offers me the chance to learn new things about writing craft and gives me a hundred places to discuss them and people to “talk shop” with.
Reading books and writing obsesses me, and everything motivates me.
I’m not sure why, but I do my most creative work when I should be doing something else. My best writing gets done when I should be getting ready to leave the house for an appointment.
As writers, we talk and talk and talk about a character’s motivation, but the author’s motivation is critical. WHY are you writing?
When I am fired up, I do my best work. Life can be complicated here on the homefront, so writing is an escape from dealing with the realities of being the family caregiver and living with chronic pain. I can write anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances. Sometimes I don’t feel too creative, but at that point, my blogging skills kick in. For me, blogging is talking about writing, and that’s writing too. It keeps me thinking.
In many ways, I am a social justice warrior. I write about all kinds of people experiencing hard times and injustice, and the fallout that sometimes occurs. Sometimes the good people don’t win, and how they handle defeat is the real story.
When I have an idea for a story, it’s never with the intention of preaching a sermon—I leave that to better qualified people and more adept authors. The stories I want to write are about people who face great challenges and how those events shape their actions.
Life and all its many detours intrigues me, and as a reader, I gravitate to those kinds of novels, in all genres. Memorable characters grow on you over the course of the book–they are not delivered fully formed on the first page. They are intriguing, and we don’t always know what they will do next. There is a hint of mystery about them, and if the author did their job, at the end of the book we don’t want those characters to leave.
We want to instill an air of mystery in all our characters, whether we write sci-fi, romance, fantasy, pot-boilers, or cozy mysteries. People cease to intrigue you once you think you know all there is to know about them.
It is the complexities of your friends that keep them interesting, the little things you never knew that surprise you when they are revealed.
Developing a character, deploying just enough information at the right moments to pique the reader’s curiosity is a balancing act, and not everyone can do it with finesse. Thus, I read and read and read—classic literature, epic fantasy, cozy mysteries, spy novels, vampire romances, and space operas—I read in all genres, hoping to gain an idea of how it’s done right.
I also find many examples of how it’s done wrong.
My advice today? Read widely, read daily, read in all genres, even those you “don’t like”—but read. Reading widens your mind, and an open mind is creative, and a creative mind puts out great work.
Trying to master the balancing act of creating compelling characters and setting them in intriguing circumstances motivates me. I love the feeling of meeting the challenge, picking up the gauntlet tossed down by my favorite authors, the “ah hah” of having written a story I would want to read.