Archive for September, 2007

Writing Hint #35: Let your characters loose

I read a short article about writing yesterday. It was in one of the many newsletters I receive about writing. The author was suggesting that the best way to finish a novel is to write the first 30 pages. “You are only 30 pages away from writing that novel” the author claimed.

The sad truth for so many would be authors is that they want to have written. They do not realise the incredible effort it takes to finish a novel. I’ve written three and a host of articles and short stories (among many other things). I know what it takes – dedicated effort and persistence.

There is one way to trick the brain into continuing with a novel and for getting it finished. This author is suggesting just write the first 30 pages and see what happens. What I find is this; the characters take over. No longer are you a puppeteer pulling the strings of the events in the lives of your characters. They take on a life of their own and before you know it, the story is writing itself, the characters are speaking for themselves and your brain is tricked into thinking that writing is the most wonderful thing to do in the world. The writing flows, ideas feed upon ideas, events tumble into the story and away it goes. It can be an exhilarating feeling when this all happens.

Try it.

Try getting down those first 30 or so pages and see what happens. Step back a little and let the characters speak and act in their own way. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Warning: This method does not work very well in some genres. For example, writing crime fiction is an exact craft. You must know exactly what is going to happen and plan the plot extremely carefully. Otherwise your readers will be exasperated by dozens of unresolved loose-ends at the end of the novel.

Good writing.

The Adventures of Nancy – I’m going on a holiday

Hi there,

Nancy here again.

I am so excited. I heard my Mum talking to Grandpa Trevor on the phone last night. Grandpa and Grandma are coming here to visit us. Then I’m going home with them for a holiday. I love staying with them. They play games with me, they let me sit on their laps and they have a lovely warm fire. I enjoy sleeping by the fire.

I think Mum said they are coming next Tuesday, but I’m going to keep watching through the lounge room window in case they come soon.

Talk to you soon.


Nancy watching through the window

Nancy watching through the window

Coming home

I been away from home for nearly four weeks.

Did you miss me?

Over that time my wife and I travelled just over 4000 kilometres through our state of South Australia, and the states of New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria. We stayed in a variety of small to medium sized country towns, in the heart of Sydney with our son and daughter-in-law, in the nation’s capital Canberra and visited friends in Melbourne.

It is good to travel, to see new things, visit new places and meet new people. It is also good be home again, in the midst of all that chaos we call home. It is good to be in familiar territory again. It is very of comforting to be home.

The trip was very inspiring. I took my laptop with me and wrote about the things I saw and experienced. I share these on my other two blogs – my Travel Blog and my Birding Blog. Each features many of the photos I took on our journeys.

While away my Grand Dog Nancy has largely held the fort here on this blog, sharing some of her thoughts and experiences. Thanks Nancy. You did a good job. More from her soon. Other posts here were either written before we left or while in Sydney (piggy-backing on my son’s very fast broadband connection).

The Adventures of Nancy – more about Butch

Nancy's friend Butch

Nancy's friend Butch

Hi there,

Nancy here again.


I’ve just discovered that my friend Butch went to stay with Grandpa Trevor and Grandma Corinne recently. The cheek of him. He didn’t ask permission from me to stay there. And I bet he slept in their bedroom too. That’s MY place to sleep. If I find out he has been sleeping on their bed, the friendship is over. I’ll never speak to him again, or go to visit him.

The only reason I will forgive him is that his mum and dad, Keith and Rose (lovely name – same as my Mum) came to visit me at my home. They were having a little holiday near my home. They had dinner with my Mum. Keith is good to me and pats and rubs me.

Talk to you soon.


More Short Story Starters

Over the life of this blog I have written a number of articles called Short Story Starters (or similar titles). These lists are designed to help other writers when they are having trouble coming up with writing ideas. Try them. Feel free to use any of them.

Short Story Starters:

  1. The sudden screeching of tyres woke Adam. The crunching thump that followed made him leap from his bed. He…
  2. Briony tried to blink back the tears. It was no use. She…
  3. “There’s Carl!” yelled Sara. “Help! Come quickly!” She leaned over his body. She knew at once….
  4. As she walked away from the building Diana had an overwhelming desire to scream. She knew at that instant that would never again….
  5. “Ellen!” It was a cry of instant recognition. “Ellen – it’s been so long. What are you doing here? How did…
  6. Frank reached over to the empty seat. He wrapped his fingers around the cold object. He lifted the gun…
  7. The moment Gina set eyes on the building she knew she was home at last. She…

Conditions of use:

  • Feel free to use any of the story starters listed above. Change anything to suit your needs.
  • Give it your best shot.
  • Edit your work carefully before sending it off to a publisher or posting it on your blog.
  • Let me know in the comments section how it went.
  • If you publish your story on your web site or on your blog let me know so I can make a link to it for others to read.

Still more ideas:

The archives of this blog contain many more writing ideas. Click here to access those ideas.