motivation

Romancing the Words: The Outlining Pantser

Book-And-Love-Photos-1600x1026The romance of being a pantser is alluring. The lustful sense in the writer’s mind to pantser is one that draws us to sit down and start writing. Go where the imagination goes. Throw caution to the wind! As adventurous and sexy as this sounds I’m here to tell you something Dr. Ruth once told my generation: have protection! That protection doesn’t come in the form of a pill or latex sleeve, but in the form of an outline.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an advocate of one over the other. We all have our own method, and choose what works best; it’s a personal choice. I’m sure all of us, outliner or not, have at one point or another found ourselves with a story-spark that requires some panster power to get it down. We sit. We write. We find ourselves 500 words along and the story keeps coming, and it feels like a release of imaginative tension. When you’re done, you might light a smoke, have a glass of wine or just catch your breath from the best write ever. But depending on the depth of your piece, the size of it (does size matter?) you may find yourself with a story that’s thundering with loose ends. That’s when wearing an outliner’s rain coat will protect you, but if you feel comfortable in the storm then pantser away.storms

You’re probably wondering what method I use when I write. I have to admit, I love to be a pantser but I’ve found a good outline helps to keep my wild-side in check, so I enlist both methods. Here’s how I do it: Pantser that story-spark. Sweat and moan that idea into the best story synopsis you ever wrote – best write ever! Then take that synopsis and whip it with an outline. Now you’re ready to spend some quality time romancing your words. Love your story, and you’ll see the prose mature with depth and meaningful arc. Now for the fun. Between the points of your outline get naked and pantser between the sheets, of paper. That’s right, connect the dots of your outline points by drafting your story in panster mode. I get the best of both worlds as an outlining panster.

I find outlining helps nurture a good working relationship with my pantser self. Ultimately each of us chooses our own path, we learn by doing, and through this we discover our own rhythmic method to writing.

What method do you prefer? How do you do it? Do you stick with one method over the other or blend?

10 Writing Tips for Aspiring Authors from HarperCollins Canada Editors!

From the horse’s mouth! A great post for aspiring authors, dig in and eat it up!

At the beginning of the year, we asked some of our fellow Savvy Readers what their New Year’s resolutions were. In addition to reading more, many of you said that you’d like to focus on writing in 2014. As the halfway point of the year approaches, we want to motivate you to work towards your goal… and asked 10 editors from HarperCollins Canada to help! Below, professional editors (whose expertise range from Cookbooks to Fiction, Non-fiction to Children’s Books) share their #1 piece of advice.

Read on, because regardless of whether you write for pleasure or are an aspiring author, I’m sure you can find something helpful from the tips below.

1. Read! 

“Read, read widely and read for your enjoyment. Read outside of your usual genres, read books on the bestseller list and talk about the books you love.”

—Brad Wilson, Editorial Director (Collins).

2. Don’t Focus On Your Ending

“In fiction, there is a temptation to write…

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Nano Fiction: Shattered

The Ontario Writers Conference hosts a monthly blog called Story Starters. It’s 100 words or less and is reflective of the posted artwork. I label 300 words or less as Nano Fiction. Here’s my story “Shattered” as inspired by Christine Kim’s posted artwork.christinekim_reckless_mixedmedia_5x7_2014_1

Shattered

by Darryl Foster

Our homes, our lives: shattered. The earth doesn’t discriminate. The shaking, the crumbling of walls, the crushing weight of rock. Many died. The ruins of our village poured over us like a great wave of despair. The young and strong knocked to their knees. The elders, the ones who’d built the foundations before us, didn’t see ruin like my generation. Hopeless. But to the old, they who’d seen wars and the ravages of time, they saw something different: opportunity. And like a sapling springing up between rocks, its roots stretching for water and nutrients, we began to build again.

Writer Health: A Sitting-Society

First of all, credit where credit is due: thank you to ASAP Science for a vital (signs) reminder! And thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for retweeting this topic, one all writers should take to heart, literally. Puns aside: watch the video from ASAP Science then commit to changing your life with a fitness plan. Do it for you, and for your love of writing.

So, we’ve become a Sitting-Society. Most of us hold down full time jobs at a desk and add more hours to the time we sit by plopping down in front of our writing desks. My survival instinct tells me it’s time for a change. A healthy life will extend your years and the time you have to sow your prose.

I find, during and after, a good 30 minute workout in the gym, my blood is pumping and there’s a surge of energy coursing through my veins that leaves me feeling energized all day. Activity invigorates the mind and creates an emotional bond between your spirit and physical being. For me, that bond translates into discovering my best writing ideas when I’m engaged in exercise. When you workout your body, your gray matter benefits, so does your writing. Exercise is up-time, an opportunity to visualize and plan your writing while staying fit. Developing scenes and story in your mind while sweating on an elliptical machine will keep you on a healthy plot-track, stimulating imagination and motivating your writing.

I encourage you to find 30 minutes a day to exercise. Take the ‘write’ steps now, get up and walk away from the Sitting-Society.

Darryl Foster

NaNoWriMo Half-Time Tribute

I doff my hat to every valiant writer who has made it their mission to push aside everything this month to complete a novel. This is a daunting endeavour, but one proven to be achievable. The absolute mind blowing 50,000 words in one month makes NaNoWriMo the Ironman race of the mind.

NaNoWriMo is coming up on half-time and you warriors-of-the-word-processors are locked in a daily word count battle that numbs the senses. In my world, you are all ‘Nanimals’ (novel writing animals), and to celebrate your achievements I bring you motivation from the past. I believe if Winston Churchill were alive today, he would be writing alongside you in the war of words, weaving plot, twisting characters and building tension. The half-time tribute: Imagine Churchill giving his historical speech, and imagine if he were a Nanimal like you.

We shall go on to the end, we shall write in our homes,
we shall write in libraries, and in coffee shops,
we shall write with growing confidence and growing strength in our prose, we shall write no matter what the cost may be,
we shall write in our regions,
we shall write and tweet,
we shall write with our pens and word processors,
we shall write day and night;
we shall never surrender!

Good luck you wild Nanimals!

I salute you all.

Never-Never-Never-Never-Give-up-Winston-Churchill-quote