Tag Archives: Fiction

How Creating a Character’s Family Tree is Like Sudoku

It’s midnight and I’m not sure whether it’s every writer’s dream or every writer’s nightmare, but the little writer’s voice is babbling details about the family tree for the characters in my screenplay.

On one hand, I am a little annoyed because it is a “school night” and I have a busy work day planned for tomorrow. On the other hand, with the heartbreak of writer’s block going on around the world, I really can’t complain when my own writer’s voice is in overdrive with ideas.

I grab a pen and a pad (tucked neatly in my nightstand for just such a literary emergency) and I start sketching out the ideas as they come to me.

Given that this is my first screenplay, this is all new to me, but if it’s anything like my process for writing blog posts, this probably won’t be a linear process from start to end.

The main characters start identifying themselves to me. Then, the main sources of tension between the characters form a neatly bulleted list. The resulting struggles are identified and even the desired end result becomes crystal clear to me.

Now… how do we get from “once upon a time” to “and they lived happily ever after”, while hitting all those marks along the way? Continue reading

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The First Time My Own Writing Gave Me Palpitations

Regular readers will recall that I put the blog on autopilot in early summer, finalizing several blog posts at once, to offer me some free time to spread my wings and try some other creative writing projects.

It didn’t take long for me to sink my teeth into fiction. I guess ideas had been simmering long enough that putting words to paper came quite easily.

For one story in particular, I already knew my main characters and the main source of tension between them. I started committing those to paper.

What started with a few ideas soon became an outline. Then I rounded up the index cards I filled out over the last weeks related to this story and started typing ideas into their respective places.

What I loved was that I could keep the story up on my computer screen, walk away to put a load of laundry in the machine, come back and add a few sentences, entertain the cat a bit, come back and add a few more sentences, do the dishes, add another couple of ideas. Momentum was building and I was already enjoying the creative writing process.

I’d be lying if I said this particular story was a complete work of fiction. There are a few threads to the story that are inspired from my own life, but only a few people will know which is which.

Well into the process of engineering the flow of tension and conflict, I wrote a first draft of a heated conversation between two characters. For this dialogue, I tapped into something deep in my soul, loosely based on something I experienced personally.

In no way does the conflict in the story line resemble anything I’ve ever experienced, but whether someone is angry about life, people or circumstances, anger is anger. It’s universal and can motivate some very impassioned reactions in any of us.

As I was deeply into the writing zone, almost on autopilot myself, the words and associated emotions poured out of me. The exchange between the two characters flowed seamlessly.

The interaction seemed so natural. In some ways, I was not only creating a moment, I was living in it. The strength of conviction and motivation behind the dialogue was unlike anything I had written before.

When I finished typing out the conversation that concluded with one character storming out of a fictional room, the creative bubble around me faded as I returned to reality. In that moment, I noticed that my heart was racing, my breathing was fast and shallow and I felt beads of sweat on my forehead.

I was having palpitations! … over something I just wrote! Who knew that was even possible?

Instantly, this experience became one of those moments as a writer that I will never forget. At this point I didn’t care whether this piece made it to print or not. The fact that I was able to dig that deeply as if I was in the room with the two characters was a huge rush. The fact that it was able to elicit such a strong response felt like a huge emotional welcome into the creative writing world.

I was overjoyed! I was thrilled! I was euphoric!

If this is what it means to be a writer, then I want a lifetime membership! An experience like this makes it all worth it.

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, please know that there are plenty more where that came from! If you haven’t already, you can check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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My First Writing Competition

In working through some of my blog posts in the last years, there have been times when I would look at a final draft of a post and then think to myself that it was pretty good, but for some reason it didn’t quite fit with the overall theme of my blog. Rather than rethink the piece, I would just put it on the shelf and maybe the right time and place to post it would find me.

A few months ago, such an opportunity presented itself when I started receiving emails about the annual Writer’s Digest Short Story Writing Competition. I thought that this might be an opportunity to pick up one of those shelved stories and fine-tune it for the purposes of the competition.

With that decision made, in the days that followed, it was with great enthusiasm that I would come home from work, speed through dinner and rush to my desk to chip away at the story, several times per week. The writing competition definitely stoked my enthusiasm for writing again.

While I have never had delusions of grandeur about my skills as a writer, confidence was running high as the themes of the story were current, relevant and would definitely resonate with certain readers. To achieve that, I dug deeply (veeeeeeryy deeeeeeeply) for the material, breaking open some old wounds. Continue reading

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When Money Talks

Shopping CartsIt was a quiet Friday night at the grocery store, picking up the essentials for the week ahead, when I spotted it on the floor, peeping out from behind the rack of discounted fruit. A five dollar bill!

As human nature would suggest, I took a look around, as if somehow the link between this five dollar bill and anyone in the store would be immediately obvious. The store was a ghost town. There was almost no one to be found.

I took another look around, this time to see if anyone else saw it. Clearly there was no risk of anyone swooping in to collect it.

Normally, when it comes to picking up a coin off a sidewalk, I wouldn’t think twice or look twice to locate an owner. I would just do it. But this case seemed different. Maybe it was because it was private property. But what hit me the strongest was the fact that it was five dollars, not five cents.

As these thoughts were blazing through my mind and the ensuing analysis of whether to pick it up or not, I’m not sure if the fumes from my recent oven cleaning had anything to do with it, but I could have sworn the five dollar bill said “Psst… Psst… André! Not meant for you!”

I took another look around to see if anyone else heard that, but again, the nearest customers were either squeezing the Charmin or inquiring about whether they stocked Grey Poupon. I looked down again and considered what the five dollar bill was saying. Continue reading

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Would I Write Someone I Know Into a Story?

There they go again! The entertainment media speculating about whether or not a song is about a certain someone’s ex-lover.

And then I wonder to myself, would I ever write someone I know into a fictional story? The short answer is no…

 

“My pain may be the reason for somebody’s laugh. But my laugh must never be the reason for somebody’s pain” — Charlie Chaplin

 

First, when it comes to grudges, my emotional baggage would definitely fit in the overhead compartment of a turbo prop plane. At this point in my life, I know that life is too short to carry grudges, so I let most of them go.

Second, I try not to live in the grudge zone in general or to put myself in the path of grudges. Life is also too short to waste precious energy like that.

Third, if I did carry a grudge, why would I immortalize the subject in my art? If I wouldn’t give someone the time of day, why would I make them the protagonist of a novel I will be working on for months? That seems completely counter intuitive to me. Continue reading

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New Writer, New Set of Insecurities?

Writer’s Digest, a top resource for writers, has been sending out emails announcing their 83rd annual writing competition. It sounds like an exciting opportunity and frankly, I have been seriously thinking about throwing my hat in the ring and giving it a try this year.

The timing seems good as I appear to be developing consistency in my output, publishing a new blog each week and steadily working on a few other stories I am juggling.  There is no rush to finish any one of the latter products, just a clear commitment to putting words to paper and seeing parts of stories come to fruition.  Maybe tackling a special assignment like a writing competition is what I need to keep things interesting and seeing a short story through to the end.

What to write about is a bigger dilemma. And with it comes a bit of writers’ stage-fright!  Continue reading

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