Does every novel need conflict?

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Short answer: Sure.

Reason: Keeps the story interesting. Makes the reader want to continue to find out the resolution.

This week, I had a couple days to sit down and dig deep into the crevices of my brain and plot out the scenes for the Flour City Blues sequel. With most of the ideas, I’m finding myself laughing out loud over the hilarity that is going to be happening throughout the story. Then, I came to a complete halt.

Where is the conflict?

Throughout this musically-enhanced joyride that this book is going to be, I found this to be my real-life conflict. Where am I going with everything? Am I going to let my characters off the hook easily or throw them a few curve balls?

Flour City Blues had plenty of conflict: the parents, girl troubles and a brief rift in friendship. It came extremely easy. With this book, I’m finding it a bit challenging.

Comedy aside, I’m sure I’ll come up with something.

 

Have you had issues with developing conflict in your writing? How did you resolve your own writing “conflict”?

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Ove Töpfer via Free Images

 

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The path to fictional writing enlightenment lies in Bluto

bluto

Oh baby, it is time! I’ve got the itch and it needs to be scratched! We’re talking about getting a move on the sequel to FLOUR CITY BLUES.

I don’t know what other authors do while they write—if they listen to music, have a particular spot to write, etc. For me, I gather my inspiration from classic pop culture and music.

I set up a soundtrack with my last book, and made references to Bill Murray movies (Stripes and Meatballs), because I developed this character—who for some reason—loves those classic SNL cast members (Murray, Chase, Belushi) and carries that type of juvenile, pervy humor with him well.

The soundtrack included the bands that the characters love. It consisted of doo-wop, garage and pop-punk. I listened my soundtrack well into the hours of the night, while I wrote. For me, music playing consistently helps me cut out any distractions and permits me to write for a few hours.

So the next book is going to pick up where the last left off. We have high school graduates! The story will continue as my lovely boys experience life after high school. College? What about the band? I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say one thing—two words:

Animal House.

Yes. Animal House. When I started talking about toying with the idea of writing a sequel I immediately thought of this movie. It is perfectly appropriate with nonsense, oozing with collegiate sexuality and you have your resident flunkie student, Bluto. It has been my go-to reference while jotting notes and ideas for the next book.

Toga! Toga! Toga!

And believe me, this is going to be a riot to write. I have some anecdotes and scene ideas scribbled out, and I found myself laughing so hard, I started coughing.

You know, those types of coughs where it really hurts and your eyes start watering…

 

Writers: How do you write? Do you set up a soundtrack or write in silence? Where do you get your inspiration? 

 

Let your novel consume you

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So you want to write a book, but what is holding you back?

It’s going to suck.

I don’t have the time to write it.

It’s going to suck.

No one cares what I have to say.

It’s going to suck. 

 

Truth is, these thoughts will constantly be on your mind. Books only get written when you ignore all that mental chatter and fear.

So what else will get you through it?

Booze. Just like all those other gin-soaked “classic” authors.

Kidding. (Am I?)

Anyway, it is how you tell the story. Think about something you enjoy doing. Or someone. Or someone you enjoy doing.  (giggle)

It’s all how you see and describe things.

Take some time to free write. Describe what you see around you. Go to a cafe and people watch. Be as descriptive as possible. As you work on your writing, think about your story line. Do you feel as though you have something to share? Have a compelling plot in mind?

Even if you claim to not have the time, try to devote 15-30 minutes free writing or planning your idea.

If you come up with something, eventually your idea will consumer you and the time to write will just appear. The more motivated you are, the more you will find your self accessible to work on your new craft, because the only thing that is going to suck is keeping that idea to yourself.

“Love what you do and do what you love. Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. Imagination should be the center of your life.”

-Ray Bradbury

Photo: We Heart It

Writing as therapy for the jaded

I have mentioned lately that the urge to write is coming to a head again. Bubbling, boiling and flowing over the edges into a mass of sticky, starchy goo spreading all over, only to dry into a matte, crusty stain that needs elbow grease to remove.

There are two ideas that have been tossed around in my head and I have finally chosen the one that I’m going to move forward with. I tend to write about what I’m feeling at the moment and this one is the one which will conjure emotion and past memories to ensure full authenticity. I normally don’t write autobiographically, but this one needs to be written. Of course, I’m being vague here, but I am not writing about a single character–I’m writing about nine. Nine mutual friends who are thrown face-first into a quarter life crisis. They deal with heartache, heartbreak, job hate, job confusion, moving in and moving out. Some may use alcohol, drugs or sex to cope….some may be I denial.

Why write this? As I live out the last years of my 20’s, I have experienced the quarter life crisis phenomenon that I feel needs to be more than an article in Psychology Today. Since it is a rarely covered topic in the field of psychology (being that we are in denial and shamed of therapy), it should be recognized to show that the depression and jaded thoughts come with a college degree for some. Sure, there is the mid-life crisis signified by the stereotypical sports car and young lady in tow. The quarter life is all about that in-between and with today’s economy, most young adults don’t end up with a career they planned for in college. Hello, tailspin into despair!

So so so, I’m writing “1/4” for us jaded folks. I feel I’m not out from the tunnel yet, even though I finally published a book and started a business. There are other outlets that are not fulfilled yet.

So until the eyes burn, or the sun rises, telling me I have to start the oven, I’m commencing the start of this next book. Writing is therapy for the jaded…myself.

out of chaos, comes order

I am finally getting over the busy bee hump and organizing time between business and writing. As of today, the bakery had opened its doors, and we made our sales for the day. Pretty damn good-especially when we don’t have building signage yet.

It is not poor planning, not the least on my part. I’ve been aiming to open and with so many setbacks and wondering where on the priority list is my paperwork, I finally received the “A-OK” to open all within a day. The excitement filled, baked a whole bunch of sweets and unlocked the door.

I know after our grand opening hoopla next month, the exposure may increase, but I finally feel I have a schedule that may actually permit an increase in writing. I have some interviews coming up soon on some blogs, as do I have some content to post from my friends who offered to help celebrate the book release.

It does feel nice to have some sort of structure that can allow my interests to come through. I’m slowly promoting Flour City Blues, and I’m always down for an interview, guest post or offer content for a review.

There are a couple outlines that are waiting patiently for me to start looking over and develop into the next book–or books–to be written. I am moving past the YA for now and focusing on NA, New Adult with these next projects. I tend to write within the realm of my mental state and how I feel at the time. These stories are arriving while I’m at the cusp of a “depressing quarter life crisis” and “finally getting my shit together.”

 

I’m definitely pleased to reaching the point of “finally getting my shit together.”

 

 

 

 

Writing about and for teens? What’s the deal anyway?

This summer marks the fifth year since I conceived the idea of Flour City Blues. I had many ideas before, but they just did not stick or make it past a first typed page. As the idea grew and expanded, more and more I knew that this was the story I was going to write.

Why young adult fiction? Or to narrow it down, why a novel about teenagers….aren’t you an adult?

Well, of course, but I also lived my teen years, and I have a fondness for the age group as there are many changes going on emotionally, physically and mentally. It seems that with the brink of adulthood on the horizon, there is a great social quality to the teenager…intense, strong friendships and relationships. This is different from any college or work scenario, because we face thirteen years together with most of the same people. We see these people through the good and bad choices they make which affects our choices and personalities as we prepare for the next step of college, employment or the service.

Now, I have grown up with the great “teen” shows of my day, and have now seen the evolution of teenage culture advance from my heyday. Technology, bullying, young parenthood are an increased happening today that test the emotional strength of the teenager. When writing my book, I wanted to stay away from that. It takes place in the present day, but wanted to keep the rebel-rousing teenage hijinks in there that I see missing today. Gone are the video games, online chats and social networking. Here, are the garage band practices, weekend parties, and hanging out. In retrospect, this was my teenage years, just ending shy of a decade ago. There was something amazing-the feeling you got when knowing there was a good show over the weekend in someone’s basement or all-ages afternoon show at a club. Once A dreaded Monday rolled around, there was a memory of a great weekend that would help you cruise into the next. I lived for live music, and this took place as a regular occurrence during my junior and senior years, and continued through college.

Now, my writing also would not have happened if it were not for the sparkly-filled pages of Francesca Lia Block’s novels. I fell in love with Weetzie Bat. Dreamed that I wish I could have her wardrobe, but wore my boots, dark jeans, kooky hair accessories and black hoodies like the thick-blooded East Coaster I am. Weetzie went to gigs, caroused the streets of LA and found love in a Secret Agent Lover Man. I snarled, scowled, drank St Ides Special Brew out of a paper bag at house gigs and haunted the dark city streets of Rochester. Block’s characters felt love and pain in a way that I wanted to pull into my writing. She happens to do it in such a magical way. I used her books as models, helping me find a voice, which I discovered is actually snarky, full of scarcasm, wit and littered with popular culture references.

🙂

-L