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Hive Mind: Young Writers Ask Questions About Creating Stories

Figure 1. Pablo prefers an audio book over the e-Reader.

Figure 1. Professor Pablo Will Answer Your Writing Questions Now

 

Today I taught a short class for teenagers at The Loft on solving problems in fiction. Not shockingly, we didn’t get to all the questions posed by the students, so I’m going to list them here in case yall want to take a crack at them in the comments. Also, I’ve got a couple of writing prompts, a list of books we talked about and some helpful places to go for good character names.

Books Referenced

Confessions of a Sociopath by M.E. Thomas
Under the Wolf, Under the Dog by Adam Rapp
The Story of Owen by EK Johnston
The Dark Portal by Robin Jarvis
A Great & Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
On Writing by Stephen King
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Doll People by Ann Martin
The Ascendants trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen
The Modern Faerie Tales series by Holly Black

Writing Prompts For Exploring Your Own Story

Excerpt from p. 312-318 of 1975 Pocket Books edition of ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. Read excerpt, then write a similar version using the setting of your story.

More exploratory sentence openers:

SETTING:  In (name of place), there are many secrets. One of them is…

CHARACTER: What (character) knows that (another character) does not know is…

PLOT: Something that is going to happen soon in the story is ____________, which will affect characters in following ways….

Character Name Resources

Seventh Sanctum Character Name Generator
Popular Names by Year via Social Security Administration
BabyNames.com
Surnames & Meanings

Class Questions

  1. How can I learn to write characters that are much different than me?
  2. How do I make sure all my characters have different personalities (all their personalities are blending together)?
  3. Where do I find helpful research on Russian contract killers from the Cold War?
  4. Should my protagonist be a psychopath/sociopath to start with (and he’s just hiding it) or should he slowly be convinced that this is what he is by the contract killers he meets?
  5. How do I rewrite something to revolve around a different character (without doing a big plot change)?
  6. How do I make a plot out of nothing but scene fragments?
  7. Can relationships between characters move a story forward?
  8. I’m really into one character’s head but everybody else falls short. How can I get into the other characters’ heads a bit better so I can accurately show their actions and desires while still keeping one foot planted in the first characters head?
  9. I don’t know what my villain wants. How can I find out what he wants? Also name suggestions would be nice…;)
  10. How can you improve describing a process better e.g. characters cross a long rickety rope bridge over a steep chasm?
  11. How does my main character react to the sudden change in environment from the mundane world to a magical world? I want it to be unique or at least not another knock-down, drag-out slushy mess: ‘I must be dreaming/hallucinating/losing my mind!’
  12. My main character has the ability to notice details – constantly. There is no on-off switch. It begins when she gets to the magical world and I’m not sure how to present the overwhelmingness of that. How would it feel to constantly notice everything? How would someone react to that?
  13. How do you publish a book?

 

 

2 Comments

  • Carrie Mesrobian on Mar 22, 2015 Reply

    Hi Lydia! I’m glad the class helped!

    Now I’m back to figuring out how to learn about Russian assassins without going into the Dark Internet…

  • Lydia on Mar 22, 2015 Reply

    Thanks for the great class, Carrie. 🙂 A couple of the things you said kick-started me and I’m back writing full-time again. I’m going to finish this first draft, even if it kills me. 😉

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