Author: Victoria Lynn Schmidt

Fallow Time

Many writers have commented on how they are having a tough time getting one page of writing done lately. They berate themselves with tons of ‘shoulds’ and ‘have tos’ all the while wondering if they really are a writer at all. What we all tend to forget, in any area of life, is that fallow (inactive) periods are a normal part of life. Everything has a natural energy cycle – spring, summer, fall, winter – so to speak, including writing or creativity. You need time each year, or maybe even each month depending on how demanding your other jobs may be, to clear room and make space for new projects or make space for new ideas on old projects.[more…] Fallow times provide this opportunity to clear out the old and make way for the new. Very often writers hang on with dear life to every idea they have ever had, filling the back of their minds with the clutter of many ‘have-to-writes’. Where does that leave the space for the muse to come in? There’s no room for inspiration. If you still have that idea from childhood to write a certain mystery, rolling around in your brain perhaps it is time to let it go? Or at least write it down and file it away in a separate box to get it out of your mind? The key to...

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Mystery

Growing up I was a huge fan of Agatha Christie and Nancy Drew novels. Solving a mystery always added an interactive element to reading these books that I really enjoyed. Lately many bestselling novels have elements of mystery within them regardless of genre. Mystery seems to really be selling again (not like it ever really stopped). Now as a writer I have gone back to the mystery story and started exploring it from a writer’s perspective. What I find interesting is that most books and classes on writing a mystery are all about murder. “First you must come up with a murderer and victim and then you can build the mystery around it…”[more…] Now this is certaintly true, as was the case for Agatha Christie novels, but what about Nancy Drew? She rarely (as far as I can remember) ever dealt with murder. Of course the audience for these novels were much younger but just because you are writing for adults does that mean you need to make your mystery about a murder? I think not – the new hit show LOST is an example of a new type of mystery for adults that does not directly deal with murder. Sure there may be a mysterious death or two but that is not the main thrust of the mystery. Instead there is a mysterious group of numbers that keeps...

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Writing Can Heal

What purpose can writers serve during times of disaster? It is true that stories can change the world. In fact some of the greatest writing came out of times filled with war and conflict. Writing not only can heal the writer as she expresses her inner feelings, despair and hopefully ‘hope’ but it can also heal the reader of such a piece as he identifies with what is written and knows he is not alone in his struggle. But if a writer gets overly emotional or antagonistic this connection can be hard to make.[more…] What makes great writing so transcendent? It is being objective while writing subjectively. Okay – what the heck does that mean! When a writer does not take a strong stance on one side or the other but can be somewhat objective about a disaster or situation, s/he is able to write in a universal way. Stepping back allows you to see a bigger picture and in some cases come up with a third option when everyone else only sees two opposing forces such as war is bad / war is good. It is moving beyond dualistic thinking. The next step is to get in touch with your emotions and opinions and see what it is you personally feel inside. Take the hurricane disaster – you could get swept up in all the blame going on...

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Slice of Life – Foreign Stories

For centuries now we have been told that one must have a clear cut beginning middle and end to a story and that to ignore basic Westernized structure (per Aristotle) is the kiss of death… But where does this leave non Westernized writers? Where does this leave other cultures who value different types of stories and expressions? I write about this briefly in my new book Story Structure Architect because while it is important to dissect plot structure from a mainstream perspective (as 90% of the book does) it can also be helpful to dissect plot from a purely creative analysis of what ‘story’ is. Yes a bestseller will have a very Westernized structure to it, but as far as craft is that all there is? With over 6 billion people on the planet I would hope there is lots of room for many types of stories![more…] Introducing the Slice of Life plot structure. This structure is defined as a momentary glimpse of reality, rather than a carefully composed, formal imitation of it. By its’’ very nature it rejects the traditional 3-act structure and is therefore more open to multi-cultural types of storytelling. Since the eighteenth century, the French have had what is called the Anti-novel, where novelists free fiction from the expectations of conventional ideas about plot and characterization. Slice of Life stories are very stream of consciousness....

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"Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after." Thoreau