Today I’m procrastinating. I’m finished the first draft of Ominous (Book 4 in my gods series), and I could edit, but who wants to edit? Not this girl. I could start something new or dive into a work in progress I set aside, but I just can’t decide. So, I said to myself, “Renee, you should write a blog post.” And here we are.
I write about a lot of stuff, but there are common elements in everything I write. For example, in all of my books, I try to add suspense and intrigue, because folks like that shit. I also include humor, and sex, no matter what genre I’m writing in. These elements aren’t always easy to weave into a plot, and you can’t use the same setup too many times or your readers will be all “Yawn. Seen this before.” To keep it new and exciting, I keep a bank of information… research, if you will. I keep these tidbits in files or notebooks, and use them often. Today, I’m sharing them with you, just in case you’re looking for inspiration for your own writer banks of weirdness.
The OHMYGODWHATWASITHINKING File
Self-explanatory? No? In this file are all the things I’ve written that I will never show another living soul. Not EVER. My first novel, for example, is in this file. It’s a massive pile of shit, but I can’t delete it. I worked so long and so hard on that book, I just can’t bring myself to obliterate it from this world, even if I know it shouldn’t be allowed to exist. I also saved some short stories and rambly little pieces I’m sure I wrote for one reason or another. They are all shockingly awful and/or strange. I think I keep it to remind myself of where I should NEVER go in my writing ever again.
The Murder File
On my computer, and on a handy little thumb drive I keep in a super safe place (so secret and safe even I can’t remember where it is sometimes), I have a murder file. To a stranger, this seems disturbing, but it’s innocent, I swear. Inside the file are various ways you might be able to kill someone without getting caught, as well as a few scenarios that ensure the murderer WILL get caught. I also have a few bios/articles on serial killers and psychological shit I find interesting. As I write a murder scene, I add some disturbing articles or scenarios to this file (and my browser history) such as “How long can you skin someone before they die?” This was important to a recent short story. I never actually tried to skin someone, partly because I’m not crazy, and partly because if I were a serial killer, I’m too damn lazy to use skinning as my signature move.
Anyway, the murder file is very useful, in terms of writing, of course.
The Color File
Writing setting is my kryptonite. I never include it in a first draft, and in the past, I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to show the reader what I’m seeing. It’s just… I don’t know. It’s hard, okay? A wise author once advised me to practice writing what I see, from the mundane to the awe-inspiring. Then he said to save these bits and pieces for later. So, over the years, I’ve collected paragraphs and full pages of this stuff. Some are on my computer, others are in various notebooks I’ve lost or stashed away. These include visual descriptions, sounds, scents, textures, and feelings experienced in different settings or situations. A sunset, of course, or a dark figure roaming the street at night, a particularly disgusting display of gluttony at a restaurant, intimate moments I’m not sharing with you all at the moment—all of these things are in my color file. It’s weird to the untrained eye, but a writer would see the value in it right away. When I’m having trouble setting a scene, I open one of my color files and read. Usually, the right words appear as I do so. And, since compiling this file, it’s become less difficult to write setting. Practice makes perfect and all that.
The Secret File
I could tell you what’s in this one, but then I’d have to consult The Murder File.
The Angry File
Yes, I have an angry file. In it are things that piss me off. Why? Because sometimes I need to be angry, and, though it’s rare, Facebook can’t light the fuse. So, I remind myself of events or things that irk me or send me into a violent rage. Once rage is established, I can write the angry scene. You doubt me, I can tell, but it works.
The Porn File
I write in more than one genre, but as I said, I like to include sex. I think sex reveals a lot about a person, (and not just the obvious), so I use my characters’ carnal quirks to deepen their relationship with the reader. This requires a bit of creativity, because readers get tired of the same stuff all the time (just like your wife does, boys). So I have a porn file. Okay, maybe it’s not entirely writing related, but let’s save that discussion for another day.
My porn file has its own thumb drive, since my kids use my laptop sometimes. I’m not sure why I’m more comfortable with them knowing how to commit the perfect crime than knowing how to safely achieve orgasm via auto-erotic asphyxiation, but I never said I was a perfect parent.
The Inspirational as Fuck File
Actually, this file is tagged as “ideas.” Boring, I know. All the ideas I’ve ever had for books, characters, and various other things are in this file. It also has retellings of actual events and conversations… because I use those sometimes. I try not to open it often, because I have too many works in progress, but I know it’s there, mocking me with the awesomeness I haven’t yet tried to write. I just keep telling myself I’ll get to them all someday.
The Character File
This is pretty simple. In this file are various documents that contain character profiles. They include characters I’ve used and characters I want to use. It also has a list of names… still working out what that one means.
When I opened my documents to see what kinds of files I have hidden away on this computer, I saw one labeled as “tools” and couldn’t recall what it might contain. Seriously, I don’t remember making this file, so I opened it. Well, folks, it’s got a lot of stuff. There are editing articles, writing articles, bits of software and such, links to things that might be helpful in a range of situations, and a blank folder. I opened the blank folder and found a list of actual tools. I’m talking murder tools, sex tools, regular fixing things tools, and hypothetical tools that, if ever invented, could cause some serious chaos. I’m not sure what the original purpose of this file was, but it’s useful… I think.
In addition to these surprisingly organized files, I have a lot of documents and shit floating around uncategorized. I’ll either forget about them, delete them, or give them a home at some point. Ideas don’t always just happen, and the right word, action or scene doesn’t magically appear when a writer needs it. Keeping a stash of helpful bits and pieces ensures that I never have to pause for too long when I’m working on something. I’m impatient, so this is good.
How about you? What interesting things do you use to help you create?