Exciting Yourself

I don’t know whether I’ve posted on this before, but I don’t mind posting on it again– it’s just as relevant now as previously.  I have found that when I’m excited about something, I do it much more efficiently and quickly than when I’m bored.

Obviously, this applies to just about everything one does, but I’ll just talk about writing for now.

For some odd reason, a few days ago, I was having a little trouble writing a few scenes of the Phil Phorce.  They were going slowly and I found myself getting easily distracted by piddling things like, you know, chores and silly TV shows.  It wasn’t that I wanted to do those other things– I just wasn’t interested in the scene I was supposed to be writing.

It’s obvious what comes next.  The only solution to this problem is to get interested.

But how?

My constant fallback is humor.  Humor interests me.  Therefore, to make a scene interesting to me, I just have to make it funny.

What if the scene only works if humor is kept low?  I’m stuck.

But there are more ways to get excited about a scene than just humor.  What about chilling revelations?  A new character?  Explosions?  (My personal favorite these days.)

Seeing another story done well is a perfect incentive to write well yourself.  It gets you excited about what a story can be, and why you’re writing in the first place.  Tiny things in a good story spark exciting ideas for your own story.  You see an emotional character arc and say to yourself, “I want an emotional character arc.”  Is it copying?  No, not necessarily.  It’s your character, remember– it’s your character arc.  They might begin the story flawed and finish the story fixed, but that happens with every good story, and it’s not copying.

There are different things that shock you and excite you about new, interesting stories.  There are the characters, the world, and the emotions.  The trick is to get just as excited writing about these things as reading about them.  I adore a complex plot that makes no sense until the big reveal right at the end– capers especially, like Ocean’s Eleven or Mistborn.  So what must I do to write such a story?  I have to get excited about keeping information from the readers and the characters.  I have to be like a parasite, feeding off of the confusion caused by my secrecy.  Even though I’m not getting current feedback, I have to live on the memories of my own confusion, and the twisted pleasure of giving that to someone else.

That’s fun.

Then there are characters.  I love it when a character worms its way into my heart, then dies.  I love happy endings too, but the knowledge that I’ve been manipulated skilfully and I don’t even care– that gets me more than anything.  So if I want to get excited about a beloved character’s death, I have to enjoy the manipulation, enjoy leading the reader in one direction, then kicking them in the other.

I’ve never truly posted on manipulation, but it’s one of the best things about human society.

I’ve posted several times about how much I love plot twists in books.  However, I never really knew how fun it could be to absolutely destroy a character’s life until people began reading the Phil Phorce.  When people yell at me to hurry up and post the next section because they absolutely cannot wait, I know I’m doing it right.

So sometimes, even though you’re concentrating hard on getting the style right, getting past your wordcount goal for the day, or just getting through the main character’s dinner, you have to put your mind to something else, something that excites you in this scene.  Because if that dinner was the platform for a giant argument between the main character and his sidekick, it’s definitely worth it to be excited about the argument rather than the silverware.

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187 Comments

  1. magicandwriting583

     /  June 13, 2013

    Aww, but silverware is so….so…..shiny!

    This post came at perfect timing. (Which, for some reason, seems to be happening a lot.) I agree, to some extent, about the manipulation. It is part of what makes writing so much fun—manipulating both the reader and the characters. I don’t always like it when I’m manipulated, though. That is, I appreciate it as a writer and hate it as a reader.

    Reply
    • I love it as a reader. It isn’t often that I, with my superior intellect, am ever tricked– so when someone manages to do so, I acknowledge their victory and kill them.

      Just kidding. I still like being manipulated, though.

      Reply
      • magicandwriting583

         /  June 13, 2013

        Haha. Well, I can’t say anything like that. If the author wants me to be tricked, usually I am. Sometimes I can pick up on it beforehand, but not always.

      • It’s hard sometimes when you don’t have the outline sitting in front of you.

      • magicandwriting583

         /  June 13, 2013

        Exactly. Or if you don’t read minds.

  2. Robyn Hoode

     /  June 13, 2013

    Liam, don’t you dare kill off Quirk.

    Good post. I need to try this… getting excited, I mean. Not manipulation… yet.

    Reply
    • I knowwwwwwww. If you kill Quirk, Liam…

      And manipulation? Liam can do it. I know he can. I’m learning. Not good at it yet though. In stories or life.

      Reply
      • I kind of want him to kill off Quirk, just to read the angry comments.

      • Who said I was going to kill off Quirk? I never said anything about killing people. Well… perhaps I did. But it was just an example.

      • You’re awful, too. Congratulations.

        …Don’t tell Quirk I’d actually be bothered if Liam killed him.

      • The thing is, I thought I made Quirk seem like a jerk. I’ve done character development to Percival and the other Phils, but never Quirk.

      • You did. But I’ve talked to him. He’s not that much of a jerk. He just acts like it. Besides, it’s got to be rather horrid to be hated by everyone. And traumatizing to suddenly be Head Phil.

      • We’ll see in Episode Five.

      • Oh dear.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  June 13, 2013

        You didn’t do character development with Quirk, but you did it with the others? Do you and I have different definitions of character development?

        When you were talking about Phil Phorce and then how you like when you come to love a character and then the author kills him… don’t kill Quirk. Please. Take any of the other Phils, but not Quirk!

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  June 13, 2013

        You created a likable jerk, Liam. He started out terrible. One chance for Quirk, Vice Phil to show his quality and he proved to be noble. Now, he’s still conceited and cocky, but we like him. Maybe it’s like Iron Man. He’s conceited and cocky, but he does the right thing.

      • YES. I have succeeded! You’re going to like the ending of Ep. 5.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  June 13, 2013

        Excellent!!! Not only have you succeeded, but I will like the ending!!! Huzzah! Drinks all around! What drink can I get you, Head Phil?
        FYI, I haven’t yet seen any of the Iron Man movies. But I’ve seen The Avengers.

      • Aha… I’ve seen all the later Marvel movies (Iron Man and on) except for Hulk’s installments. I hear they weren’t that great.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  June 13, 2013

        I’ve only seen The Avengers, but now my dad owns the 2 Iron Man movies and I want to watch Thor which is on Netflix.

      • Thor is okay. Better if you know what the Yggdrasill is and can geek out at the appropriate moments. I think the Iron Man movies were much better than any of the others, though Captain America was okay.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  June 13, 2013

        Ah! It’s in the Norse mythology book we’ve got. Excellent. I’ll be reading that book.
        I’ve been told the Iron Man movies were really good. I just need to get the Blu-Ray player to myself or me and whatever siblings are allowed and want to join me.

      • They weren’t really good, but they were better than the rest. Captain America especially seemed like every shot was taken straight from a comic book, and the punches should have been accompanied by colorful “Bang, Pow, Wallop!” signs. Iron Man, though it came from the same place, was different.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  June 13, 2013

        I can live without seeing Captain America. But I like Iron Man as a character and Thor… he’s not a superhero, he’s a fantasy.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  June 13, 2013

        Okay, that wasn’t the best way to put that. What I mean is that Thor seems less of a superhero story and more of a fantasy story to me.

      • And it is, unfortunately. It’s full of all the tropes you never see in a decent film.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  June 13, 2013

        What do you mean?

      • I shall reserve my rant until you have seen the movie.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  June 14, 2013

        I’ll come back for that rant after I’ve watched it.

      • Exactly!

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  June 13, 2013

        What I’m saying is that I don’t see character development in most of the Phils. Quirk seems developed to me. Sam is a bad ping pong ball, and Percival is more willing to get along with Quirk. Other than that… care to enlighten me?

      • As I said a while back, in my post about plotting your character development, the main character of Ep. 4 was Percival, and he developed. Quirk did not. Quirk never has. He’s been annoying as long as he’s been alive. But in this one, he gets developed a little bit.

        I wasn’t talking specifically when I spoke about killing characters.

  3. Ooooh wow. Manipulation? Confusion? Liam…you’re awful.

    …….Okay, but still awesome. Enjoyed the post as always.

    Reply
  4. Well said, Liam – and I’m glad you share my penchant for explosions. And emotional manipulation by death of beloved character, but we knew that already.

    Feeling inspired and excited about a project is SO important. Rather tragic that the initial impulse of euphoria at starting it can often be so short-lived. Keeping that enthusiasm going is hard, but essential, a mon avis.

    Reply
    • The thing about the beginning excitement, as you said, and even the excitement that comes from recently reading/watching another great story– they’re both short-lived. Sometimes you can do better with the manipulation thingy and suspense, but usually you have to get excited again for every scene.

      Reply
      • Yes, I agree – and that can be hard. The nasty slower scenes between the fun ones are never great, and they’re also often harder to write. That said, if you can keep yourself happy by thinking up interesting things – jokes to put in, plot twists to work with, foreshadowing, all that – it can actually be quite good fun, if not as euphoric as the initial kick.

      • Indeed. I find foreshadowing difficult, mostly because I’m not excited about it– I want everything to happen, instead of just showing that it might happen.

      • I LOVE foreshadowing. I feel so clever when I slip it in and imagine the screeching of future readers when they put two and two together.

      • I never get that thrill. I love putting it together, but never setting things up.

      • Ehehe, I’m a list-maker and planner. I love it. Setting it all up and going “ooooh, this is going to be SO MUCH FUN to set off in their faces, mwua ha ha ha ha ha ha!” is one of the best things in life. Right after killing things unexpectedly to make people screech.

      • Ah, yes. It’s so hard to compare the two, isn’t it?

      • Yes, it is, somewhat.

      • I mess up foreshadowing far too often. Either I’ll decide to add it in and forget about it, or I’ll add something that really needed foreshadowing and never actually foreshadow it. It is so fun when it actually works, though.

      • Congratulations! You are the winning author of the 15,000th comment! Please choose one of the following awards:
        1) A guest post
        2) Certain death
        3) Honorable mention
        Choose your choice. If you decide to do a guest post, please NaNoMail me on the adult NaNoWriMo site at dragonfirehurts.

      • I think I’ll go with certain death.

        Kidding.

      • Well, you’ve got that anyway, MORTAL.

      • Is that supposed to be an insult?

      • I wouldn’t go with certain death with Liam being executioner…

        Congratulations, Amanda.

      • I should not have made that joke.

        Thanks. 🙂

      • Excellent.

  5. Because I’m too lazy to join that comment chain above and put my input there, I decided to add my two cents down here. Huzzah.

    First of all, don’t you DARE kill of Quirk.

    Second of all, I see the furry rodents weren’t helping your motivation. Apologies. Here, have this free quokka for your trouble.

    Third of all, getting excited for a story is definitely essential. If you don’t get pumped about what you’re writing, it will show. There will be a strange little aura of boredom hovering over the story. I definitely had that trouble last year, and as a result, my writing suffered. But when one is excited about the story, the writing just seems to flow from my brain to the page, which is an awesome feeling.

    I often do the same as you when I’m bored, thinking about what would excite me about the story. Thinking that way was how I decided to kill off a character. Morbid, yes, but it works.

    Reply
  6. Yet another creepily timed post, Liam. I was just thinking about something similar to this a couple days ago when I was editing and just wasn’t into it.

    Great post. And I really like your simple message: Find something in the scene to be excited about. I can do that. Will have to remember this for my next edit session.

    And yes, character/reader manipulation is quite fun. My sister thinks I’m crazy, but I kinda like that rip-your-heart-out feeling during a good plot twist. As long as things get resolved nicely. But as you know, I like happy endings.

    Reply
  7. I have a question for you. I am going to read a chapter book aloud to some of my siblings. Their ages range from 6-12. I have three books in mind– The Hobbit, Redwall, or The Ruins of Gorlan. They have agreed to go with what ever I pick. Which one should I read them?

    Reply
  8. Liam, are you a villain? Just give me a straight answer.

    Reply
  9. Over 1000 followers! Congratulations!

    Reply
  10. Wow, this came at just the right time. (Have you been in my mind? GET OUT! …Er, please.) I’ve really been struggling with writing my novel, but now I’m just going to tackle it and type furiously away at the keyboard. Actually, the Go Teen Writers Word War has really been helping me – I managed 800 words in the past two days, which is more than I’ve been writing in the past few weeks. So…yes! There is hope for me yet.

    As always, thanks for the post!

    Reply
    • I wrote myself into a difficulty– I don’t have anything to write for that word war. I finished the Phil Phorce a few days before it started, and suddenly I was out of ideas. Oops.

      Reply
      • Oh dear. Will you be doing Camp Nano in July? I just decided yesterday to have a go at it.

      • I will. I shall attempt to write episode six of the Phil Phorce, to get it done early so I have time to spare. The wordcount goal will be pretty small, however– 15,000 words or so. That’s the average between the five existing episodes.

      • My word count is going to be pretty small too, seeing as I’m going to be gone several days in July and won’t have a lot of time to write. Wish me luck that I do better than I did during Camp Nano in April…

      • Good luck! How did you do in April? Do you mind me asking?

      • Heh…I wrote like 500 words. Yeah…

      • Ouch. Well, all the words you saved that month can come back to your fingers this month. What are you writing?

      • Music’s Curse. I was originally going to work on Bound and Broken, but decided to just go with the first since it’s fresh in my mind.

      • Can you give me a pitch, or does that violate the rules of not writing any of the novel prior to NaNo?

      • Actually, I haven’t thought of a pitch for this book yet, though that might be a good thing to think about. Give me a couple hours to come up with something, and then I’ll give you the pitch.

      • Great. I wait.

      • Okay, so it wasn’t easy to summarize the story in as few words as possible, but I managed to write the pitch in under 30 words. Here it is:
        “Karina Indivrira will do anything to lift the fatal curse placed on her sister, even if it means teaming up with her enemy, the infamous Ghost of Music.”
        Not really sure if it’s a good pitch or not, seeing as I’ve never really written a pitch before. =/ Thoughts?

      • Um, I’m pretty sure the last name can stay off for now. Karina would be fine. Indivrira forces me to look at it for a few seconds and see if it’s pronounceable. In fact, you could leave out quite a few things like that. The Ghost of Music sounds odd compared to fatal curses and stuff. You could just leave it at “her enemy”. I dunno. It could be shorter, but I don’t know what you’re trying to accent here as most attractive features.

      • Thanks for the feedback. I honestly don’t really know what I’m trying to include in the pitch…I could go so many different ways. I’ll play around with it some more and see if I can come up with something I really like.

      • Cool. What things are you excited about writing?

      • Do you mean writing things in my story, or just writing in general?

      • In this story. Why are you excited about it?

      • Well, I’m super excited about the ending, especially since it involves the killing of characters. Also (I can’t believe I’m saying this) I’m interested to see where the romance goes. It needs to be there without being overpowering. I’ll need to find a nice balance between the romance and everything else.

      • So mention those things in the pitch. Not necessarily spoilers, but things that force those people to die.

      • I’ll play around with it a little more and see what happens.

      • Yay.

        I just noticed our new cabin. Excellent.

      • Excellent indeed.

      • Oh, and by the way, do you want to be cabin mates for Camp?

      • I’ve requested you as a cabin mate. Hopefully they’ll stick us in the same cabin.

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