Bullet Journaling: The Cure for the Disorganized Writer’s Brain by Kate DeHart

Over most of my writing career, I have this frustrating scenario that repeats itself. I’m either driving, in the shower, or in the dark just about to fall asleep. This happens during the silent times, when not much else can distract me. Of course, it’s also when I have zero easy access to pen, paper, a napkin, or a computer. It’s when my story creating brain goes on overdrive, and the best of my best comes out. And then, I race in my head to memorize as much as I can until I can get to something to record it on.

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Looking for Time by Kate DeHart

For the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about all the topics I might write about in my upcoming blog spot. I thought about blogging about a couple of the books I recently read. One of them was Hooked, by Les Egderton(which was excellent, by the way) and his take on story beginnings. Then I considered discussing the book Story Engineering, by Larry Brooks and his ideas about the structure of a novel. All of that fell apart though, when after an already stressful couple of weeks, I heard about the tragedy in Florida on Sunday. Continue reading

Beyond the Page-First Steps to a Great Cover by Kate DeHart

Before getting more serious about my writing, I’d never put much thought into book cover design. Of course there were covers that caught my eye, but I never dug much deeper into why that was true.

As I got further into my first novel, I began to think about what kinds of things I wanted on my own cover. I started on a design with the help of a friend, and actually ended up really happy with it. The cover got great feedback from those I showed it to.

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I Did it! Overcoming Step One in my Battle Against the Fear of Failure by Kate DeHart

The summer I was ten, my mom handed me a towering stack of young adult books she bought at a yard sale. Judy Blume anyone? That summer I read so many books, by the end of the stack, my parents were begging me to go outside and close the page. This started a long battle of people telling me that I was spending too much time on things that made my heart soar.

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Just Write Isn’t Always Just Right by Kate DeHart

Most writing advice sources will tell you to “just write”. Well, that advice has turned out not to be just right for me.

Even writing not to “just write” seems controversial. So I figure I better explain myself and my process of getting words on the page. Continue reading

Writing is a Green-Eyed Monster When Faced Against My Life by Kate DeHart

Last night my husband spent the night at the ER for pain that ended up being kidney stones. Ouch! What does this have to do with writing you ask? Bear with me, because this might be a windy explanation.

Many years ago, I was a young girl that liked stories. Somewhere on that journey, I got the message, my imagination was a waste of time. Spending time living in other worlds wasn’t  worthy, and at some point my passion for exploring my interests got snuffed out. So I got on with all the things a normal teenager does. Dragging myself to school, reading what I was told to, and other high-schooly things. Continue reading

Oh the Places Characters Go! (With Me) by Kate DeHart

Writers are a strange bunch. Everyone knows this. And if you are a writer yourself, you probably agree.

I mean, I’ve actually done internet searches on “exploding smoke bombs” and “how to disarm a gun from an assailant”. Along with “smoke traps for burglars that collect DNA”(so cool!) and “mind-altering medications that  increase sexual desire”(don’t ask). And that’s all for one story! Continue reading

Favorite Couple Types (And Why I’m Not a Conventional “Romantic”)

When I first heard my next blog day was Valentine’s Day, I have to admit I panicked a bit. I mean, most of the women on this blog are romance writers. And, I’m… not that romantic. Gasp! Shock! <covers head in paper bag> In fact, my husband and I stopped celebrating the day many years ago. Not because we don’t love and cherish each other, but because the mushy stuff usually gives us the giggles, and then we go back to our comfortable, happy stand-by’s.

 

Maybe I’m being too hard on myself. I’m romantic, just not so touched by the standard, check-box, normal things that are considered so. But I love love. Thoughtfulness, connection, and reading about the unique couples from different walks of life. Those that know me best, know I can get rather obsessed with a good love story. So when I thought about what I could possibly write about that has to do with Valentine’s Day? Favorite types of story couples is what this had to be about.

 

  1. The Hero and the Sweetheart

When I think about the most popular love story couples, I can’t leave out the strong man that will go to any lengths to rescue the pure woman. He’s doesn’t let fear, dangerous obstacles, or odds stand in his way. The only thing that stops this man is love. His female counterpart is deserving and needs help. She’s needs loyalty, and someone she can trust. She offers vulnerability and a place to call home. And in the end, she will bring him to his knees.

 

  1. The Bad Boy that needs reformed by the Good Woman

In real life, I’m not necessarily one for bad boys. But the misunderstood guys from the wrong side of the tracks in fiction totally gets me. He needs stability. He needs persistence. He needs someone to knock him out when he’s being a pain in the you know where. Maybe she’s damaged with daddy issues and that’s the draw. Maybe she’s never met anyone like him before. Or maybe she just sees a side of him that no one else has stopped to look at. Either way, with the two of them together, they both get a taste of what the other side looks like. And both (in fiction at least) are usually better for it.

 

  1. The Evil boy meets the Evil Girl?

This kind always gets my blood going. They’re fire and fire. A battle of wits and tension. They’re that scintillating kinship going blow for blow with their partner. Usually sparks fly, until they ignite together and set their passions ablaze. Maybe that’s cheesy. But they’re so much fun. And sexy to watch when it all comes together. In a strange way, this couple gets each other– maybe even more than all the others. Because unlike the nice guys that connect, they are usually scared and lonely people behind that mask of protection.

 

  1. The Nice guy and the Bad Girl

This is another favorite of mine. Even though I wasn’t a “Bad Girl” (most of the time), I had a rough life. These girls usually do too. They don’t get any breaks. What’s handed to them makes succeeding feel impossible. Until something good, in the way of a sweet, possibly nerdy guy comes along. He’s not over the top heroic usually. But he sees the part of her others have been missing all her life. Maybe he’s had too much normal in his life and she’s that fire he’s been looking for. She finds comfort and strength in his stability. These two give each other something special. An appreciation for how rare the other is.

 

  1. Best Friends Turned Lovers

Could there be anything cuter(and more sappy) than two people who are inseparable turning to each other and becoming sweethearts? Maybe I’m just a sap because I had a lot of male friends in junior high and high school, but this is usually a way to make me aw and sigh. They know each other better than anyone. And maybe there’s been a tension there the whole time, and they both ignored it, not wanting to take that risk. Until one night, when their guards come down, and they crash into each other in an explosion of lust. It’s the  love and respect that’s there before things even start. The certainty, yet tentative approach that has always gotten me right in the heart.

 

  1. The Best Friend’s(or Boyfriend’s-eek!) Best Friend

So, you’re going along reading a book or watching a movie and one of the leads(usually a female) is with someone who on the surface seems right at the time. And then that second person has a best friend. He’s either seems totally perfect, or so wrong they make sparks. Now depending on the circumstances, he’s either so good for her that you know right away they belong together. Or so many sparks fly, that the way he challenges her is exactly what she needs. I can think of at least a half dozen of these couples and every time I fall in love with it again. The conflict is the friend, but that resolution when done right make for an explosive ending..

 

  1. Two Perfect Sweethearts

These two can be a challenge. If not carefully written they can be nauseatingly sweet. Kind of like that icky romance stuff I was talking about. Why? Because they’re so perfect it makes you want to vomit.  Like too much candy. But, they also can show what to strive for. Trust. Faithfulness. Respect. They care about each other and the people around them. Many may assume their past is perfect too, but it isn’t always. Sometimes there’s a long road that’s caused them pain so unbearable the only thing that got them through is hope. So they create beauty. They need and deserve that happy ending more than anyone else.

 

Those are just a few I thought of, and there are many more. Of course, what’s equally fun(and sometimes more) is when the traditional roles like above are reversed. It puts an exciting spin on what we’ve grown to love. Maybe they’re a combination of two or more types. Maybe they’re same-sex or even polyamorous.


What about you? Do you have another favorite type? Why do you feel drawn to it? And what type of couple are you and your love?

Woven Into Knots

Earlier this year, one of my favorite places on the internet, TWOP (TelevisionWithoutPity) was shut down. Thousands of pages of forum posts that meticulously snarked and broke down hundreds of television series were suddenly gone from the internet. I don’t want to admit can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent after watching a series, then reading and responding in discussion about things I loved and things I didn’t.

I was crushed. I’d learned so much reading those threads, and would miss it every time I discovered a new-loved series.

One of the most interesting things I took from my years on that board(mostly reading and lurking) was how many different ideas people had about how a story could go.

As a writer myself, I’m often seeing how true that is, and how even the tiniest decisions are tied to a thread that weaves through a carefully interwoven plot.

One huge plot point in the current story I’m writing has haunted me in this way. In my first outlines, I had two characters come together. I planned out how it would affect them emotionally, but after comments from a friend, I realized how I hadn’t explored in-depth how it would affect their relationships with the people around them. All of a sudden, I realized that some of the those changes would permanently shift the relationships of multiple characters in my story in a way I wasn’t sure I wanted.

It felt uncomfortable to me, and while it could have been interesting, I realized that it would have put a dark cloud over the entire rest of the series. I already have a fairly complex and dark story, and didn’t want it to become so depressing there was no lightness or hope in the read. So, I did what any author does, and adjusted the story to scale back the scene. And then, like the insanity that writing brings, I kept re-adjusting, and then re-adjusting again. With each of those tweaks, I pulled a different string that had links in different parts of the story.

During this and a few other changes, I realized that the thread pulling wasn’t linear, and my woven piece was more like an intricate knot. If I pulled, other things tightened around the piece and shifted everything else. So those adjustments needed to be thoughtful, and I always had a fallout to the decision.

In trying to come to any decision about my story, I’m noticing a trend where I feel frozen and unable to move forward. My most recent bout of this is actually not about the above mentioned plot conundrum, but was about a simpler one, that still weighed heavy on me. My solution is to usually do what others call procrastinating, but I like to call stepping away to gain perspective. So, I Netflix and Prime any free-time away and then catch up on the gossip on message boards. Doesn’t that sound productive?

Anyway, while re-watching one of my favorite shows(Veronica Mars in case you’re interested), I stumbled across another snarky but deeply thoughtful message board with a thread about the show. I wasted explored some time there, and was engrossed in reading their early theories of what direction the show could/should/would go in. There were so many different, yet interesting ideas that I again was instantly fascinated with the fallout that each suggestion created. Out of every five or so theories that were thrown around, at least three usually seemed enjoyable and even plausible.

I was  slapped in the face with the notion that there wasn’t a ‘right’ way to tell the story. Just equally different ways. That could easily apply to my own writing as well. My constant fear of course is then making a decision that leads me into a corner, or into a place that’s not relatable to many. That’s part of the adventure in the process though I guess, and one I should embrace because it’s what makes each story unique.

I’m still unsure exactly how far I’ll take the characters at that point in the book. I like the messiness of it, the realness of something coming together that probably shouldn’t but does because the stakes are high. Playing and bouncing it around in my brain will get me to the final decision. And whatever place I decide to go, it will be the direction that feels most intuitive for me in a sea of many I could take. There’s something so lovely about that, and it’s probably what draws me to writing in the first place. It’s like life. There’s no right answer, just a world full of options that lead us to interesting twists we have to figure out.

Inspiration From the Most Unusual Places

The first time I remember being inspired for a story I was eight years old. An episode of “Family Ties” had left me completely crushed and begging that the story couldn’t end that way. Ellen Reed had agreed to marry her boyfriend, leaving Alex P. Keaton full of despair. Why an eight year old was so tore up about a sitcom romance, I have no idea. Maybe I’ve always been a romantic?

The experience filled me full of questions about how the writers could do that to poor Alex. What was going to happen? Would she still be on the show? It just couldn’t end that way. So, that night I remember “righting” the wrongs of his heart. I did the same a season later after everything was fixed and she took an opportunity and went to dance in Paris.

From that point on, inspiration seemed to come from everywhere. I created these characters that still live with me today, in part from combining inspiration I’ve found through books, television, movies, music, art, games, and real life occurrences. My sister and I would even play out some of the scenarios with our Barbie dolls and small toys. I remember my characters being trapped on a camping trip and spending a couple of hours making a rubber band chain that could stretch across our room for them to travel across to safety. My mother wasn’t always thrilled with the mess we created but our minds were rich with creativity and innovation as we played out our tales.

As I grew older, I often processed my emotions through story. My characters would face a similar feeling in a personally created scenario, and they would work through it with me. It’s often in a much more interesting way with many more obstacles and resources. It was a way to refocus and helped get me through my emotional teen years.

Adulthood has been interesting. Daydreaming is kind of an odd thing to do once you’re past the age of fourteen. I remember many times watching out the car window on a road-trip and my mind wandering to characters with a more exciting reason for exploring the destination. Other people’s lives lived in my head, and that’s kind of tricky to explain. An odd gas station trip, a favorite scene in media somewhere, or a random song would keep them going and they would expand as my experiences did.

Now, I call that wandering mind of mine writing. It sounds much more official with a title, though I often find people curious about why I spend so many hours with it. It seems that if you’re not officially getting paid or it’s a true assignment, it’s frivolous. I have a feeling whimsical thought will be with me for the rest of my life. So whether it’s called childish, silly, daydreaming, pretending, playing, wasting time, or writing, it inspires me. As life does, from everywhere. Even in the most unusual places.