Here is a worksheet I needed to write for myself this week! Often when you create an outline, you know what needs to happen when, but not necessarily how the action should unfold, or in what way you should relate it. This worksheet will help you brainstorm some ideas on how best to write a scene so that it fits in with the other scenes, and perhaps even helps you solve some peripheral problems. I’ve tried to ensure that the questions will prompt you to make your scene useful and powerful in developing the story and the character, so don’t skip any! :)
You can find a ZIP of all of the writing worksheets to date in the Coterie.
Last Sunday I attended a lecture by Margaret Boden. She spoke with great warmth, knowledge and clarity. Good communicators are rare even among eminent scholars and one can almost be forgiven for forgetting that academia is about disseminating knowledge, not just ego-edifices. Her talk was very similar to this one she gave in Oxford a couple of years ago. She considers creativity common to all humans, and divides it into two broad categories: individual (psychological) and historical, the former being an idea that is new to the person, and the latter an idea that is new in the history of humanity. These are further subdivided into: combinational creativity, explorational creativity, and transformational creativity – very useful categories for talking and thinking about a rather vague topic, in my opinion, especially if (like me) you worry about how worthwhile your artistic work is.
For the past few months I’ve been nibbling my way through Joseph Campbell’s Creative Mythology, too. Mine is a battered, chewed-up, dogged library copy, one of those books through whose cracked spines you can see the light. For Campbell (if I understand aright), mythology is an interface between the individual and society, and one he considers artists as particularly adept at manipulating. I love Campbell’s (& mythology’s) connectivity; a Derridaean, “yes!”
The weather has been cold, but still the trees are jousting in the wind, with branches of pink and white flowers. It is too early for any roses, of course, except those of supermarket discounts. At university, I knew a boy who went skipping, and he would bring me perfect bunches of roses and daffodils in beer bottles. Now that is a monthly box to which I would subscribe! Especially if it came with cards bearing notes from Victorian realists.
This 4-page worksheet will be most useful to science-fiction and fantasy writers, but even if you’re writing within the confines of “our” world, it’s worth giving geography some thought. Most of history and politics is influenced by people’s need to gather and guard the natural resources that they collect from the earth, and around which they build their settlements. The survival and success of all civilisations depends on the quality of their relationship with their landscape, and all of the building blocks of these civilisations – from the bricks that make up their dwellings to the pigment they mix into their ink – come from the earth. How is it in your world?
I have another worldbuilding worksheet for you! This one has two pages; the first will prompt you to detail all of the major turning points in your world’s history, and the second will question you closely about how your peoples record, study and interpret history. The nice thing about history is that it is, as the old saying goes, “just one thing after another.” You don’t have to plot it all out carefully, and you can refer to historical events in your writing as elliptically as you choose and still benefit from giving your world great depth. Try it!
With apologies to those who are not in my “tribe”, I must make this a special gift for my Coterie and my Lady Writers. I love them very much and want to thank them for their support; I’m sure you understand. :) If you would like to join the Coterie and have access to the secret downloads & manuscripts, please enter your email address below and I’ll send you the passcode.
I know most of us are unlikely ever to write an epic, an elegy or an idyll, so I took the liberty of re-assigning the muses to modern genres. You can commune with the muse of the genre you’re working in, or draw on the strengths of any muse you choose.
It’s In the Cards
Here is the part that I’m most excited about! At the end of the ebook you will find several sheets of muse cards to print, with beautiful paintings by Giuseppe Fagnani on one side and a quick reference on the reverse. The ebook has a list of writerly games you can play with your muse cards. You can also simply prop them up on your laptop or tuck them into your notebook to commune with the muses as you write.
If you’re not already in my Coterie, membership is free and you will have access to the library of downloads and manuscripts that I circulate among my friends! Enter your email address below & I’ll send you the passcode.
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