Creative Practice

Specifics about craft, talent, technique, etc.
liz
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Creative Practice

Postby liz » Sat Sep 19, 2015 2:15 pm

I sat in on a lecture earlier this year on 'creative practice.' In that context, this meant the particular set of approaches that a writer uses to open up their minds to new ideas, explore their voice, spark their creativity, and do creative research. Responding to writing prompts in order to get the juices going would be an example of the kind of thing they were talking about (I think, I had to leave early). Also any particular methods a writer might use to do hands-on research for a project, get in touch with setting, explore mood, etc.

I don't think I have very much creative practice of my own just now. When I write, I'm usually focused on a specific project with specific goals. When I research, I turn to google. However, I can't help but wonder what new ways of creating and writing might open up if I took more time to just open my mind and explore, and if research involved more than my laptop.

I sometimes grab an opportunity to write in nature, but that's about the extent of it. That and the occasional writing prompt I suppose.

I'm curious what other people do to get into that creative mental head space both in general and when working on a specific project. Prompts? Music? Interviews? Site visits? Temporary stints with the NYPD that end up going on for years?

Insight is appreciated wotf008

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disgruntledpeony
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Re: Creative Practice

Postby disgruntledpeony » Sat Sep 19, 2015 7:08 pm

The library proves helpful for me, sometimes. Visiting similar locations to places I'm trying to write about is helpful when possible. I love listening to music when I write but it has to be lyricless or it distracts from my process.

Hmmm... I'm sure there's more but I can't think of it right now.
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alpha
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Re: Creative Practice

Postby alpha » Sun Sep 20, 2015 4:33 am

Not exactly creative practice, but I will say nearly all of my good ideas come to me while I'm in the shower. I've determined it's because that's the only time during the day when my mind is relaxed and unoccupied, not working on or worrying over some urgent or important task.

So maybe the key is creating more relaxed, unoccupied downtime. Perhaps I need more boredom in my life?

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orbivillein
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Re: Creative Practice

Postby orbivillein » Sun Sep 20, 2015 7:09 am

My best creative practice is reading and meditation of what a story is really about -- stories I read and stories I write. A machine intelligence overlord dystopia is a superficial story without a human connection and lacks a focused argument about what the story is really about. The machine intelligence could represent faceless corporate capitalism. The human interest could be a socialist low-income underclass. The main character could be a charismatic and clumsy "profit" from a ghetto. The outcome could be an imposed capitalist-socialist alliance, partnership, or natural, mutual appreciation of the two opposition forces as part of the same paradigm, that empowerment is as much social responsibility as human right. That latter then could be what the dystopia is about. Such is my creative practice.

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MattDovey
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Re: Creative Practice

Postby MattDovey » Tue Sep 22, 2015 7:08 am

Driving to work.

Which is partly because it's such a familiar drive that I can do it on autopilot, and it leaves my brain free to wander, without me being able to read or watch or play or otherwise occupy my brain fully. It's great percolation time for ideas. But I think it's also partly because my brain knows I can't write any of those ideas down, so I have to chant them to myself for the rest of the journey home and hope I get a chance to scribble it down. My brain likes to mess with me like that.

As you'd expect, I have forgotten more ideas than I've had from my commute. But I have more ideas than I have time to write, so that's ok too.

That process needs fuel, though - coffee grinds to that act of percolation, if you will. For me, stories are born in the collision of ideas - two or three concepts coming together and synthesising into something new. So I read random articles on the internet, and watch random documentaries on the TV, and try and learn things outside my usual interests.

But cold, precise information isn't a story, it's only the collection of puzzle pieces that make up the jigsaw. The picture on the jigsaw is emotion, and that's what drives me to write a story, and that most often comes from a song. This song inspired two or three stories on its own, not in the sense of trying to rewrite the lyrics as a story, but in trying to capture the emotion of it in a story. Sometimes, as a writing exercise unto myself, I will try and work out how I'd turn a song into a story - so Mumford & Son's I Will Wait became a story of a wooden man carved into a tree, waiting for his lover.

In essence, I think it boils down to: be open to the world and get bored sometimes. I believe Neil Gaiman is on record as saying Twitter is the worst invention ever, because it stole away the moments of boredom his brain needed for ideas.

(Cor, that jigsaw puzzle analogy was a bit creaky, wasn't it? Not on my game today...)
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liz
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Re: Creative Practice

Postby liz » Sat Sep 26, 2015 7:37 am

Some great insights. Analyzing reading is a great idea, I haven't done it in awhile but I'm reading some pretty great stuff just now so I might start taking notes. It's interesting how often freeing the mind seems to play a role. Space for reflection, in the car, in the shower, in a library, etc. Some of my best ideas have come at night, when my brain is unwinding but undistracted by other input. A lot of those ideas get forgotten but like Matt, I've got more than I can write anyway, so that's okay. Music, too is something I think a lot of people are inspired by. I have a dear cousin who uses music to shift herself into another mental space by setting a mood or a tone while she writes, and a friend who pulls meaning directly from the lyrics, or by reading between the lines of the lyrics. Using the same tool in different ways.

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Re: Creative Practice

Postby FictionMuse » Sun Nov 01, 2015 5:39 am

I get a lot of ideas for premises, characters, themes, and setups from watching television pilots.

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Re: Creative Practice

Postby Dustin Adams » Sun Nov 01, 2015 8:12 am

FictionMuse wrote:I get a lot of ideas for premises, characters, themes, and setups from watching television pilots.

I totally liken what we do here to writing pilots. I mean, we have to introduce characters, our world, our universe, then combine them all with a cool plot, rising tension, and something unique/never seen before.

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liz
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Re: Creative Practice

Postby liz » Sun Nov 01, 2015 9:03 am

Dustin Adams wrote:
FictionMuse wrote:I get a lot of ideas for premises, characters, themes, and setups from watching television pilots.

I totally liken what we do here to writing pilots. I mean, we have to introduce characters, our world, our universe, then combine them all with a cool plot, rising tension, and something unique/never seen before.

No pressure. wotf012


Pressure is but the crucible which...leaves me unable to finish this analogy.

Seriously though, I agree. TV pilots are both highly inspirational and what we do is a lot like what they do. The difference is that when they make a tv pilot, they get a contract before they spend the time, money, and emotional investment to produce the rest of the series (usually). Writers have to do it all upfront and hope they like the pilot enough to keep reading.

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Re: Creative Practice

Postby Ishmael » Sun Nov 01, 2015 9:31 am

liz wrote:Pressure is but the crucible which...leaves me unable to finish this analogy.


Just as well. Harrumph. If we're talking about steel making, there is no abnormal pressure in a crucible. The process was invented by Benjamin Huntsman in Sheffield, Yorkshire in the mid-18th century. Sadly for him he failed to patent it and the idea was stolen by another iron-founder called Walker, who had the bright idea of disguising himself as a starving beggar and asking to sleep overnight in Huntsman's warm foundry.

There ought to be a story in that, somewhere.

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Re: Creative Practice

Postby liz » Sun Nov 01, 2015 9:35 am

Ishmael wrote:
liz wrote:Pressure is but the crucible which...leaves me unable to finish this analogy.


Just as well. Harrumph. If we're talking about steel making, there is no abnormal pressure in a crucible. The process was invented by Benjamin Huntsman in Sheffield, Yorkshire in the mid-18th century. Sadly for him he failed to patent it and the idea was stolen by another iron-founder called Walker, who had the bright idea of disguising himself as a starving beggar and asking to sleep overnight in Huntsman's warm foundry.

There ought to be a story in that, somewhere.

wotf012


Perhaps a trilogy? But where is the speculative fiction element?

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Re: Creative Practice

Postby Ishmael » Sun Nov 01, 2015 9:59 am

liz wrote:Perhaps a trilogy? But where is the speculative fiction element?


Well, I am speculating when or if I will hear from the publisher whose has had my story "Crucible Steel" for 201 days.
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disgruntledpeony
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Re: Creative Practice

Postby disgruntledpeony » Sun Nov 01, 2015 12:52 pm

Ishmael wrote:
liz wrote:Perhaps a trilogy? But where is the speculative fiction element?


Well, I am speculating when or if I will hear from the publisher whose has had my story "Crucible Steel" for 201 days.
wotf012


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orbivillein
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Re: Creative Practice

Postby orbivillein » Sun Nov 01, 2015 1:47 pm

liz wrote:Pressure is but the crucible which...leaves me unable to finish this analogy.

. . . bounds earth from fire -- the melt and temper.

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Re: Creative Practice

Postby liz » Thu Nov 05, 2015 1:51 am

Ishmael wrote:
liz wrote:Perhaps a trilogy? But where is the speculative fiction element?


Well, I am speculating when or if I will hear from the publisher whose has had my story "Crucible Steel" for 201 days.
wotf012


Oh man that's too long! The publishing industry is a crucible in itself. Hang in there!

orbivillein wrote:
liz wrote:Pressure is but the crucible which...leaves me unable to finish this analogy.

. . . bounds earth from fire -- the melt and temper.


“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”
― Carl Sagan, Cosmos

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Re: Creative Practice

Postby orbivillein » Thu Nov 05, 2015 9:15 am

liz wrote:
orbivillein wrote:
liz wrote:Pressure is but the crucible which...leaves me unable to finish this analogy.

. . . bounds earth from fire -- the melt and temper.


“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”
― Carl Sagan, Cosmos

"When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure." Peter Marshall, Hollywood Squares TV show host.

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Re: Creative Practice

Postby Ishmael » Sun Jan 31, 2016 9:54 am

I don't know about creative, but I seem to get a lot of practice. I observed today that I have 41 stories on simultaneous submission. In the words of the old TV show, "Never mind the quality, feel the width!"
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Re: Creative Practice

Postby LDWriter2 » Sun Jan 31, 2016 8:16 pm

Ishmael:

That is very good. At the top of me sending stories I was only at 22 to 25. Of those on the forum I was on at the time there were very few who got past 30.

I add that at the moment I am doing good to have 6 out at the same time. It's very hard to get back into the habit.
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Re: Creative Practice

Postby LDWriter2 » Sun Jan 31, 2016 8:22 pm

However I do write a lot.

Even after reading the first few posts here, I wasn't quite sure what creative practice actually means. Writing fiction and doing your best to tell a good story?

If so last year I wrote over 100,000 creative words, a real possibility of closer to 200,000. I do my best to be creative in the process but as I said I am not sure if that what creative practice means.
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Ishmael
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Re: Creative Practice

Postby Ishmael » Mon Feb 01, 2016 7:29 am

I understood it to be a question about a methodologies for getting into the creative state.

I suppose the difference between amateurs and professionals in this business is that the latter cannot always afford to sit around waiting on inspiration. Deadlines usually concentrate the mind wonderfully, but unless you have a contract to supply pieces on a regular basis to a particular outlet or outlets then deadlines are going to be self-imposed and artificial.

I do find that my creativity is improved by research; the more I know about my subject the happier I feel when writing about it. For example even in last Spring's Story-in-a-Day challenge when I already had my random three objects to write about I needed to spend some time researching the context into which I was going to place them. This does offer the drawback of being tempted to throw in a whole load of contextual detail just because I happen to know it. A couple of years ago one of my WotF stories was well on the way to being a novel largely because of the detail lavished on the setting. After I cut it down I wasn't happy that I had done the setting justice.

In this case I think that more recently I have come to a greater understanding of the stylistic differences between novels and short stories such that I can, I hope, enable the reader to see the scenery by means of a sketch rather than an elaborately detailed oil painting,
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Re: Creative Practice

Postby kentagions » Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:05 am

Creative research:
I read accounts of research in regions I will be writing about, but have not visited. Jane Goodall has taken me to Gombe, for instance. I find that people who are active observers (People doing a job connected with observation) capture the mood and setting of a place better than passive onlookers (Tourists who write travel logs). They reside in the area long enough to faithfully convey its dangers, annoyances, curiosities and pleasures.

Creative practice:
Look-back fever:
I'm a plotter. Plotting speeds my efforts, but there's a danger of becoming overly analytical; writing a sentence and immediately editing it or constantly checking my plot outline. Look-back fever kicks the little creative guy out of the driver's seat in favor of editor guy. I'm a touch typist, so to enforce "no look-backs" I will sometimes close my eyes or cover the screen while writing.

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Re: Creative Practice

Postby liz » Wed Feb 03, 2016 10:46 pm

kentagions wrote:Creative practice:
Look-back fever:
I'm a plotter. Plotting speeds my efforts, but there's a danger of becoming overly analytical; writing a sentence and immediately editing it or constantly checking my plot outline. Look-back fever kicks the little creative guy out of the driver's seat in favor of editor guy. I'm a touch typist, so to enforce "no look-backs" I will sometimes close my eyes or cover the screen while writing.


I do the same thing. Indulging myself in 'look-backs' slows me down by half.

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Re: Creative Practice

Postby kentagions » Thu Apr 21, 2016 12:38 pm

Plot Structure

I initially plot stories with a variation of Freytag's Pyramid (below). This is your story as seen from an airplane. I made my own and so can you. For examples, look up Plot Chart and Plot Diagram in addition to Freytag's Pyramid. The pyramid is a simple illustration of the way most stories are structured. Exposition and an inciting incident occur in the introduction. Rising action/tension/stakes occur in actions leading to the climax. Then falling actions occur, leading to the denouement/resolution (Unlike the diagram, falling action is usually much shorter in length than rising action).

If you're thinking Acts, a three act plot would have the introduction, inciting incident and first try/fail in the first act. The second act would end with the second try/fail. And the third act would include the third try/fail, climax and the denouement/resolution.

Some good stories strain accepted structure, but most fall within it. Those stories that break this structure are considered experimental fiction as opposed to speculative fiction. The difference is that speculative fiction sells and experimental fiction is lauded by broke artists. *discretely removes beret*

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Re: Creative Practice

Postby amoskalik » Thu Apr 21, 2016 4:41 pm

The first book on writing I read was David Brooks' Story Physics. Maybe because it was my fist exposure, it is the foundation of how I write stories. He lays out a very straight forward four act plot structure. Once I learned it, I started seeing it in every book I read and every movie I watch.

I've since seen other description of plot structure such as the Freytag Pyramid, the three act structure, David Farland's try fail cycles and they all have merit. They all have a perspective that sheds light on how story elements fit together. They are complimentary. You don't have to choose one over the other.

All roads lead to Rome.

But I still favor David Brooks' four act structure because it not only describes what the story elements are, what order they appear in, but also precisely where they should appear for best effect. For instance, the first plot point (which is where your main character's world changes forever and she must set out on her journey) occurs at the end of act 1 between 20% and 25%, the midpoint (where the main character finally gets a grasp on what is really going on) at the end of act II around 50% and the second plot point (where the main character has lost all options but the one thing she must do) at the end of act 3 around 75% to 80%.

Note also that an inciting incident can be the first plot point, but is usually the hook which happens earlier in act 1, sometimes even on page one. The climax happens in the middle of act 4 at around 90%.
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Re: Creative Practice

Postby OldDarth » Fri Apr 22, 2016 4:37 am

The Pyramid is a lot like Shawn Coyne's Story Grid and Foolscap Method. Here is a link to the Foolscap layout - a one page summary of your story - be it book or short story - http://www.storygrid.com/wp-content/upl ... Sheet1.pdf

The Foolscap Method is based on the following 5 Commandments of storytelling:

Here they are in outline form:

1) Inciting Incident
Causal
Coincidence

2) Progressive Complication
Active Turning Point
Revelatory Turning Point

3) Crisis
The Best Bad choice
Irreconcilable goods

4) Climax

5) Resolution
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