Wednesday, September 16, 2020

How To Give Your Story Legs by Patty Smith Hall

Recently, I bought myself a standing desk for the little nook in our bedroom that serves as my office. The assembly instructions seemed simple enough, and being a proficient do-it-yourselfer, I surprised myself at how quickly the first half was done.

Then I got to the legs. For almost an hour, I worked on lining the screws up, even going so far as to disassemble some pieces. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get it to work. In the end, I put up my tools and went downstairs to make dinner. The next morning, I went at it again, trying to line up the screws and failing miserably. Then, I had a thought. Maybe, I was looking at it from the wrong angle. So, I flipped the legs of the desk around, and guess what? The screws fell perfectly into place!

This lesson holds true for writing as well. We’ve written character charts and narrowed down the motivations that will carry our characters through the story. Maybe even plotted out the scenes, so we know what the story looks like. While all that’s good and you’re rearing to go, it’s good to take a couple of days and work on something else before you go back to your story. A new perspective will help you tighten your storyline or give you new insights into your character’s mindset. Because even as you’re ‘resting,’ your brain is at work, figuring out ways to make your work better. So how do you do this?

1. Take an afternoon and just read for pleasure. Maybe it’s a book in your To-Be-Read file or a new book you’ve been dying to get into. Whatever it is, relax and enjoy it. Reading someone else, hearing their voice and seeing how they handle certain problems with their characters will help you with your own plotting problems.

2. Do something else completely. Sometimes, the thought of reading or listening to another podcast on writing can make me feel overwhelmed and a lot like work. On those days, I do something completely different. I’ve always gotten my best ideas cleaning porcelain but if housekeeping isn’t something you like to do, then try another art form. Many writers like to knit or crochet; some make jewelry or paint. I recently bought an adult paint-by-numbers set and enjoy spending an hour in the evening, listening to music and painting. Garden is a good way to burn off energy but be creative at the same time. Working in a different art medium can help you in your writing.

3. Make your writing space personal. It’s widely known I write from my back porch spring through early fall. I love being outdoors and watching my little visitors throughout the day. It’s usually my most productive time of the year. In the winter, I’m stuck inside, either at the kitchen counter or at the side of my bed which means I’m out in the open where everyone can (and does!) interrupt me. So I seized a small nook in my bedroom and made it my own. I bought a standing desk (yes, THE desk!), brought up a rocking chair from the basement and repurposed a rug I’d bought for the kitchen. Now I have a place that will allow me some privacy to start my own podcast and a comfortable space to read and write. Knowing I have that space has me excited about writing this winter in a way I haven’t been in years.

So, take a break! Look at things from a different angle! You might be surprised just how much it will affect your writing!

A new perspective will help you tighten your storyline or give you new insights into your character’s mindset. via @pattywrites #SeriouslyWrite


Patty Smith Hall lives in North Georgia with her husband of 36+ years, Danny. Her passion is to write tender romances based in little-known historical moments. The winner of the 2008 ACFW Genesis award in historical romance, she is published with Love Inspired Historical, Barbour and Winged Publishing, and is a contributor to the Seriously Writing blog as well as Journey magazine. Patty is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

To celebrate my birthday, the second book in my Bell Bomber Bride series, Hearts in Hiding is free September 14-18, then next week (September 21-25) you can get Hearts Rekindled for 0.99! It’s my birthday gift to you!

Hearts in Hiding

Engineer Edie Michaels loves her life—she has a good job, close friends, even a chance at
romance with former soldier Beau Daniels. But she could lose everything if her secret comes out…that she's the German daughter of a devoted Nazi.

And when her father sends spies to force her loyalty, everything Edie values is at risk.

Time in a Nazi POW camp changed army medic Beau Daniels. When he discovers a letter of Edie's written in German, he can't help his suspicions. Is she truly the woman he's started to love? Or has she been the enemy all along? With Nazis on Edie's trail, the pair must fight for truth, for survival—and for love.

Hearts Rekindled

"I'm here to See My Daughter."

She never thought she'd see John Davenport again. Merrilee Daniels Davenport's former husband has returned to their small Georgia town after fighting in the Pacific. And now the soldier is bearing a letter from the little girl he didn't know he had. Merrilee wishes that she and her daughter could lean on John's able shoulders, but her new assignment as a homeland informant won't allow it. 

Twelve years have only made Merrilee more beautiful in John's eyes. Back then, he was the proud fool who walked away. Now all he wants is to prove he can be the husband she deserves, and the daddy his daughter needs.