Monday, December 21, 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

I've been on a blog hiatus for a few months, but I'm planning on starting some new posts in 2016. If you'd like to see what I've been up to, check out the links below:

My website - http://www.jamesleck.com/
My FB page - https://www.facebook.com/writerJamesLeck/?ref=hl
My Tumblr account - http://jamesleck.tumblr.com/
My Twitter account - https://twitter.com/JamesLeck

Have a very Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Trying something new!

Check out my Tumblr account to find out my latest and greatest creative adventures. Just thought I would try sharing in a new way.

Cheers,
James

http://jamesleck.tumblr.com/


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Save what you write!

I'm working on a new book that I'm calling The MacGuffin for now. About two months ago I wrote a scene that took place in a top secret bunker. It was a scene that was easy to write, it was a scene that was action packed and funny, it was a scene that I thought had to be in the book.  Eventually, however, I had to admit it really didn't fit into the flow of the story. So, sadly, I had to cut it out and move on in another direction. That new direction worked much better and the book has been coming along nicely. Yesterday, though, I realized my characters had arrived back at that secret bunker about 100 pages later. It turns out that the bunker scene was a part of the story after all, just in a different spot. So what did I do, rewrite that scene all over again? No way! Luckily, I save multiple versions of my writing, and I'm extra careful to save if I cut out a big chunk of text because you never know when you might need it again.

TIP - Save multiple versions of your work! Sometimes you don't write things in the same order that they happen in your story.

Monday, July 27, 2015

After Dark

One week until my next book, After Dark, hits the bookshelves. Aug. 1 would've also been my dad's 70th bday. The fact that he died when I was 18 is a big reason I pursued writing. Not only did I realize I was going to die, but I also had to face the fact that it could happen at any time and might go down in a pretty bad way. Don't put off those things you want to accomplish today until tomorrow, life is fragile and it can turn on a dime.

A few reviews are already out:

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/james-leck-47404/after-dark-leck/

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Expanding Your Character

In the last post I showed you a way to create a character quickly and easily. Now I'd like to show you one of the ways I get to know my characters. Of course, as I write a book I start to learn things about my characters, but I like to know a bit about them before I begin. So, what I'll often do is answer a few questions. I spend 10 minutes on each question, and the rule is I can't stop writing for the whole 10 minutes. If I can't think of something to write I jot down blahblahblah (etc.) until I do think of something to write. Here are a few of my favorite questions to answer:

What does their bedroom look like?

~I think a bedroom tells you a lot about a person; is the bed made, what posters are on the walls,     what's in the closet, what's under the bed, is there a funky smell in there? I want to know as much as possible. J.K. Rowling taught us a lot about Harry Potter by introducing us to his bedroom at the Dursley's house.

What's in their fridge?

~I had a student once who told me the only thing in his fridge that morning was a bottle of mustard. That was incredibly sad to hear, but my writer brain started to wonder what series of events would lead to a fridge containging only one bottle of mustard. Consider what's in the fridge and you'll be surprised what you might learn.

What's the worst thing that ever happened to your character?

~Is the worst thing that ever happened not getting a pony for their 10th birthday? That tells you something. Is the worst thing that they traveled back in time and were almost eaten by a T-Rex? That would need some explaining. 

Do they have any scars?

This is my favorite question because scars almost always have a good story attached to them. I have lots of scars. I have one on my cheek that I got when a big St. Bernard jumped on me as a kid and ripped open my cheek. I have one on my chin that I got when a guy slid into me playing soccer, my chin split open and his forehead split open. I think I got the better deal. I have one on the bridge of my nose that I got when a speaker fell off a shelf and landed right between my eyes. That's a great story that I can't share, but trust me, it's a doozie.

Try to answer those questions and see where it takes you. Sometimes they can lead to interesting side stories. Remember, have fun!









Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Creative Writing - Developing a Character




Here's a quick and easy way to create a character.

Divide your page like so:


Now think of a person that you know really well. Two rules: it can't be a famous person (you may think you know Taylor Swift, but you probably don't), and it can't be a fictional character. It has to be a real person.

Get out a timer and give yourself one minute to write down everything and anything you can think of about that person in the top left hand section. (prompts: hair color, eye color, height, weight, body type, fav music, fav sport, are they funny, are they shy, what do they want in life, what are they afriad of)

Now think of another person that you know really well.

Get out that timer again and give yourself one minute to write down everything and anything you can think of about your second person in the top right hand section.

You should have two lists that are filled with information about your two friends. For instance:


Take that information and mix your first person together with your second person in the box at the bottom. This time, however, you have permission to mix in some information that is made up or kind of altered. So, if you want to give them a black belt in judo, go ahead, or if you want to make them a sparkly vampire, go for it.

For instance, here's John and Howard mixed together:

Man (both boys)
32 years old  (made up)
6’2” (made up)
blue eyes (Howard)
auburn hair (John)
Scientist (Howard?)
black belt in tae kwon do (Howard)
loves to talk (John)
loves lasagna (John)
***fears losing (Howard)
***just wants to have fun (John)

By the way, I'm going to name my new character Johnny Howard.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Peaks

I lost momentum.

I didn’t know what to do next, so I kept on doing what wasn’t working.

What wasn’t working?

Meditating wasn’t working.

Sticking to a plan wasn’t working.
   
Finding my next project wasn’t working.

Meditating wasn’t working because I couldn’t make it into a daily habit.

Sticking to a plan wasn’t working because I’ve spread myself too thin. I’m felt like Bilbo, butter that’s been scraped over to much bread.

Finding my next project wasn’t working because I was stuck on failing at meditation and endlessly reliving an old project.

But sometimes losing momentum and getting stuck can be a good thing because you get down into the ruts of life, where the dirt and the mud and puddles go to collect. That’s a place where you get a close up look at the messiness of life. And I learned something down there. I learned that you can stuck down there and wallow in it, splash around in it, claw through it and think there’s no way to get out of it. I learned you can believe that’s the place for you, down in the filth, that you’re meant for the rut. And once you start believing that it’s hard to believe you can find a way out.

But I think I know how to get out of the rut.

First, you have to learn how to focus. That can be hard in life because there always seems like there are a million things that need to get done, and that if you’re not doing those million things then you’re missing out on life itself. But the million things, or the Ten Thousand things as Lao Tzu calls them in the Tao Te Ching, are not what life is made out of. Life is made out of the one thing that is happening Now. There’s one thing that you’re doing and you must focus on that one thing. All of life is contained within that one thing. To rise out of that rut, you must learn to focus on that one thing. For me, that one thing is my writing. Focus.

Second, you must overcome The Fear. The Fear likes to chatter. The Fear likes to remember the past. The Fear loves to focus on all of your mistakes. The Fear loves to whisper about the Others who are doing so much better, who are so much smarter and wiser, who are so much more content. The Fear will destroy you. It will destroy the real you. It wants to kill the Child You. The Child You likes to dress up and make up games and ride a bike and run and it naps when it is tired. The Child You burns up every ounce of energy and then collapses into bed at night and wakes up with dreamy plans. The Child You isn’t afraid to try and fail, because it will just try again. The Child You doesn’t understand that your neighbors car is better or that those shoes are out of style. There is no in style or out of style for the Child You. The Child You buys a car because it’s yellow, not because of the decal on the hood. The Child You doesn’t rue the passing of yesterday, it lives for the day that is. The Child You does not consider death. How do you find the Child You? You have to love yourself. That love will destroy The Fear. Loving yourself means loving your whole story, that amazing story of your life. Love your decisions, love your adventures, love your weaknesses, love your losses, love the times you think you won, love the people around you, love the people that are gone. Love it all. Embrace it, cherish it, laugh about it. Then release it all. Look on it all like a story you read yesterday and come back to The Now, and love it.

Focus and Love.

Focus and Love will take you out of the rut. Focus and Love will show you that you are not part of the muck.

A rut can’t exist without a peak. Two peaks to be precise. Focus and Love will float you out of the rut and take you to the peaks. From there, you can see life as it is; filled with peaks, open and limitless. From the peaks you can breathe the air, feel the breeze, smell the blue sky. Focus and Love will save you and then you can capture your momentum and ride the wind again.