Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Writer Wednesday: Cat and Mouse Writing by B G Lashbrooks

Cat and Mouse Writing

Have you ever watched a cat play with a mouse? The beast will circle its poor little prey, reach a paw out and tap the mouse on the head then pull back. It’ll circle again. Tap. Circle. Tap. Again and again and again.
I am the cat. My story is my prey.
Sounds so sinister and macabre, doesn’t it?
I don’t eat my prey when I’m done playing with it, (although the dog has eaten a few printed copies…) but the intensity that I approach my writing with is the same as that predatory cat’s.
Putting a scene in their head onto paper is one of the hardest things a writer can do. It’s one I put off as long as possible, too. I circle and circle around scenes, working over every angle in my head. Sometimes I tap the keyboard and put a few words or paragraphs or pages on the screen.
I don’t know how to say definitively where my ideas come from—it varies for each story or even each scene.
Beginning writers often spend a great majority of time searching for ideas, rather than putting the ideas they do have into words. It’s a form of procrastination borne from fear—if they don’t write it, then no one will read it and think it is bad. So they don’t write it. They offer the excuses of ‘I can’t find the right ideas!’ or ‘This has already been done!’ or ‘I have too many ideas and don’t know which one to use!’
But I can say one thing that may help a beginning writer overcome this hurdle—you will not ever be able to put the idea in your head into words well enough to say exactly what you want to express when the idea first hit you. Ideas are abstract, words on paper are much more concrete.
To get the scene written in a manner you’ll be pleased with you’re going to have to do some work.
First, forget the big picture. Work small. You can start with the general idea. Olivia’s Journey started with one line.
I knew my uncle would kill him if he saw him, so I hid him down in the barn on Jessup Mill’s farm…
I don’t fully know where this line came from—I was mostly asleep when it popped into my head. I sat up, wrote it down on a scrap sheet of paper, then went back to sleep with a head-full of questions such as ‘Who said this? Why would the uncle kill him? Where was Jessup Mill’s farm? Why was the barn empty?” All of these questions came from that quick little stream of consciousness idea that appeared virtually out of nowhere.
But these questions were enough to trigger other ideas which led to more lines which led to more questions. Which led to more and more of all of these things.
As I answered these questions, I just kept going. Kept writing. Beginning writers often fall into the trap of feeling each scene or chapter needs to be perfect before the next scene can be written. They spend so much time on editing and revising and wanting to ensure they get the scene just like that first original idea that they forget that there is more to a novel than those early scenes. They revise and revise and eventually lose interest in the work. Until they get to the point that they abandon the story.
So they never finish anything.
Many people say they want to write novels, but only a very small percentage actually manage to reach the last page. Most of these writers do so by not letting themselves edit until they do reach that point.
This is incredibly hard, but it works for many writers. Including me. It took me a while to realize this, but since I have, my writing productivity has changed drastically. I actually finish stories. And just like that cat after the mouse has met its inevitable demise, I am filled with an incredible sense of satisfaction once I reach that last page.
And then the real fun begins…revision.

 Wow great post BG! I love the ending then the fun begin's revision. Hate revision and edits so much! Anyway BG is the author of on of our new releases Olivia's Journey. You can see more about it down below.

  • Author: B.G. Lashbrooks
  • Genre: Historical, Romance, Young Adult
  • 190 Pages (PDF)
  • Cover Artist: Elaina Lee
  • ISBN: 978-1-936852-24-6 
It’s the Spring of 1865 and Mr. Lincoln runs the country...probably better than Olivia’s hard-fisted uncle runs his farm in Southern Indiana. Olivia would give anything to escape his abuse, but as long as he provides a shelter for her and her two younger sisters, she has no choice. But she soon has to make a daring decision when she finds a Confederate soldier bleeding alongside the river that borders her uncle’s farm. Soon Olivia and the soldier are running for their lives through Yankee country, with only Olivia’s twelve year old sister for company. But then the War is declared over and the President dead, what will that mean for the Confederate man who’d done so much to help Olivia? What will that mean for her?


  1. I picked up a copy and it's not easy to put down even when other duties call. Not many books drag me through like this one. Very compelling.

  2. Oh now I'm even more enticed. Thanks Kay

  3. I'm here to tell ya - this girl is going places. She's in my crit group and I happy dance every time I see her put a chapter up! Listen to what she says:) I already bought my copy too (but I refuse to start it until my feature friday post is finished for Bri:)