Writing as the Art of Thinking Clear

Writing as the Art of Thinking Clearly: 6 Steps

Writing as the Art of Thinking ClearlyAs an infamously vivid dreamer, I often find myself waking up with this surging certainty that my subconscious just gave me the best story ever.

One of my most memorable dreams featured an end-of-the-world plot. Aliens were coming! Asteroids were coming! Klaxons were blaring. People were running around madly. I think the theme from Armageddon might even have been playing.

Time was running out, and there was only one way to save the world. So our brave heroine did what no one else had the brains or the guts to do in this last minute of need. She ran up to the very top of the space observatory, which the aliens would be bombing any minute.

And… she grabbed a container of sour cream and started carefully spreading it over every inch of the floor. It was the only way, after all.


My “sour cream” dream has become my single favorite example of how insane my sleeping mind can get. It’s also a perfect example of why the garblings of our subconscious brains—however vivid and emotionally charged—do not by themselves create good stories, much less good writing.

If I had a donut for every time I floated back to consciousness with the emotional certainty that I had a great story idea, only to have my logical brain come back online and snort at me—I’d never have to make breakfast again.

Our macro journeys as writers often aren’t so different. When we first start writing, all we have is a vivid idea that charges us on some emotional level. We throw it onto the page and have a ball doing so. And then… our logical brains come back online and snort at it.

We start out believing writing is nothing but creativity, glorious creativity. And we end by learning that, in fact, historian David McCullough (in one of my all-time favorite quotes) nailed it:

Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That’s why it’s so hard.

Writing Mastery: When the Subconscious Becomes Conscious

Why do we care about story theory? Grammar? Optimized writing processes?

If writing was nothing but the rainbow-vomiting of creativity, we wouldn’t need any of those things. We’d need no systems, no structures, no processes.

But, of course, we do. In her inspirational book Fierce on the Page, Sage Cohen writes:

I have long considered [writing] to be the art of repair through language. In my own literary cosmology, it seems to me that we restore ourselves and our world by arranging the fragments of experience, memory, invention, and emotion into a mosaic of meaning through which we transcend the parts and move into unexpected wholeness.

Many of us start out as writers and storytellers with at least some modicum of talent. Talent is a gift from the subconscious. We don’t think about it. We don’t earn it. We just get to cash it in, like an inheritance from a great-uncle we barely remember.

But turning that gift into a resource requires work. Mastery is the place where subconscious talent rises into conscious intelligence. It’s that magic place where “you know what you know.”

As McCullough warned, getting the subconscious and the conscious to play nice is work. But it’s some of the most gratifying work in the world. That place within you where you start to see and understand your own mind is beyond rewarding. Who needs donuts anymore?

6 Ways for Writers to Begin Thinking Clearly

It should come as no surprise that the art of linear, logical thinking is itself very linear and logical. Indeed, thinking clearly is a conscious mastery all its own. Today, let’s take a look at six steps you, as a writer, can take to specifically optimize your ability to share vivid and coherent dreams with your readers.

1. Inhale Information

Here’s where it all starts. You can’t think clearly if you don’t have something to think about. This is true of logical premises, and it is true of creative premises. I’ve talked previously about stuffing your brain with images. You also need to stuff your brain with stories.

The entire concept of story theory is based on recognizing and interpreting the patterns that show up universally in good stories. The more stories you’ve ingested, across multiple mediums, the more accurate your pattern recognition will be.

More than that, as a writer, there is no information of any sort that cannot be utilized to create facsimiles of and conjectures about life. Become an information vacuum. The more you know, the better you think, the better you write.

2. Begin With an Emotional Premise

Just as the subconscious is the foundation for the conscious, feeling begets thinking. (I differentiate between feeling and emotion, with feeling being deeper-seated and more fundamentally primal and individualistic, while emotion is a product that arises from feeling but is also influenced by other forces, including physical well-being.)

Feelings tell us what is important to us. They tell us what we care about enough to think about. Or write about.

You know you’ve found the idea you should write about when you can feel it in your gut. You’re passionate about it. You love it. Or, on the flipside, maybe it scares the winkies out of you. Whatever the case, it’s eliciting strong feelings, and that’s a muscular thing.

It’s true feelings can get cluttered up along the way. What they initially seem to be telling you may not, in fact, be true. But there’s always a truth at their core. Dig deep enough and honestly enough, and you’ll find that truth.

3.  Identify Your Purpose at Every Level of the Story

What are you trying to say with this story?

What are you trying to say with this scene?

What are you trying to say with this sentence?

These are the logical  questions you should be asking at every step of the process. If you don’t know the answers, who does?

Purpose is the guiding light of intelligible writing. When McCullough says writing well is thinking clearly, what he’s really saying is that the process of clear thinking will enable you to identify your purpose and then choose only scenes, sentences, and words that support that purpose.

It’s like sculpting a statue. You won’t know which bits of clay to scrape away until you know what must remain in order to form something that looks like Julius Caesar or Napoleon.

It’s totally possible to do this retroactively. Maybe when you first sit down, you have idea who you’re going find in that hunk of clay. You start poking and scraping and voila!—a nose. But at some point, your conscious brain will need to narrow its focus and choose its unifying purpose.

4. Asking the Right Questions

Once you’ve come up with a powerful story idea and narrowed it to a conscious mission statement, you’re ready to start drilling for oil. At this point, you’re not so much looking for the right answers but rather the right questions. Find the right question, you’ll find the right answer.

There are several different techniques you can use at this stage:

1. Brain Dump

Empty your brain. Throw it all out there. Root around in the dark cobwebby corners and see what you find.

When I’m outlining a story, I like to do this on paper. I toss everything I know or suspect about a story—thematic ideas, visual scenes, logical assumptions, characters, subplots, titles, everything—so I can start to see the shape of what’s there (and therefore the shape of what’s not there).

Freewriting is a great way to do this. Cohen again:

Freewriting is a practice of nonattachment. You write words on a page, for a set period of time, without stopping. The point is to generate without forethought, to move beyond your judging and editing mind, to simply move freely across a page. For the pleasure of it. For the momentum of it. To witness yourself in motion, and to discover the knowing beneath your thinking that pours out of your body when you let it.

2. Posit Truths But Don’t Hold Them

At this point, you’re trying to discover what you know about this story. So make definitive statements (“this is a story about children affected by divorce” or “this character is an amnesiac spy”), but don’t lock them into your brain yet.

Get inside these ideas and live in them for a little while. Ask questions about them. Look at them from every angle. But if something isn’t working out—if it doesn’t feel right or make sense—don’t be afraid to abandon it.

Clear thinking is largely a process of elimination.

3. Listen to Your Instincts

However important it is to consciously master your stories, you will never have a greater or more accurate crystal ball than your subconscious. Listen to your gut instincts. If you feel good about a choice, it’s probably the right one. However, if you’ve come to what you think is a sensible conclusion, and yet there’s some little niggle that doesn’t quite sit right, listen to that. Take a closer look. That feeling is a red flag signaling a weak spot that needs further investigation.

5. Recognize Patterns and Use Them as Shortcuts

There’s one simple reason writers find comfort in such ideas as story structure. Story structure (and other theories based upon acknowledged patterns of logic) provide us a bumper lane in which to practice our own critical thinking skills.

This is not to say you should take these patterns for granted or that you should never try to think your way beyond them. Probably you’ll think yourself right back into them because there is a reason they’re looked to as authoritative. But you will have gained a personal understanding of the inside and outside of the posited formula. There’s a great quote I love from mathematician and statistician George E.P. Box:

All models are wrong; some models are useful.

Once you’re comfortable operating within the relative accuracy of any particular model, you can then use its pre-established theories as shortcuts to bounce from logical question to logical question. For example, once you’ve gained a foundational knowledge of story structure, you can start using plot points as road markers to help you identify where you’re at in a story, what should be happening here, and where you may be going wrong.

6. Hack Your Brain

Thinking clearly is incredibly fun and empowering. But like any discipline, it requires focus and effort. If you can optimize little hacks along the way to make it easier to sink into a mental flow state, so much the better.

1. Organize Your Writing Process Into Chunks of Creativity and Logic

Writing a novel is a vastly complicated process that requires dozens, if not hundreds, of different skills. Most of these skills fit neatly under the either/or categories of creativity or logic.

Brainstorming is creative, outlining is logical, drafting is creative, revision is logical.

There is, of course, crossover. But by trying to optimize different parts of your brain at different parts of the process, you can get out of your own way and let your mind work at optimum capacity.

2. Manage Your Energy

Don’t fool yourself: mental work is exhausting. Sitting at the computer and thinking is not the same as just sitting. This is why it’s often so hard to sit and write for two hours after a hard go at the day job.

Life is always busy, and scheduling is always challenging. But wherever possible, focus on managing your mental energy.

Try to integrate writing into your life in a way that taps your best energy. This might mean:

  • Writing at the same time every day.
  • Writing in public places.
  • Writing to specific types of music.
  • Writing in bursts between other activities.
  • Dictating while jogging.

Don’t stop until you find the right system for you, and then don’t stop using it.

3. Get Out of Your Body

Speaking of jogging, make time not to think.

Remember, mastery is a harmony between conscious and subconscious. That means you must give your subconscious a chance to work. It needs downtime in order to process new information and churn out new ideas and conclusions.

If you find your energy consistently resistant to sitting down and writing, it could be because your subconscious needs some downtime. Find a “creative lollygagging” activity that will calm your mind and free up your energy.

  • Go running.
  • Take a nap.
  • Read.
  • Color in an adult coloring book.
  • Go the movies.
  • Weed the garden.
  • Wash the dishes.
4. Try Alpha Waves

Music that incorporates alpha waves or binaural beats is fantastic for calming your energy and focusing your mind. Whenever I find myself feeling stressed or distracted, I’ll type “alpha waves” into YouTube’s search. I’m still amazed by how instantaneously it settles my energy and focuses my mind.


One of the greatest joys of being a writer is crafting powerful scenes by putting together one coherent sentence after another. It’s a feeling of power and clarity that’s hard to match. In the early days of writing, it might seem like achieving this rarefied “in the zone” experience is a random gift. But it doesn’t have to be. Learning to hone your mind and organize your thoughts is the first step toward writing purposefully and clearly on the page.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go figure out how to make that sour-cream sequence a little more logical.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinions! Do you have any favorite tricks for thinking clearly when writing? Tell me in the comments!

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.


  1. *dies laughing* THE SOUR CREAM. I so relate. XD My whole family is afflicted with weird dreams but I think concentrated creativity makes it a thousand times worse. 😛 Once the only way to stop a volcano from erupting and destroying the world was to catch a giant wasp and somehow cram it into an empty frozen yogurt container…

    Great post. This was actually super helpful because over the last year I’ve really started to sense ‘the shape of stories’, but I hadn’t taken time to examine that consciously and figure out what was going on in my brain that made it that way. As an admittedly ‘subconscious’ worker I tend to sense things and just be really happy to see them and watch them do their thing without consciously optimizing them, so this was good motivation. Thanks. 😀

  2. Great article. I like to read news articles and op ed pieces. It helps fill my mind with human behaviour and current cultural narratives and conflicts so I can analyse how well my story might resonate with people.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes! This is also a great reason why introverted writers can benefit dramatically from hanging out with real people. There’s no research like hands-on research. If nothing else, it helps us better analyze ourselves in interaction with others.

  3. Sarah Beth Ennis says

    Oh, boy, are you onto us! Many thanks.

  4. Sally M. Chetwynd says

    You’ve evidently thought this post out clearly! This article is definitely one I’ll be sharing with the writers’ critique group I belong to. We all will benefit. Thank you!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Hah. The pressure was on. 😉 It’s like writing a post about proofreading–there are bound to be typos!

  5. Very practical advice. Free writing is interesting, its used on counselling/psychotherapy settings as well. you can also focus it, i.e. applying the principles of freewriting but giving yourself a single starting point. It can help develop and hash out lots of ideas about a particular aspect you want to develop or are struggling with.

    Maybe the Aliens have an intolerance to sour cream so makes them really poorly.

  6. Your sour cream dream… haha, I’m dying. I can pretty much hear Doctor Strange’s voice: “It was the only way.”

    But seriously, great post! I need to start doing some freewriting for my next outline.

  7. A couple of months ago I woke in the middle of the night with, what I thought was, the most brilliant idea for a story. I reached to my nightstand to grab my notebook and pen. I found the notebook, but couldn’t find my pen. In the dark, I was slapping and knocking things over trying to find my pen. Finally, my wife asked what was wrong. I responded, “Where’s my pen? I need my pen!” She hands me something to write with and I wrote down everything I could remember. Satisfied, I went back to sleep. The next morning, when I woke up, I looked at the crumpled sheet of paper in my notebook. It had one word – pen.

    One of my favorite things about Monday mornings are reading your articles. Thank you so much for all of the time you put into these.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Hahahahahaha! I’m seriously laughing my eyeballs out over here. That’s hilarious. Now you’ve made my Monday morning. 😉

  8. Stuart Norfolk says

    Hi Kate,
    This is a very useful episode for one who is very undisciplined when it comes to structuring thoughts. The greatest way I’ve discovered to focus the mind is to set the same time aside, each and every day and meditate for twenty minutes or so.
    I think it’s a lot like the ‘Brain Dump’ you mention in your article. Clearing the mind of all thoughts. It’s incredibly difficult to begin with, but gets easier with practice. I find this exercise a wonderful relief and liberation. It provides a sharper focus and increased energy, as well as the all important focus.

  9. Julian Cox says

    I am persuaded that truth really is stranger than fiction. It can be so easy to try to come with some extraordinary idea to incorporate into our writing when the most extraordinary surrounds us daily. Using constructive thought to perhaps stretch that truth while leaving the reader with I can see that happening regardless of how bizarre things may get, is a true gem. I suppose I’m saying that amidst all of the organizing of the thoughts and implementation of theory, it would be helpful to remember you need not reach to far or think to hard, for the inspiration you seek surrounds you everyday, just learn how to see it and put it to work for you. Thanks for putting up with my loquacious southern nature.

  10. Lance Haley says

    Katie –

    You nailed it. Writing is both a science and an art.

    I recall a number of years ago when I first stumbled onto your website (yes, you were my first writing “guru”) after thinking about writing a book, and began this journey of discovering the science behind structuring a novel, and the art of storytelling.

    Which led me to buy your books, and then finding all these other great writers’ books and websites. Thank goodness I found you, Katie. I would have spent a lot of wasted time “pantsing” my way to some dead-end, or worse yet, failing miserably at any attempt to publish some piece of rubbish.

    I may still fail. But at least I know it will not be for lack of understanding regarding the underlying elements of a great novel.

    You rock, girl. Thanks again for all you have shared with the world on both the art and science of writing…as well as being my ‘first’! 🙂

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Aw, that makes my day. I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the info. It’s an honor to get to be part of your writing life, however small. 🙂

  11. I buzzing with the energy and insights of this incredible post, Katie. Thank you so much. I’m not even going to try to add, top or cap any of the comments and replies above.

    I get energised for my writing by chatting to close friends, walking in the garden early in the morning and letting birdsong and the fragrant philadelphus Belle Etoile fill my well of thankfulness.

    I’m off to put this post on my Fb and Twitter pages. 🙂

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Nice! Energy management is something I’ve actually be thinking about a lot lately–and will probably post on soon. Anything that pumps us up and gives us good energy is always an exciting thing. 🙂

  12. David Franklin says

    I’ve never tried lucid dreaming, but I think we as writers get to do something better: we (lucidly) dream with our hands on our keyboards, a few processes away from enabling other humans to see and hear and feel something of what we have felt, and generate an emotional response.
    Not a bad reward for thinking clearly!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Totally. Funny you should say that actually. I’ve also been thinking about the similarities between writing and lucid dreaming lately.

  13. “If I had a donut for every time I floated back to consciousness with the emotional certainty that I had a great story idea, only to have my logical brain come back online and snort at me—I’d never have to make breakfast again.”

    Wow! This is so brilliantly put! I honestly thought it only happened to me. I thought rational, professional writers always dismissed any awesome ideas they had from dreams because they KNEW they wouldn’t find them that great later. (Not to mention they’re disciplined enough not to abandon their current WIP to pursue this new shiny golden idea.) My guess as to why this happens is because we’re not just seeing images of cool events when we’re asleep, but we’re also in a state of emotion we don’t usually get to when we’re awake. One psychologist once told me, “Dreams are emotions.” And, like emotions, they fluctuate. To me, that was a small but crucial insight. In essence, I think we like the new idea so much when we wake up not because what we saw was actually so good and original, but because we’re in a momentary state of emotion that makes us believe so. Cause and effect are reversed! Since then, I’ve learned to be more skeptical of the ideas my subconscious provides. Not because they don’t have potential, but because without some conscious work on them, they’re usually just a senseless distraction that feels nice for a couple of hours. Still… I have my weak moments. 😄

    This entire post is great. It’s my first time leaving a comment (even though I’ve been keeping up with the blog for a while now), and, incidentally, it’s on a post about a subject that interests me very much: the mental aspect of creative writing. Someone before me mentioned meditation, and I’m also exploring how meditation can help me be more focused and disciplined. The problem is… I’m not disciplined at meditation, ha ha. 😅

    Thanks for this!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Totally agree about dreams as emotions. Actually, that’s just triggered in me the need to analyze my own dreams to discover not so much a specific story idea but what is triggering my own strong emotion in those moments.

  14. I’m just waking up in Australia and reading this post – first post of Kate’s that I have ever read. I’m no author, but I want to write my memoir, so I’m just beginning to explore the glossary of writing a great story. I haven’t even been a good reader, but I congratulate all of you because you’re “pumped me up for the day” with good energy, and I feel excited. I’m 73, a recent widow with three grown up kids and 9 grandchildren. I’m not dead yet, and I am a touch typiste, so I think there’s HOPE! If you can see my invisible halo, you’ll know I was a pastor’s wife for our entire marriage of 41 years.

  15. Dennis Michael Montgomery says

    HYOO! Yoo gave me a lot to think about. I copied your essay to Word and will be reviewing it again, because I can’t digest all of that at once. This is not a negative comment on you, but rather a fact of how my brain functions when gathering information, thoughts, and ideas.

    One of the things I have done to become a better writer is to collect articles like yours, copy and paste them into Word and save them in a folder I titled Writing Tips. The purpose of this is go back and review them for ideas, correction and inspiration.

    One other item I discovered today is after I read your essay I went and listened to your audio. What points you made and I missed in your text I got in your audio. Thanks for both.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Total kudos to you for recognizing how your brain works and optimizing systems that serve it rather than those that get in its way. This is, I believe, one of the keys not just to writing, but to life!

  16. Another great post. Thanks to my friend Madi, who recommended you to me, your posts, and your podcasts, I’m very close to finishing the first draft of the novel that I started in 2012. My best friend has already offered to do the first round of editing, and I’m really excited. Looking forward to Camp NaNoWriMo starting again next week (eeeek!), and I’m hopefully doing NaNoWriMo in November for the first time in four years. Thanks for all the tips, tricks, and encouragement!!

  17. Loved your post. You are a lot braver than I am. Don’t think I could share some of my nutty dreams. The part about emotion/feeling really got me thinking. And that’s no easy feat some days. LOL Thanks for the insight.

  18. Kate,

    I’m convinced there’s more to the sour cream than you may appreciate—if you take two tablespoons of sour cream immediately before you turn off your bedlight, it should harmonize subconscious dreaming and sourcream applications …

    Thank you for a thorough and in-depth look into the mental processes of writing, conjuring thoughts, pairing it with emotions and feelings and weaving it all together into a workable and palatable tale.
    The art of writing—Much can be learned. Much can be honed.
    Structure, design, pattern, and framework is crucial in fleshing out a story.
    And yet, writing is a creative art to a (large) extent with spontaneity having a definite place.

    It can serve us well, especially when we’re (by the book) plotters to experiment more with freewriting and lean more toward “tension-driven” storytelling and less on so-called “plot-driven” or “character-driven” storytelling.
    It is often surprising what we find when we stand back a little—not switching off our conscious minds, but infusing our stories with more splashes of color and exotic flavors (of spontaneity.)

    Thank you for an (as always) well thought-out article, Katie!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I think the term “creative discipline” sums it up nicely. Art is necessarily about creativity at its core, and yet it is still a discipline that must be honed. It is always and ever a balance.

  19. You lost me at the foreign concept of not needing donuts anymore. My eyes glazed over. (See what I did there? OK, I’ll keep my day job…. but if you end up with any redundant donuts, I’ll take ’em off your hands for you.)

    Seriously, though, thanks for sharing some great ideas that can help even those of us who tend to be averse to outlines and other forms of planning. When I first started writing novels my “brainstorming” took the form of writing a first draft. I’m a little more organized and efficient now, although still more pantser than planner. For an upcoming novel I’m going to try something new in Trello and plan it out in detail before I start the actual writing. Probably won’t stick to the plan much, though, if past experience is any indication!

    I like the idea of making temporary definitive statements and exploring whether they feel right. I find myself doing this in other areas of my life and it often leads to insights once my contrary side responds to the “truth” statement. I also particularly like the idea of making an intentional divide between creative and logical tasks. I can see that being useful in many ways in writing and in the business matters surrounding indie publishing. Just recognizing that “this is a good time for X, so let me not waste time/effort trying to do Y” is a good start.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      As you probably know, I write very extensive outlines–running upwards of 50k words sometimes. In a lot of ways, I consider these super-rough iterations to be my first drafts. So writing “sloppy” first drafts in which you’re just throwing stuff at the page and figuring it out is, by the same token, not so different from outlining.

  20. Ah, this is a subject I’ve been delving into quite a bit lately.
    I really like the idea of balancing out the creative and logical aspects of writing. I tend to lean pretty hard into one or the other, which may be a mistake.
    Managing energy is my single most difficult struggle right now. But I’m getting better … maybe?

  21. Reading before bed used to be my favourite time for reading, I even go to bed with a Kindle with me to date. But I am learning more and more that this is also the time when my creative brain is most buzzing with excitement.
    Just last night, I watched a whole novel unfold before me while tossing and turning in my bed for sleep. I was reading a book, but this idea was being so persistent that I put the book down and let my mind play — obviously in the morning the whole story seems pointless and plotless — but I have some really amazing bits of dialogues and visuals left that I might use in a book that actually has a good story.
    What I also have learned through these brainstorming sessions is that these are where you can find the sorts of stories you want to write. All my life, I believed in ‘write what you read’ adage. But that advice didn’t worked for me at all. I love reading fantasy, but those are not the stories that constantly churns inside my mind. I mostly think about characters and emotions that they are dealing with, with regard to this constantly changing world. How keeping ahead of things while being grounded inside yourself has turned into such a struggle. And all those stuff that makes for good contemporaries.
    So in the beginning of this year, I gave myself permission to stop torturing myself over coming up with perfect, Sandersonian fantasy and allow time for some cute contemporaries. I am liberated after making this decision.
    Your blog was crucial in making me realise that, of course. Since this is where I realised that the truth inside the story you are telling is more important than the scope in which the truth is being told.
    So, thanks for all that and bearing through me as I wrote this long rant. And happy writing.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Good for you. It’s pointless to torture ourselves for “should bes” when there really is no such thing.

  22. I’ve never heard of alpha waves, and I was not expecting that sound when I clicked the video but I think I like it. I usually listen to movie soundtracks while I write but I’ll give alpha waves a try during my next writing session.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes, they take a little getting used to (I hated them the first time I heard them), but I find them so much more restful than soundtracks for normal work. I still use epic pump-up music when actually writing though. 🙂

  23. The sour cream resonates at just the right frequency to reflect the aliens’ radar back at them (or diffuse, diffract, etc. it away) so the aliens get lost in space.

    Sour cream contains billions of microbes and they form a collective-intelligence neural net that resonates with the aliens’ brain-pods and convinces them that this is an inhabited planet, and not a dead one like they thought. But only if it’s spread out. Think about it–this is the widest expanse of sour cream microbes that has ever existed.

    Why are the aliens invading? What’s in it for them?

  24. Nadia Syeda says

    I sometimes have amazing, vivid dreams that are actually stories. Like this one. In this world, everyone has an animal side and the Four Houses, four great animals—the white lion, the blue dragon, the black tortoise, and the red phoenix (Chinese mythology)—they become warriors that battle against monsters whose animal side has twisted them into terrible, insane creatures because of grief and madness. The descendants of these animals, they have to go through the Dome in order to prove that they’re ready to be transformed by the Ancestral Gems and become warriors, sworn to protect. They always triump, they always become the warriors, and they protect the lesser creatures who don’t have their mystical powers and awesomeness.

    And then there’s Nell. A girl who was originally an animal, but thanks to the magic of the Dome, she managed to cultivate a human form. Her kind of people are scorned by the rest, because they’re defined by their animal side and even more susceptible to becoming Mad Beasts. But when one of the warriors almost die during the trials, and she saves him, she’s chosen as a warrior by the Ancestral Gem, the blue dragon’s Sapphire, the leader of them all and supposedly the most powerful.

    Oh, and she’s a rat.

    I love the concept but I still have a long way to go until this is a story.


  1. […] in general, Janice Hardy has 8 tips for reviewing a manuscript critique, K.M. Weiland shares 6 steps in writing as the art of thinking clearly, and Ellie Maas Davis tells us how to know when your draft becomes a […]

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