Petit Fours » A group blog of authors writing in different genres

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Author headshot of Carol Burnside, aka Annie Rayburnby Carol Burnside 

Bet you thought I was talking about the book or the movie, but no. I’m talking about the edge of sleep. That relaxed stage we go into before totally succumbing to a slumberous state. It’s also that groggy, pre-surfacing state we get to prior to awakening. Twilight is my word for it. Not asleep, but not really awake either. I love it there. It’s a place where my mind soars with creativity.  

Once upon a time, I got a critique back from an editor with really good feedback on my overall story. There were compliments, but in a nutshell, I didn’t have enough conflict. It’s a common problem with me. I want to make nice and get those poor loveless creatures together so they can feel the euphoric wonder of new love. But I forget that the happily ever after (HEA) is so-o-o much more rewarding if they have to struggle to get there. I’m really attached to the characters in that story. I knew I had to fix it. So I went to bed with that on my mind. How could I up the conflict, the tension? How could I complicate the lives of novella characters so that the story had enough ‘meat’ to be publishable. 

In the back of my mind, nagging at me, was the realization that I had two other unfinished works with the same problem. No wonder I couldn’t seem to get past a certain point in writing them. But the solution just hadn’t been clear to me, so I’d set them aside. I had to make my characters suffer. Contrary to my upbringing, I needed to be a be-yotch and relish the job. 

Some people let their creative mind soar in the shower, others while walking or working out. Me, I take a nap to find that freeing twilight. 

So that night, in a twilight state, my mind whirled with ideas, one coming to the forefront more than others. Solution! I could flesh it out the next day, so my mind turned to the next story I’d been stuck on. Duh. Hero was too nice. Given the background I’d presented, he’d be much less trusting of the heroine up front, much more resentful. 

I had my solutions. Next?  

Unfortunately, that’s when sleep overtook me, but the next morning, all I had to do was lie in that same state for a few minutes and it all came flooding back. I grabbed pencil and paper and started writing notes. Hmm…maybe I should take more naps. (grin)

Have you had a ‘twilight’ moment lately? One of those where the solution to a problem suddenly presents itself and you wonder why you hadn’t thought of it before?


Marilyn Baron - November 12, 2012 - 8:48 am

I’ve had that happen a lot. But in many cases, my twilight is in the middle of the night. I wake up and write things down. Sometimes they don’t always make sense in the morning or I can’t read my writing. Recently, on a trip to Boulder, Colorado, I had a dream, thought, whatever in the middle of the night three nights in a row and I woke up and wrote everything down on hotel stationery and completed the paranormal story when I got back. So the subconscious mind definitely sends us messages.

Susan Carlisle - November 12, 2012 - 8:55 am

I do a lot of planning and thinking at twilight sleep but most of my problem solving comes in the shower. I know if I list things I need to remember just before I got to sleep I can remember them in the morning. I have been known to plan chapters that way.

Maxine Davis - November 12, 2012 - 9:40 am

I like Twilight, too. My “got it” moment usually comes when I am mentally telling my story and saying it is sweet, but sometimes you want salty too. Or wide awake telling it to someone, and there are a couple of people that are wonderful at saying, “Oh, yeah, but what if…”. Then the conflicts start flying. Enjoyed your post.

Pam Asberry - November 12, 2012 - 10:17 am

Kelly Stone is a big advocate of this technique too. I have been experimenting with it myself, and although I have yet to solve any problems the way you have, I intend to keep trying!

Judith Leger - November 12, 2012 - 10:26 am

I believe fate, or destiny or whatever leads the way in my life and opens the doors of my mind. I also have strange things happening with my writing. This book I’m working on now has fallen into perfect order. The flow is awesome. I decided certain factors to go into the book first before I wrote it. I was going with the flow of my muse only to do some research after the fact. Everything I had decided to do came up almost in the exact same manner as the info I discovered with my research. I’d never looked those things up so it was a shiver moment at discovering this. Twilight is my absolute best time to write. Those moments between awake and sleep give me the scenes to work with when I start to write the next day. This is what happened with the research. I had envisioned a scene and the conversation so I wrote it. Afterwards, I wanted to find out a name for a certain object in the scene and this is when I found out that what I had was exactly what I had put down. Did I receive this info from an otherworldly source? I don’t know but I do know this happens often with me.

Carol Burnside - November 12, 2012 - 12:45 pm

Wow, Marilyn, I’ve not had it happen three times in a row. That’s great!

Carol Burnside - November 12, 2012 - 12:58 pm

I like that sweet and salty combo, Maxine. Gotta have a balance, don’t we?

Carol Burnside - November 12, 2012 - 1:00 pm

I don’t know that I’ve ever planned a whole chapter in my twilight moments, Susan. But I have gotten whole scenes that sparked more that came at a rapid pace. It’s as if my brain is pushing the more important beginning at me and follows with the rest when I’m ready for it. Love when that happens!

Carol Burnside - November 12, 2012 - 1:01 pm

Pam, I bought Kelly’s book at M&M. I must read it soon. :) Yes, keep trying to catch the twilight.

Carol Burnside - November 12, 2012 - 1:05 pm

Judith, that’s the most complete twilight experience I’ve ever heard of. You’ve got the gift!

Pamela Varnado - November 12, 2012 - 3:03 pm

Carol, I enjoyed reading your post. I use the time right before I fall asleep to plot out my stories. It’s an automatic process for me. As a child, I would lie in bed and make up stories about princesses being rescued by dashing knights. It was never the prince doing the rescuing, but the dark brooding knight. My characters were always in danger. I think that’s why writing conflict is natural for me. My biggest problem is that I struggle with a critical inner editor who questions all my plotting strategies. To overcome this, I repeat positive affirmations to myself before falling asleep. This technique works great when I’m in twilight sleep.

Carol Burnside - November 12, 2012 - 3:35 pm

Pamela, one thing I remember that helps with conflict is that every character is different depending on their backstory and people react uniquely to situations. If you properly motivate your character due to their personal experience, any scenario can be plausible. Thanks for commenting. :)

Carol Burnside - November 12, 2012 - 3:36 pm

I’ll be on the road for the next few hours. I’ll check back for comments later this evening.

Laura Russell - November 13, 2012 - 2:58 am

Amazing to think getting back in bed allowed the ideas to resurface. I often wake up slowly and have several moments when I am still dreaming as I wake. I need to write things down if I want to remember them later in day. Now, I want to experiment with your method.

Sandra Elzie - November 14, 2012 - 6:15 am

Yes, I’ve woke to have an idea in my mind, but that hasn’t happened often.

Great article…thanks for sharing.

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