Saturday, January 21, 2012

Generating inspiration

Some writers have trouble finding an idea for a story.
I have nine ideas for novels and I plan to write them all, so I’m safe for now. But even though that's the case, it is still fun to come up with new ideas and to exercise those creative muscles. So this is something handy (and fun) I've learned in one of my classes:

First I wrote down a question that interests me, like; what would drive someone to murder someone?
It can be a lighter question than this, but you get the idea.
Then I wrote down what I thought is funny like; when someone is distracted and walks into a wall.
This is because humour is important in any story, especially in stories that have a serious or dark theme.
Next I wrote down any special skills I have. I guess this is to give your character something extra and to write about something you know. I didn’t really think of anything that special except for touching my nose with my tongue. Who knows, it might become super important in a story. And yes, that was sarcasm.
Then I wrote down the first title of a novel that came to mind; Veiled in Darkness. It can seriously be anything you think of and it doesn’t have to be the title for the story you’ll work on. Like I said, it’s just to get the creative juices flowing.
Lastly you write down where the story will be set. I chose Chicago, US. 

I made up four names for characters and then for each of them I wrote down:
Something I (the writer) am or have been (can be anything)
Something I have felt recently
An exciting or interesting event
A boring event
An animal, plant or object that I like or find interesting

And there you go; by answering all of these things you already have an idea for a story. The only thing left to do is to put it together. The challenge is to use every element at some point, and you can decide how. It can be funny, weird or just extremely normal. It’s your story.
The thing about this exercise is that you also learn to write about what you know, which is always a good start with any story. You can even add other things for your characters, like; locations you know well, problems you’ve faced, worries you have, etc. The paper is your playground, have fun!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A New Year

Happy New Year!
I’m excited about this year, because it will be the most exciting one yet. I always have a plan of where to go to and what to do, but after I get my MA this year (fingers crossed) it’s out into the grown world. And even though I would love to write full time, I also need a job and I have no idea what it will be. I have faith it will all come together in time. I’m not someone who doesn’t have a plan or back-up plan when it comes to the important things, but still, it’s kind of exciting and scary.
For now I can just focus on my writing skills and I’ve enjoyed a long holiday, while working on my 16,000 words that I’ll have to hand in at the end of the week. It’s 8,000 words per module, but I can work on the same story for both modules. I’ve had good feedback but it will still be interesting to see what grade I’ll get. They’ll be my first grades. J
At the beginning of the course I wrote fantasy and I was told by my teacher that it was an easy genre and that she knew I could do better, so I was dragged out of my comfort zone and had to write literary fiction. I was flattered by the compliment but I didn’t like being thrown into the deep end. How was I supposed to write something that I couldn’t put my heart in? At least, that’s how I saw it.
Then one night when I was almost falling asleep, I was thinking about some ideas that I’d previously had about a detective story and another ‘normal’ story and these words just came to me. I wrote them down and those became the beginning of my story. “Never change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” Saul Bellow.
This story revolved more about the characters and I threw in a lot of humour, at least, it was humour to me, I wasn’t sure how my fellow students and teachers would feel about that. Since I was very passionate about this story I was willing to put it to the test and volunteered to read it out at one of my classes, something which most students had to do and I was relieved when they liked it and even laughed at my jokes.
So far this story and the voice had come quite natural to me, so I’d like to think that’s a good sign. Since I had a long holiday I had some trouble with not getting distracted, but I managed to reach the deadline by a week earlier so that means there’s plenty of time to revise.
I’m glad I listened to my teacher, because I can always write fantasy if I want to, but this study is about learning everything I can and see how far I can go. This has taught me that I can get out of my comfort zone and write literary fiction and make it my own. Who knows, this might be a story that will one day adorn bookshelves in bookstores. J