Saturday, January 26, 2013

Writer's Block

I've often said that writer's block is something that I never worry about. It's true. Could it be my approach in how I write a novel? I should probably talk with more authors to see how they come up with a concept for a story. Do you outline a main idea "girl meets boy, she has a broken past, he's got a secret, explosive ending" and build from that, or just start at Chapter 1?

My brain operates a little differently. I get an idea - an image - in my head. With "Closer", it was the bloody shoelace. My mind began imagining the man it belonged to, studying his clothing and body language. It was dark, and in an ally. Why were we there? Did he kill someone? I expand from an idea that may be a scene in the book, but not always the opening chapter. It's the character trying to wave their arms and get my attention.

So if I were to write a short snippet:

Morning light pierced my eyes through a crack in the heavy drapes. The sound of a cleaning lady rolling her cart by the door woke me up.
"You awake?" he asked.
I slept too late, I thought, staring wistfully at the cheap radio clock beside the bed. Beside it was his wallet, a set of keys, and thirty dollars.
"Let's go," he said, getting out of bed and cracking open a warm soda. "One more day and we'll be there."

What would you get from that? If I were just writing a scene in my head without putting any thought into it, I could really expand from it. I could be in a hotel, but if I heard the cart rolling by, I'm probably in a motel. Especially since the clock radio is cheap. "He" (whoever he is) doesn't kiss me or rub his hand across my hips when he's asking if I'm awake.

So, who is he? Could be a lover, friend, brother, or even a kidnapper. I slept in, which meant that I had intended to wake up earlier. Was I going to escape? Is that why I'm staring at the clock "wistfully"? It also sounds like we're broke. The keys are beside me, so now I'm thinking he's not a kidnapper, but we're also not taking a bus. Where are we going? Do we have enough money to get there? Then you start looking at what kind of motel you're in. What's the temperature outside, and what does the tell us about where you are? Why does he want to get there more I you?

Stuff like that excites me. It's taking a small block of information and build an entire story around it. That's a skill I can thank most of my elementary school teachers for, whose class I would daydream in. I've always been like that in life. I'll look at a twenty dollar bill marked 1984 and think of what an interesting story it would be to see all the people who used that bill, and what they were going to buy with it.
A box of candy for their dying mother?
A pair of shoes?
Food for their baby?
A gift to a homeless man?

Everything has a story, and I think with a creative imagination that is nurtured, a story can be written from a single image.

Sometimes from this comes a book, a spinoff idea, a scene, or maybe you just gave birth to a character. If I ever posted the horrible Vampire book 20 years from now, you'd be surprise how many ideas I extracted from the book. Characters, names, concepts for Breeds that morphed, etc. Consider the above writing exercises to keep the kindling burning on your imagination. Don't start at a blinking cursor trying to come up with the "bestseller idea". Just write.

Perhaps that's why it's so difficult for me to be editing two books at once and suddenly have an urge to start a new one. There are not enough minutes in my day to write it all down when these bubbles of ideas that are constantly surfacing. I guess that's why I created "the box" - a wooden box that sits on my desk with notes in it of ideas, if it's not a project I can immediately work on.

So when you look at this photo, what is your story about this couple?

1 comment:

  1. Hey there Dannika.

    Well you know what my immagination is like, so now I have read this post I will be popping back to leave an answer to your question soon. Already the moment captured in the photograph is telling me a story... a story of ups and downs, heartbreak, sadness, pain and anguish. The question is ... does it have a happy ending? You'll just have to wait and see :)

    Hope you are well?