Monday, May 23, 2016

Imagination Under a Magnifying Glass

I actually did a podcast for you this week, but due to technical difficulties, you will not be hearing the sound of my voice.

The thing I really wanted you to take away from that podcast began with my noticing my magnifying glass on the desk. Don't ask me how it got there. Must be gremlins. Anyway, the idea is this, if you are having difficulty with a certain scene in your story, or book, or play, and you just can't make it work - take it out of your piece and look at it under your own magnifying glass. Don't just see the words, see the rhythm, see the people speaking the words. Would they speak this way outside of that scene? Is there something specific about that scene to make them speak that way? Does the scene itself speak, cry, laugh - emote? Even if you are talking about ten or fifteen words, even less, getting them absolutely right can be the key to all of the scenes leading up to and following it.

I bring this up because I recently had such a scene. I am struggling a bit with keeping out of the heads of my strong secondary characters. One of those strong characters was facing down the main character over who knew what, and the secondary character was shown up. I got stuck on ONE word --shamefacedly. Yes, it's really a word. That was my dialogue tag for the poor man and it did nothing to capture what was happening to the secondary character upon being bested by his new rival. So, I polled a few men I knew (not being one myself) about how they would feel and what physical reactions they might have to the embarrassment. Three drafts later, it was perfect. Now, the whole scene makes more sense and the other characters can play off of those two.

That's it for now. Next week - podcast? Who knows?

Monday, May 2, 2016

Three Easy Ways to Inspire Your Imagination

Imagination is like a coffee cup. One minute it’s empty-the next, it’s brimming with hot, steaming, fluid characters that fill your senses with pleasure. True, you may have stared into the bottom of that cup until the tears burned tracks in your face before the first delicious aroma of an idea floated up.

Okay, enough metaphors and similes. How do you fill your cup with imagination when all you see is the bottom?

1.      My room is filled with fantasy and unusual artwork. Sometimes, when I get stuck, I will just look around, contemplating each piece. What is going through that nymph’s mind right now as she faces the river god? Where will the fairy find herself at the end of the dark river? Eventually, my imagination will take me away and I’ll be writing. I’ve even been inspired by my own mirror.

2.      Take a walk. Pay close attention to everything and everyone you see. The man mowing his yard may just have murdered his wife. The boys playing together could have supernatural powers. Let your imagination run wild. Carry a small notebook if you need to for your ideas, because they will come. Inspiration can flow from the most unlikely of sources.

3.      Join a writing group, live or online, that gives prompts. Some of my best stories were written from prompts. In fact, Writer’s Digest provides writing prompts every week. Another unusual source is an “idea generator.” Use one that just generates one or two words. You don’t even have to use them, just let them inspire you. Let your imagination take over. For instance, the word may simply be “blue.” You immediately think of the shining feathers of a hawk. And you’re off!

These are just three ways you can inspire your imagination. Now go out and fill your cups. The world is waiting.