Wednesday WIP: Unexpected writerly inspiration and ideas from my friends

So, on Monday, I took up a writing challenge and put out an open invitation to others to join in.

(BTW, that invitation is still well and truly open so if you haven’t had a chance to throw your bit into the ring yet, please do! Click the blue ‘Monday’ above.)

I was delighted to see how many people responded and how good their snippets of work were.  If you haven’t seen them yet, do have a look and if you feel inclined, I’m sure the contributors would love your feedback.

I was expecting to enjoy reading the work.  What was an unexpected pleasure was finding two little gems of ‘advice’ that I can use immediately in my current manuscript.

The first was this one, from Bella

One thing that always works for me is to have an “out of body” experience. That’s when I have a look at what’s currently taking place as if I were a spectator of the tragedy or comedy unfolding before me. No longer am I the protagonist, but instead, a bystander who is able to observe so she can later recount what she has witnessed.

She was talking about finding inspiration for a blog post, but it burst upon me as a way to overcome the slight block I’ve been experiencing in my story.  I need to get some of my characters through a list of tasks and wasn’t sure how to approach it.  But this has made me realise that perhaps I’m overthinking it.  I’m well into this story.  These characters are well fleshed-out now, with personalities and ideas of their own.  Maybe what I need to do is just give them the task list, perch like the proverbial fly on the wall and watch what they do.

If you’re not a writer, that may sound extremely odd, but if you are, you might like to try it too.  I know it’s made me excited about writing these scenes I’ve been avoiding, and I’m all for anything that can do that!

The other little nugget of wonderful was from Jett, who said this:

As a rule, I want each character to be interesting enough – even if they only have a couple lines – that if I had to I could write a story on them.

This is an excellent reminder.  I once read somewhere – I think it was in Stephen King’s, On Writing, that every character in a scene thinks they’re the protagonist and as writers, we need to remember that.  If a character doesn’t bring wants and needs to a scene, he or she shouldn’t be in it – or the story.  Since my ‘list of tasks’ involves several minor characters and a hovering bad guy (who thinks he’s a good guy) this is a timely reminder for me.  So thanks, Jett!

Incidentally, Jett has recently set up a Kickstarter for what sounds like a fascinating project dealing with unknown women’s history.  He was too polite to mention it in his comment, but this is a subject close to my heart, so I’m doing it now! Check it out his post about it here.

So I’m off to get some scenes done in the story, refreshed by an unexpected source.  What about you? Have you had any serendipitous moments of clarity?

5 thoughts on “Wednesday WIP: Unexpected writerly inspiration and ideas from my friends

  1. Those are some very interesting idea’s. I’m going to give them a go too. Have likewise been blocked lately and that needs to be HULK SMASHED. Thanks for writing the post, Im.

  2. My best serendipitous writing moment to date comes from my second book, THE DEVIL YOU SAY. Character Brenda Patterson, little more than a Chapter One walk-on for the sake of some semi-flirty badinage with Our Hero, turned out to be just the person he needed when things came to a head in Chapter Twelve. I quite literally never saw it coming, but it solved the problem beautifully!

    ps—I too own (and highly recommend) the top two books in your accompanying photo. Both Swain and Block are masters of the craft!

  3. I still want to do this. In spite of not working, I am falling behind in my Blogging. I’m still in Winnipeg with my very ill mother. It may take awhile, I seem to be taking a lot of photographs for distraction, go figure? Resa xo

  4. PG Wodehouse wrote a great deal about writing, and one of his maxims for writing for characters, coming from his musical theatre days, was that each character, no matter how minor, had to be good enough, that talented actors would be able to – and want to – turn up and play the role.

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