It’s St Valentine’s Day tomorrow – 14th February – the day which has been colonised and commercialised by the hazy notion of romance. If you don’t spend, you don’t care, and if you’re not in a couple you’re nowhere and nothing. If you feel alone – even if you’re at the centre of a busy family – then the fuss around this one winter’s day can be overwhelming, making you feel worse than ever.
BUT…. turn it to your advantage! Make imagination your friend instead of your enemy, and write yourself out of those lonely feelings. Leap out of the round-and-round whirlpool of miserable feelings and leap into the limitless worlds of possibility in your imagination. Spend the day (which is, rather conveniently, a Sunday this year) writing furiously, inventing, exploring, what-iffing.
Use Valentine’s Day as a prompt, if you like. Write Mr Right… or Mr Wrong. Write your perfect romance, or the nightmare romance. Not everything that happens on 14th February is lovely – remember the St Valentine’s Day Massacre – Chicago 1929. How could murder happen on this most loving of days?
Use your feelings, feed them into your powerful imagination, and create something great with the force of love behind it. Wherever that takes you.
Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is hard to ignore.
So use it. Use everything – the romance, the excitement, the dread, the loneliness, the togetherness or isolation… all those powerful feelings and how they make us behave. Fiction heaven.
In sixty seconds, scribble down half a dozen story ideas revolving around 14th February. [I’ll do my list in a minute, and post it later.]
How easy was that?
Did you make the one-idea-every-ten-seconds challenge? I’d love to see your list if you’d post it as a comment…
If your brain froze and you couldn’t think of a single idea, then perhaps mid-February is the ideal time for you to spend a day unlocking your ideas factory so you never have a creative shortage again.
It’s the day to seduce your imagination. Give in to your creative urges. Make love to your Muse. Pull up those fictional wallflowers and plant red roses. Bare your breast to Cupid’s arrow and fall in love with your own imagination.
Whether you yearn to write passion-fuelled crime, zingy love stories, gothic romances, out-of-this-world fantasy, medieval bodice-rippers or heart-stopping horror, this is where you’ll discover the key to creating your best-selling idea.
Book now! Start your writer’s heart racing… make this your year.
Spending cuts could banjax the justice system in England & Wales, and give crime writers a field day.
(Photo credit: West Midlands Police)
The government, desperate to find ways to save money, is mothballing the forensic archives and putting the responsibility on individual police forces to file their own evidence for the future. Experts reckon this could put a spanner in the works for innocent prisoners, cold cases and current investigations.
How could you use this, as a crime writer, to spark off a plot, or make a crisis in the story, or furnish the book with a juicy sub-plot?
This morning there is news of an Australian test cricketer announcing his retirement from international cricket after a serious injury. He said something to the effect that he couldn’t find such commitment any more. Translate into strine: ‘Can’t be arsed, mate.’
Now – of course he’s on the level and there’s nothing else behind his decision.
But what if…. what if a high-profile sportsman or woman has something to hide? What if someone unpleasant has put pressure on them? Maybe they surrendered to greed under heavy persuasion? Maybe family life gave them cause to break a lifetime’s integrity and sportsmanship… Competition + money + pressure = conflict = drama.
London has just had Wimbledon; it’s about to be overwhelmed by Olympic fever. The cricket is going on; football has just been European.
Rangers – one of the stars of the Scottish Football League – is going to know today whether or not it will be allowed to continue in the league – nothing to do with talent, goalscoring or silverware – it’s the bean-counting and paper-shuffling that has been its downfall. No football fan will have missed the rows, scandals and battles over Manchester United and its ownership.
Dick Francis has earned a very good whack for decades with his crime novels all connected to horse-racing. Now John Francome and Jenny Pitman have joined him on the crime fiction shelves and the best-seller lists. All three writers were at the top of the steeplechase world – Francombe and Francis as National Hunt jockeys, Pitman as the first women trainer of a Grand National winner.
Ball-tampering and match-fixing scandals walloped test cricket for some years, with high profile, highly respected players caught taking bribes for cheating.
Now we have the Olympics. Drugs scandals are always in the offing, with athletes or their trainers finding ever more obscure ways of boosting performance, searching for substances that are still legal, and sometimes tipping over into law-breaking.
There is a lot of money at stake in sport. Take a massive amount of adrenalin and aggression in intensely competitive athletes, add in ambition and greed in those around them, taking part or spectating.
People are infinitely ingenious in finding ways to beat the system, cheat, steal, defraud and manipulate. All this gives the crime writer licence to do the same, on the page, anyway.
Not forgetting romantic fiction – love stories happening in sport add romance and sex into the heady mix of hormones in the sports arena. Bend it like Beckham, Gregory’s Girl and Wimbledon spring to mind immediately.
The Olympics is the pinnacle for most sports: it’s full of drama as they are. Add in money, ambition, pressures from all sorts of directions, the media spotlight, personal problems, family conflicts… you have the makings of the best and worst of human behaviour. That is the stuff of fiction.
Which sport do you think could take fiction by storm in the way that horse-racing has done?
Huh? phobias are enriching? Since when? Since you had fictional characters to feed.
Phobias – overwhelming fear or hatred of things – can affect someone’s entire life and lifestyle, or can disrupt it disastrously. Both of these things are brilliant for fiction, creating the all-important conflict.
Phobias can be funny, tragic, creepy, surreal, horrific, even quite charming – and can work in any context and any genre, depending how you handle them, of course. You need a light touch – if every character is neurotically obsessed with something, it won’t work. Now and then, though, a touch of phobia is a very handy device.
A romantic hero, terrified of chickens, could inspire a great scene with the girl of his dreams having to rescue him from a feathery fate – a turning point in the story, perhaps.
A crime fiction villain could be trapped by his fear of heights or of closed-in spaces; a detective could be forced to break through his fear of the same in order to save a potential victim or catch the murderer.
The possibilities are endless, and the available phobias are too. It’s amazing what people can be frightened of, and you have to wonder what sparked the apparently irrational fear in the first place. Rich pickings for writers!