Inspired by nature

Is your writer’s soul inspired by natural beauty? Then this is a place to come for peace, beauty and inspiration, where you can write your book, find new ideas and refresh your soul. June is the best time to see the famous wildflower meadows of Transylvania, as you can see here. What scenes do these images conjure up in your head? Which characters would be doing what here? Does this natural beauty make you think of romance, or villainy? What might these scenes of tranquil beauty be hiding?

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Tattoo taboo

tattoo manA startling picture (see it properly here on the BBC website) of a man covered head to toe (even the whites of his eyes are blue) in tattoos made me wonder…

Could he ever commit a crime? It would be the easiest ID parade in the world. How could he get away with murder? Is there a crime he could get away with more easily because of the tattoos?

What jobs would be impossible for him? What might happen at an interview?

How does his appearance affect his personality?

Who’s attracted to him?

Who is he attracted to?

How will he feel on Valentine’s Day?

Think about this… Imagine that!

Are you anxious about not having much imagination?

Niki de Saint Phalle, Where do you get your ideas?
The best ideas can come out of the blue

Do you worry?

Do you daydream?

Do you plan holidays?

Do you plan ahead for the weekend?

If you’ve said yes to any of those questions, you have a perfectly good imagination. In fact, if you’re human and reading this, you have a perfectly good imagination. Without it, you couldn’t worry, think about the future, daydream, write a shopping list, plan a holiday, or decide what to have for supper. Let alone run a household or fall in love or fantasise or buy Christmas presents…

You may not realise it, but you have to imagine everything you want to do before you do it. Think about it. First the idea, then the reality.

Are you aware that you’ve been trained to think? And that thinking is different to imagining?

The education process – a dozen years at school, at least – is all geared to teaching us to think. To analyse, to be logical, to manage, organise, filter, file, memorise… We are not taught to be inventors or innovators; original thinking is discouraged. Art lessons are about technique and art history; English lessons are about structure and syntax and organizing facts and subtext and other writers’ stuff.

School is designed to make us focus on the path to employment, vocation, career. We have to think about getting a proper job as soon as we get to high school. Before we even hit puberty, we have to stop daydreaming and playing, and be serious.

And what happens to our imagination? You tell me.

So… the good news is that your imagination is there, in full working order.

The bad news is that with nothing else to do, it’s bubbling away, concocting nightmares and waking you up at 3am in a muck sweat, keeping you awake, worrying.

The better news is that you can use all that imaginative power to create beauty and delight in whatever way you choose.

The best news is that you can learn how to grab hold of your imagination and go for a wild ride…and you can learn how in one single day. Actually you’ll learn the big secret in less than 10 minutes. The rest of the day will show you just how amazing your imagination is, and reinforcing the good news.

Where? How? At the Where do you get your ideas one-day workshop – see dates and venues here.

No hard work. No experience needed. And here’s the best bit: No thinking...  

I guarantee you will have a great time. I guarantee you will succeed. I guarantee you will go home with new characters and new stories. I guarantee you will have more confidence in your storytelling. I guarantee that you’ll be surprised and delighted with what your imagination produces.

Now… I dare you to have a go. I dare you to make the breakthrough and find the story that needs writing. Email me today and ask any questions you have. Sign up today and commit to becoming a storyteller: on the page, on the stage, on the screen.

Go on… I dare you.

Make 2013 the Year of Your Novel

This is it.

where do you get your ideas?
This is part of Val McDermid’s back catalogue – how much do you want a pile of books with your name on the spine? Now’s the time to start…

This is your year. 2013 is the year you invest in your writing self and get that book written.

Have you been messing about, tinkering with ideas, going on self-publishing courses, gazing out of the window as shreds of story drift past?

Have you been re-reading the 14,573 words you’ve written so far and wondering how on earth you can get it to 20,000, let alone to novel-length?

Make this the year you start… and finish… and publish that novel.

Invest in yourself, set aside the time, focus.

To get you started, I’m running Where do you get your ideas? one-day workshops in California this month. If you’re near Carlsbad, Palm Springs, San DiegoSanta Monica, Sacramento or Los Angeles, check on the workshops page here for dates and how to book.

What will you get from the course?

You’ll get inspired, wrung dry, spurred on, started or re-started. This is a full-on writing day that will send you home with new 3D characters who have a past and – most importantly – a page-turning future. They may be minor players with plot-twisting roles to play, they may be fascinating villains or spellbinding protagonists. They may be lovable, charming, loathsome or comical… but they will nag at you and demand to be given life on the page.

You will end the day with a packet of techniques you can use every day to spark ideas for characters, their traits and quirks and flaws, as well as atmosphere, setting, props and catalysts.

You will have new writing buddies who could become your partners in crime (or romance, or fantasy…) to share mutual moans and be each other’s mentor and motivator – so valuable in the lonely process of writing.

Armed with all this, everything else you have learned will make sense and take shape – dialogue, pace, structure, themes… writing techniques that are essential but useless until you have those bestselling ideas.

*dingdingding* Come and get ’em!

NB Courses in the UK begin in March, and the week-long intensive retreat will be in Transylvania in September. 

What turns your characters on?

Trending on Twitter 22.8.12 was the topic of what people find sexy. Some were incomprehensible, some a bit twisted, some definitely deviant, some safely traditional.

For your villain or antagonist, you can enhance their villainy or give them a sympathetic facet.

Any way you slice it, the fancies and fetishes of your characters give you a copper-bottomed chance to have fun with them.

If your hero were caught like this, what would it do to his credibility?

The tweeted confessions included:

– boys who drink guava juice

– bacon

– socks with crocs

– wrestlers

– farts

– cargo shorts

– eyebrows

– shaving a man

– sweaty feet

– boobs

Your characters’  favourite fetishes? Go on… confess… you know you want to.