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?
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.
Are you anxious about not having much imagination?
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.
Crime writers and gritty romance writers… have a look at this story from the BBC website today. It just shows how small an act can provoke vicious murder.
An angry man, a control freak, with a knife in his hand. A woman’s petty act of annoyance. Now she’s dead and he’s doing life.
Find the story here, and let your imagination fill in the back story, the investigation and whatever else leaps to your writer’s mind.
Jennifer Williams, on her blog Senny Dreadful, describes her experience of generating ideas:
“Supposedly one of the most exasperating questions a writer can get is “Where do you get your ideas?” Presumably this is because we’re not allowed to answer with: “My grandfather bequeathed to me an ancient and magical book, and within these goblin-encrusted pages new ideas breed like rutting succubae…” or “I stole them off my mate”. I have to admit I can’t recall ever having been asked (although I do occasionally get: “You enjoy that, do you?” and “Why, Jennifer, why?”)
I think it’s a largely impossible question to answer, because most of the time we just don’t know. I was considering this yesterday when I started writing a short story out of the blue. I haven’t written a short for yonks, and when the initial flurry of activity had died down, I did stop and think: “Where on earth did that come from?”
You’d think there would be something. Was I looking at a particular word at the time, or was it the tinny beat of someone’s MP3 player that triggered it? I don’t know. The thing is, short story writing is like hunting an animal, something lithe and speedy with a twitching nose and twisty little horns. Once you get the scent of this shy creature, you’re off, streaking through the forest after it; you follow it wherever it twists and hops and leaps, and you can’t stop until…” Read the rest here
First, punctuate the headline.
Then… a short story and/or poetry competition for women writing in English, but of any nationality. Closing date is 31st August, but submission is by email.
- Short Stories And Stuff (blogaboutwriting.wordpress.com)
- Hysteria is the Weekly Word: Hysterical or His Tears in Ria? (womanontheedgeofreality.com)
- Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story (gabriellegantz.wordpress.com)
- Size Matters (suehealy.org)
People are afraid of the strangest things. Pick a thing, any thing, and someone will be terrified of it.
For fiction writers, this is pure bliss. As a device to make any of your characters behave out of, er, character, a phobia can come in very handy. If you need to stop a character in mid-action, throw in something to scare them witless or give them a shock.
If you need a new idea for a sub-plot, a crisis, an ending or a beginning, pick a phobia. They’re great. Mind you, it’s not something you can use too often, but it doesn’t have to be a major thing. You could, however, build a whole novel around a serious phobia.
Oh, such fun. For the author, anyway. If you suffer from any phobia it’s anything but. If you are phobic, on the other hand, you will know exactly how it feels to be confronted by the thing you fear most. You can write very convincingly about the physical feelings, the mental paralysis, the compulsion to run, or to destroy, or to freeze.
For each of the phobias illustrated, answer these questions without thinking – just write anything down. Let your subconscious do the work, not your conscious mind
Which character is scared of this?
Where and when does the encounter take place?
What does this character do instinctively and immediately?
How long does it take till the terror wears off?
Who else gets hurt in the panic?
What does the character lose, or fail to do as a result?
What is the consequence of this?
I’d love to see some of your responses – do please leave an example (or three) in the comments box.
- Easy Phobias to Treat and Hard Phobias (psychologytoday.com)
- Thalassophobia: A Personal Story of Irrational Fear (sn2snblog.com)
Whether you’re writing fiction, non-fiction, articles or poetry, you need to know things. Be it the times of the trains on 5th February from Oxford to Montrose, the name of the first dog to go into space, or the statistics of the Headingley Ashes Test in 1981, writers need to do their research and be sure of their facts.
What reference books do you rely on?
Which book is your utter favourite?
What can you recommend?
Author Kate Harrison has done her own survey on people’s reading habits – what they love, loathe, buy and borrow, what they recommend and why. Fascinating and informative for writers, publishers and other readers.
Amongst other questions, Kate asked which three words best summed up what you wanted novels to be like. The top 4 words (number 3 and 4 were very close) were:
4: Funny (39%)
=2: Thrilling and moving (both scored 40%)
And number 1, with 55%: Thought-provoking.
She also surveyed publishers and agents. Here are three of the comments made:
Nicki Thornton, of Mostly Books in Abingdon, said: ‘Readers are always on the lookout for something that really speaks to them. It takes a lot of time to read a book and if it feels like time not well spent at the end of it I think people do feel disappointed. People do seem to be looking for something ‘a little more’ out of their reading rather than something very throwaway and lightweight.’
Agent Maddy Milburn said that debut authors are having orders cut, and she’s seen an increase in the demand for accessible literary books – as did Avon editor Sammia Rafique, who called these books ‘smart fiction’. But Maddy also pointed out that how the book is marketed makes a huge difference: ‘ONE DAY is essentially a love story but was given an iconic cover that appealed to both men and women.’ Sammia also called for more imaginative engagement with readers via social networking, to tap into their enthusiasm and interests.
Agent Carole Blake loathes the ‘chick lit’ label and its connotations of air-headedness – for me, she sums up the debate in the following: ‘Books that deliver a satisfying reading experience, but also leave the reader feeling they have learned something (historical facts, emotional intelligence, anything else) will leave the reader with the feeling that they have not only been entertained but also educated – they are validating their own leisure time and carrying away something more than ‘mere entertainment.’
You can help me, if you will. I want to make this blog a good resource for writers who need ideas or are blocked. I’m finding great quotes, blogposts, exercises, prompts and articles, but if you find something great – or are offering this kind of stuff on your blog or website, let me know and I’ll add the link, and credit you with thanks.