Vision: A Resource for Writers
A Dark and Stormy Night
By Kim L. Cole
Kim L. Cole
done everything right. Youíve
cleaned up a corner of your office just for writing, with plenty of space for
your creative endeavors. You have
an ergonomic keyboard to save your wrists, and a great selection of music to
stimulate your brain. Youíve
blocked off time for writing, which is not to be interrupted upon pain of death.
You are totally ready to write.
why arenít there any words on the page?
the mechanics around writing are a lot easier than the writing itself.
Just because you know you have something interesting to say doesnít
mean the words will come quickly or easily.
Sometimes the blank screen (or page) can kill any ideas that might have
been running around in your brain. Itís
not surprising for really good ideas to develop agoraphobia and refuse to ever
key to conquering the blank page is, of course, to put something on it.
It doesnít have to be intellectual, or funny, or even make all that
much sense. The important thing
isnít the quality of the words you put down.
Itís the fact that youíre putting them down at all.
Once you get your brain limbered up and used to throwing out words upon
that no-longer-blank page, you can move into the idea you really wanted to write
isnít new advice. Experts have often said "Write anything,no matter how
good or bad." The writerís
response is sometimes somewhat predictable, but also very understandable. "I still donít know what to write!"
are several good tricks that Iíve used to get myself writing.
Some of them are my ideas; others are well-known pieces of advice.
When you find yourself stuck, try one of them. If that doesnít work, try another. The same trick wonít work for everyone, so the best thing
to do is try a little bit of everything. Eventually
youíll find the way to make your mind sparkle on the page.
first line is often the hardest, but it can also be used to free yourself from
the problem with blank pages. Keep a notebook within easy reach all the
time. Whenever you hear someone say something that strikes you, or you
think of an interesting line, write it down. These can be interesting
things, funny things, clichťs, or just bizarre strings of words.
you find yourself staring at the vast fields of white on your computer screen,
pull out your notebook. Pick a line
(any line, don't think too much about it) and type it in.
Look at it for a moment, but don't treat it like a story.
Don't try to plan characters or plotlines. Just look at the sentence and see what it makes you think of.
you need is one more sentence. Type
that in. Then type in another. Keep
it up until you both love what you wrote and want to turn it into a story, or
you laugh at what you've done and giggle at the strange turns your mind can
take. Enjoy this exercise, as it is
supposed to be fun. Sometimes the
more incoherent the results are, the more fun it can be.
With any luck this will free you to work on something you really have
wanted to do.
Way It Should Have Been
one can be a lot of fun. Think back
over your life and remember all the times you wished that you were one of your
characters. Or the times that you
needed a rewind button, or just some time to stop and revise your responses. I'm sure we've all had occasions when the perfect quip rose
to our lips just a few minutes late (or hours, or days).
one of those scenes to mind, and write it down.
Describe yourself and your thoughts, and describe the other person.
After you've got the basic set up written, depart from reality.
Write the scene the way you wish it had happened, with all the stinging
barbs and witty repartee that's so hard to achieve in real life.
Or, if you prefer, change a bitter fight to a sweet reunion, with all the
apologies you know you should have uttered.
serves two purposes. One is that it allows you to get a painful or annoying scene
out of your head. The second is
that it just might provide you with a powerful scene that could someday grow
into a beautiful story, or maybe even fit into a work in progress.
And of course, it puts words down on the page.
a Thousand Words
all heard the saying, so I won't belabor the point.
If you're having trouble with the tricks above, which all rely on the
imagination flowing, this might be the one that works for you.
Look at an image. It doesn't
really matter if it's your favorite painting, your favorite family photo, or the
semi-comprehensible drawing your child brought home from school.
at the picture and really study all the details.
Write down a description of it. Not
just a list of facts, but real description as if it were a setting in a novel. Get down at least two or three paragraphs.
When you've finished describing the image, describe things like the
people in it. What are they
thinking? Even better, what might
they be thinking if their world were a little different from our own?
Get into at least one head and follow it along.
You may find yourself beyond the picture itself.
is easier to start than the other two because you are beginning with concrete
details. Once you slip into the
scene you're describing you may find that you don't want to leave.
Stories can be built from paintings (my personal favorite is Van Gogh's Starry
Night) or from pictures of your grandparents when they were young. No matter the subject of the picture, you could easily grow
its world into something strange and new.
It? Got It?
there we are. Three long-term
use-them-anywhere tips and tricks for getting the words to flow.
Use one of them, use them all, or alternate between them.
Find whatever works for you. Each
writer is different and we all need different ways to get past that fear of the
important thing to remember is that the page stops being blank the minute you
hit your first key. Also remember that, should you really be unhappy with what
you produce, delete is a very useful function.
However, try not to be too judgmental about what you produce during these
practice sessions. They are only
exercises, after all. While they
may lead to something great, they may not.
They don't have to. Their
only purpose is to get your fingers moving and your mind ticking along.
yourself to say whatever strikes you at the time.
Allow the words to come. You
can fight with them until they are perfect, if that works for you, or throw them
down any which way. Keep trying,
and keep working, and keep learning. I
hope that these ideas will help to spark even bigger and better ideas in your
L. Cole lives in Oklahoma, writing fantasy, horror, personal essays, poetry, and
is now venturing into mainstream thrillers.
You can read samples of her nonfiction writing at either of her websites,
Kimmy's Atheist Site (http://www.positiveatheist.com/)
or Walking the Night (http://www.walkingthenight.com/).