Have you ever know a person who stayed in a relationship (s)he didn’t enjoy simply because “it’s better than the alternative”? When people say that, they are overlooking a positive alternative: being open for someone better.
Since my last post, I realized a writer can develop a similar relationship with a story idea.
The feared alternative wasn’t being without ideas. (As if!) It was a fear of something else. Of being a coward, perhaps.
The great filmmaker, Akira Kurosawa (known best for Seven Samurai) supposedly said, “To be an artist means never to avert one’s eyes.” I think of this often, and I believe it.
There are times, though, when it is necessary to avert one’s mind.
After all, eyes don’t store troubling images–one’s mind does. A person’s mind can fixate on what is familiar and stop thinking about what could be better.
By focusing on ideas that don’t progress on paper, a writer might close herself off to stories that she could actually finish and put out on the market in a decent amount of time. I think it’s time to avert my mind from those that would offer too little promise to readers.
My family once encountered a ring-tailed cat alongside a rural street when I was a teenager. We studied it for several, surreal minutes while it considered us from a tree limb. We had no idea what it was. I remember digging for weeks until learning these relatives to the raccoon are a rarely-seen native (to Oregon).
Someone shared a link on the Hatrack River forums to a comparison Website of Starship Dimensions. If you’re a fan of any science fiction shows set in space, then trust me that you will enjoy this site. Don’t overlook the horizontal scrollbar.
What good are starships without destination stars? Topics in Astronomy, by Harry Foundalis includes a comparison of actual star sizes, temperature classification, and their estimated proximity to us. This site requires more brainpower and a difficult trick with the eyes to appreciate fully.
On a recent Out of My Mind post, Linda Cassidy Lewis shares responses to three photographic prompts for fiction. I enjoy prompts, not because they spur me to writing a new story (they rarely do) but for the quick release of creativity. Prompt responses are literary doodles.
Below are my doodles inspired by the same photos on Linda’s post. The challenge was to create three story ideas for each of the three photos. Stopping at three was difficult but a good idea to save time.
After I typed my nine responses, I added notes(incolor) on how to convert simple concepts to story ideas. That step is what transforms fun into writing practice for me.
1. Energy creature in formation. Where’s the conflict? A scientist studies the creature while a former friend and coworker protests the creature’s confinement to a human lab.
2. Dancing angel. (Do you see the halo, head, arms, and gown?) Again, where’s the conflict? A young girl who sees tiny angels (protective spirits or God’s Whisperers) learns that insisting what she sees is real may lead to isolation.
3. Touch the bubble, flip inside out, and transport to another world. Bubbles are harder to find in that world, but you’ll find one eventually.
1. Hey, twins. Do you think that house behind you will talk to me today?
2. She dreaded the path home and wanted only to sit on their bench until [the neighbor she adored] would come out and tell her that no other girl could take her place in his life. Young-adult romance.
3. Honeysuckle sweetened the air but couldn’t compare to the everyday seasonings of salty sand, barren wood, and exposed sea kelp. He breathed deeply to fill every pore with the essence of home. Story conflict? The main character is an old man expected to move away from his long-time beach home to live with his granddaughter.
These could be passages from workplace fiction.
1. “She had hair out to here. Wouldn’t you assume a lawyer would know how to groom herself before a hearing? Or did she just feel like reverting back to the 80’s? I felt like I was represented by Bobette the Clown.”
2. Her face couldn’t show more displeasure without breaking off to drag itself on the floor, yet he couldn’t help but push the issue. “I don’t know, maybe you couldn’t think through the sparkles. Maybe the blood you’ve been sucking from every one of our teammates turned bad and clotted in the decision-making parts of your brain. But if you don’t start acting like a mature member of group, I’ll make sure you’ll be living at a work center to find a new job that pays more than minimum wage.”
3. She wouldn’t lose this time. Even her mirror at home wanted to chuckle at the grumpy face she’d practiced to perfection. On this day, Earl would crack first.
On Monday, I forgot all of this advice while working on DeCo. Fortunately, I wrote notes in longhand during the first two and a half hours of analyzing, minor edits, and scene reorganization and so could duplicate my work in a fifth of the time.
On Wednesday, I fled to the house of two of my friends so I could pick apart more plot holes. There are so many! Until I’m confident in my outline again, I doubt I’ll expand the current story draft by much.
For the record, the current draft of DeCo has hovered around 30,000 words for the past month or two.
This weekend is all about brainstorming. I plan to do some more before going to bed tonight. À tout à l’heure!