8:25 a.m. — Atlanta
listening to Ravel’s Bolero — I had forgotten how much I love it
Brrr. Hello, all. Maybe, if we exercise our brain cells we can warm up a little. I mentioned last week that I spend November focusing on narrative exercises, for the NaNoWriMo-ers among you. Participants run a gamut from first time participants to those who arrived, three days ago, with a first draft in hand, ready to get down to real writing, with revision as their focus. The prompts, and Thursday’s notes plus links, are intended as rest stops or, even, something to note and apply to your NaNoWriMo piece.
Poets who are not participating, or are and also writing poetry (are you nuts?), your challenge is to turn the prompt to your advantage. Almost any prompt works for poetic and narrative writing. You can take your prompt from my title, from something I natter about, or, of course, the prompt itself.
Let’s start with something that is useful to both the first timer and the old hand, called simply: Then what? You would be surprised how many writers sit and agonise when they reach a blocking point (not really surprised, right?), when they have at hand a simple technique for moving on. Remember that the point is to get words on paper, to move the plot of the story forward. It is important that you actually say the words, aloud, in your head, whatever, but give Then what? form. It acts as a trigger.
I’ll start you with an arbitrary point. You may change the start point when you try the exercise. Your main character has woken up and moving over to the window, she stares out. Then what? Write down five or six possibilities and do not, NOT self-censor. Here is what my brain came up with:
1] She watched as their car reversed down the driveway and wondered when he would be back.
2] She noticed a green sedan parked in front of her neighbour’s; it had been there all night.
3] Down the street she saw the garbage truck and swore, as she realised she had forgotten to put out the bins.
4] Where once she had a flower bed, sat a smallish flying saucer. Hey, I said no censoring
5] She saw nothing of the view, eyes focused on a telephone pole, her mind going over the provisions of her aunt’s will.
The idea is to pick one that furthers your story and ask yourself, Then what? again, until the brain starts moving. Note that each of the scenarios hint at conflict, the bread and butter of all stories. I did not do this on purpose. I merely asked Then what? and wrote down the answers.
Poets, I admit this one might be more of a challenge than upcoming ones, for a poem. One possibility is to find an old poem draft where you became stuck and try, Then what? Or, take the phrase and incorporate it in a new poem, in some manner. I look forward to your ingenuity. NaNoWriMo-ers, if you are sticking purely to prose this month and you try this out, consider posting your Then whats?, or a resulting paragraph from one of your scenarios.
I shall see you Thursday for some fiction talk and a couple of links; Friday for the roundup; and next Tuesday for a character prompt.
Happy writing, everyone.