Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The juicer


Yesterday I wrote about the importance of being creative when we write. We need to think outside the cliche box and come up with new, fun, grabbing stories that entice our readers and not bore them.

A few of you noted that you've been tripped up here lately. I CAN SO RELATE!!! There are so many books out there... how do we write something fresh that hasn't already been done?

Even though I have many of these creative-frustrated moments myself, here's a few ideas that have helped me at times (and some that were offered in the comment section yesterday!)

  1. People watch. Mentioned a few times in the comments yesterday, and SO very true. Go to the mall, the grocery store, the bowling alley and watch people. Eavesdrop (um, be careful with this...) and just observe their mannerisms. See an interesting person? Let your mind wonder. What makes that person tick. Challenge yourself to think of the most outrageous circumstance you can think of. It will get you thinking, and might spark some ideas for your story.

  2. Fill in the blank This is a game my husband and I play. When we are in a restaurant, or actually, usually in our car (like at sonic or something) and we see someone deep in conversation, we mimic what they are saying, trying to make the conversation match their body language. It's quite funny, if I do say so myself. And gets my creative brain stimulated.

  3. Watch a movie Sometimes when I really am OUT of the writing/creative mood, I watch a romantic comedy. I have a handful that I watch over and over because they never cease to put me in the writing mood. (I write contemporary romance... you can fill in the genre that you see fits) Now, I don't use material from the movie, obviously, but it helps get me in the right frame of mind.

  4. Brainstorm with someone My mom, sisters, and husband, and sometimes even children, are good for this. I'll just sit and talk to them about ideas, let them spew from my mouth, and they offer little suggestions along the way. Sometimes just trying to articulate ideas to them helps jump start the juices.

  5. Drop a bomb If your book feels like it's dragging, it usually means one of two things. 1.) You went down a wrong path or 2.) You need a bomb. A bomb in a story doesn't HAVE to be an actual explosive (but I guess it can be...) but more like something HUGE that happens that redirects your story. I used this recently, because I'd been in a rut halfway through my book and that is NOT a good place to be. Nothing worked to help get me out. So... what could I do to get out of it? I got some dynamite and totally threw my MC through a loop. It involved a job change, a very angry hero, and a victorious antagonist. Now that I have everyone riled up, I can proceed.


Other good ideas from comments yesterday:
  • Research

  • Reading different genres

  • Shoot someone (kinda like my bomb dropping...)

  • Real life (AMEN!)

  • Exercise (this helps me too... although too much tuckers me out!)

  • Rest. Opposite of the last one, but just as important. If we get too tired, our creativity might take a nap too.


Feel free to add more today!

Or... to mix it up a little... can you think of an example in a book you've read recently where the author "mixed" it up? Obviously, don't give away endings or spoilers, and feel free to use particular creative geniuses you've had in your own work as examples.

My Example: I read Deeanne Gist's "A Bride in the Bargain" recently. A GREAT book BTW. Okay, so quite obvious from the back of the book that's it's about a girl who comes West, thinking she's getting a job as a cook but then realizes she's actually been "bought" as a mail-order bride. She isn't pleased, and refuses to marry, but the guy is in dire straights for a wife otherwise he loses his land.

That, right there, seems like a winner of a book to me. Lots of conflict, a good romance possibility... I'm itching to read it again just remembering. LOL. But what I didn't expect was him asking for the hand of another lady... in fact my jaw pretty much dropped, then I laughed. Very hard. And... if you would like to know WHO he asks and what comes of it, and why I found it so funny, well, you'll just have to read it, now won't you! Regardless, it was a creative twist that added another layer to an already very good book.

YOUR TURN!

12 comments:

Gwen Stewart--Singer-Scribe said...

This is so true, Krista. Agents and editors say they see a lot of familiar or common themes is stories. Finding a fresh idea that is still comfortable enough to understand or relate to is really tricky!

I sent the characters in my last book on a few more twists than the one I wrote before that. I hope it generates more editor interest--we'll see! :)

Heather Sunseri said...

Walking through the malls made me think about those desperate people that hang outside the kiosks begging you to come talk to them so they can spread lotions and stuff all over your hands. Someone should write a horror book about them. Do all malls have those?

Katie Ganshert said...

Great list!!! I love the drop a bomb one and the brainstorm with others. That usually helps.

Jody Hedlund said...

I think I usually drop the bomb when I get in a rut. I think of the worst possible thing that can happen to my MC and then try to plug it in! It's amazing how much life we can put back into our stories when we do that!

I need to get better at people watching. Usually when I'm out, I'm so busy trying to keep track of my kids, that I can't do much else!

And BTW, I can't imagine you ever having problems coming up with ideas for your stories! You seem so good at making even the ordinary seem interesting!

Krista Phillips said...

Gwen: Yeah for you, throwing a few more twists in there!!

Heather: Ohhhh, have you watched Paul Blart, Mall Cop? *grin* Although I've thought before that a book about someone who peddles those hand cream things or the hair extensions could be OH so funny. (You think horror, I think humor, lol!)

Katie: I love the bomb drop too *grin*

Jody: Awww thanks! I think that's some of the most fun, taking the ordinary and making it funny:-)

Marybeth Poppins said...

Great ideas! I think after all this and everything I read yesterday and talking to everyone...I may finally be back on track. (Knock on Wood)

Jeanette Levellie said...

Krista: I'm curious what movies you watch when you need inspiring? I'm a great fan of old B and W romances. Please share...

Lazy Writer said...

Great suggestions! I love the drop a bomb one. And the people watching one is always helpful to me. My husband says I have a staring problem, but I consider it research! :)

Erica Vetsch said...

Yup, I'm all for dropping a bomb. :)

I like shooting people myself.

T. Anne said...

Ooh I like the drop the bomb adage! I must be off I have a few bombs to drop...

sherrinda said...

I love your idea of you and your husband filling in a couple's conversation! That is hilarious! I bet my husband could come up with some side-slitting conversations! I am definitely going to give this a try! lol

Krista Phillips said...

Ohhh, looks like we have a bunch of bomb droppers in the crowd:-) Sherrinda...that game is TOO hilarious, let me just tell you! My cute hubby always makes me laugh till I cry when we play.