By Beverley Burgess Bell
All Stories are Unique, but Not All are Worth Reading
Indy, my border terrier, is male and enjoys picking up his pee-mail as we walk through the ravine or down the street. I watch him closely as he reads the different tales (pardon the pun) left behind by his compadres – some are worth a short sniff and a leg up; some are worth a sniff, a leg up and a good scraping on the ground to release scent from his front paws and some scents are not worth sniffing at all. Makes me realize he’s onto something. He knows all too well that while every dog has a story to tell, they are not all worth listening to.
Writing Tip No. 1: If I want my readers to read my book, my plot needs to be original and gripping. It must be worth a good sniff.
Meander and the Plot Will Come to You
Hiking through the ravine on our daily walk is an hour of stress-free contemplation. The fresh air, the bright sunshine, the smell of the great outdoors works like a charm. My book plot, which has been stagnating in my mind and on my pages, gets a shot of invigoration. Suddenly, I start linking different thoughts together and presto – my plot begins to make sense.
Writing Tip No. 2: Staring at a blank page will get you nowhere. Get out, move around, get some oxygen into your brain and the creative thought will come to you.
When in Doubt, Fight with Your Characters
Indy is a feisty fellow. He takes guff from no one. He may be all of twenty pounds but no one – bar no one, pushes him around. Bring on Max the 75-lb German Shepherd – he can take him on! Hmm, why am I allowing the characters in my book to push me around and not do what I want them to do? I’m the author, dammit!
Writing Tip No. 3: Take charge of your characters. Fight with them if you have to; kill them off if you need to, give them a dose of their own medicine but whatever you do, do something.
If the Story is Lagging, Take a Nap
Temperatures have plummeted. There’s an ice storm waging war outside. No walk today, for sure. What’s a dog to do? Take a nap for an hour, move to another good spot and nap some more. How in the world did this dog become so wise?
Writing Tip No. 4: What better way to fix a lagging plot line than to sleep on it and let your subconscious work its magic? You’ll be surprised what ideas come to you if you put your subconscious to work.
Sub-plots are All Around You—Take a Sniff
Enriching your novel with sub-plots is a no-brainer but the more you think about how to do it, the less you’re able to envision anything. I watch Indy happily sniffing around and realize the key is to relax and take a deep breath.
Writing Tip No. 5: There are plots all around you. Look in the newspapers, in magazines, on the internet. The weird, the wonderful and the unusual are there for the taking. All you need to do is find them, tweak them, change them up and they become yours.
So long for now. I’m off for a walk with my muse.
Do you have any writing tips to share?
You can find Beverley at her blog Beyond the Lamppost