The fastest way to get a new viewpoint on your story is to get down on your hands and knees and look at the world from that vantage point. Sometimes, you see things you didn’t know you knew. Remember, it’s not always the story that matters but the journey you take to get past the writers’ block.
Let me introduce you to my favorite part of “Der Reizen”. I had a whole list of suggestions I could use for travel articles, but none of them seemed to fit the situation. I needed something special, something that would make people notice Bavaria from a different viewpoint. Well, Herta did.
“Well enough,” Herta responded. “Things are a bit upside down yet.” Her gaze traveled around the lobby of the Gasthof, where the public phone was located. Sitting on a shelf above the entry was the strangest creature she’d ever seen. But she’d heard of them. She chuckled. “Trust me, Rae-Lynne, it shouldn’t take me too long to organize a Walpertinger Hunt.”
I was going to have Herta just do some boring old travel article until, deep in my research into Bavaria, I came across a photograph of a strange creature, part hare, part squirrel, part bird, part I’m-not-sure-what. I could hear the voice of a journalist friend who told me whatever was of interest to me would probably be of interest to my readers. As a result, Herta went on a Walpertinger Hunt in order to find out more about the area. Kellan Publishing approved it.
That’s the key to any kind of writing. Look for the unusual, the slightly different way of looking at something. Get down on the floor or onto a chair and look at the world from that vantage point. My ‘get down on the floor’ epiphany was a picture of a Walpertinger. What’s yours?
I can remember writing stories about pictures that the teacher had given us in high school. It wasn’t so much an exercise on writing about what we see, but about asking questions – what if? How did? Why? I still use those techniques to get past so-called writers’ block. I write drabbles, stories of exactly one hundred words, not including the title. It’s harder that it sounds, but it’s good practice for writing just about anything else.
I sometimes make up stories to go with pictures I’ve found online, too. Just very short stories, less than 500 words, but again, it’s practice in seeing versus looking. Sometimes, the story is a ‘news article’ about the picture and sometimes, it’s fiction. What I write is going to determine the word count, but that’s not the entire aim of the exercise. The whole point is to write what interests you. If you’re passionate about your interest, then that will show in your writing. What you find interesting is liable to be of interest to someone else.
Writers’ block. It doesn’t really exist, you know. Writers never run out of things to say. They just run out of intelligent things to say. Sometimes going back to the beginnings, the old school assignments we had in English class for example, is a good way to remind yourself of the things you have to look for, the whos, the wheres, the whys. If you’re writing something other than your main novel, make sure you’re having fun doing it. Play “what if?” Play “how-do-it-know?” Take a chance on having a silly story. Take a chance on never letting anyone read what you’ve just written. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re refueling yourself for another run at the main story you’re trying to tell.
Sometimes, it’s not the end that matters, but the journey there.
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