In Part One, I told you about this publisher’s writing prompt. I told you I decided to pass, even though it was a great opportunity. It nagged at me, though. I have written two Epic 400,000 word series. Why the heck couldn’t I do something with this picture?
I opened the web site back up. I stared at that picture. I was brutally aware that I was now two-weeks behind all those happy writers that seemed to be all over this story. I could do this. I stared at the picture some more. I put it on my desktop. Looked at it all the time. Thought about it all the time.
Had I lost my touch?
“Just do it,” my son says. “Just write it. Get it over with and see what happens.” I ground my teeth as my own words came back to haunt me. (See my previous post) Problem was… this was a publisher, not a fourth-grade teacher. They wouldn’t be happy with a “B”. This needed to be “A” grade work.
I had no idea where to start, so I used a trick that I’ve used in my novels when I’m not sure how to start a new chapter. I took the character in the picture— I knew nothing about her, just what she was wearing and a setting.
I sat down to my keyboard, and had her take a simple step. The wind whipped up around her. Her shoes got dirty in the mud. The air chilled her face… I engaged myself into her setting. I allowed myself to feel her.
You know what happened?
Within one paragraph, I knew who she was. I knew where she was going. I knew how she had to get there. I knew why she was going. I knew what she had to do. Her character snowballed in my mind.
Do have a story? Well, no. Not yet. I need more characters. I need to develop those characters. I need conflict. I need antagonists. I need explosions. I need overlying theme and plot.
But I had a start. And, to my surprise, I was suddenly interested in that woman in the picture.
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Way to go on getting started. AND feeling like you didn’t avoid something just because you had nothing. That happens to all of us. What happened to the lady in the picture? Did alligators try to eat her?
Oooooooooo. That’s it! I’ll replace my explosions with giant man-eating alligators!
Hurray! The deep end is no scarier than the shallow once you stop expecting to touch the bottom with your feet.
Hmmm. Very interesting thought. I will have to remember that. Will you be there to haul me out if I start to sink? 🙂
Actually, I’m an awesome swimmer.
Oh, Jennifer, go with your gut. Put in the explosions!
Ha! Everything is better with explosions. I haven’t met too many I don’t like.
I’m so glad you are sharing this. I thought I might be the only writer who can crank out novel drafts, but is stymied by a simple writing prompt. (And am I even a ‘writer’ if writing prompts are not my thing-yet? Gack, indeed!)
I hope that with practice I will overcome such obstacles, and so will you. I’m cheering for you! Keep at it, and I am certain a solution will emerge if you have faith that it is there.
Thanks, Kirsten! I don’t think it’s a problem if you have trouble with prompts. Different writers have different things that appeal to them.
Now you know what your son goes through in 4th grade-heehee:) Gotta love that muse!
His 4th grade homework is stuff I has doing in high school. Geeze.
Yea for you! That’s so fun when a character comes to life in your mind. That’s what I need to bring a story about–a strong character. So glad it happened for you. I’m sure all the staring at her helped immensely.
It’s funny how staring at the picture did nothing, but forcing her to take a step made her come alive in my mind.
Oh for that ah ha moment, Jennifer. Go for it full throttle and see what happens. “She” will guide you, so pay attention 🙂
Breaking the dam that holds back all the wonderful ideas and characters and plots is tough. But when we remember, as you did, that all we need is a crack—not an explosion—the task gets more manageable. Oh—and regular offerings of wine and chocolate to the Muse never hurt (or whatever strikes your Muses’s fancy 🙂 )
Good luck with the story!
Oh, chocolate is a definite help. There’s never enough chocolate at my desk.
I knew you could do it. I am being told all the time, to “just write”. Don’t overthink, don’t feel that you have to have it all worked out in your mind before you do it, just do it. Like Nike. 🙂
Yeah. I think I just needed to relax and let the pressure off.
Take a step… what a neat way to get into the character. Have fun getting to The End.
Wiggling your way to an ending is the fun part!
Well done Jen. Know your characters and the story will write itself, or so people say 🙂
You know, that’s actually true. Once you have a character, the world seems to just flow around them.
Woot, Jennifer! Somehow, I KNEW you’d continue with this challenge.
That son of yours is a gem! Can I borrow him for my writing slump days? Skype anyone?
Erm. Yes. I OWE you a ping-back post for your kind 7×7 award. It’s not that I don’t know you have many followers equally worthy. It’s not that I don’t appreciate you. What is it then, you ask?
I’m a dingbat.
Can’t wait to see how this turns out. Best of everything.
Thanks, Gloria. Dingbats anonymous starts Saturday.
I love it when the creative juices start to flow and you can’t turn them off. Good for you, Jen. I knew you could do it!
Yay for creepy ladies in red dresses!