Last week, we conducted an exercise based on generating ideas and getting a little out of them, but why’d I do that? It’s simple. Ideas are a dime a dozen, quite frankly, you could get them in your sleep as I’m sure quite a few of you do. Sometimes you can develop an idea into something useable and create a story and sometimes you just can’t. Sometimes it’s because it’s not the right time for it and sometimes it’s because it’s just not meant to be but you always need to be able to tell if you need to let an idea take a rest otherwise you’ll get stuck on it and no one likes getting stuck.
The point of today’s post is to stress the importance of expanding on your ideas and turning them into something Other. How do you do this, you ask? Simple. Just keep asking questions. Take your first ‘What if?’ and stare at it. Give it a long hard look. If you’re a visual person like me, try to get an image of a scene to go with that what if. Remember to keep the other questions ( such as the How, When etc.) floating in your mind as you think about it. The answers to the questions are subject to change so don’t be afraid to let them go. Now just hold that image in your head and ask yourself: What if?
Stories are made up of ideas upon ideas, and this is what I’m trying to make you do. Let’s continue with the example I used in our Wednesday writing exercise:
What if the sea level rose swallowing up 75% of the land people once inhabited?
How? – A science project gone wrong sped up the progress of global warming.
When? – A hundred years after our time.
Who? – Our story is based around a boy named Sky and the girl he calls Lea.
Twist? – The twist in our story is that Lea is the modern day version of a mermaid. When scientists discovered what they had done, they tried to genetically alter human beings so that with time they would become amphibians, able to survive both at sea and on land. This went terribly wrong as such things tend to do…
What if Sky got too close to the water’s edge and falls in when he’s young and gets saved?
Who? – Sky is one of our main characters, Lea saves him.
How? – Lea lives in the sea. She’s one of the descendants of one of the genetically altered humans.
When? – This is at the beginning of the story. This is my story’s point zero.
Twist? – Sky shouldn’t have been saved, at least in this manner. His mother will never tell anyone what happened and Lea will never tell anyone in her pod.
I don’t have to stop here. In fact, I should keep going. My mind is actually dancing with possibilities right now. See the dancing cat agrees! I’m hoping everyone kind of gets my point. So, does everyone know what this means?
Writing Exercise 2:
Get out those ideas you put together in the first writing exercise. Taking one or two of them (or all if that floats your boat), start to expand on them by getting more ideas off your main idea, just as I did above. The questions I’m asking myself each time I do these ideas help me to expand on them. If you get a thought about something to go with that idea and it doesn’t fall under one of the question make another heading like ‘Extra’ or ‘Notes’ and write it down. Don’t be afraid to write as much as you want.
I’m not going to tell you where to stop with this expansion phase. You can do a bit today and you can do a bit tomorrow and you can do a bit more on Wednesday and so on and so on. The point of this site is to help you keep writing. It’s to give you an extra bit of encouragement everyday so you can sit at your computer or take up a pen and pencil and write. It’s to point you in one direction and say go and then it comes back and says: “Why aren’t you moving yet?” I’m not a book, I’m a person and I’m hoping that by writing these posts at least a few more writers will get that extra push they need. Although it’s very early in this blog’s life, I hope it’s fulfilling that purpose, at least for a few people. So until next time, feel free to leave any comments to let me know what you guys are thinking.
K, the Popinjay.