There are different types of stalls you can go into as a writer, but the first one you have to overcome is thinking of WHAT you’re going to write. Early on, I was afraid that ideas were so rare – so few and far between – that I would write down all my ideas so I wouldn’t lose them. This showed me two things:
- I really have no shortage of ideas; no matter how hard I try, I can’t write the story for the first one fast enough to finish it before I have five or ten more.
- The idea that I have and write down has an expiration date: if I don’t write the story immediately, when I go back to my list to write that story, it isn’t the same anymore.
So I’ve stopped writing down my ideas – either I use it, or I lose it.
Whether you can find a way to preserve your ideas for future use or not, you still have to come up with those ideas in the first place. The following are some methods I’ve used to get the germ of a story; try them yourself and see if you find a prompt for one for your own.
- Write down ten different sentences that you would NEVER use to begin a story; then pick one of them and write.
- Use the text dictation feature on your cell phone to transcribe a conversation or a set of directions and see if it botches it into something more interesting.
- Flip through photographs and create three captions for each picture.
- Pick an inconsequential line from each of half a dozen songs and combine them.
- Try a word map (see photo: “story” grows into a stalking and abduction in the woods. At least that’s where it went for me; what do you see?)
- Go to the zoo. Find one (animal or person) that interests you and imagine what they’re thinking.
- Try the watching anywhere else that people gather (the mall, grocery store, etc.)
- Learn something new (watch a show you wouldn’t normally, or explore Wikipedia) until something inspires you.
- Cut up newspaper or magazine headlines into individual words. Draw them out of a hat and try to make sense of them.
- Pick an object and examine it. What might it be if it wasn’t what it is? How might it be used? By whom?
- Do something different (take a walk, barbecue, ride the bus, climb a tree) to shift your perspective.
Some of these generators came from writing exercise books I’ve used before. Others are ones I just now made up. You can do the same thing – different methods work for different people – I’ve used variations on all of them. Feel free to share any others you might have.
In the end, it doesn’t matter how you get there; just do it.
This week’s Smashword’s coupon is for “Cat and Mouse”:
Major Tom has plans for his leave time; this cat is finally going to get some much needed R&R with his mates. But recent additions to the household (including his Admiral father-in-law and an uppity mouse chef), as well as an unexpected visit from yet another enemy puts his whiskers in a twist.
“Cat and Mouse” is the third story in my Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire series.
Use coupon code SU47H to get 67% off the cover price at Smashwords (that’s only 99-cents – such a deal!) – it’s good until August 13th. Here’s the link:
“Cat and Mouse” is also available in the collection – Cats of War I.
“The Scent of the Crime” is still in queue for an August 26th release – I’m working on the cover now…
William Mangieri’s writing, including his latest publication “Obsolete”, can be found in many places, including:
• Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NoTimeToThink
• His Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008O8CBDY
• Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/william-mangieri?store=book&keyword=william+mangieri
• Createspace (if you prefer physical books): https://www.createspace.com/pub/simplesitesearch.search.do?sitesearch_query=william+mangieri&sitesearch_type=STORE
To CONNECT WITH HIM (and LIKE and FOLLOW), go to
• His site on WordPress: https://williammangieri.wordpress.com
• “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/NoTimeToThink
• His Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6893616.William_Mangieri
• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri