Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What If They Don't Come?

I had to sigh while reading Serena’s earlier post because in the not too distant past, ideas popped in from so many places I had to cull through to find the ones with the most potential.

Not lately, though. I’ve been pulled in so many directions, both personal and professional, that I’m having a hard time coming up with anything new. It seems my muse is on vacation. And with all the rain and dreary weather here in used-to-be Sunny California, who can blame her.

So it’s times like these I take out the old plot cards. I used to do this as a writing exercise, and I’ve been to chapter meetings where we workshopped plots using this very method.

I make up ten cards for each character: hero, heroine, mentors/allies (The Writer's Journey, Christopher Vogler) villain/enemy. I do the same for structure: plot, conflict, black moment, resolution.

Starting with the character archetypes, I use Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes (Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever, Sue Viders) to create my characters, and pair or pit them with/against each other:
Hero: chief, bad boy, charmer, best friend, lost soul, etc.
Heroine: boss, Seductress, spunky kid, free spirit, etc.

Then I move on to plot structure, and using the 22 master plot types, I pick between: Quest, Adventure, Rescue, Escape, Revenge, etc

Once I’ve randomly chosen cards for all parts of the story, I lay them out. If something doesn’t work, I think on it for a while. If something really doesn’t work, I pick a new card, and I don’t let myself feel guilty about it.

Another tip I've found helps is to find pictures in magazines to help me visualize. Sometimes stories come from the pictures themselves. A face, a place, a fancy car.

That reminds me…I once had an idea about a girl who bought a car at auction, but found something hidden inside the trunk that some very bad people wanted to get hold of…

Maybe my muse isn’t so far away after all.


Anonymous said...

Or ... try reading a really crappy book. I'm talking Bulwer-Litton bad. Something with a trite plot and horrible characterization. Within two pages you'll be going, "No! That makes no sense! They should do it this way, and that person should be more (whatever)." And you'll be off and running.

If it doesn't work, you can always throw the book against the wall. The thump they make is so satisfying.

Pat C.

Savanna Kougar said...

Wow, I've never tried the card idea... that would be interesting, just to see what came up, and what evolved as a story idea.

Actually, I like your girl at a car auction finding something in the trunk or even the side panels... wherever... you could even make it in a cross country car chase.

Savanna Kougar said...

Pat, I sure hope one my print books, if you ever have, doesn't go *THUMP*

Laurann Dohner said...

LOL. That's a great idea about the cards. I wrote a book about a Cyborg after looking at fantasy art online. I saw this one picture someone drew and BAM! I got hit like a brick with an image of him as a Cyborg in the future, changed his looks around more to my preference... and it got picked up so it will be coming out soon. Who said Art isn't inspiring? LOL. NOT ME!

It has been depressing with all the rain we're getting. Today was sunshine though and I fully enjoyed it!

Serena Shay said...

Good idea with the cards, Crystal, I'll have to give it a try. :)