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.