Creative Interpretation – The Nuts and Bolts of Idea Generation

creative writing

by Annette Young

Author Annette YoungCreative writing demands many skills but interpreting a scene in a unique way is  a necessary talent to have.  This is why many skilled wordsmiths fail to do well in a writing competition or, when sending stories out in the hopes of getting published. To stand out creatively in today’s pool of eager writers, you have to train your imagination to look for more than the obvious. If you can keep this in mind, you will naturally stretch your imagination a little more.

Take the shower scene photo published  here. It has so much potential in terms of stimulating the mind but often, writers jump on the first few story ideas without stretching them out and pushing and pulling the story into a unique shape. What’s the first thing you think of when you look at it? For me, I considered the vulnerability of the woman. I imagined someone breaking into her house and catching her at her most vulnerable. Let’s face it, no-one really wants to be naked in front of a burglar.

Shower scenes lend themselves well to the horror or crime genre because we all know that vision and hearing is limited when the water is running. We also feel vulnerable and writers who work in these genres know this. They take an everyday scene and add tension and suspense. But, if you were given a photo such as this to stimulate your creative writing skills and you had to compete against others, horror or crime may not be unique.

So, what else could you do with this type of scene? Erotica of course, also springs to mind. This is a popular market in which to write and, it’s not a big stretch of the imagination to take this photo and craft an idea worthy of an erotic fiction market. But even so, erotic writing is a market and not a story, so what would make yours different? You have to think about your story and understand how it will make your readers feel.

Let’s run through a few general ideas:

What if this character turned out to be the burglar who had broken into a house?

What if this character was being filmed – with or without her knowledge?

What if this character was being stalked? Private detective or by an unknown admirer?

What if this character had been injured and the shower scene became part of the aftermath of something traumatic?

What if the character was getting ready to go on a hot date?

What if the character slipped and had no way of getting help?

What if someone left an ominous message in the steam on the bathroom window?

These are just very quick ideas but there are a great many options for the savvy creative writer. Just remember, it doesn’t always have to be about the (in this case) shower scene, but the character and the events that unfold. The scene could be a small part of but not necessarily, the central core of the story. Scenes can be used to create intimacy, to instil tension or fear or, to invite the reader to take a step closer to the story.

There has to be a healthy mix between imagination and writing technique. The most wonderful story idea in the world will not get published if the writer’s ability to hold attention and to progress the story is insufficient. In the same way, a truly talented writer will not get far if their imagination is stifled and they are not prepared to commit to their idea generation.

Next time you are looking to use a photo as inspiration, take the time to develop your ideas and stretch your imagination to the full. You may find it really pays off!

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Shower Image: Unsplash – Joe deSousa

Writing Tip of the Week 31

characterisation

When writing fiction, just remember that your readers need to engage with your characters so give them one to believe in, to connect with and to cheer on as the character overcomes all of the main obstacles planted skilfully in their path. There must be something likable about the character though, so that the reader wills them on, investing in their development by giving up their time. 

Writing Tip of the Week 30

Writing

Time

Be protective of your writing space and time. You may have limited time in which to write anyway so when the opportunity arises, guard it carefully. It’s more precious than gold.If you are just starting out, you may feel a little reluctant to tell people that you are writing and need peace and quiet, but start as you mean to go on.

Writing Tip of the Week 30

How real are your characters to you? To be able to bring characters to life so that the reader connects with them on a deep level, you must believe in your creations and, more than that, care about them. You can test out your connection to any characters by trying to write them out of your novel, feel the pain of their demise, feel sadness as you write those last words and, feel the weight of responsibility on your shoulders. If you don’t feel deeply connected to your characters, you will not be able to breathe life into them in the first place. 

Writing Tip of the Week 24

Creative Writing TipsMany people dream of becoming a writer and it’s understandable. The prospect of becoming a published writer or to make money from the written word is enticing but, let’s not kid ourselves, like everything worthwhile in life, it takes hard work to make creative writing a success story. If you want to be a writer, try to write each day. On those days or times when it’s impossible, think about it. Explore creative possibilities, craft possible new characters, think of plots and twists and throw in a little bit of creative ‘what if’s’ into the scenario. Mull over ideas until they become real to you. This is the difference between someone who is determined to be a writer over someone who imagines it must be nice. Ten minutes of writing each day will make a difference. Double that and you double the creative acceleration and so on. Think like a writer, act like a writer and dream like a writer.

Don’t Be Fooled By Shiny Magic Buttons

buttons

buttons

by Annette Young

We live in a disposable society – do you know that?

People rarely want to work hard and climb the ladder towards the top of their chosen field, it’s all too easy to take shortcuts these days. With the onset of digital publishing, writers are a little like that too. I’m all for the great opportunities that companies such as Amazon have brought to the writing world, but it doesn’t mean that those who wish to jump onto the publishing band wagon should not provide high quality material.  Real writers- who have words running through their veins, have worked exceptionally hard to learn their craft and to earn their publishing stripes. They are proud of the work they produce and they market it with pride – and rightly so. We’ve probably all read some books that really should not have been published and that’s a shame.

But writers are drawn to the shiny magic button that says here’s how to bypass the learning stage. The promises of instant publication and churning out books in a matter of weeks is a nonsense of course. Or at least it is if you don’t have the skills or, the savvy to hire a good writer who can help you through.  What’s wrong with learning the craft? What’s wrong in experiencing the joy of watching your creative talents develop? If you avoid taking the shiny, magic button route, the end product means so much more to you.

I always think of it as the magpie effect – just because it’s shiny and appealing and you have the urge to click that button, doesn’t mean that your creative outpourings are going to be worthy. I’m all for people making the most of their creative skills, I’m all for helping non-writers achieve their publishing dream, but I am absolutely not for those who deep down know they cannot write, and yet, who offer the reader books of little value.

Do you know what that does? It de-values the written word.

If you want to be a writer, do it the good old-fashioned way and learn the craft. Ignore those adverts that say they can turn you into a  best-selling author overnight or, they can help you write your book in a weekend. Ignore those fake publishing companies who promise you all and deliver a big fat zero. It’s all nonsense and deep down you know that too. Ignore the shiny, magic button that promises all and delivers disappointment, either learn the craft fully and embrace the written word, or, if you don’t have time or the dedication, let a professional writer breathe life into your idea.

People used to dream of being a writer of merit, let’s bring that dream back.

Inspirational Creative Writing Tips

Tips for writers

Author Annette Young

By Annette Young

If you are considering a new fictional project, stop for a moment and scan through these creative writing tips first as they just might help you to increase your connection to the reader before you’ve even written one word. It pays to really consider what you are trying to achieve before you start out, spontaneous bursts of creative writing might feel wonderful but if you want the outcome to have a more professional edge, then a little contemplation can make all the difference.

These creative writing tips may seem commonsensical but put them together and consider them throughout and your fiction will be creatively stronger as a result.

1. Creating a dramatic opening is essential if you want to hook the reader but it doesn’t always have to be an action scene, instead why not consider starting with tension? The opening could be a life-threatening revelation and the reader is instantly aware that the clock is ticking and the character may or may not make it. Tension is interwoven in our lives, we all fight against it but when we use it in reality, (like using a deadline for increased inspiration) it can serve to give the story a sense of realism.

2. If you are going to start with a sense of drama, it’s good to end each chapter with a hook. This will keep the reader turning the pages as they will be desperate to see what happens next. If you are writing a short work of fiction, you can still build tension towards the climax and make it a memorable ending.

3. Don’t reveal everything to the reader. When you settle down to read a book, you don’t want to know everything at the start. You want the opening pages to be attention-grabbing and to pull you into the story, but if the writer gives it all away or makes it so predictable, why read more? Tease the reader with some carefully chosen snippets of information that will have them mulling over this news and they will become absorbed, anticipating the outcomes. Keep it fresh but believable.

4. When you craft your characters, do you know what they really want or need to achieve? If you don’t, you will just have them treading fictional water. There’s a huge difference between characters that have an aim, and those who just mill around. Think about the people you know in real life. Those who have a cause and who are determined to achieve will stand out, they may  not always be likeable in some aspects but they are memorable. Your characters  need to incite interest in some way or another. Don’t make it too easy for your characters to achieve either, throw in a few obstacles to make it interesting.

5. No characters are the same throughout. We all have layers that make up our personalities. Some people sulk when they don’t get their own way, others work harder to achieve, some people attract the wrong personality types, others create incredible friendships. Past actions and learned behaviours can make your characters act in very different ways  than might be expected. People are not always logical or in control of their emotions, but their actions are usually as a result of something.How well do you know your characters?

Find a good starting point and let the words flow with a flourish. If you have conviction in  your writing and your story, your technique will improve dramatically and so will the end result. These creative writing tips are useful but only valuable if you use them each and every time. Eventually, these tips will become instinctive and you will develop an intuitive approach to storytelling.

 

 

 

Writing Tip – Go Back So You Can Move Forward

Writing tips

Annette Young - Authorby Annette  Young

We all need a little help and encouragement sometimes. Even with all of my years of experience writing for myself and for clients, it’s still nice to get some really positive feedback.  A few of my more recent clients did just that, they rated my work and said that they absolutely loved the articles I had provided for them. A little bit of encouragement goes a long way and I have to admit, it’s a good feeling.

But if you haven’t published any work yet or, if you have not started writing for clients, how do you know if your work is good, or, if it is getting better? Well, of course there’s my evaluation service which gives you a comprehensive breakdown of your fiction, articles or book, but here is a writing tip that most of you will be able to utilise even if you have limited experience;

Take a look back at your first pieces of writing and analyse them. I can almost guarantee that you will see a massive improvement if you compare it to your recent writing samples.

I did this a few weeks ago. Having moved house, I had the joyous task of sorting through some boxes that had been stashed away and as I did so, I uncovered my trusted case which holds all of my early writing samples. These date back to the 1980’s and continue into the ’90’s so you can imagine, it’s easy to look back and compare. I spent a few hours taking a trip down memory lane and each piece of writing, now faded and fragile, brought back sharp memories of those times.

Now, I always (modestly) thought I could write and write well but when I look back at those early stories which were submitted to women’s fiction magazines, I can quite see why they were returned to me with a no-thanks. The same with my articles.

Although I didn’t see a drastic improvement at the time, I can now. That’s a great feeling by the way and it confirms your belief in your writing abilities. So, my tried and tested writing tip is to rummage through your old manuscripts and take a long, hard look at your early efforts, now compare them to your recent writing attempts and you will see just how good you are.

What better incentive is there to carry on writing?