|The author, Dane F. Baylis|
LET'S PLAY LIST-O-MANIA!
Yes, I love lists! Why? Because they take a good deal of the drudgery out of writing. Lists of places = settings. Lists of weather effects = mood. Lists of passionate emotional reactions = themes. Lists of objects = props.
Why not just sit down and write something and worry about the details later? Because there are so many rich and intricate parts to life that it is impossible to remember them all. Especially when you are struggling through your characters persona and what is the exact right, or wrong thing for them to do, say, own, drink, eat, watch, drive, fly...Boy, that almost made me dizzy.
Another thing to make lists of are ideas. Why ideas? Ever sat in front of the White Abyss and thought, "Where the hell have all the ideas gone?" Oh yes you have, Clyde, don't tell tales to the class. All of us have sat there at some point, casting all about for something, anything, to jump start the creative engine, only to realize we were out of fuel.
A notebook in which you keep lists of things, character traits, physical descriptions, emotional reactions, and ideas may just save your writerly ass! If it doesn't provide the exact essence of a story, it at least gets you out of the ditch and back on the road. One of the best places to find a list of ideas to start the juices bubbling and oozing is your own life.
Remember what I said yesterday about borrowing? Well, that last bit wasn't original, it came from my VERY dog eared copy of, "How To Write A Short Story" by John Vorwald and Ethan Wolff and published under the Sparknotes imprint by Spark Publishing. In this work is a section subtitled - Look for Ideas in Your Life. It is a list of questions for you to answer, some of which are:
*Who is the person who makes you most angry? Think of a time in your life when you were angrier than you've ever been before.
*What is your juiciest secret? What would happen if you told someone?
*What is the place you loved most in the world? List ten specific things you loved about it.
*What kind of relationship (mother/daughter, boyfriend/girlfriend, teacher/student, etc.) is most intriguing to you? Why are you so fascinated by it? What do you think is the hardest part of the relationship, the thing that leads to the most problems?
As you can clearly see, even a partial list like this can be the seed of some very powerful ideas. Before you know it, you're observing things around you and adding your own questions and answers to the list. Let these marinate in your mind for a while and before you know it you start using them as the catalyst that opens an idea into a theme and then into a story. But, without the lists, some of your best, quirkiest, most touching and passionate ideas will whither and disappear before you can get to them. And it is the passion you feel that carries your writing beyond just another story to one that touches a stranger in some special way.
Meanwhile...live, love, write.
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Dane F. Baylis