Sunday, March 13, 2011

Writer's Block

Many of you know that I write a little fiction from time to time. Often times people will ask me, "How do you come up with the ideas for your stories?" I suppose all writers have their own unique ways of coming up with something. Some might think of a character first, others a place or time or an event. No matter how you start, or even how many ideas one may have, Writer's Block can happen to anyone.

I learned a valuable technique in my Intro to Writing Fiction class this semester. It seemed like such a no-brainer after the Professor said it that I wondered why I hadn't thought of it before. Actually it is 2 techniques, sort of combined.

First, she suggested quickly writing out a list of sentences, or even asking others to give you a random sentence. Just 5 or 6 random sentences which are unrelated to each other, but something that may be written in the first paragraph of a story. As a demonstration, I will quickly write the first 5 that come to my mind:

1) It didn't seem fair what she was asked to do, and yet everyone was counting on her.
2) Gazing at the city lights below, a stagnant smell filled the air.
3) The water was frigid in the still of night.
4) The light in the corner flickered as the band played on.
5) There was no turning back and yet going forward seemed impossible.

Ok, got those. Now, here is the part that seemed like a no-brainer. My writing prof said to use the 6 W's of Journalism to create the basic outline for the story. Typically, just answer what comes to your mind, and once you start writing of course you can change things as you desire. I've used the 6 W's plenty of times in Non-Fiction writing. It's how Journalists know they have covered all of their basis in trying to get the full story. It makes sense to use it in Fiction writing too!

To demonstrate, I will start with statement #2. "Gazing at the city lights below, a stagnant smell filled the air."

Now, to answer the 6 W's in relationship to that statement.

1) Who? A woman. Mid to late 30's. Her name is Maura. She is single.
2) What? She was standing on a cliff in the mountains above the city, gazing down.
3) Where? Somewhere in the West; with mountains. Possibly Nevada. A city down in the valley.
4) When? Modern Day... Sometime within the last decade.
5) Why? She was escaping the city at night, and stopped her car when she got to the point of the mountain and heard the explosion.
6) How? She had escaped only because a voice had come to her in a dream, telling her to get up immediately and depart the city.

Okay, so those were my first instincts to the 6 W's. Now I have the beginnings of a story. True, I don't know what happens yet, but this is enough to get me going.

And THAT, dear readers is how I overcome writer's block at times. Try it out and see what comes to your mind!

If you are interested in reading what I have come up with so far, check it out {{HERE}}.


okeydokeyifine said...

very interesting

KiennaP said...

Interesting "Fill ins" for the 6 W's!
I wanna hear some of your writing some time, you are really good at it!

Ruthykins said...

finish the story