No matter where you live low temperatures are unpleasant, however ‘low’ is relative. Low in a normally tropical location maybe a summer’s day heat in others or a dry cold can be ‘warmer’ than a ‘damp’ cold. I spent the majority of my life living in England – the green and pleasant land. However, the ‘green’ was derived from a great deal of rain. I was used to it and never took much notice of the overcast days – it was normal. When I came to live in Canada, however my first ‘surprise’ was the almost constant sunshine. I was not used to it but really loved it. Such a simple change impacted on how I saw the weather as a whole. Now we can have -30 (and yes its cold) but we also have bright blue sky and sunshine at the same time. So the perception is a glorious day until you step outside!
This is our current 10 day trend:
As the global weather patterns change more of us are experiencing unusual weather. This can be warmer winters, colder summers and everything in between. So how do we reflect this kind of change when we are writing a story set in a particular location, where the ‘normal’ view is tropical, arctic or temperate? Do we continue to use the stereo-type perceptions of the location or utilize other ‘clues’ to the region with flora and fauna, style of buildings and accents?
It is a ‘new’ problem for writers, for sure, but with creativity we can overcome.
Have you come across this particular problem in a recent narrative you are writing?
Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors, played by somebody I do not know.
We welcome all enquiries about the UK climate after all, we have more weather available in this country than anywhere else.
Sir Sydney Samuelson
Set your scene in a preconceived location then change it up…
Many of us have numerous story ideas bouncing around inside our heads. This may seem a good problem to have, however, too many ideas and no focus can be just as debilitating as staring at a blank page or screen. Symptoms can include indecision, procrastination, failure to meet deadlines, insomnia and anxiety.
The problem is how do we ensure these golden nuggets are not lost? We endeavor to keep them by making frantic notes but musing over where they could possibly lead to can lead to devastating interruption to our current project. So how do we identify if this ‘new’ idea is worth pursuing?
There are many strategies we can employ to decide on which are best to keep – here are a few to try:
a) Leave the chaos of your writing space with pen and paper or recording device and go for a walk. Once you are in a new environment the most exciting and prominent idea(s) will stay with you. Write or record them and let your imagination flourish with them for a while.
b) Restrict your time on musing about new ideas by setting yourself a time limit. Even a ten minute burst of inspirational writing will ensure you get the idea down but not ‘waste’ too much time on it. Once it is written put it to one side and continue with your current project, safe in the knowledge the idea has been dealt with.
c) Take some time to really dissect the new idea. Can you envisage the plot arc, the ending, the characters? If the majority of the narrative reveals itself to you, then mark it down as your next project. However, if the idea is vague, do not pursue it – just jot down the outline and file it.
d) Utilize your passion when defining whether an idea is worth reflection. If it excites you or is on a subject you feel passionate about then it should be considered in depth.
e) Get yourself an idea board. Organize each idea into genre or categories and when a new plot, character or scene comes to you place it with the other components of that particular story.
f) Bounce your ideas off a few trusted friends or members of your writing group.
Have you tried any of these solutions?
Do you have a technique you can share?
“The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out. Every mind is a building filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.” – Dee Hock
Predicament – definition: an unpleasantly difficult, perplexing, or dangerous situation
As a fan of pet rescue programs, I have seen my fair share of heroes risking life and limb to save an animal and we have all seen selfless acts when someone has found themselves in trouble. Many of these heroes are complete strangers to the rescued person or animal. It gives us faith in human nature for a change. It is the stories of animals rescuing other animals that are so amazing. It shows empathy, something not realized for a long time but proved by recent experiments by scientists.
When I found this quote by Jim Lynch it raised the question – what are our stories driven by?
What factor drives you?
It may be one or a combination of these that has us writing frantically, trying to capture the essence of a character, a scene or the overall conflict. At the heart of the narrative is the predicament faced by our characters. How they overcome them or adjust to them makes the reader turn the page.
Unique predicaments may not be common but the path taken to conquer them is as numerous as there are writers. Each story leads us on a journey of discovery. Everyone problem solves differently and a large part is how we grew up and witnessed adults around us solving their trails and tribulations. Some may bury their head in the sand and wait for ‘it’ to go away, while others will battle head on.
Our characters should be true to their personality traits in this regard as well – a meek and mild youngster would not boldly confront a situation as opposed to a muscular grown man stepping into a conflict.
Have you used a particularly unusual predicament in a story? Care to share?
Lastly, a useful saying to help with those speaking events so many of us attend or for those wondering how to prepare for their first. It all comes down to preparation – the more methodical you are the better. Practice your speech, excerpt or presentation as many times as possible before the event. As you relax into the rhythm of it and the words become easily remembered, you will find you can ad-lib or break off to answer questions without panicking. I have a presentation to learn for the upcoming months, in regard to how to begin your memoirs. The workbook to accompany this presentation will be available shortly at http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca. My co-writers and I will take turns performing it for seniors in our locality but hope that the book will assist many aspiring memoir writers near and far.
I’ll be printing this off and sticking it onto my writing desk as a reminder.