Thursday, August 14, 2014


You’ve come to a roadblock. Maybe you’re plotting out the next part of your novel or thinking about what makes your character tick. You stare out the window and up pops an idea – a great idea! That was easy. Problem solved.

Maybe not. Because good writing isn’t easy and often the first idea we think of it is not the best idea. The reason we’ve thought of it first is because, sadly, we’ve read it before. We might even have read it, or a version of it, lots of times in lots of different books. It’s probably pretty predictable. Horror of horrors, it might even have become a cliché.

The best way I’ve found to avoid this pitfall is to write down the idea (after all, it is a great idea, that’s why it’s been used before!) and then brainstorm at least five alternatives. Preferably think of things that make the life of your character more difficult. There’s a good chance one of those alternatives will be truly original and yours.

Here’s a few ideas for kickstarting a sluggish imagination:

*Have a character say or do something “out of character.”

*Have a new character walk into your scene and introduce themselves.

*Have a character write you a letter telling you what they think should happen next.

*Pick an emotion and develop a scene to make your character feel that emotion eg. make your character mad or sad or worried.

*Think about cause and effect – one thing makes another thing happen. It’s the domino effect. I wrote about that in my blog in April 2013 “One Thing Leads to Another”.

  You may end up going with your first idea after all. But chances are, with a little thought, you’ll come up with something much much better.

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