Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Sweetest Words


I’m not talking about I love you or even the sweetest words in the world: your table is ready. No, the sweetest words in the world for any writer or aspiring writer are the words that start your story.

Ever since nanowrimo in November, I’ve been having problems connecting to anything I’ve written. 3,000 words and then I fizzle out. The story isn’t right, the characters aren’t making sense to me, the writing is tepid.

A few days ago I had an idea for a story that was crazy original but not … not something I was ready to invest in. Last night my daughter and I were discussing it and she gave me a huge piece of plot that made perfect sense. (Whenever stuck, consult an 8 year old. To them the world is all plot and action.)

But this morning the first line of the story came to me. I won’t say that four simple words made the story leap to life and now my writing block is over but those four words changed a lot. The right four words and suddenly I heard the voice of the character. In four words I felt like maybe I could write this story.

Carolyn, tell me what works for you.


God - you had to ask that, didn't you!

Well! ....

As you know I've had very good luck with baths. Nice hot water, scented whatevers, lounging back and closing my eyes and letting my mind (what's left of it) drift. Showers just aren't the same somehow, don't know why that is ...

But baths are mostly for cogitating an already thought of idea. And already thought of ideas are few and far between.

Lori is my idea lady. But the truth, and no offence to Lori, is that to write the idea, it really has to grab me. If I were male, I'd say by the cojones, but I'm not, so I'm not quite sure where it grabs me.

Usually a combination of books I've read, articles I've seen on the internet, bits and pieces of my own past, will sometimes spark an idea that grabs me so tightly I can do nothing but write it. Los Defensores was like that and Quatrain and now Resurrection.

It doesn't matter if no one else thinks it's the best thing since sliced bread. If it resonates with me then it's when I write my best.**

Sometimes I build a story around a title I refuse to give up - Quatrain was like that. Mariposa, Annie and Reflections was the first line, just like you said.

I've heard it said that a lot of writers have a set routine, that it's necessary to be successful. I don't know about that; I do know the Muse attacks me in different ways each time and when it grabs and squeezes hard, the words pour out of me.

Next step is making it last a whole book, lol.

**Best doesn't mean successful. I've never been published and probably never will. I hate to call writing a hobby, that seems direspectful somehow, but I do not have a set goal. I just have the love for it.


  1. Lori, I'm gonna need Mollie for a week or so... can you send her packed, hopefully with lots of ideas? lol

    I'm with you Carolyn - it doesn't matter if it's ever liked by anyone else or published etc, I too write for the love of it. Well I used to. And like you, being under water normally stimulates the brain.

    We no longer have a bath but the shower works better. It's like the drops of water are words and the longer I stand under the more penetrate my skull - is it any wonder the water bill is so high lol

    More than water though I've nearly almost gotten the original idea or plot from driving. Going to and from work when I was working, being stuck in traffic, a snippet of an idea would form from something I saw or heard on the way. By the time I reached my destination I had to find paper to write it down so I could remember for later to flesh out.

    I finally learnt to get a little voice recorder. Easy to listen to than try to decipher scribblings later. Half the time the original idea morphs in to something else completely - like Cake. Started out about a ring and moved to cake within hte first chapter.

    I miss those drives.

  2. You really are Lori's 'little me', lol. She gets a lot of work done while driving too.

    Alas - it only takes me 3 minutes to get to work. Even in its prime, my brain didn't work that fast!

  3. LMAO

    It's good to be the 'little me'. I'm learning so much. Whether that turns out to be a good or bad thing is yet to be seen lol

    And what if you drove around the block several times - would that help?


  4. I hope it's good.

    Ideas can come from anywhere but usually when driving things will start to play out in my head and take order. I love that since my imagination is usually so unruly, it's nice that somewhere order is restored!

  5. amen to that sista!

    I like the way it 'sorts' things too. It's a little worrying though when I'm sitting htere grinning like a mad fool because I've thought of something cool/funny for the story and people look at me funny.

    And sometimes I get from A to B and have no idea how becuase the whole way I've been plotting and schemeing. I'm lucky I haven't driven off hte road at some of the more 'exciting' bits...

    And it is a good thing Lori :D

  6. Having a shower - or sometimes just being wet ( at the pool) works for me. I recall one time when I suddenly leapt out of the shower when an idea hit me. I grabbed a pen and some paper (a toilet roll wrapper, no less) and frantically scribbled down the whole idea for a scene - still dripping wet.

    Eight hours later when I came back from work, there it was - and I reckon I used about three quarters of it the way I first wrote it.

    Other times it's more like pulling teeth...

    Don't you love it when the perfect line comes to you out of the blue? I've had rich pickings while tapping my foot waiting for the elevator at work.

    I wish I could use the car for inspiration but like you, Carolyn, my commute is too short to be useful.