Odds are, with a few seconds' thought, you can work out what WB is. No, it's NOT Warner Brothers! (Please don't sue me, mmm-kay? Thanks , , ,) It's the bane of every author out there, and statements I've made in the past to the contrary, in recent months I've actually had a couple of fairly nasty but mercifully brief interludes with it. But this whole Lesbians Vs. Zombies project got me to thinking about ways to take WB and make it work for you. After all, without the thoroughly outrageous premise and conditions our own Ruby Green attached to this project, "Dead Means Dead" wouldn't even exist . . . and it certainly wouldn't have been the sexy, scary romp it turned into! So, with that in mind, here are five ways to kick WB to the curb!
5) The jumble
When you're really stuck for something to write about, take a bunch of concepts and throw them into a hat or a bowl. Write down a list of possible twosomes, threesomes, or moresomes. Then do another list of occupations or mythical creatures. (Or do one list for each. Hey, go for broke!) Then do a list of times or places you'd like to visit. (Again, you can do this for each if you like.) If you want to get really deep into this (and completely surrender to the hand of Fate to create your plotline) you can also add lists of body characteristics, hair and length, eye color and shape, favorite kinds of clothing, and so on.
An example: I just did this for myself. I came up with an FFM pairing concerning a firefighter in Dublin, Ireland, who's fallen in love with a Siren marine biologist from Ancient Greece and now based out of Columbia University. The complication is her girlfriend, who's a mermaid stripper from Brooklyn. They all wind up going back in time to the Civil War and having to survive traveling the Underground Railroad to Canada. If they make it to Canada, there's a shaman waiting for them to send them back, with (moral lesson here) learned.
Would I actually attempt to write this story? Well . . . at some point, maybe. Right now, the idea of the sheer volume of research involved in learning everything I would need to about Dublin, the Civil War, the Underground Railroad, and marine biology is far too daunting for me to even consider. But, hey, one night I might get bored and find myself with a couple hours to kill, right?
4) Ask a friend
There's nothing saying you can't ask somebody to give you something to write about. In the writing world, we call that a "prompt." You may use any, all, or none of the ideas given, or their ideas may spark some of your own. "What if" followed by "what then?" at its finest. But if you do this, make sure they're not planning to use it in the future, and DO be sure to give them a nod in the acknowledgements! ;)
3) Go to the mall.
Yeah. A card-carrying member of the straight male persuasion just told you to go to the mall. Or the park. Or a busy downtown street. Anywhere you can sit with a pad of paper and a cold beer or a hot cup of coffee and watch the people go by. See that geeky, slightly balding businessman in the two-thousand-dollar suit and the wingtips that cost more than your last car payment? Watch his eyes and his face. What kind of woman does he react to? Or what kind of guy? How does he react? Or how about the woman who walks by him with an upturned nose and a look of disgust. Maybe she knows him. Maybe they had an affair at one point and she still loves him, but doesn't know how to try to get him back.
People-watching is a great way to get ideas, folks! If you're really, truly stuck, getting out of your comfort zone and finding an environment that serves your story while not putting you at personal risk is a good way to shake some of those words loose.
2) Just do it.
A lot of people use programs like "Write Or Die." The entire point of these programs is, you've got to be thinking ten to fifteen words ahead of the cursor. Especially if you use the sprint mode, which prevents you from going back and editing unless you want to watch a half page or more of fresh writing vanish into the Blue Nowhere because you realized you used "lippenschnitzen" fifteen times in three paragraphs and tried to fix it. Your first draft with Write or Die and its clones is likely to look like utter crap, no matter how polished you think you are. But if you can mine out the good stuff and fix the bad, you're going to find you've got a lot more usable material than you think!
1) The Internet
Of course, the Internet! Where else would you look for the entire sum of human knowledge? Find something that's trending on Twitter or blowing up Facebook and write about that!
When doing this, choose your topic carefully. I would suggest, if you're going to attempt something like this, you take your overarching inspiration story and mash up the elements as in #5. This will help you create a story that's uniquely your own, and offers an almost unlimited source of fresh material.
Because we all know truth is always stranger than fiction, right?
Until next time,