November 11, 2010
I recently finished the book The Hole in the Wall, which was a very interesting, kind of mind-trippy book written by Lisa Rowe Fraustino. Lisa was nice enough to take time out of her schedule to write this guest post for me! Thanks Lisa!
After reading The Hole in the Wall Jana asked me: “What undiscovered ‘world’ (depths of the ocean, outer space or caves) would you like most to explore and why?”
If I could literally go somewhere no English professor has gone before, it would probably be to the future so I can find out things we don’t have the scientific ability to know yet. But since I can’t go to the Delta Quadrant on the Starship Voyager, I’m content to explore the world I walk every day and imagine discoveries that nobody was even looking for or ever expected to find right here, right now. That’s pretty much what happens to Sebby in The Hole in the Wall.
People often ask writers where we get our ideas, and I get that question a lot about The Hole in the Wall especially, since it has such quirky characters in such an unusual plot. So I thought I’d share with you a few “Invitations to Inspiration” I’ve used and taught others to do when they’re hunting down ideas for stories.
Keep a journal of your dreams.
And keep a dream analysis dictionary next to it. Use it to help you broaden your understanding of symbolism. Weave these images into your writing to add depth to your characters, mystery to your plots, and beauty to your style. Based on one of my dreams, an earlier draft of The Hole in the Wall began with Barbie describing a dream she had about Boots Odum coming into their kitchen through a hole in the wall. Though the scene doesn’t appear in the final book, it led to a lot of imagery that did stay.
Begin each day with a few minutes of fast freewriting.
Don’t try to focus this writing on anything in particular or struggle to express a thought clearly or vividly—just let the words flow for ten or fifteen minutes. This will loosen your creative flow before you settle down to craft. When I’m writing in the voice of a character such as Sebby, I sometimes do this exercise from the narrator’s point of view, not intending to keep the writing for the story, just to get inside the speaker’s head.
Take a walk around your neighborhood with your five senses fine-tuned.
Notice at least five things that you’ve never noticed before. Consider why you never noticed them despite living in the midst of them. Reflect on the significance of unheeded details, and use what you learn to develop a setting, character, or plot situation. My character Sebby notices things other people don’t, and it gets him into a lot of trouble!
In the end, you might say the undiscovered world I most like to explore is the imagination. As a writer, I spend a lot of time there playing “What if?” People like archeologists and scientists are always coming across new and unexpected things as part of their work, but we writers get to explore and discover through our fiction. Whatever you can imagine, you can make happen!
Aspiring writers are invited to visit “Dr. Lisa’s Class” at her web site, where today’s lesson is “Novel Revision” http://lisarowefraustino.com/?page_id=300 .