Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit again soon.

Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Speculate to accumulate

As you know, I've been thinking about short stories a lot recently, in between pitching and writing articles. I'm doing better with the articles than the short stories but I love writing both as they each use different sides of my creativity and writing skills - which is no bad thing; it's good to flex different muscles.

One of the things I've been experimenting with is the use of a spidergram or mind-map to help me to plan my stories better in the hope they will be better stories. A side aspect to this is speculation:  who,  why, where,  how and when. I've found that writing these as headings, and noting my thoughts under them, is helping me to get a better sense of what and who the stories I am writing are about.

There are so many possible avenues you can go down by thinking about these headings that you can quite often get a couple of stories out of the same idea, just by changing a few details: changing the view point - from a male to a female character, for instance, or moving the action to a different place, changing the age of the characters. I find it helpful to think along the lines of if character A did this and this, that would happen, but what if character A did that instead? something else would happen. It's good fun to play around with your characters and story like this as what was your original plan can turn out to be better if you tweek it into a totally different story.

If you speculate in this way you're more likely to stumble on something more original. I read somwhere once that if you're entering a writing competition with a theme that you should discard the first few ideas you come up with as it's likely most other writers wanting to enter the competition would think of those too. By chosing your third or fourth idea you are more likely to have a fresher angle and avoid a well worn theme.

So, when you're trying to come up with ideas for stories, stop and think about Who, why, when, how,and where and don't go for the first thing that enters your head. Let me know how you get on - I'm hoping it will spark some great stories.

Happy writing

Julie xx

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