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Shop talk (anything and everything on writing)

People who need people

Ok, so you have a character. But you can’t write a story with just one character. A story needs conflict. You can, its true, have interior conflict, but really, a character can’t spend all his time in a story in some lonely mental anguish. Look at Robinson Crusoe, he spends a lot of time battling the elements, and then when he’s got his house and his goats and his stupid hat, and everything is just dandy, along comes Man Friday to push the story along.

Your first character may have already started to shape your story, but if not, don’t worry. Remember, you’re just exercising your creativity at the moment, you’re not embarking on War and Peace. So, make another character. If you don’t want to use the method described in the post Getting started you could try these.

One really good way of creating a character is to go to a café, pretend to read a book, and eavesdrop shamelessly on the people around you. People say the most extraordinary things. Once I was having tea in the Ritz, of all places, when the woman at the table next to me said, to the man she was with, ‘Of course, darling, what he really wants is for me to divorce him and set up with you in an apartment in New York.’ And then the waiter arrived and caught me trying to steal the teaspoons and I didn’t hear any more. In a shop, I heard a heavily pregnant teenage girl tell someone, ‘I’m having the baby in October, and my boyfriend says he’ll come and visit me every Wednesday.’  Or, at a wedding, I heard an old woman say, when presented with a plate of salad, ‘When I got married we went to the church by bus, but we all had a hot dinner.’  These snippets are so tantalising that they can be a really good way of getting you to think about what the story behind them could be.

Another way is to go through a newspaper or magazine and look at the pictures, and ask, ‘What if?’ What if I was the bridesmaid in the wedding photo, or that incredibly glamorous star, or that murder victim, what was I thinking, and how did I get there?

When you find something that inspires you, write about it. You don’t need to write much. Just enjoy creating.

About elainecanham

I started blogging because I'm a writer, and I thought I ought to. Now I realise that I blog because I like to; even when I can't think of much to say.


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