Things I Want To KnowPosted: November 6, 2007
I found something that works! I’ve never been much into how-to’s and inspirational things, but I bought a book a few years ago, not necessarily for its contents, but because I liked the way it looked. Published by Writer’s Digest Books, The Pocket Muse by Monica Wood, a lovely, compact book, dark sage green with a black binding, has on its cover a snapshot of a man (from behind) holding up a sign that reads “ideas & inspiration for writing.” Inside, there are hundreds of prompts, exercises, and illustrations on shiny pages. The only colors used are white, gray, black, and sage green. Ah, appealing!
I was having trouble with a scene in Chapter 8 of the Great American Southern Novel. Instead of a nudge, this chapter needed to shove the plot along. I was in desperate need of details that would take me deeper into the story. Alas, too many distractions…writer’s block…couldn’t get it going…needed some mojo.
I opened the pocket muse book to a white page with a black strip down the left margin. A gray notebook with sheets folded back sits open to a writing exercise. Make two lists: is printed at the top of two columns, a black line drawn down the middle. The left column says, Everything you know about your subject and the right column says, Everything you want to know about your subject.
Hmm. Interesting. I figured I could substitute the word Scene or Character for Subject. So I gave it the old college try, figuring I would only have a few things to write down, which held true for the left column–a total of 4. But lo and behold, I filled the page on the right side. Ideas, details, important stuff flowed from head to page–it surprised the heck out of me.
It’s the things I WANT TO KNOW that tell the story. And this was an effective exercise for calling them forth.