Extract from podcast episode 5 (Sept 2010) – ideas

This section of the mixed bag podcast is all about getting story ideas before giving you seven sentence beginnings picked from my ‘sentencestarts’ Twitter page; a week’s worth of daily writing projects should you wish to use them.

  • 19th Century French writer Georges Polti listed 36 situations as inspiration for ideas, including deliverance (rescue), revenge, pursuit, disaster, falling prey to cruelty or misfortune, revolt, daring enterprise, abduction, the enigma (mystery), obtaining, enmity (hostility), rivalry, murderous adultery, madness, fatal imprudence (lack of judgement), in/voluntary crimes of love, slaying of a stranger, self-sacrifice for a reason or person or for passion, necessity of sacrificing loved ones, adultery, discovery of the dishonour of a loved one, obstacles of love, an enemy loved, ambition, conflict with a God, mistaken jealousy, remorse and loss. Something to get you started!
  • If you find yourself lacking inspiration, try a change of scene. If you always write at a desk, try sitting in a chair or lying on the bed. Even changing the colour of your pen or paper could break the monotony. Sounds simple but if you’re having trouble, your brain may be bored. Reverse psychology – by writing “I don’t know what to write” so many times that your brain gets so bored that it kicks in – is worth a try, but not to the point that you give up completely.
  • www.creativewritingprompts.com is a wonderful site if you’re stuck for ideas. Hover over any of the numbers between 1 and 346 and it gives you a prompt. No. 140 for example suggests weaving a story around a 60-year old photograph.
  • I’ve heard many times that reading your writing out loud helps. What’s even better is if you can get a friend to read it out to you then where they trip up may give you an indication as to where you’re going wrong (and hopefully their feedback afterwards). If you’re in a writing group, instead of reading your own work out, try passing it to the person next to you to read.

Today’s seven sentence starts are…

1.    Susan’s gloves were threadbare…

2.    She yanked her hand away as if…

3.    I felt him slipping away…

4.    “Please, I beg you…”

5.    Kellie had never imagined she’d ever been in this position…

6.    This time I woke up to find……

7.    “That’s the last time I buy cheap knickers,” Heather thought as the elastic snapped in yet another pair!…

We used the first beginning (Susan’s gloves were threadbare) in one of our recent Monday writing workshops and we wrote about knitted gloves, gardening gloves and washing up gloves, producing a wonderful variety of flash fiction and story starts. Thanks to Ann from Leicester, England for the last beginning about Heather and her elastic-snapping underwear.

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