I feel a little like Shia Labeouf’s character in Disturbia sometimes. I’m not under house arrest — even if I did anything that could result in that, I wouldn’t get caught, pah! 😉 — but I’ve been spying on my neighbors. You would too if strange things were happening across the street. Trucks in and out of the gates, police cars, noises at night, moving vans, etc. It’s a situation just begging me to concoct wild ideas.
The house now appears empty, but you never know…
One of these days I’m going to wake up to discover that a strange family has moved into the house overnight. They’ll keep to themselves and they’ll have a large black dog that sits at the gate and just stares at you, curling its lip while it growls viciously. I’m sure they’ve made a few slasher movies like that.
I should probably talk about writing, eh? What I really want to talk about is the thinking you do before you put a pen to paper, fingers to keyboard or typewriter, or chisel to stone. Whatever your preference. Some like to dive head first into a story, deciding that they’ll figure out the twists and turns along the way. Others might find that this sort of method simply takes them in circles and into dead ends. I’m one of those people, to be honest.
Instead, I spend a lot of time thinking about the story, though mostly my thoughts dwell on the characters. I’ve always had the habit of “figuring out” people, and I do the same with many of the characters that pop into my head. I might as well be sitting across a table from them, going “hmmm” and “aha”.
I feel, however, that if I can understand the character better I can then understand their motivation and the sort of situation they might find themselves in for a story. Even though occasionally I have a scene come to mind that I desperately want to write, sometimes I have to put it aside for another time when I find that the characters I currently have don’t have the motivation to see them through. I might as well be trying to make a jellyfish walk, if I tried to force the wrong character into the wrong situation.
Thinking over the situation, the characters and the story before you actually start writing it can help tie up loose ends too and make the writing process easier in the end. It’s much like editing in that sense. You can kind of think of it as making mental mark-ups and notes.
And there we go, something about writing. I do have to mention that the thinking part before the writing can sometimes be troublesome. I more often than not get my head stuck in the clouds when I’m around other people and, while I’m thinking about a character or plot, those around me want to talk instead. (The audacity!) So, they’ll strike up a conversation while I’m still half out of it.
I know, I know, it wouldn’t hurt to be more social and in the moment. Therefore, I suggest finding time to be alone while you think. And, screw up your face in deep concentration if you have to. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been mentally busy with a story, only to have someone interrupt because they thought I wasn’t doing anything. If you have to, say you’re really tired and go take a “nap”. Even if you do fall asleep, at least you won’t likely be interrupted. Dreams can be inspirational too.
So, keep on writing, even if it’s just in your head for a while. I’m going to go think now…