Writing Beyond the Obvious


The odd thing about trying to write unique stories is that, in doing so, sometimes the stories become more contrived and less unique. 

Something that new writers will often struggle with is how to be original. We are bombarded in our everyday lives with a wealth of information, ideas, stories, characters, plots, words, beliefs, values and so on…

This throws up a lot of questions for writers:

  • How do we write without being too biased, that is not interfering so much that our voice overshadows the story?
  • How do we do this while remaining original so that our work is our own?
  • How do we avoid being too influenced by other writers’ concepts?
  • Where can we find new concepts and ideas all by ourselves?
secret

Image by MistoAcrilico via Flickr

The answer to the question of being original isn’t an easy one but we can create our own stories from our own observations and curiosity and in that way remain as original as possible.

Think of the situations you come across when you are going about your daily life. You may get moments where you have to opportunity to observe something or you notice something that you haven’t seen before. Use your imagination in these situations.

  • If you see a closed-door, wonder what’s behind it.
  • If you see a plastic bag floating in the wind (this always makes me think of the film American Beauty) place your own perspective on the situation.
  • If you see a path or trail hidden from plain view imagine where it leads.

An example of this is something I came across in the place where I walk my dog every day:

One day I was walking past the entrance to a path that’s not open to the public, when I spotted a large, round piece of pale stone, sitting at the side of some building materials. When I first saw it in the distance it looked bizarrely like a large egg. Of course I immediately thought that it must be part of a bollard or a piece of marble but for one second I had imagined it as something beyond what it actually was. I imagined a character finding an unusual egg in the park of an industrial town and following that path down to somewhere interesting and it sparked off several ideas. I thought that it could be a dragon’s egg or could hold a mysterious new monster.

While I may never use these ideas they’ve been mentally noted. That scenario is now in my head and so is there if I do decide to use it. This is a very useful activity for writers to do. You may even do this automatically anyway, imagining new scenarios everywhere that you go. I’m not suggesting that you should write down every one of them, for its like trying to pin down a thousand bubbles floating around in your mind. As soon as you get hold of one, it may burst or several more interesting looking bubbles may float past you in the corner of your eye.

Secret Society

Image by Kenn Wilson via Flickr

Writing is when you choose to continue with one or more of these bubbles and to let your imagination unfold into a narrative. Looking beyond the obvious label or use of an object or situation is one way of keeping things original. You are then using what you’ve picked up and observed to write about. You are writing the stories that you want to tell and that you have seen.

As well as doing this it’s also useful to think about your emotional experiences. How you perceive events and rationalize them will also contribute to the direction that you take your stories in. Your own experiences can play a wonderful part in shaping the stories you create.

This isn’t set in stone.

You may create stories that you’ve never experienced precisely for that sort of reason and curiosity can be a strong motivating factor in story-writing. Sometimes just getting caught up in the sentiments and emotional experiences of a particular season can also be a good place to start. As festivities come up at the end of the year you may find yourself wanting to write about them or to describe them.

This can be a great exercise because everyone’s experiences of a season will be different and putting your characters into them will also create a different outcome.

So when you are writing or looking for ideas, try to look beyond the obvious cause and effect scenario. Don’t just look at plot or just look at character or just look at where you can publish it:

Feel it, create it, make it your own.

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18 thoughts on “Writing Beyond the Obvious

  1. Nice post! I completely agree. Athletes have to keep in shape by exercising their bodies and we as writers have to keep in shape by exercising our imaginations. Noticing things and wondering where they came from or why they are there are great ways to keep our imaginations sharp and our stories flowing.

  2. Yes, inspiration is all around us; sometimes we just have to listen, and use our others sensens as well, as our day is full of little surprises if we are open to see them 🙂

  3. Pingback: Writing Beyond the Obvious | Creative Writing Inspiration | Scoop.it

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