Learning to Love a New Story

When inspiration strikes, there’s a wonderful sense of being drawn into something new and exciting. It’s unexplored territory, like waking up in a foreign country or finding that all your favourite cereal has been swapped for something in a language you can’t read.

But sometimes, when you’ve just started to look around or had a few mouthfuls, you find it’s not quite what you expected. Sometimes bonding with a story isn’t instant. A story that the writer doesn’t love is hard sell, so what to do?

Don’t start at the beginning:

Especially if your inspiration came from a scene or event later in the story, try writing out of chronological order. Beginnings are important, and sometimes their weight can press down too much if you’re unsure about the story. Find a section you’re dying to write, and get it on paper. Get invested in that moment, and it will be easier to carry on that feeling as you build up around it.

Make notes

Even if you’re a pantser rather than a planner, doodling some ideas down on paper can help get into the world. You might come across that perfect scene to jump into, or hit upon another idea that builds up on the original one.

Draw

No good for me, as even my stick figures look at me in shame, but I know not everyone was cursed with the artistic ability of a dead newt. Drawing characters, mapping out the world, sketching the streets or you lead’s house can get you invested in a way that words are unable to do.

Spend some time with your characters

Often, the stories we love most are the ones where we had the strongest emotional reaction to the characters. Get to know your new ones: who are they? What do they like for breakfast? How would they react if someone broke in and swapped all their cereal?

Make a soundtrack

What sort of feeling do you get from the book? What sort of things happen? Have a hunt for music that reminds you of these things and build up a list of them. Close your eyes and think of your world, your plot and your characters while you listen. The music can get you into the mindset of the story when you carry on writing it.

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