Is your work in progress in a slump? Here are five techniques to help you come up with some fresh, new ideas.
1. Sniff Something! Your sense of smell connects directly to where your brain stores emotional memories. Think about smells you associate with specific events or people—your grandmother’s perfume for example, or a camping trip. Better yet, sniff things—herbs, spices, flowers, cologne. See if they evoke your own memories. Visit some of these “smelly places” and think about how in your work in progress they might bring to mind a character’s memory.
fertilizer aisle in a garden center
2. Borrow a Character’s Personality. Sharing this activity with a writer friend surely will get those creative juices flowing. Plan an outing where both of you take on the personality of a character in your works in progress. React and interact as your characters might. Along with having loads of fun, you will get deep inside your characters’ heads, and write with fresh perspective.
Have lunch in a restaurant you haven’t been to.
Do a craft project together.
Take a short road trip to an unfamiliar destination without using a GPS.
3. Read Fiction Outside Your Genre. Pay attention to how characters react and interact in the situations they face. While you read, ask yourself:
How would the characters in my current work in progress react if they faced the same situations?
Could I borrow a situation from this book to create a plot twist in my current work?
4. Watch TV shows from the 60s and 70s. Television writers from the 60s and 70s created entertaining stories with straightforward plots, interesting characters, and witty dialogue. Watch shows from these decades to discover ideas for your WIP. Find these and more on YouTube and other sources:
The Beverly Hillbillies
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
The Andy Griffith Show
The Twilight Zone
5. Think Like a Kid. Your plot gets complicated, and your characters act out or act addled. It’s enough to make you want to delete your work in progress and start over. Stop! You might be stuck because you’re trying too hard. Take a break from writing. Get back on track by allowing yourself and your characters to think like a kid.
Get back to the root of your plot. Use as few words as possible and explain the plot of your WIP, thinking as if you were a child.
Sit down with that unruly character and ask him, or her, to explain what he, or she, is feeling and why. Imagine that you are a therapist and your character is your client. Work to unravel the confusion in your character’s head.
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