1. Write a scene or a short story in a different genre. Take a stab at a mystery if you write literary fiction, try romance if you usually write military scifi.
2. Set a dialog-heavy scene (a couple arguing, the hero finally catching up to the villain who betrayed him) in an unusual locale (like the vertical face of a mountain) or dangerous situation (the spaceship’s hull has been breached).
3. Write poetry.
4. Create an art journal page and write on it.
5. Do writing prompts. I’ve been using the Imagination Prompt Generator recently.
6. Be inspired by an image. Check out a photo site, take pictures in your neighborhood, look at coffee table books.
7. Research a (narrow) topic you don’t know much about. Write a story or scene using some of what you discovered.
What are the ways you like to play?
Rabia, Fantastic ideas! I love to play + experiment and find that this sparks creativity. Another idea is to peruse non-fiction books… from brain research to typography to origami.
Megs - Scattered Bits says
How do I play?
Usually, I play out stories in my head, ones I’ll never write but which will maybe eventually feed into everything I actually do.
I read and wonder how I would have written it differently. I imagine what similar stories I would actually enjoy writing.
I create a new structure/format and try to write or plan a story to that.
I write to a poem instead of just prose.
I imagine out prequels and sequels and other things I probably won’t get around to writing.
I write about writing.
I make a language or play with one already begun.
I worldbuild with no end in mind.
I find non-fiction very inspiring. It’s a treasure-trove for a writer, because truth is often stranger than fiction. 😀
That mental playing with stories is so important. I’ve been thinking of one all morning; a story based on very thin vague ideas, but with such an emotional appeal. The one big theme pushes my buttons in all the right ways. 🙂
I’d love to know more about how you create a new structure or format. Can you give an example?
I’m with you on worldbuilding, except for the language part. Which, I know, is strange for a writer. Perhaps it’s because I’m bilingual and feel no need to play with languages because I already have a pretty good grasp of how different grammars and alphabets and scripts work??
Megs - Scattered Bits says
I don’t know if that’s so much as I’m one of THOSE people. I geek out on languages. You know the difference between applied and pure science? You know, study for the sake of an important result or just study ’cause you enjoy it? I’m the pure science kind of gal. I love words for their own sake and have languages I’ll never bother to write a story with. I just love languages. Creating a language is like writing a novel for me. It’s just that fun.
As for a new structure/format… It’s kind of like form poetry. A pantoum, a sonnet, a sestina, a haiku, etc. all have challenging absolute requirements. When I do a format for a story, it’s much the same: I set up some absolute requirements and work to them. Whatever suits my fancy.
A drabble is a simple form to work in: exactly one hundred words, no more, no less. That’s what started me thinking…
One of the first ones I did was to take a poem of five lines and make those the chapter titles. I was required to actually include the chapter title somewhere in the chapter. In addition, I took the most important sentence in the chapter (or a previous one) and broke it up into one word for each scene (or major part of a scene, if I could justify the break) and used that as a scene title (had to fit) instead of a normal break. The last word of the line followed the last scene and wrapped up the whole chapter. (Getting dizzy just writing that!) I bent the rules once (still ticked at myself for that), but it couldn’t be helped, so I let it go.
That’s one example and a more involved one than I usually go for.
Babes about Town says
It’s been a while since I sat down to play with words. I like taking a painting or music or TV character – something from another art form as a jump off point for a poem or story.
Sometimes setting parameters – e.g. use 5 colours, 4 places, 3 senses, 2 foreign words, 1 nonsense line – can provide a playful structure to create something really unique in prose or poetry.
As a mum I see how creative play influences my kids’ development every day. Thanks for reminding me of the importance of play in writing, as well as in life.
I’d love to learn more about how you play with languages. Maybe a future guest post on that??
As for the poem/chapter title exercise: Was that for a novel in progress? How did you go about picking the poem? Was it something that inspired or fit in with your story somehow?
Babes about Town,
I often see my writing as work and forget to have fun with it. This blog serves as reminder to myself that play is as important to me as it is to my kids!