Prosaic Genius

In case you mis-read the subject line, this post is not about happy pills.

Do you remember a time when you woke in the middle of the night with an idea for an AMAZING story?  The images kept flashing in your head, and you could not get back to sleep no matter what.  The muse was in the house!

This happens to me, too. So I grab my bathrobe and sneak out to the office to work by lamplight. Ninety minutes later I’ve given birth to a bouncing baby story which seems destined for greatness.  I pass out on the sofa with two cats vying for my body warmth.

Well, you probably know how this walk down memory lane ends… morning comes, along with the requisite shuffling of kid to school. When I finally sit back at the computer to bask in the LED glow of my prosaic genius, what I find instead is the disconnected ramblings of a lunatic.

So how can you turn your not-so bestseller pages into gut-grabbing-just-can’t-put-them-down pages?

Here’s two ideas you can use today to open stronger:

  • Hooks – Does your scene have an opening sentence that lures them in like tuna to cats? Here’s one I recently read from Lee Child’s Tripwire:

“Hook Hobie owed the whole of his life to a secret nearly thirty years old.”

He even gives his character a hook for a name, and then hints just enough to make us wonder what happened 30 years ago.

  • Setting+ – Use setting to do double-duty. Here’s Tom Wolfe’s Back to Blood:

“At the moment Mac was in command, behind the wheel of her beloved and ludicrously cramped brand new Mitsubishi Green Elf hybrid, a chic and morally enlightened vehicle, just now trolling the solid rows of cars parked side by side, wing-mirror to wing-mirror, out back of this month’s Miami nightspot of the century, Balzac’s, just off Mary Brickell Village, vainly hunting for a space.”

Dag! In addition to setting, we also get a peek into the head-space of our heroine. We’re in Miami, in a trendy district, at night, driving around looking for the ever elusive parking space, and we’re so convinced of our planetary liability that we take pride and pleasure in owning and driving a car whose carbon footprint is probably less than my Siamese cat.

This week, I challenge you to wake up your muse… because you can’t always count on her to wake you up. Get your words down first, free-writing without judgment, and then go back for a second dive to look at your hook and how you can use 1st paragraph setting to deepen characterization.

Let me know how it goes, and if you’re ready to take your writing to the next level, just click Reply to talk about coaching and publishing package option.

Cheers, Demi

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