Monday, 10 September 2012

The Author Who Slept With a Story Idea

The Author Who Slept With a Story Idea

By Doyle Matthews

Find an Idea

Writer's best story ideas often come when they are least prepared to record them. For example: while driving in the fast lane on the freeway, at the theatre watching a movie, taking a shower, or in the middle of a conversation. The result: short-term memory loss

Important! If you don't record an idea immediately, you will probably not remember it later!

Okay, you're not going to take a micro recorder into the shower. It's too dark and too noisy in the theatre to text yourself on a phone or whisper into a micro recorder. We all know what happens when people text on their phone while driving sixty miles per hour.

Capture the Idea

What's the answer then?

Let's call it the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep method. As far as the author knows, no other writer has used this method. It's most productive after bedtime but before falling asleep.

To begin, choose a letter of the alphabet from A to Z. Tonight, think of words beginning with the letter "A." Tomorrow night use the letter "B," and so on. Now brainstorm various words such as action, ammunition, art, and Amazon until a word connects to an image (it will). From there let your let imagination take over.

Store the Idea

The key to this method is to store the idea in your mind as an image. Let's try an example:

For purposes of illustration, let's make-believe that To Kill a Mockingbird was never written (sorry Harper Lee).

You're in bed and it's close to midnight. Images of the letter "B" are flowing through your mind: boulder, boardwalk, break dance, bats, and bistro. The word that sticks is bird. You imagine a frail creature that nevertheless has an attitude. The bird mocks you when you ask it what its problem is. Your image broadens to a man who ridicules people but is falsely accused of wrongdoing. The word that defines your image is "mockingbird."

Trying to remember the word mockingbird is not good enough. You must attach an absurd image. Your mockingbird could be in the shape of a Boeing 747. Inside, the captain could be ridiculing the passengers over the intercom as the plane dives toward the town of Maycomb, Alabama. The more absurd the image the better.

Tomorrow morning you will wake up with "mockingbird" on your mind.

Get the picture? If letter "B" doesn't provide the right word image then go to "C," but the author has rarely had to do this unless stuck on XYZ.

Note: The author would enjoy any feedback from writers who use his Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep method. Please leave any questions or comments in the comments section... And don't forget to have a goodnight sleep.

Doyle Matthews is a former foreign service officer and radio engineer who has had over sixty-five visas stamped in a shoebox full of passports (including diplomatic). He has written four novels, two of which are in publication.

Mr. Matthews is currently living and writing in Thailand.

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