If you’re a writer, at some time you’ve been stuck (if not, I’m green with envy). Flat as a pancake, stuck in the mud, brain so mushy that if you dyed it green and stuck it in a tin, it would pass for peas. Caught up in cliches. You get the idea.
We all know – don’t we? – that WB isn’t a strange incurable disease. You’re just stuck; feeling unusually uninspired. Short of new ideas, unsure how to start or end – or wondering where to go next. How does Matilda Mudbottom get to America? What clue leads Patrick Pritstick to the old vault under the church? Perhaps your plot’s got more holes than a teenage boy’s socks. The internet’s full of ideas to help, but not all ideas work for everyone, all the time. So the more the merrier, I say – here’s mine. Which, like all good ideas, engenders lots of others.
You take the opening line of one novel and the last line of another. Then ask yourself – how could I get from here to there?
Of course, there’s lots of variations. You could:
- use the idea above – but use lines from the same book
- if the first try doesn’t work, swap the books round and use the first line from your ‘last line’ book, etc.
- use a last line as your first line – or vice versa
- try the same idea with chapter beginnings and ends
- look at chapter titles and imagine what chapter you would write for that title – or make it the title of your short story or novel instead
- or if you’re a non-fiction writer (or writing hussy like me, who writes both!) you could challenge yourself to write an article from a chapter title.
And of course once you get going, you can change those lines and titles as much as you want.
Just in case you are suffering from the dreaded WB right now, here’s your starter for ten. I have beside me Sebastian Faulks Human Traces and Kate Mosse Crucifix Lane…
Faulks starter (shortened!): An evening mist, salted by the western sea, was gathering on the low hills.
Mist, eh? Will someone get lost in it? Is it normal mist or a supernatural phenomenon? Who could be out on those hills? Or in the sea?
Mosse finisher: Annie took it. ‘Yes,’ she said. ‘I’ve come home.’
What did she take? Who is she talking to? Where’s home? Perhaps she was lost out on those hills, in the mist devised by Mr.Faulks…and just for variety, we’ll try it the other way round.
Mosse starter: Five o’clock. A wet and grey London morning.
Somebody’s up early…
Faulks finisher: …the last vestiges of her presence were washed away, the earth closing over as though no one had passed by.
Who is she? Vestiges – footprints or something else? Are we on a beach or in a flood…
Go on then – off you go and WRITE. 🙂