Friday, October 26, 2012

Invention Tip: So then . . . So What?

Design, décor, detail. These are my sedatives.

If I must endure a long wait without fascinating reading material close by, then I turn my mind to design, décor, and detail. If I am not immediately sleepy when my head finds its perfect nest on the pillow, then I turn my mind to design, décor, and detail. Quite often, I begin these mental delights with two words: So then . . . and add two more to set the scene:

So then, I cried. From there, I must invent. First, I define the type of crying. Am I sobbing? Is a single tear drifting down my cheek as a single drop of rain might make its way along the glass? Or are my eyes just now reddening and welling?

Next, I costume myself and invent a place. Am I in winter dress or something light and cool for summer? Are the clothes pressed and neat, or are they wrinkled and shabby?

Answering the two questions about dress usually gives me an idea about where I am in this invention so I place myself on the front porch of a well-lighted home, looking down the road at a pair of taillights. If it’s summer, I may lie upon a quilt beside a placid, dark lake. I hear the sound of a car engine fading in the distance.

Finally, I add the detail. What happened? What provoked the tears? How do the clothes and setting complement the tone, or do they clash? I explain how much have I lost and what I will do in the next moment and the next and the next.

This mental exercise serves me well in idle moments. When I'm actively working on a story, not sure what my next word will be, I settle my mind and ask So then. . . So what? I let my mind play with ideas, confident that one will draw me on more than others. I know I'll find a path when I ask So then . . .So what?

At other times, I’m just inventing from scratch. I can go anywhere and play with any emotion:

  • ·      So then, I laugh . . .
  • ·      So then, I shriek . . .
  • ·      So then, I walk . . .
  • ·      So then, I sit . . .
  • ·      So then, I . . . well, you have the idea, I’m sure.

So when your creative well runs dry, try So then . . . So what? When your mind wants to idle, try So then . . . So what? When troubles plague you and you wish to steady your mind, try So then . . . So what?

So then . . . So what? is as good as taking a walk, swimming laps, or meditating. So then . . . So what? allows your mind to explore and stretch. You’ll like what you discover, I promise.

Reading Challenge:

Read a quintessential novel about writer’s block. In this one, madness follows: Stephen King’s The Shining. Oh, and you’ll also find fiction suitable for Halloween, complex characters, paranormal intrigue, a brave little boy, and a mother who struggles to do what’s right and best for all.

Writing  Challenge:

Follow through with at least one So then . . . So what?  Write it.

GUM (Grammar, Usage and Mechanics): Back to the Basics

Since we’re going back to the beginning with this and last week’s post, may I remind you about a text that grows sentences as well as sunlight grows flowers? Search for Virginia Tuffte’s Artful Sentences: Syntax and Style.