Monday, August 15, 2011

Let Yourself Become Immersed in a Story...

Have you ever found yourself sucked into the middle of story?  I'm not talking about the current book you're reading or the one you're working on.  I'm talking about in real life.  You know when you see a person picking through the garbage and you wonder how they got there, or when you observe two women hugging in a mall with tears and laughter and imagine them good friends or sisters being reunited after being apart for a long time.

Personally I love it when situations in real life stir my imagination.  It's a live writing exercise.  If you haven't allowed yourself to become pulled into a story, open yourself up to them because they're all around you.  As soon as you start asking, what if, how did they get here, you're well on your way.  Even if you never use the characters or situations in your writing directly you might be surprised to find the underlying observations you make just might.  Either way a writer can never go wrong with fueling their creativity.

Here are a couple scoops of fodder to fuel your imagination:

"One man's garbage is another man's treasure" 
Last week I looked out my front window to see a man on a bike leaned over and picking through a neighbor's garbage.  And no I don't live in the slums or downtown.  The man was probably in his mid-thirties and fit.  He balanced a small coffee table on his head - no doubt a find from another neighbor.  As he held it with one hand, his other rummaged through the garbage.  He picked up numerous items before settling on a small sign that said "Espresso" on it.  He handled it carefully as if it were a true find.  He tucked it on top of the coffee table and rode off.

Can you sense a story here?  Where does it take you?  Does he sell what he finds?  Does he need to furnish his apartment?  Does he have to do this or does he chose to?  He was confident in what he was doing, even taking his time, why?

"So happy together"
On the way to pick hubby up from work I was stopped at a red light.  On the corner a man with a young child in a stroller waited for the walk signal.  Rounding past him was a woman of about the same age holding a baby in her arms.  She also walked with another woman who I guessed to be her mother.  Anyway the older child in the stroller was all excited about the young baby in the woman's arms, so much so it even got the baby excited.  The man and woman shared a laugh as they watched the two kids reaching out to each other.

What is the story here?  Maybe there really isn't one between the man and woman but can you conjure one up?  This interaction actually got me thinking about human interactions.  As adults normally we're closed to strangers. We barely acknowledge them.  Sometimes - and I love this - you share a smile with a stranger.  To me that's a true gift.  Anyway as children we loved other kids.  What changes us as we grow up?  If there were no babies involved in the above scenario do you think the man and woman would have even acknowledged each other?

These are just a couple examples.  The possibilities are endless.  What about the woman you see who waits at the same bus stop every day - what's her life like?  What about the man or woman who dresses oddly but doesn't seem conscious of the fact?

Stories are all around you, poking at you, taunting your imagination, so get out there and find yourself immersed in one!  You just may be surprised at the positive effects it has on your writing!