Last week I posted a batch of creative writing sparks just for novelists to inspire some craziness during the launch of NaNoWriMo (“National Novel Writing Month”)
Now it’s a week later. Many writers have quit. Still others are beginning to lose steam. So I’m offering another batch of Instigation to possibly keep the fires burning weirdly.
Remember: finishing is not enough. You have to GO CRAZY! The glee of the twisted is a communicable disease that many readers love to catch. Good luck.
+ Your character is desperate. Literally have them make a sacrifice. To a named deity. Even if it’s just a silly, imaginary one, like “The Great God of Caffeine” or “Vile Demon Dog of Desperation”
+ Torment with temperature.
+ Plan to give your next scene an extremely unexpected or traumatic outcome. Now START with a summary of that outcome, and write the rest in flashback or in reverse chronology, till you arrive at the cause.
+ Start a chapter with your protagonist listing a catalog (out loud or in their thoughts) of events from the book or their personal history, that begins with the line “These things just aren’t supposed to happen.”)
+ A document or art object that is somehow crucial to your storyline is discovered to be a forgery.
+ Luxuriate in twisted exposition: take a moment to describe the beauty in something disgusting or offensive.
+ At the start of the next chapter or scene, repeat the first sentence of your novel. Then precede to contradict it or reveal a new shade of its meaning.
+ Unveil a character’s irrational fear of a relatively banal object in the current setting (cellophane wrapping, ceramic mugs, aluminum picture frames, leather sofas, birch trees, suede…the more mundane the better).
+ Play fortune cookie with your book title or opening line: add “in bed” or “in the mail” after it and see where it takes you.
+ A character your protagonist expected to appear in the next sequence has disappeared or gone missing. Let them investigate the mystery…and reveal a dark secret in the process.
+ Unexpectedly, a parent arrives on the scene. And he/she/it is furious.
+ Turn a minor character into a sage. Or take a minor character’s passing comment earlier in the book, and give it more ominous weight now that you are further into the story.
+ Unmask one of your most trustworthy characters as a liar or fake!
+ Creatively employ the following words and phrases on your next page (force yourself to fit them all on one page — bonus points if they fit in one paragraph): bone shards, apparition, jitter, rocket, smear, rabid, dread, puncture
+ Uh-oh: dead batteries. Rob something the character(s) take(s) for granted of its energy.
+ Make your next scene or chapter your “Alien” moment. And by “Alien” I mean an interruption that is as outrageously unexpected as the “chest-bursting” scene from the Ridley Scott film: surprise everyone with an eruption of something astounding that had been hiding in plain sight all along.
+ Write the last scene of your book. But not the one you plotted. The one you will use to foil those readers who always jump to the end before it’s finished. THEN go back to where you were before. That’ll teach them!
+ Stop siding with the good guys so much. Let evil flourish for awhile.
If these work for you, share them with your writer friends. Got more crazy ideas? Comments welcome.