I wish every writer and reader I know could make it to my area for the Decatur Book Festival on Labor Day weekend. It’s total awesomeness. And it’s all free. FREE.
Besides the TONS of authors who talk about their books and answer questions and autograph and mingle, the DBF also connects authors and other creative types with writers for an afternoon of workshops on the Friday before all the festivities. This year, I signed up for one called Synchronicity Theater’s Playmaking workshop. Because a. I’m a ham. and b. it looked fun and different.
And you know what? It was fun. Rachel May led (okay, pushed) our stalwart little group into territories unknown to pull ideas out of our (no, I wasn’t going to say that) boxed-up brains. Here are a few exercises to help jumpstart your writing ideas.
Choose character relationships. Not the same old, same old relationships. Think outside that box. Like the blue-haired lady who goes to the beauty salon and her teenaged hairdresser. Or the stay-at-home mom and the Fedex guy.
Create a setting. Of course, you can use a house, a school, a store. But you can also get descriptive. Maybe a house on a cul-de-sac in a subdivision that’s experiencing a decline. Or a store that’s had the same owner for 30 years.
Make something happen. Will someone lose their job? Will a character find something, like a an old love letter or a rock with blood on it?
So, now you have a who, what, and a where. Take that stay-at-home mom (maybe her husband travels) who lives on a cul-de-sac that’s declining (because someone unsavory moved into the neighborhood) and have the Fedex guy (who’s delivered packages every week for a year and fallen in love with a certain stay-at-home mom) drive up and find the woman he adores holding a rock with blood on it.
Hmmm…now why in the world is she holding that rock? The story practically writes itself. Maybe you’ll even make that story into a book. And then you’ll get it published! And you’ll be one of the presenters at the Decatur Book Festival in 2012! We’ll meet for drinks and it’ll be so much FUN!
Hey. It could happen. (But just in case it doesn’t, I’ll happily meet you for lunch, dinner, or drinks at the next DBF if you decide to come. I’m sure the Beneficent Mr. Hall will treat.)
(And P.S. What I love about Synchronicity is their work with at-risk teen girls. You can read more here about their total awesomeness.)
That sounds like a lot of fun, Cathy! And I love the idea of taking setting and characters and just revving them up a bit, making them more detailed or complex or unusual.
Great thoughts, Cath, and I'm glad you had a great time at the DBF. Did you see our falling friend? Your storyline kind of reminds me of Bridges of Madison Co. and that was a bit of a success!
Hey Madeline! It took us a few minutes to get warmed up…but then it got crazy. 🙂 I love this exercise, too!Anita, I didn't see the Leaning Guy, but I saw other interesting folks. Which I suspect will end up in some story or such (cleverly disguised, of course) ;-).
Sounds amazing. What a cool experience!
yes! I must step out of my comfort zone. Thanks for the nudge, Cathy. I wish I could have been there.
It was kinda cool, Vicky. And Linda, I wish you'd been there, too. We'd have rocked that workshop!
Oh, that sounds like an awesome day. My adult niece that lived in Decatur always raved about that book fair and she, too, wished I could be there for it. Gee, I should've waited until NOW to visit y'all, instead of June!! 🙂
Hey Cathy,Sounds like a great event. And thanks for the ideas for stories from your workshop. Love the images. Donna V.
Hey Becky and Donna! Why not do a road trip and come next year? We'd love to have you!
I hate that I couldn't attend. Between the hobbling husband (back) and the plumbers and the leaky fridge, I had my hands full. Next year. *sigh*
Don't worry, Lisa. They have great workshops EVERY year!
Great post. I'm sorry I've skipped the book festival all these years (not much of a big-crowd person). Now, do you mean to say that Mr. Hall will treat all blog readers who show up next year, because…I rarely turn down free food, or booze. ha ha, I think you'd better rethink this Mrs. Hall or the beneficent Mr. Hall may divorce you before next year. Hey, we could write a book about it. Mr. Hall, who has played straight man to Cathy-on-a-stick for years, has finally had enough. 🙂
Hahaha! Mr. Hall LOVES Cathy on a Stick, Sally. Well, as long as he doesn't have to hold her.And you must come to the DBF! You'd love it!