Yesterday I finished reading a novel. I love reading authors' debut novels and seeing the writing that made an agent and editor say, "Yes!" What I liked best about this one was the interaction between the male and female lead. Though it wasn't a romance, the subtle tug between their hearts was beautiful to read.
Have you ever read a book that stayed with you after you closed the cover? It's books like these that make me want to sit down and start typing. They give me the desire to give the same experience to my readers. The first time someone told me that my story made them cry was the moment I felt like a real writer. Never mind that I was not published and didn't have an agent. It touched someone. That was enough for me.
So I'm thinking today about what makes me grab a pen and start writing.
Reading books.When I read a well-written book, even if it's not perfect, it energizes me to write. I want to be able to create a mood, or make a reader fall in love with a character. Occasionally, I get discouraged, thinking, "I'll never be able to write like that." But even the best authors started somewhere. And reading great writing is probably one of the things that helped them grow.
Watching movies.Good plotting is a hallmark of good movies. Watching masterful film making and screenplay writing helps me discover areas of my story that can be cut. I like to watch the deleted scenes, especially when the director explains why a perfectly good scene (sometimes his favorite scene) didn't make it into the final movie. Usually it's because it didn't move the story forward. I know I've got scenes like that in my manuscript.
Observing people. I took my daughter to the airport yesterday. While I waited for her flight to take off, I had a chance to watch the travelers going by. It amazes me how watching people makes me long to describe my characters better. It's not just the different hairstyles and facial characteristics. It's the questions that pop up in my mind. Why is the mousy older woman carrying such a flamboyant purse? What does the unusually shaped package contain? Why does the young man make eye contact with every person he passes? Questions like these had me looking for my notebook.
Listening to music.The long, icy drive to the airport was accompanied by a variety of music that I don't always listen to, courtesy of my daughters and niece in the car. But it's good for me to listen to songs outside of the genres I gravitate to. I end up really listening to the words, the mood, the textural combination of instruments, and I often start thinking through a scene in my story, coming up with alternate ways for it to go.
Beautiful scenery.Back to the airport trip. My travels took me along the front range of the Rocky Mountains, first in a snowstorm, and then in the blue-skied, bright aftermath. The sun burning off the fog that covered the mountains, the pine needles frozen in place with the numbing cold--each turn of the road brought a fresh vision that could be translated into a story.
So that's my list--so far. What's on yours?