Thursday, October 6, 2011

Writing DNA #2

Listen up all you crime scene investigators, writing is a tough gig, even for the best of us. When things get overwhelming, a little inspiration is a wonderful thing. As part of Writing DNA Thursdays, we're going to clue you to what our detectives do to keep their muses on the grind. So break out your lab kits and see what you can make of these DNA samples:

Laura Ellen:
One of my favorite ways to get into what I'm writing is to find a picture that represents some aspect of my story. Setting, character, tone—you can find anything captured in a photo or painting. Try looking through magazines, calendars, postcards, or visit an art museum to find something that echoes what you are writing. Make sure you keep a collection of pictures that inspire you too—it's a great source when you have writer's block.

Diana Renn:
The writing advice book I constantly circle back to is written not by a fiction writer, but by a dancer and choreographer. THE CREATIVE HABIT, by Twyla Tharp, is a wellspring of inspiration and practicality. It emphasizes the need for rituals and habits to activate creativity; she also provides many tips for breaking down daunting projects into manageable components, offsetting perfectionist tendencies, and accomplishing one's creative goals. There are numerous exercises, useful for writers or for anyone involved in creative endeavors. You can dip into the book anywhere or read it straight through. I especially love how Tharp starts her dance choreography projects with an empty box, into which she dumps any potential seeds of her projects (news clippings, CDs, books, photos, etc.). I've used this approach as a way to gestate new projects, and found it very helpful.

L.R. Giles:
I live in Virginia, and whenever October hits there's this scent in the air...a crispness, mixed with the smokiness of burning leaves. That smell has always reminded me of cool quiet nights leading up to the spookiest day of the year, Halloween. It gets me into a special mood, and makes me want to write scenes that are a little darker and scarier than my norm.

Elisa Ludwig:
Last weekend I saw the movie Drive. I loved the slick ’80s feel to it, all the Miami Vice references from the electro music to the aerial skyline shots. But what's really interesting is how the story unfolds. Ostensibly, it's a crime thriller, and there's a whodunit killing to figure out. Yet there's even more mystery surrounding Ryan Gosling's nameless character, and the plot hinges on our discovery of who he really is. It's fascinating and utterly dark but it got me thinking a lot about the inner life of characters and how slowly revealing that can provide its own kind of suspense.

We are giving away an autographed book from our next Interrogation Room suspect! To enter the contest, simply comment on any of the Sleuths Spies and Alibis posts between Tuesday October 4 and Friday October 14. Contest closes October 14 at midnight, EST. The winner will be announced on Monday, October 17. One comment = one entry in our drawing; limit one per day.

The interview with Suspect #2 will appear tomorrow, Friday 10/7; check back to find out her identity! Clues: She's a former chef, she's an expat writer now living in London, and her MG mystery novel - -released earlier this year -- takes place in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

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