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Encouraging the 'Muse'

Writers, who is it that writes?

The most infamous and annoying question asked of writers is ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ It may be annoying, but it’s worth a closer look.

Coleridge’s 'Kubla Khan' sprang from his drug-fuelled imagination intact, and would have been longer had an insurance salesman not knocked on his door, allegedly.

Apparently, Agatha Christie, whose books have sold two billion copies planet-wide, was a very disorganised writer, setting down her ideas on shopping lists, receipts and other scraps of paper. Then something in her ordered everything into a story that worked.

C. S. Lewis’s imagination contained a jumble of images which leapt into shape once the over-arching image of a Lion popped up.

There are five things you can do to encourage the same kind of magic within yourself.

1. Read a great deal in the genre you want to write.

2. Pay attention to things like openings and endings, types of character, settings. (For much more help in what to look for, read How Stories Really Work.)

3. Keep notes.

4. Read more widely than your chosen genre, paying attention to things like openings and endings, types of character, settings and so on.

5. Compare notes. To your amazement, you will find startling similarities even in widely differing genres.

Now go and write and you will find that

a) any existing story of yours will take on new depth and dimension and

b) you will enjoy writing more.

Try it!


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