imagination

Prompt: Make the Inanimate Come Alive

This prompt is from the book by Amoz Oz, “A Tale of Love and Darkness.”

Already in the entrance hall I was seized by respectful awe, as though even my heart had been asked to remove its shoes and walk in stockinged feet, on tiptoe, breathing politely with mouth closed, as was fitting.

In this entrance hall, apart from a brown wooden hat tree with curling branches that stood near the front door, a small wall mirror, and a dark woven rug, there was not an inch of space that was not covered with rows of books: shelves upon shelves rose from the floor to the high ceiling, full of books in languages whose alphabets I could not identify, books standing up and other books lying down on top of them; plump, resplendent foreign books stretching themselves comfortably, and other wretched books that peered at you from cramped and crowded conditions, lying like illegal immigrants crowded on bunks aboard ship. Heavy, respectable books in gold-tooled leather bindings, and thin books bound in flimsy paper, splendid portly gentlemen and ragged, shabby beggars, and all around and among and behind them was a sweaty mass of booklets, leaflets, pamphlets, offprints, periodicals, journals, and magazines, that noisy crowd that always congregates around any public square or marketplace.

Take one or more inanimate objects and make them come alive.

NaNoWriMo Tips: What Ifs

If you get stuck in NaNoWriMo, bring out your what ifs.

What if questions can be fun. They can break the writing rut and break open your imagination.

Begin by looking for opposites. Identify your characters strengths and weaknesses and consider how they would behave if they were switched, their strengths suddenly became weaknesses. If it is raining in the scene, make it sunny and dry, just to see how the characters would behave if the weather was different.

Change locations. What if this scene happened in the middle of the night on top of a skyscraper? Or early morning in a car park? Or instead of the desert, deep in a forest? What would change? Would the characters behave different? Would the story change? Sure, it would, but how?

What if your character was different? Instead of skinny, was obese? Instead of Latino, was Russian?

Then ask yourself other what ifs like:

  • What if the characters knew each other in grade school?
  • What if they were meeting for the first time and had no history?
  • What if their parents were in the room?
  • What if they never completed high school?
  • What if their life was really a lie?
  • What if their next actions would get them put into the witness protection program?
  • What if their parents died when they were young?
  • What if their parents died in a crash two weeks ago?
  • What if one parent was a philanderer?
  • What if one or more of the characters escaped from a cult in their past?
  • What if the character decided to give up everything they had, their life, work, everything, to join a cult?
  • What if the character lost everything and became homeless?

The what ifs can go on forever. Some lead from one thought to other, so keep writing out your what ifs before you start answering them. Pick one or two when you are ready and write them up. It could get your writing juices flowing again, and possibly help you understand your characters and the story better.

It could also lead to a sequel. Never know.

You can find more writing tips, NaNoWriMo prompts, and writing tips for NaNoWriMo on our Writers in the Grove site.