I’m a creative person. I enjoy telling stories in conversation and on paper. I believe my love of stories developed out of an equal appreciation for being entertained; by books, by television or by another good storyteller.
I read constantly and fully immerse myself into the lives of fictional characters in books and on the screen. I connect to fictional characters. Deeper than empathy, I join them in their world for a time, sharing their difficulties and success.
This connection means that I never read or watch something too frightening without a comedy nearby to rescue me from the lives I’m visiting. It also means that I get to fall in love whenever I want, feel the anguish of loss and the thrill of discovery; visiting with old friends I have never met in the mundane world of reality. One of my greatest hopes as a writer is that the characters I create will invite someone into their lives the way I have shared the lives of characters created by others.
Why do I connect so strongly to fictional characters? I was raised by books and television (mostly television) and who doesn’t love the “people” who raised them? Ok, my parents had something to do with my formative years as well but most of the lessons I remember from childhood come from after-school specials and muppets.
One of my favourite shows as a child was Sesame Street. “Suuuuunnnnnny Days, Sweepin’ the clooooouds aaawaaay.” Sesame Street taught me life lessons that made me a better person and a better writer:
Believe in things you can’t see (Snuffleupagus is one of my favourites). Even grouchy people can make you smile; and, each letter of the alphabet has a story to tell (“today’s letter is…”).
Tell the story of a letter. Choose a letter, any letter. If you have trouble deciding on one, take inspiration from your name. Then start by exploring alliteration.
“Laughing, Laura leapt to her feet.”
Does alliteration make you feel silly as a writer? Great! Do it anyway. Remember you are not trying to create a great literary work, this is an exercise to get your mind moving more and your words flowing. If the alliteration leads your imagination to a story, allow the story to flow.
If you need more inspiration to get your writing juices flowing, start thinking about your letter. Jot down words that begin with your letter. Describe things that the letter reminds you of. For example a capital L makes me think of a forklift; the front end that lifts large loads. When inspiration hits don’t be constrained by your letter of choice, it was a starting off point, something to get you going. Aim to write 1000 words inspired by your letter.
“Can you tell me how to get, How to get to Sesame Street?”