Writer’s block hits every writer at some time or another in their writing life. Finding plot lines can seem totally beyond our ability. The more you try, the more you can’t think of anything to write about. The dreaded blank page appears to grow with terrifying speed as it haunts our every thought.
It’s not often I find myself lost for words but when the situation does arise, I love sitting in a coffee shop, watching the world and listening to an odd snippet of conversation. A word or a line of dialogue can conjure up such adventures, stories or fictional escapades that are probably so far from the truth of the original line but work as a perfect trigger.
I met my husband for a coffee at an exclusive restaurant this week in a town a little way from home. We met in the car park and tried to get a table. I always feel a bit cloak and daggerish when we meet somewhere in separate cars. I wonder what onlookers might make of our movements and anonymity. It was late and the restaurant was only serving lunches. They were packed but managed to find a long table in the courtyard with a couple of women deep in conversation and asked if we could join them at the far end.
The sun was scorching, and we were just out of the shelter of the canopy. We agreed to have lunch. While we were waiting, my husband took a call for work and was gone a while leaving me alone.
I looked around the amazing array of different characters all eating, deep in conversation with their lunch partners, over plates of exotic salads and unpronounceable menu items. I had plenty of time to close my eyes against the heat of the sun and immerse myself in other worlds as several conversations washed over me.
“He used to be a dealer you know.”
“You are not supposed to be down this weekend?”
“He uses a lot of chemicals to build up his collection”.
“I have not taken a drop since the beginning of the month.”
“Jersey Royals have not had such a good reputation of late. We have been using red roosters for that.”
I cannot tell you who he was or what he dealt in, or where the couple came from that had arrived for the weekend. I cannot imagine what the collection was or why he would ever need to use chemicals on it. I can guess possibly at the drop but why since the beginning of this month rather than dry January, what was the trigger for her not taking a drop and a drop of what? I did not notice Jersey Royals on the menu but my assumption was a chef discussing his meal although why he was eating and not cooking I could not tell you.
Hubby returned as our meals arrived and I wonder what listeners would have made of our conversation. How the call had gone, what an unusual eclectic place we seem to have stumbled upon and had he eaten sourdough sandwiches before.
So, this week’s prompt is:
What can you do with this? Drop into a conversation you hear in the course of your day. Take one line from it and create your own story. Maybe you hear something illegal, how will you react? Do you hear somebody whispering about a person’s private diagnoses and then discover it is you they are talking about?
Use any of the conversations I heard, or one you were involved in. What did they mean and who are they? Remember to take your character on a journey and give them a problem.
Think about competitions, take it outside the box and give it a different spin. Could your main character work at GCHQ or for the FBI and could they be listening into the Chinese?
How much information can Amazon’s Alexa or firestick pass on to whom and are they really that interested in the family arguing over BBC or ITV? Or could you just be bugging the flowers in a hotel room of a VIP?
Please remember if you have your own project to work on, keep going with that and only use the prompts if you feel you need them.
100 words are just your start, try doing 100 words every day at the same time and let the story develop over the week. 100 words can take about 15 minutes. Can you steal that time back from your daily routine? Just a quarter hour!
Our next meeting will be Thursday 13 June at Conversion Studios in Milton, at 7.30pm.
Bring some work along to read out. It can stem from a prompt or it can be part of your ongoing project.
Keep Writing and keep submitting there are plenty of places online and in print for you to give it a go!