16 July 2010

Summer stretch


Writer's are similar to athletes... except that we spend the majority of our time sitting on our butts. We have to. Have you ever tried typing while walking, running or working out on a treadmill? Not easy. Actually, it's a good way to get hurt.

The way we're similar, however, comes into play when we work on our craft. An athlete has to stretch their muscles... to push themselves just a little harder and further in order to improve their game. Writers need to do the same thing -- only the muscle we stretch is more cerebral.

If you have a favorite writer, you may notice, from time to time, that their stories sound a little stale. I can't tell you how easy it is to get in a rut. I find myself leaning toward a very specific type of heroine, for example. I've also noticed that there are certain plot devices I tend to favor. That's all well and good -- as long as I don't let my stories get boring. I don't want you to think I simply change the location and character names to create a new book. Who'd want to read it? Not me.

This summer I'm shaking things up a bit. I did this once before when I turned a would-be, somewhat standard romantic suspense into a paranormal romantic suspense. That turned out very well, btw. ;) Now I'm finishing book two, and stretching those writing muscles all the way. This hero is not my typical alpha.

So far, so good, but what I can I possibly do to get a better work-out? How can I stretch my writing muscles just that much more?

I think I've found the answer: Steampunk. No, not because it's all the rage, but because I love the genre... have even before it earned such a special designation. Remember Wild Wild West? Sexy. Funny. And oh-so cool. ;)

So now this new idea is percolating. One featuring a feisty bounty hunter and her shifter prey. Steampunk style, naturally, with funky goggles, gadgets and corsets. Not to mention those steam-powered machines. Yeah, this should be fun. And a challenge, which is the best way to give the gray-matter a work-out.

I take what I know I can write... and add something new to the mix. Another level to the plot. Another element to the story. Something that makes me work for just the right mix. Sometimes it's frustrating. Sometimes I'm overcome by the urge to bang my head on the keyboard or nearest wall. I frequently have to step back; take a breath; ask my resident consultant for some plot ideas; etc. But it's the best way I've found to keep my muse from losing the spark.

Now if I could only come up with a good way to exercise my butt, as well. ;)
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