I’m always on the lookout for fantastic writing ideas, inspiration, prompts or other tools to give me a kick start when I can’t think of anything to write or I’m stuck in a story or book. I subscribe to the Writer’s Digest newsletter and get emails from time to time about writing ideas. I got such an email this morning with ‘5 Ways to Come Up With Great Story Ideas’. So, I have decided to post each of the prompts and my response.
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So, here goes the first one:
Take a very small, seemingly non-important scene from one of your favorite books and consider what it’d be like if that were the opening scene to your novel. Change the characters of course, and add one or more unique elements to that scene. The key is to give you a starting point and then let your imagination run wild. While there are many ways to stay inspired, this challenge really takes something that you love (an old book) and gives it new life.
One of my favorite books is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. If you are not familiar with it, it is a very old story, written around 1844. One of my very favorite scenes of the book (although I have many favorite parts) is when the main character, Edmond Dantes, escapes from his island prison by posing as the dead body of a fellow inmate and friend, Abbe Faria. Below is the actual passage from the book:
“And at the same instant Dantes felt himself flung into the air like a wounded bird, falling, falling with a rapidity that made his blood curdle. Although drawn downwards by the heavy weight which hastened his rapid descent, it seemed to him as if the fall lasted for a century. At last, with a horrible splash, he darted like an arrow into the ice-cold water, and as he did so he uttered a shrill cry, stifled in a moment by his immersion beneath the waves.”
And here is how I would re-write it to portray an opening scene of a book.
Suddenly finding consciousness, Matthew found himself in the dark. He was moving, but did not know how. It was as if he were being carried by rough hands, but he could not see anything, could not move his body. He heard voices, they were speaking of a cemetery and having a bite to eat after they were done there. Matthew sensed the danger that surrounded him in his blind cocoon and so he remained silent. Feeling carefully with his hands which were restrained with course twine, Matthew concluded that he was in a sack of some kind, like a bundle of potatoes. Suddenly, the men carrying him slowed. He became aware of the sound of the sea very close to them and could smell the brine through the cloth that bound him. The men began swinging him back and forth and at the count of three, Matthew was airborne. He felt himself flying through the air, the cold, moist sea air swirled all around his fiber prison. Plummeting like a rock, Matthew wondered if his flight would ever end. And just when he thought he would never touch the earth again, his body was shocked with the freezing cold temperatures of the icy sea. Sinking like a stone, Matthew frantically began writhing to escape, his lungs already beginning to burn and ache.
So what do you think? Try the prompt yourself and see what you can come up with! Share your link in the comment section below so I can read yours too. 🙂
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