Welcome Raazia S. Ali as guest poster to my blog. Only 19 years of age, she enticed me with her visual metaphor for writing. I thoroughly enjoyed her submissions for my children's newsletter WritingKid and asked permission to include it on my blog. She sounds so wise, yet so cute, and her message on coming up with story ideas is a sound one that I never thought about before. Enjoy!
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So let’s say you’re yearning to be the next J K Rowling or Sarah Dessen but you just don’t have anything to write about! Your life is dull, you’ve never been kidnapped forced to come up with an ingenious escape plan; and as far as travelling goes you’re not even sure your passport exists. What do you do?
No, I’m not suggesting you write about a boy-wizard with a tricky destiny, then exclaim ‘but he has parents!’ and then get sued by the J K R fund. On the slim chance that you get away with this, you are still doomed to death by depression from mean forums by the fans you thought ‘would never notice’. What I’m suggesting is not only legal, but very effective.
First, you read - like a maniac. Hopefully you like to, because I’m afraid there is no criminal shortcut for this one. Finish an entire novel in a night, and then do it again. And again.
Once you’ve completed the pizza base, write down the plots (maximum half a page each) of three of your favorite books. Now, pretend you’re at a thrift store: Mix ‘n match. Take a separate sheet of paper and jot down the stuff that makes it through your ‘pizza filter’. You love how Holden’s little sister Phoebe (The Catcher in the Rye) is wise beyond her years? Write it on your sheet. The idea of a job that involves a lot of moving around sounds to you like an excellent enabler of denial? (What Happened to Goodbye) Put it down. A story told from a dog’s point of view spices up a book? (The Art of Racing in the Rain) Maybe you could use that.
See what I mean? Now keep going. Take writing styles, book structures, characters’ quirks, themes, dialogs and even names. Just make sure to take a balanced bit of everything, because a pizza with too many olives is just that – an olive pizza. Increase the number of books you were using as reference. Make it five. Fifteen. Twenty. Why not?
The final stage would be to put the pizza in the oven, because you do NOT want raw tomatoes and cold, brittle cheese. Once you have the building blocks, your passion for writing should kick in as you sprinkle enough on the book to call it your own. Bake it well. Ensure it is done. Experiment, and your cooking skills will surprise you!
BIO: I'm Raazia S Ali, a nineteen year old sophomore at Arab Open University (Muscat, Oman) getting a BA in English Literature (and Language). When I'm not typing away on my laptop finishing assignments for my diploma in Comprehensive Writing, I can be found painting acrylics or experimenting to see just how short a short story I can write. I've been published in Thursday and Dawn's Young World.