Sunday, August 4, 2013

Filling The Well



As writers we sometimes need to fill the well. The expression simply means we need to do something other than work and write. Eventually, you run out of topics to write about if you don't have anything else to draw upon in your conscious or subconscious mind.

One great way to fill the well is to experience life. Take a vacation. One of these days I'm going to go on a cruise; hopefully one that won't need to be rescued, but then I would have a story there.

Spending time with friends can fill the well whether its the discussions you take part in or just the positive energy promoting an energized mood.

I usually fill the well by watching movies. I think of it as brainstorming. The movie might begin with the heroine stepping onto a boat and I'll suddenly have a plot for entirely different book. This also happens when I watch television shows or read novels. One moment in time can be the seed for your next story.

I didn't realize just how powerful television could be until I shared shows I had watched with my friend Bev, who is part of the writing team of Tia Dani. Over our Starbucks, I shared an episode of Paranormal Witness about the gruesome Manson murders, which led to Googling the relevant information of the time. I had read the book about Charles Manson in my teens, but had forgotten most of the details. The trial, which took place in the 70's, was a circus of unsettling events. It is said that Charlie scripted testimonies and his followers sat cross-legged near the courthouse with X's carved into their foreheads. When the prosecution's lead witness testified, Charlie motioned that he was going to slit her neck. He had his women followers so brainwashed they were ready to lie for him and say he had nothing to do with the murders, but their own defense attorney wouldn't let them testify. The lawyer disappeared. I'm not sure if his body was ever found. The whole scenario was so horrifying, Charlie has been denied parole 12 times. I believe he isn't eligible for another parole hearing until he is 90.

 From reading the few articles on the Internet, my writer's brain sparked several plots. You could take any person involved with the murders, the trial, or Charlie's "family" and ask "What if?" I would change the scenario in my story so no one would know where the original idea came from.

In the time Bev and I spent sipping our Frappacinos and discussing shows I had watched and Googled, I mentally gathered the seeds for at least half a dozen books.

The news is also a great place to form ideas for new stories. A simple report about an elderly man lost without his medication can lead to a book about a middle-aged woman with amnesia, or a teen kidnapped without her meds, or a respectful businessman found drugged up on the beach in his suit.

Writers do need to fill the well, and although it would be wonderful to take a trip to Ireland to do so, it isn't necessary. Watch a movie or a little TV, read a book, and get out and experience life.

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