May 4, 2020– Anyone who had European grandparents growing up, knows that fairytales aren’t always fluffy and feel-good stories; we were read the Grimm’s version of fairytales as children and the stories were edgy and downright scary at times. They were anything but Disney-fied. I remember hearing the story of Little Red Riding Hood and my grandmother glancing over her glasses at me and saying, “Why would anyone go into the forest wearing a bright red cape unless they wanted to be stalked?” That sent shudders through my whole body as a child and makes me grin from ear to ear as an adult. Turns out that my grandmother was on to something! She had a different perspective entirely.
The Grimm’s Fairytale version of Little Red Riding Hood sounds more like the plot of a Hollywood horror, and some versions of the fable say that Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, both sat down to eat Grandma…disturbing, yes, but also very intriguing. Fairytales were created to teach children lessons that were scary enough to keep them on the straight and narrow.
We can take insight from fairytales that are a little more dangerous and risque than the typical type-we can use them as inspiration to push the envelope in our own work. Take risks, write a darker version of your work to see what it feels like, what it sounds like, and how it makes YOU feel. It’s empowering to write books with less than a happily-ever-after ending. If you haven’t tried it yet, do it at least once, you’ll be surprised as this simple exercise can open your creativity and allow you to see your characters and themes in a whole new light. Happy writing! X LLB
February 13, 2019– First, let me say a very happy birthday to my momma. I love you and thanks for supporting me in everything. You are the best, and I’m so glad you’re my mom.
You read the title of this post correctly in that your next novel or storybook could very well be sitting on your bookshelf right now! I’m not talking about plagiarizing or copying other artists work, I’m talking about inspiration. As authors, we own a ton of different books that range from fiction to non-fiction, to romance, thrillers, biographies, magazines, historical fiction, and everything in between because we read as much as we write.
A few months back when I decided it was time to pitch a children’s story to some agents in New York, I knew I needed some fresh material. I also knew that I made a promise to myself that in 2019 I would use what I have. Now, normally, I would have gone to the bookstore and bought a bunch of books for inspiration, but this time, I went to my well-stocked library and pulled a book off the shelf. I was determined to take an idea and make it into a story, and that’s precisely what I did. I can’t give you any more details on this until it’s the right time, but I’ll update this post with news from what transpired with the agents:)
So, how can you use what you have on your shelf to write a great story that’s your own? Here’s how:
- Start with non-fiction. You’ve heard the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction and if you’ve ever thumbed through a newspaper you’ll know that it’s true! Use headlines from your daily delivery that catch your attention. Here are few that I’ve put in my back pocket for later use: Woman searched for 24 years for the daughter she was forced to give up, Kitty hitches 40 km ride to Grimsby in a garbage truck, and Spiders Alive-The eight-legged exhibition. Also, think about using some headlines from around the world, a quick Google search will help you find inspiration.
- Page 47, paragraph 2, sentence 3– This is a fun way to start a story! Quick, go to your bookshelf and choose a book. Turn to page 47, paragraph 2, sentence 3. Here’s what I found from the book that I chose by following the above directions: Toe wrestling began in the town of Wetton in 1970. How awesome is that for a starter? You can do this with any book and with any numbers you choose.
- Turn to professional publications– I subscribe to a bunch of publications that are relevant to writing and publishing and one of my favourites is Writer’s Digest. It’s always packed full of information and good advice and sometimes even an idea or two. Pick up your trusted magazines either digitally or the ones that are covering the sofa and flip through them for ideas. Here’s one that I picked up from the most recent issue of Writer’s Digest: Investigative reporting often involves tracking down reluctant sources… Are you thinking what I’m thinking? What about a story about a reporter who goes to get answers from a source and they end up running for their life? What if they’ve uncovered a secret that’s too big to keep hidden? What if the reporter finds out that the reluctant source is their spouse? And the list of ideas go on and on.
There you have it; inspiration for your next book is almost certainly lurking in the corners of your bookshelf! It’s up to you to find it:) Happy Writing! X LLB