Tuesday, April 13

Tricking the Muse

Posted by Shelly Holder

Today, let's talk fun things.

Namely: fiction, and tricking Madam Mocking Muse.

Sometimes when you get going on that recent burst of inspiration, the smallest thing can snap you abruptly out of you creativity. Any hesitation over that small detail not readily to hand, and poof! All gone.

So when I write, I trick the Muse.

I don't write.

Actually, what I mean is that I don't write down what's bothering me, and skip over it to continue with the next word. If you are confused, don't worry. Let's use some practical illustrations. This is a excerpt from my newest W.I.P. (work-in-progress) a Regency novella tentatively titled "Admit Nothing":

...but in the country where eligible single men only dot the landscape like (----------), one had to do with what one had. 

See the dashes? See the big gaping hole where the rest of my metaphor should exist? Yes, see it? See it? 

Yeah, that's been my biggest pet peeve for the past week and a half. HOWEVER, while I may be hung up on the wording NOW, the first time I started furiously scribbling, I left the dashes and just continued. And I got an additional four pages after this paragraph, all because I didn't stop to ponder what specific word I need. If I had, I would have lost my train of creation (that's a good one, can I copyright that?) and I would have been stuck with only four lines and a great deal of frustration. 

Let's see another example: 


He continued. "Mother wishes to remind you of our dinner on Thursday. Pray watch your tongue this time. She was rather horrified at your talk of - of ---"

"(---------)," I said.

Lorimer stared at me for a few moments. "Yes.
Those."

I opened my mouth to ... well, I'm not sure what I hoped to say, but instead I gently shut it again. What was there to say? Proper Young Ladies did not have an interest in (--------). Mrs. Paddingtow was hardly the first to notice my eccentricities,but she was certainly Society's staunchest voice reminding me of them.


This time, I'm hung up on research. I've decided my book is set in Georgian/ Regency times, most likely 1810 because I've mentioned Beau Brummel  as still coming into power. Now, what in 1810 happened that young ladies are traditionally not supposed to know about? I thought mathematics, but wanted something a little more shocking. Perhaps some advancement in anatomy, so I can have a discussion about dissection at the dinner party (say that five times fast). And body parts would have been a definite no-no. But I haven't found what advances in medicine/ anatomy happened in 1810, and so the dashes will have to remain for a few weeks more. 

Again, however, if I allowed myself to get sucked into the vortex of research (and it's a big, gaping black hole of a vortex) I would never be able to resurface and catch the train of creation. Putting the dashes in allowed me to finished out the chapter and proceed onto chapter two. A very definite benefit.

In both cases, if I had allowed the distraction to take precedence over the train of creation, I would have lost the inspiration driving me. By not writing, conversely, I was more productive. And I know from using this trick enough times that it truly does work on Madam Mocking Muse. She doesn't know it, but in such instances, it's me allowing her full reign, rather than her taking over. 

But shhhhh!!! Don't say things like that too loudly. We've all got to keep the Muses in line somehow, by trick or by treat. 

I'm leading mine off for a nice healthy helping of Google Reader. 

Right Now: 
What I'm listening to: Pandora Radio channel Imogen Heap
What I want most: sleep! And it's only 8. *headdesk*