Through the Lens of “Why?”


Today begins another week. It is a new beginning for us all, perhaps after a long week or not-so-productive weekend. I look forward to Mondays for this reason.

I finished setting up my new work station today. What do you think?

It isn’t much, and I will have to expand my space for a new printer I just ordered. I am finally getting my own printer. It may not be all that exciting to you, but believe me–I have been in dire need of one for some time!

I think you’ll be glad to know that after I post this, I will get to writing for the rest of the afternoon…until dinner. On this day, [spaghetti > writing] 🙂

Something that has been on my mind lately is the notion that writing changes you as a person. It’s something, I think, that not many people–and not many writers–think about often, mostly because they’re so busy with other things to notice. But if you think about it, writing has quite an effect on a person. And that’s a good thing!

As writers, we should be aware of our surroundings, of how we perceive things, of how others act in certain situations. Why? Because those little, everyday things help fuel and inspire ideas that can eventually become story details. I read an article recently where the author (referencing how he comes up with story ideas) talked about how he can take a simple, perhaps mundane, thing or event and turn it into a story detail or plot device.

All it takes is to continue asking “Why?”

By this, he means he creates something complex and intriguing out of simple ideas or notions, just by questioning the situation. This is a good way to get creative juices flowing, which will lend itself to productive writing. If we approach our everyday lives in this way, there should (theoretically) be a never-ending flow of ideas that can help inspire our storytelling.

With regard to my own creative process, I use this method to a certain extent. For example, when I was writing my debut novel “Resistant” (available in print and ebook format on Amazon), I chose to create my content through two methods.

The first part, fact-based research, is a fairly straightforward idea. I researched information on France during the early years of the war, the time when the Germans invaded and occupied, the fighting that ensued thereafter, and finally the retreat in the final months of the war. Some of this I knew already, but I wanted to be sure I got things right (a good habit to implement, by the way).

The second part, what I call fictitious speculation, is the idea that, given what I know about the times in which my story is set, I try to ask myself, “What would this character do in this situation?” I use the concept of questioning things (mentioned above) but apply it in a different way. I don’t want to recreate someone’s real experience; I want to create something new, but inspired.

Therefore, I speculate on what might go through the character’s mind, and then go on from there. The only non-factual aspects of “Resistant” were the specific names of the characters and the specific events in which they were involved. Historically, everything else truly happened. I also ask, “What would be expected to happen on the part of the reader? How can I avoid this so that the story doesn’t fall into the realm of cliche, and so I can keep the reader turning the page because they’re interested?” This approach to my writing is something I find very effective.

This brings me back to what I first made mention of: writing changes us. If we truly want to write effectively, we need to let our writing infiltrate our lives and become part of us. So the next time you’re “out,” try to view your world through the lens of “Why?” You may just be surprised at what ideas come racing through your mind!

Is there anything that comes to mind now that you’d like to put on the table for discussion?

I’d love to hear from you!