|Old writer at old desk|
I am working mostly at home for the next few months, and my wife said: "We've had this desk for thirty years. Let's get you a better one." I thought that was a great idea and added a detail: let's make it a standup/sit down desk.
All of which is nice, but how exactly does it relate to the business of this blog: reading and writing mystery fiction? Well, we'll get to that.
Ken Rand. The title attracted me because I have a notebook containing a few hundred ideas that have never resolved into stories. I wasn't expecting Mr. Rand to supply any miracles, and of course he doesn't. Mostly he offers some interesting metaphors (although he describes himself as "metaphor challenged") and some exercises.
He spends a lot of time working on ways to get the Left Brain (the Editor) out of the way of the Right Brain (the Author). "Why is your left brain such a jerk?" he asks.
Personally, I don't like the hemisphere stuff; it strikes me as biological reductionism (in normal people the two halves of the brain do communicate, after all). I prefer to use the terms Miner and Jeweler. But I do understand the importance of giving the Miner as much room as possible, and Rand has some useful thoughts about that.
For example: "The best drug ever prescribed, in my opinion, is placebo. (Until recently. I've switched to New, Improved Instant Placebo (R), in mint-flavored gel caps.)"
In other words, when it comes to stoking creativity, whatever you think works, really does work. And in that sense my new desk (remember my new desk?) can be seen as a placebo. I know that I can't give the creative part of my brain orders but I can flatter or if you prefer bribe it by spending money. Go to a conference. Buy Ken Rand's book. Get a new desk.
|Old and cramped|
Of course, there's more to my desk than that. It's a better work station and that helps with organization and writing. Plus the stand-up aspect is great for my increasingly middle-aged back.
But lets get back to Rand. How did his 90-seconds approach connect to my Bouchercon-inspired story idea? Well, what follows combines his method with my own.
* I sat down with a pen and paper, far from my magical stand-up desk. (Rand recommends separating the Author tasks from those of the Editor in as many physical ways as is practical. Generally I Write analog and Edit digital.)
|Old desk's moment of fame|
* I wrote down in one sentence each the three unsatisfactory story plots I had hatched so far. (Rand says: throw out the first few plots you get from an idea; those are the easy cliches. In songwriting we say, when you start with a set of lyrics, throw out the first few tunes that come to mind.)
* With an eye on the clock I started writing down a new story structure, using pieces of those first three plots.
So, did I really come up with a satisfactory story plot in ninety seconds?
It only took seventy. And, of course, I don't know whether I will really shape up into something publishable. In a few years, we will find out I guess.
And now if you will excuse me, I have to go back to my desk...