A shameless variation on Janet Potter’s great idea found here.
Are you stuck for an idea?
Do your settings lack oomph?
Could your characters do with a fillip?
Still using the same old phrases?
LOOK NO FURTHER-
the solution is at hand…
The best answer I know is in reading:
- Read the books from the charity shop that have been scribbled in.
- Read the artists’ statements beside weird stuff you love and don’t know why. Some are voiced with pretentious twaddle – others with magic.
- Read old guide books to places you can never go.
- Read tacky tourist maps – especially the badly translated. Follow trails and Blue Plaques. Those noticeboards that pigeons crap on.
- Read ghost advertisements on the sides of brick walls. The nicknames of old streets. Half torn down posters. House names and pub signs.
- Read biographies and newspaper announcements – hatches, matches and dispatches. Gravestones and alabaster monuments. Church leaflets and the lists of vicars, bellringers and flower rotas. Notices outside synagogues, mosques, and temples. Amazing names throng places of worship.
- Read entries in historical directories for your town. Two Yeast Importers and three Tripe Dressers in Scarborough 1890 – who knew?
- Read the handwritten ads on the shoe-shop window. Enjoy the rAnDom capital’s and folk punctuation.
- Read pulp fiction and poetry, textbooks and travel writing. Steal unashamedly. Not just fragments of people, and glimpses of places but turns of phrase. And with novels – nick dirty great chunks of plot. If JMW Turner chose to copy Claude and many others to learn – why shouldn’t you?
- Read magazines about interests that aren’t yours.
- Read vintage catalogues and recipe books, Shell Guides, Enquire Within and tatty old National Geographics.
- Read without shame – comics and battered Readers Digests, lurid trashy paperbacks that predate you, high-minded difficult stuff you ‘ought’ to have read before, things your friends hate.
- Read again collections of fairy stories and folktales. Seek out urban myths and ‘true’ ghost stories.
- Read Old Bailey trial reports and yellowy newspaper cuttings found as bookmarks.
- Read anything and everything. Question it all.What would you add to my list?