Friday, May 29, 2009

Inside my Pocketbook

carpet bag I went to lunch with a friend and, at the end of the lunch, looked in my purse for one of those reward card thingies. You know, the kind where they hole-punch the card and after six meals, you get a freebie.

Fortunately, this was a good friend and did not flinch when the gobs and gobs of stuff came out of my bag.

There was a book light, my daughter’s nylon wallet, an old retainer in a plastic case, expired coupons, pictures of my kids in case they get lost (the authorities would have to do a time-lapse thing on them, because the pictures are years old), headphones, a necklace…well, you get the sad picture.

The only useful things I did have (besides the reward card, which I finally did find), were paper, pens, and a box of pencils.

I think the reason I carry so much in my pocketbook is a somewhat misguided attempt to be prepared. Because I was a Girl Scout, back in the day.

But, unless I needed to suddenly straighten someone’s teeth while peering in their mouth with a book light, I really wasn’t prepared to do anything but write.

That’s the nice thing about writing—you can pick it up at a moment’s notice if you have just a scrap of paper and a pencil. And I spend a lot of time writing on the go.

If you’d like to be able to write at a moment’s notice:

Know a short scene you can write. Have a smattering of dialogue you need to write? Need to write some setting descriptions to intersperse in your book? These are quick things you can write.

Know where you left off. The nice thing is that you can pick up in a different part of your book if you’re not sure. Because, by golly, I have rewritten a scene while I was waiting for my car to be washed and didn’t remember for the life of me that I’d already written that section. If you’re not sure, pick up at a different point.

You can find interesting extras for your book almost anywhere. I believe I mentioned the tanning booth lady at the roller skating rink. Sometimes, just like a movie producer, you need some extras for local color. If you’re out and about, this can be a good time to canvass the area for traits, unusual habits, and dialect.

Write short outlines. This is a great time to sketch out a plan for the next few pages, the next scene, or the next chapter if you’re feeling ambitious.

Brainstorming lists can be done in minutes. Think about something completely different. What if your plot suddenly took a tragic turn? What might happen next? You don’t have to commit to this plan…it’s just there to fire up your imagination.

Describe your characters. In only minutes, you can think up as many adjectives as possible to apply to a character (and get to know them better). Or you can think of different scenarios and how they would react: If John were in a dentist’s chair, he would be acting ________.

I’ve actually managed to get some quality writing time on the go, thanks to having paper and a pencil in my pocketbook and a plan in my head.

Now I just need to work on getting the rest of that stuff out of my purse.

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