A little over a year and a half ago, I decided to try a creative experiment. With no prior experience in the field, I wondered if I had it in me to write a book – a full-length novel – from start to finish. The question nagged at my mind like a dare while the very idea of such a massive undertaking thrilled me to the core. So I decided to take the leap.
But before I put pen to paper (or more accurately, fingers to keyboard) I wanted to have an idea. Not just a generic plot, but that perfect, riveting idea that would keep me going long after the honeymoon of inspiration had worn off. To do that, it had to be unique. I could not be limited by “the box.”
I began by considering the type of stories I like to consume via books, movies or television. I’m a geek at heart and there’s always been something intriguing about comic book type stories in which people have superhuman powers. (I think the fascination many of us have with superheroes comes from an intrinsic need to feel special, but that’s just my personal analysis.)
I didn’t want to start with an overused concept as the diving board into writing. So I tried to think about how to put a twist on the typical stories in the genre. What could I do to really be different? And then I asked myself one question that turned out to be the key in spawning the idea: what’s the opposite?
Find the Unexpected
I discovered that one way to break out of the box is to take an idea and turn it on its head. Instead of doing what people expect or following your usual pattern, try doing the opposite – just to see where it leads if nothing else.
For my story, that meant exploring the idea of people with superhuman weaknesses.* The idea instantly struck a chord inside me and I knew it was something I could write about. Since then, the book has turned into a series. I’ve finished my first novel and have two more in the plotting phase. But better than discovering just an amazing story, I’ve found something else in myself – a love of writing. Sometimes I wonder: if I hadn’t had that inspiration would I be where I am today?
What is the norm for you? What’s the opposite? How have you crushed “the box” by doing the unexpected?
*When I use the terms “superhuman” and “weaknesses” together, I typically get a confused stare, and possibly an inquiry of my meaning, if the person is so bold. So here’s an explanation. The protagonist of my story (Empath) has a superhuman flaw allowing her to feel the emotions of the people around her, but not her own. The only time her own emotions appear is when there is no one close by to influence her. The book is about her struggle to live in a world writhing with foreign emotions, especially when she experiences the worst thing for her condition – getting kidnapped by a serial killer.
13 thoughts on “Do the Opposite”
You’re giving me the brain munchies. I love this. 🙂
Awesome, Amanda. Brain munchies are good and need to be fed. 🙂
I’ve been seeing your updates on Facebook, and am just now getting to your site. I look forward to seeing more of your work. I have done a little bit of “opposite”, in my homeschooling methods this year. I am taking a turn I think, doing things outside of my comfort zone. This year has been full of learning for not only my children, but for me as well.
Thanks for reading.
What are you doing that’s opposite with schooling this year? I’m curious about other moms’ techniques. I can always use good ideas.
I’m putting more emphasis on letting the kids seek out their own learning, instead of giving them a regimen of “learning” for them to follow. I am not worrying so much this year about doing enough. This is a great breakthrough for me, because I’ve always worried about doing enough, and it’s all needless worry on my part. For math this year, I give my older kids a time limit. So they only work for 30 min. on math, so their brains don’t get “stupid over their lesson” to quote Charolette Mason. We still do some structured activities, and will probably do more writing lessons in the winter, but for now I am trying to look at what my kids do all day that contributes to their education, rather than just a set amount of hours or lessons. When it comes to homeschooling styles, I see a scale. I see “public school at home” on one end, and “unschooling” on the other end. When I began homeschooling my older two, about 6 years ago, I was definitely on the “public school at home” end. I see myself moving farther and farther away from that model each year.
That’s cool. I’m a fan of a combination of both – somewhere in between regimented studies and unschooling. However, putting that into practice is much harder for me. I probably should read some books on unschooling, I just haven’t really researched it. I worry that they would miss out on some of the basics. Also, I don’t know if it’s true, but unschooling at least *sounds* more time consuming on my part. And with two younger ones, I struggle finding the time I need just to work on the few subjects that require my attention with my first grader.
Can you recommend any good books on the subject?
Right now I’m reading through Laying Down the Rails. It’s a Charolette Mason book, however it’s not written by Charolette Mason herself. I can’t recall the author’s name at the moment. The book is very good.
Also, if you want to check out my blog it’s raisingkidsmom.blogspot.com.