I’ve got a little secret that’s helped me write dynamic conflict and create peculiar (but plausible) plot twists in my stories. I use it to get my creative juices flowing when I’m feeling uninspired, whether that’s for generating new ideas or breathing fire into my work-in-progress that’s not moving forward with enough conflict or high enough stakes for the characters.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I haven’t shared this trick before because… well, I’ve almost considered it cheating. But I sat myself down for a serious discussion, told myself that when art is concerned, inspiration can be drawn from anywhere, and then decided that this method is actually pretty cool.
So, what is this little secret I use to create dynamic conflict in my writing?
I look at plays’ production photos.
A little anticlimactic, I know.
So, how does that create dynamic conflict?
I love to look at rehearsal photos and production photos of plays, and if I know nothing about the play, all the better. That’s when my writer’s mind starts working, creating explanations for situations that I have no context to understand.
Plays are already full of conflict, and in rehearsal photos, actors embody that conflict. Often physical action is involved, which I find prevents the basic idea from being too vague. There’s already a visual image where you can ground your idea.
What I love about this technique is that you can easily draw inspiration from others, but you don’t need to worry about the idea being too similar. If you don’t know what’s going on, what are the odds that you’re going to write the exact same story? Slim to none, I’d say.
But you don’t have to take my word for it.
Test this technique yourself. Go and google your favourite stage actor, or just search for “theatre rehearsal photos” or similar. Pick any photo that you’re intuitively drawn to.
Good, you’re back.
Now, do not research what you’re looking at. Do not read anything about the play, do not search for any context. Just look at the photo in detail. What do you see? Where is the scene taking place, who are involved? Go with your intuition – what are you reading into the situation? What’s happening?
Use your unique point of view to interpret the action, and then use those ideas as the basis for a story, or as fuel for your current work-in-progress.
And next? You start writing. If you get lost with the story, return to the original image. Often, there’ll be something there to inspire you once more.
I’d love to know: Do you have any foolproof tactics for getting inspired? Have you tried this technique before, or do you think you will?
Now go write the world more beautiful, you awesome little human!