Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Unexpected Elements

You're at your computer, right? Have the internet open and all that jazz? Go ahead and open a new tab—it won't offend me. Go to your search engine of choice and type in something you have absolutely no bloody interest in, or very little. Something like seagull physiology or sperm whales or—just something you don't really want to know about. Trust me, it's heading somewhere. Now go on ahead and go through the results until you find something that does pique your interest.

This is where we start link chasing. If you go through enough links from there, you can find a lovely element or two to include. I found things to use on a crochet site the other day—crochet. I don't crochet—I can hardly recognize it when I see someone doing it—but it brought something to the table that interested me, so I stored it in my brain.

That's how you spice up your writing, both for your readers and for yourself. I always talk about following tangents, and this is really no different—if you latch onto a tangent you like, throw it in. Maybe you saw an African fertility chair and really liked it—I bet you can get it into your next project, or the one after that. I have a whole list of them saved up—Zulu spears and shields, ancient Egyptian battery pots, French death clocks, exotic firearms, the Bouncing Betty, Quan Yu, French buccin—and hope to use them all at some point (Although Quan Yu might wait...she can be a little frightening...).

The point is to throw in something you maybe don't expect, something you have to research a little, because research will set your little heart aflutter and fill you with a sort of raucous joy. Plus, your readers will see something out of the ordinary from you—surprising your readers is a good thing. And if that's not enough, you can draw in new readers with new elements. By broadening your horizons, you can broaden your fan base, and then get your work out to more eyes.

And isn't that kind of the point?

So, who knows what could come up next? The characters in your post-apocalyptic world might start rinsing their mouth with urine—it worked for the ancient Romans, right? They were pretty successful...

Peace out, y'all,


baygirl32 said...

similar to hitting the "next" button and getting a random blog :)

Happy A to Z

Erin M. Hartshorn said...

Interesting. I usually find random things by following links on blogs, Twitter, and Facebook (not to mention proofreading and indexing for my day job), but I'll keep this technique in mind!

Francene Stanley said...

Hey! There are post-apocaliptic characters roaming right through Cornwall today in Wind Over Troubled Waters--out today and available from Amazon. Now you didn't expect a birth announcement, did you?


jemimapettauthor said...

I like the idea... but I'm still bringing random elements in from my own interests at the moment. Its why George's interst in flying is gong to take him from biplanes to inventing a flying boat!
Then again, Hugo taking up crochet sounds like fun...