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Influential Nothings

Influential nothings.

Huh? I think we tend to think sometimes that those little things around us, all those nothings, don’t really influence us. Actually we probably dismiss them and ignore them more, when writing that is.

What do I mean by this? A lot of times when we think of inspiration, we think of a huge production, thrilling and dramatic movie. Or maybe an epic, stirring soundtrack. Or better yet, that normally rare, riveting book that kept you up all last night. You know, those big things.

In real life, the little things build up. Generally we won’t notice it at first, but it will affect our mood and how we react to things. They influence us in their own way.

What we may not realize is that they influence our writing as well. For example, when I think of outer space scenes or scenes of people longing after it, looking at it, I like to go out in the cool night sky first. I’ll look up at the stars or clouds and just stare…and wonder…and thank my Creator for all that He has done and His bigness.

But that’s a big thing as well, in a way. How about at work? Or at home during the day with all the children running around adding to the craziness? Well, one would think those would just get us frustrated if we wanted to write, because they are keeping us from writing. Or maybe we let the overwhelming stuff push writing out of the forefront of our minds. It’s still running back there though. The writer’s imagination is taking in everything and trying to file it away for use later.

If you let it up a little, story ideas will pop up from a snippet of a conversation, or a sound effect.

As a writer, I want to make it realistic. Even if I’m writing fantasy in a universe nothing like our own, I want the reader to connect. So if I need to describe how someone is feeling in a section, or get inside the head of a character feeling differently than I am at the time, or describe a scene, I’ll want to pull from what I know. This way I’ll make it real. That rush hour time in traffic when you’re stuck and you have to get the ice cream home fast before it melts. That can become a character trying to press through a mob, holding a deathly-ill child in his arms, trying to get to the hospital.

The blazing sunset reflecting off the clouds translates to the sign of a far-off city that’s just been bombed and is in flames.

The report that’s bogging you down becomes the years of seemingly unnecessary training to a young cadet.

The shouts of arguments from your children are the sounds a hobo hears walking through a neighborhood.

That feeling of shock if you accidentally cut your finger too deep can be carried to many scenes in a book.

This blog post that just won’t end is like the flight captain reminding you of things you already know minutes before you take off into battle. 😀

If we keep that area of our minds alert, or even just recall those memories when we’re writing, I’ve discovered it helps to bring more life into my stories. At least, in my opinion. What do you do to help bring life into your story?

(and yes, i realize this seems somewhat like two blog posts in one.)

About Nathanael Scott

Nathanael Scott has been an enthusiastic reader of a variety of genres for as far back as he can remember, his favorite being science fiction. He uses writing to let loose his imagination in a way that glorifies God and benefits others. If you can’t get hold of him, he’s probably in outer space piloting a starfighter on a mission to save your life. He is the author of Though Storms May Rage, a sci-fi novel that is currently in revision.

4 comments on “Influential Nothings

  1. Great post. It’s tricky to remember that the little things can be just as inspiring as the big things.

  2. So that’s what it means to “Write what you know”. 🙂

  3. Thanks Kaleb! 🙂 Kessie, that is one of the main ways I interpret it, yes. 🙂

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