Stop! Notice! Note!

The Year I Stopped to Notice, by Miranda Keeling, is a wonderful example of what we should all be doing as writers – Stop! Notice! and then most importantly, take the root of ‘notice’ and Note!

Here is an example taken from one of Keeling’s recent social media posts:

Man in a cafe: Hi, are you Susan?

Woman: No. (Looks at him) But I wish I was. (long pause)

Man: Shall we…say you are?

Woman: Yes.

This could so easily be the opening of a drama piece or a prose fiction — flash, short story, or novel. Who are these people? How will their friends and families react? What has happened to Susan? What sensory details are evoked by the café setting? How about the genre and style — romantic comedy, tragedy, social realism? Whose point of view will the reader follow?

I find that lots of different story ideas can spring to mind from a sufficiently engaging prompt. It’s probably best to scribble these down in rough draft before thinking too much, in the first instance, and then start the who / what / when / where/ why / how questions once the initial impetus starts to run down.

NaNoWriMo is about to begin on November 1st. In this annual programme, there are 30 days to dash off a 50,000 word draft of a novel without worrying about finesse; the editing comes afterwards. Perhaps try it with one of Keeling’s “noticings”, or better still, devote a few minutes every day over the next couple of weeks to stopping, noticing, and noting the interactions going on around you. At least one of these is bound to make an intriguing writing prompt.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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