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What Happens After You Capture the Creative Muse?

Updated on May 25, 2015
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Neil is an owner of DragonTech Writing, a techncial writing firm located in Logan, Utah. He is also a published freelance writer.

This pen was found at a career fair.  It is what it says it is, and can be as much a muse as anything else.
This pen was found at a career fair. It is what it says it is, and can be as much a muse as anything else.

A Few Ideas for Capturing the Muse.

Ask What if?
Read (and ask how would I have written it?)
Art shows (ask, what is behind that hill, or what is that character’s motivation?)
Take a unique situation from life and make a story around it.
Examples: A guy setting up a laptop with a smart phone in his mouth.
A barefoot skateboarder with a pair of dress shoes in her hands.

Many books have been written on how to write. Whether it be writing a novel, or even a really good novel, or writing some other form, the literature on how to write or create when that illusive muse strikes is nearly endless. I have found that even the dust jackets of books give clues on how to capture that illusive creative muse. For example, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was waiting for patients when he wrote Sherlock Holmes. H Ridder Haggard wrote King Solomon’s Mines on a bet. Capturing the creative muse is an individual experience, but then deciding how to express those ideas becomes a stumbling block to many writers, leaving many good ideas by the wayside.

For non-fiction, choosing a form is not as critical a task as it is for fiction writers, but there are still choices that can be made. Many writers (both fiction and non-fiction) pick a certain form such as poetry, prose, or plays (screen or stage) and will write almost exclusively in that form. Others will work in any of the various forms (At one time or another I’ve worked in all three areas). The question then is: when the muse (or whatever you call that flash of inspiration) strikes, does the idea you have work better as prose, a play, or a poem? If a writer has a preferred form used to express ideas, that is likely the form they will use. But what if a writer has any of the various forms at his command to express the idea? Then a decision must be made. Here are my thoughts on the subject.

It may seem counter intuitive, but the first form to consider should be play writing (screen, stage, or animation, whichever fits the story best). In this case, dialogue and visual activities are the only tools a writer has. If the story is told first person, narration can give some cues as to the thoughts of the protagonist, but that is the only exception that I know of. If the story is largely visual, then this form may a good choice. There are other limitations that will determine whether stage, screen, or animation should be used. I wrote a couple of stage plays for a science fiction audience, but it wasn’t easy. The question to be asked here is, can you tell the story visually, and can it be told on a stage, or on a few sound sets? If it can’t be done easily in real life, then animation is a good option.

The next question to be asked should be, is the story complete? Is it a few thoughts, or a full blown story? If it isn’t a full blown story, then it may be a poem begging to get out. There are poems that tell a story, and a skilled poet can pull it off, but I am not one of those people. That idea may also be a character sketch, or a scene from a larger story, in which case it needs to be written and expanded on. Many of my short stories have begun this way.

At this point the other possibilities have been eliminated and writing prose, be it novel or short story, is the answer. Storytelling has it’s own rules. They are similar regardless of the length of the piece, and there are instructions that could fill volumes on this subject, but the result will always be a story with a character, a conflict and a resolution. Once this point is reached, the decision has been made, and the writing must begin.

When the muse strikes, listen, and then pick the form best suited to the idea. Once you’ve polished that jewel, then you can worry about how to market it, and that is another story.



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