It’s All in How You Look at It
By Cait Collins
I’ve developed a fondness for seek-and-find puzzles. I’m a wiz at find the word and hidden pictures as well as find the differences. I tell myself I work these to exercise my brain, but the truth is I enjoy the challenge. My favorite is hidden pictures. You have a large scene and a list of items hidden within the picture. Sometimes the search is easy, but then I hit a wall. I’ve checked the obvious portions of the frame, but do not find any of the hidden items. But when I rotate the page, I get a new perspective and am able to locate more of the objects.
Writing is similar to searching for the hidden objects. We come to a point in crafting a scene where the words don’t come. We write a sentence, delete it, and stare at the screen. Nothing comes. Maybe it’s time to rotate the scene.
Consider changing the point of view. The heroine reached her lowest point at the end of the previous chapter. She’s on her knees, and … And what? Instead of inserting the hero into the scene to save the day, relate the chapter from the eyes of the antagonist. What does he see? How does he react? Is there any sympathy for her suffering? What part has he played in bringing her to her knees? How can he use it to further his cause? The new perspective may bring out new insight into the characters and lead to different paths for the story.
What if the setting changed? When I began writing HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW, I had not planned for the original Walker homestead to play a role in Kate’s story beyond the property being the location of the infamous pond. But when she returned to her childhood home, she remembered the good times. Up to this point, her focus was on the bad. The location change set up a turning point I had not anticipated. The chapter is one of my favorite parts of the story.
Think about other ways to rotate the page to punch up the tale. Introduce a character from the past. Throw in a surprise find. Unearth a secret. Even a minor change could be the very thing to propel the work to a higher plateau.