Saturday, October 17, 2015

Creative triggers: literary techniques

Here we will go through a couple of literary techniques that can help you stimulate your imagination, specially at moments when you don't know how to start writing. Remember that to learn them, you have to practice them; more than concepts, what we present here are exercises.
1.         Creative plagiarism - It consists in taking the work of someone else as a model, as a strategy to gain inspiration. It's not about copying what other people say or the story, it's about checking examples of how to narrate a story, build characters and scenes, points of view, etc. (Paez, 2001:93)
Think about how many movies inspired in the story of Cinderella you have seen. Are all of them plagiarism? Have you stopped watching them? You might say "Aha! This is just like Cinderella", but the story still captures you because you like how it's told, the characters, or the actors that play it. Maybe it takes place in a more modern time, in New York City, and that makes it more appealing to you.
And what about stories about aliens? There are lots of those, but that doesn't stop people from writing more on the subject. The important thing is how things are told: your own personal touch.
Exercise 1. Pick up a children's story (Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, or any other you prefer), and make it your own. Imagine the story takes place in your country, that the characters are your own age, that things happen on your own school, your neighborhood, or anywhere else you want. Sit down, write, and let your imagination loose. When creating your characters, think of people in the street that capture your attention. Go to your notebook to pick up ideas. If you choose someone you know, exaggerate the details, change the age or gender, or other physical traits so they don't feel identified with the characters.
Exercise 2. We recommend reading The Knight in Rusty Armor by Robert Fisher, which using a story about knights helps us understand our fears and how to beat them.
·         Image you are that knight. You wear an armor to protect yourself from others, and you think that you are different, but when you get to school, everyone is wearing armor too. List all the things that those people might fear. Tag their armors. Create your characters according to them. How would you go out of your armor? How would your characters go out of theirs? How would they solve difficult situations?

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