(Audio at the end of the post)
Yup, you read the title right – how to make a book out of one word. Now, I don’t mean write just one word down on the page and bam that’s you done. That would be a very short novel indeed. However, I am talking about a way to get around writer’s block, start off a new book, or give you that spark of inspiration to form a plot twist, sub-plot, or new character. Am I crazy for saying it could be spurred by one word? Read on to see if I am!Okay, so imagine this. You’re staring at a blank page/stuck page/evil page that is taunting you with its lack of creativity. Writer’s block is taunting you and you feel like inspiration is never going to turn up. My advice? Turn to the dictionary for help.
Flick through the pages and then stop (anywhere). Run your finger down the page. Stop anywhere on any word. Now look at that word and see what it is and what it’s definition is (btw, if it’s a word like “the” or “an” move along to another word).
Right. Let’s say, for example, you hit on the word “ball.” What I want you to do is think through the various meanings of this word and how it could be integrated into your story.
Got a Renaissance fantasy, historical fiction (or any type of novel really, tbh)? How about you add in a masquerade ball? Or a juggler throwing balls into the air. How can these elements be worked into your novel? Is this masquerade ball hiding a secret assassin hiding their true identity? Are they the juggler preforming for the king and queen? There are a hundred ways to go with this.
Or maybe the word ball makes you think of Columbus – think I’m crazy? Well, the rubber ball we know today wasn’t brought to the U.S. until after Columbus. See how a little research into where the word ball came from has led to a tidbit of history that can lead you into Columbus’s world?
Ancient Greek games with a ball were regarded as a useful subsidiary to the more violent athletic exercises. Maybe that violence is going to make it into your book. Or how about modern day sports? There could be an athlete playing rugby who’s under suspicion for murder, or drug use, or any other idea that spurs from this small word we’ve chosen.
And what other words can you link ball to? Sphere? That word comes from the Greek “globe, ball.” So there you have the word globe. Maybe it makes you think of Earth, or another planet perhaps? Who would be on this new planet? What if the planet wasn’t a globe? What if was flat – why, how, to what end?
What about another associated word – circle? Does this represent the circle of life? A never-ending loop? A family circle?
As you can see, there are myriad of meanings, ideas, etc. that can come from one simple word. I used the word ball, but you can find any word you want. Just flick through the pages and point. Or, if you have a word that’s kind of related to your book, then go in search of connected ideas and meanings. At the end of the day, you’re playing the word association game, and something should hit a chord at one point or another. Just give a few different words a go.
There’s a post about evoking your inspiration in other ways that I found particularly useful, too. You can read it here. It talks about evoking mood to keep your inspiration and ideas burning bright, quotes, art, and a whole lot of other things, too. And there’s a post on unlikely places to find inspiration that I think is really good, too. You can read it here.
Well, I hope my suggestions help you. And while you’re thinking about this, I’m off to find my own word…
See you in the next post!