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Whimsical Board Talk

Copyright: Cheryl Wright – All rights reserved


It was supposed to be a brainstorming session, but instead I just stared at the whiteboard.

And as I watched, something quite strange happened; little stick figures began to run around my whiteboard. Right before my eyes!

Convinced I’d finally lost the plot – although my family would say I’d lost it long ago – I backed away, staring in disbelief.

As my hands shook and my heart beat a virtual tattoo, I closed my eyes. This couldn’t be happening; perhaps I had fallen into a new dimension?

Somewhere out of the silence, a cackle of laughter rose. I sneaked a peek. The little horrors were scribbling on my whiteboard!

I’d heard of characters becoming alive in the author’s eyes, but this really was quite ridiculous. Before I had the chance to protest, the cheeky devils had begun to chart my characters:

Hero: tall dark and handsome

Heroine: short and blonde

No! This was not how it was meant to be! Stereotypes - that’s all they wanted. But stereotypes are not for me.

I reached for the Valium, but before I had the chance to swallow it down, they’d added more to their mischief making: "It was a dark and stormy night..."

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek! What were they trying to do to me? I want an original opening, not a cliché, and certainly not something that’s been written before.

Staring out the window I noticed it was indeed a dark and stormy night. Perhaps there was another way to describe the scene?

"Heavy rain fell, people scattered trying to find shelter; Jake Peterson turned his collar up and bent his head toward the wet ground. Little did he know his entire life would change when he turned the corner."

Before I’d even finished writing my opening words, the tiny fiends were scurrying about the whiteboard again.

"Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, they live happily ever after."

No, no, no - I will not write to formula!

These characters need to learn their lesson; this novel will be a romantic suspense. There’s nothing formulaic about that.

Perhaps I could start with a good murder – the heroine could witness it, almost get herself killed, then suddenly find herself on the run and meet her hero. And there doesn’t even need to be a happy ever after, although the book would certainly sell better if there was.

And what about the setting? I’m sure those phony scribblers would love for me to set it in a big city. Well, phooey to them, because I’m going to set it in the outback, or at least in the outer suburbs. That ought to get their backs up!

And what they probably don’t realise is that I need an outline. Not that I’ll necessarily follow it to the tee, but I’ll certainly use it as my guiding light, then if I seem to be getting off track, I’ll have a way to get right back on again.

While my characters are up there on my board and in my head, I’ll ask them a question or two; an interview if you like. About things of old, their childhood, or maybe the sister who died in the summer. Perhaps I should query the hero about the time he jumped naked into the river in the midst of winter – I’m willing to bet he would hate talking about that time in his life.

Or we could discuss the day the heroine came home from work to find her mother dead on the stairs, and the police came round, and the coroner too, and how they took her father away...

And if I asked him about the day he fell off the roof, because he was afraid of heights, or the time she cried for most of the day when her brother put a frog in her bed, I wonder what they would say?

Or perhaps the time he found a gun under his dad’s bed and his friend loaded it and shot the neighbour’s dog. They buried it quick, without anyone knowing, and kept that secret for years. She might tell me about the scar on her face or the limp that she has. Or the knife in the cupboard, way back in the dark where no-one will find it?

She might mention the blood all over the kitchen, and why blood makes her feel faint.

All of these things I will ask them at will, although I’d just bet they’d both hate that!

Well, what do you know, my whiteboard is clean. Time to outline my story...


About the author: Cheryl Wright is an award-winning Australian author and freelance journalist. In addition to an array of other projects, she is the owner of the Writer2Writer.com website and the Writer to Writer monthly ezine for writers.  Her publications include novels, non-fiction books, short stories, and articles. To keep up to date with her publications and new releases, visit Cheryl’s website www.cheryl-wright.com