Saturday, July 13, 2013

All The World's A Stage

...and it's a writer's job to sit front and centre. We observe, absorb, evaluate, speculate, and ultimately create our own dramas from what we witness. There's no better way to spark that process than to do a bit of travelling.
A bike in Prague. Where will it take you?
When you set out on the open road you leave the familiar behind and embrace the unknown. You may not speak or read the local language. Away from touristy sites, the most basic of tasks: buying a toothbrush, locating a hotel, or even just using your debit card can prove challenging.

You're suddenly at the mercy of the weather, flight delays, train schedules, traffic jams, and cab drivers. Without conscious effort, your observational skills kick into high gear. You interpret facial expressions, the timber and pitch of the voices around you, and study body language for social cues.

Sometimes you'll get it wrong. The guy shouting in your face may not be furious - he might be warning you of potential danger. The friendly woman offering to exchange currency may be out to rip you off. But you learn with each encounter. You also gain a stockpile of story ideas brimming with conflict, tension, excitement, and did-you-freaking-see-that moments.

All that and I haven't even mentioned the sights / sounds / histories you'll discover - that dazzling architecture, unexpected blends of rich hues and melodies may be found around every corner. The humble cafe where you stop in to quench your thirst might be the site of a long-ago rebellion.

I'm not saying you have to travel to exotic locals - the next town, an unfamiliar neighbourhood, or a pub you've never noticed before can lead to fantastical adventures - real or ones you dream up for your characters after the fact. Sometimes you need to step out of the familiar, the mundane, the norm to see things differently. This shift in perspective just might lead to better stories - better writing.

So what are you waiting for? Get on your bike. Hop on a plane. Take an evening constitutional. Immerse yourself in the world. Take photos. Jot down your impressions. Record audio with your phone. Take video clips. Drink it all in.

Then bring it to life on the page.

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