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A Sprinkling of Fairy Dust

November 7th, 2014

Kim-Fleet-author-photo-blogSometimes when I write a story, it’s flat and no matter how much I grind away at the prose, the story just doesn’t come to life. It needs fairy dust: snap and sparkle and an inner glow, and to achieve that, I try some upcycling.

To start with, I strip back the story to its essential elements. What is the story about? What is the theme? What’s the tone I want to convey? Then I have some fun, playing around with these elements for a while, putting them in different time periods and in different settings, to see how these alter the story. A basic boy meets girl love story has a completely new dimension if it’s set in a plague torn village in 1348, or on a space station in 2240. Each setting and time period brings new challenges for the protagonists, and these add new layers to the story.

Then I look at the protagonists themselves and change them. ‘What if’ is my secret weapon here. What if the heroine is in her sixties, or a teenager, or immortal? These change the dynamics of the story. Faced with the same obstacles, an older character will react differently to a child and this leads to different consequences, taking the story in a new direction.

Sometimes changing the gender of the main character helps the story to spring to life. What if Cinderella was a man? Simply changing the protagonist causes a domino effect on the story because the characters interact differently with each other. What if the story was told from a different character’s viewpoint? The ugly sisters, Buttons and the fairy godmother all have different takes on the same story. By exploring how they’re the hero of their own stories I see new slants to explore and new stories to be told.

After I’ve played with all the possible permutations, I put together the elements that have snagged my imagination and see how it’s transformed the story. Often, only one element needs to change – a new setting, time period, new protagonist – to make the story leap into life. Then I rewrite the story from scratch, because in upcycling it, I will have discovered a new element to the story, and perhaps the theme or tone have altered. And the rewritten story often has that elusive quality we all strive for in our stories – fairy dust.

 

Bio:

Kim Fleet is the author of two novels, Sacred Site and Featherfoot. An accredited life coach, she specialises in coaching writers, and has recently created the Writer’s Block Bootcamp. Kim blogs at: www.banishwritersblock.com

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