Are there “signs” in particular? Or do you just know? This might be useful if you’re about to take a course in creative writing or want to publish a novel, or perhaps you want to take it up as a hobby. Either way, you’ll probably encounter these questions at least once. And I’m shedding light on them…
1. You had imaginary friends as a child
Impractical in most walks of life, but this is great for developing characters. On another note, it means you have empathy – which is great for looking at the world through a different lens! Try fan fiction first – think about your celebrity crush (if you have one) – and see where that leads.
2. You play role-playing games
Hmm, maybe WoW could have its uses after all. Apart from actually designing the game itself, it doesn’t get much closer than this to building your own world and characters. On the other hand, however, it could be symptomatic of the digital generation, and perhaps you need to get out more…
3. You put yourself in a character’s shoes
Ever thought of what you and the protagonist might say if you met each other? The things you would talk about and the places you’d go? It’s the author within you speaking! Try keeping a travel diary, if it’s not too time-consuming, and record key moments from your excursions. The Neverending story seems to address this quite well; imagine if the characters in your book looked up and noticed you exist? You already are part of the character’s journey, because you are being led by the narrator and being drip-fed information about them.
4. You imagine yourself in the plot
I think everyone’s done this at least once. Whether it’s shouting at the tv watching a film, or just thinking “if I were there…”, we all try to speculate ourselves where the action and characters are.But what separates you from other audiences is how you might rewrite these characters. How might you react if you were in the same position?
5. You invent unusual places and names
Think Napoleon Dynamite’s Liger that he keeps drawing. Or, perhaps a better example, Wonderland from Lewis Carroll’s series. It’s not just reserved for fantasy/magical realism/ science-fiction though. Try not to turn into Mr Dynamite though – he really should have a been a minor character….
6. You critique other writers’ work
Think you could write it better? Go ahead, have your say! Try turning all the worst moments from fiction on their head, how they could be made better. it doesn’t normally work the other way around, unless you are trying to prove someone wrong. Or, there might be a gap or missing perspective, which John Milton noticed when writing Paradise Lost. Unfortunately, in recent years, fallen angels and vampires appear to be analogous, which wasn’t his point…
7. You have a metaphorical mind
Meaning you keep creating connections with other ideas.Virginia Woolf was said to have a metaphorical mind, and this is evident in her fiction. It sounds obvious but the “meta” in metaphor indicates that the subtext and meaning should transcend the context of the passage in which it is written. Basically put, you are creative.
8. You and Socrates have something in common…
You both ask “why?” (albeit about different things). Why does Bertha Mason never speak? Why does Aunt Margaret have an incestuous relationship with Francie? Why has the author done this? It’s natural to want to have answers – and trust me, you have power as reader to create meaning (as Roland Barthes knew). But creating power as an author is different, because only YOU know what you meant.
9. You enjoyed writing as a child
Every child has a strong imagination, and nearly all of them love to write. Think back to a particular experience which first sparked your interest in writing fiction. Was it a class assignment? Or were you studying a novel? Whether you had bedtime stories read aloud to you, or you spent a lot of time in the school library, you would be an author at heart.
10. You have vivid dreams
Nothing indicates a creative mind more than strong dreams. If you remember them well, they could get your juices flowing. I don’t particularly recommend using them as plot ideas, since this tends to be the reason why Surrealist film and literature rather confusing and fragmented (watch “Un chien Andalou” or “L’age D’or” and you’ll see what I mean…)
11. You figure out what will happen in the film/novel
This is you thinking as a writer, and not as a reader. As an audience member, you tend to focus on the denouement of the story, and expect something to happen. But as a writer, you think about how the story will progress.
12. You believe you have something to say
Have a burning desire to tell the world something? Do you have a secret you want to share? Or fantasy you’d love to indulge in? You may as well express it in writing. Start small, such as a poetic Valentine’s or Xmas card, then move on to more ambitious things.
13. Your mind tends to drift
Whether it’s wishing you were somewhere else, or daydreaming, you do it. Half the time you seem to live in your own head. You might even visualize the angel and devil sitting on your shoulder.
14. In another life…
We all wonder whether the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Would being a man be better? Should I have been a Victorian? What would it like be a noble? Well, when you create characters, you can try to answer these questions.
15. You’re an observer
Do you sit on a park bench in September, watching the kids play ball and the autumn sun shine through the dappled trees? Omniscient narrators are there to observe – and comment on – the things they see going on around them. Try listening in on someone’s conversation in a café,or watching a film. See how you feel.
15. You kept a diary
Biographical, epistolary first person narrative anyone? This is kind of like being a narrator sharing your first-hand experiences, and commenting on your thoughts and emotions. It isn’t mandatory, but if you still have your diary, look back to it. Reading your own thoughts from many years later, you might feel as though you’re reading a stranger’s life.
16. You usually have an interesting anecdote
If you are the one telling your guests at a barbecue how you wrestled a grizzly bear, then write it down. It helps if you can put on different voices, use your facial expressions and try to “act out”what happened.
17. You are true to your account
Contrary to popular belief,being a liar doesn’t make you creative. This might actually suggest the opposite; your mind plucks at straws to get you out of trouble.Sometimes, it’s more about the way you deliver your story than the actual content. Frankly, if you have a story you want to share, you’ll want to tell it exactly as it happened.If you are a “fabulist”, however, being a lawyer might suit you better than being an author.
18. You write deeply emotional letters or emails if you feel angry or upset
Writing can be cathartic. Not just for the reader, but for the writer too. Any piece of prose is laden with thoughts, feelings, sensations, opinions and ideas. Perhaps a poem or memoir would be a good outlet?
19. You imagine your own life events
Had your dream wedding planned out since you were 5? Or do you imagine your own death and funeral? Perhaps you wonder about the afterlife? I think we both know what that means…
20. You keep visiting baby name websites
There’s a thick, blurry line between desiring a child and creating a character. To a certain extent, being an author is like being a parent watching your own child grow up. Or, perhaps more accurate, being the closest thing to God.
21. Could you imagine yourself on a talk show?
In this case, you’re the host! And say you have several people turn up to chat about politics or femininity, like “Loose Women” or “The Wright stuff”? Or maybe you’re imagining yourself as the next Oprah Winfrey, or Jonathan Ross? As the writer, you are a journalist!
22. You can converse for hours on end
Being able to talk for England is probably quite a good thing. Sure, you might be giving them the 20 questions, but at least you can keep the fire going! And yet, you never seem to run out of things to say.
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