|Photo by Peter Dutton, via Flickr|
My first manuscripts were crime novels written for adults, and I wrote without restriction, free to pepper my dialogue with swear words exactly as I heard them spray from my characters’ mouths.
Then I rediscovered tween/teen and young adult fiction. And, before I knew it, a bubbly teenager stepped into my writer’s brain and rattled off a fantastic story I couldn’t wait to get down on screen. But I’d have to curb the curses if I was writing a book for kids. Easy enough, surely? Except, sixteen-year-old boys don’t go around saying “drat” and “darn” when something goes wrong. It was an interesting writing challenge to imply, but not actually specify, strong language.
Another (self-imposed) limit was that none of the main characters could die. Again, it sounds simple enough – but it removes a lot of easy tension and conflict. More creative writing followed.
This year I have a new challenge. My chosen genre is Steampunk. Setting: Victorian England. That means researching the time period and checking even the smallest detail – would X have been possible/plausible in Victorian times? And the science part of the fiction needs to centre around clockwork or steam power. My mind absolutely churns with the plot possibilities offered by such specific limits.
Because, when you eliminate a vast number of options, you’re left with highly concentrated material to work with. And there’s nothing like concentration to sharpen your focus and stimulate your creative plotting.
Have you tried limiting yourself?
|Elle Carter Neal is the author of Madison Lane and the Wand of Rasputin, a science-fantasy for tweens and teens. She blogs about the craft of writing at HearWriteNow.com|