You have a clear idea of the beginning and ending of the story that you are writing. Much of the storyline of the large middle part of the story are also somewhat clear. You may have developed a chart, or a spreadsheet, to help you keep track of the various scenes and characters of the story. Yet, when it comes time to write, you find that your creativity has abandoned you and the inspiration to write has gone with it. To suggest ‘start writing’ may frustrate you when you already face writer’s block. Sometimes, a creative exercise can help.

Here’s a twist; instead of doing an abstract exercise with material unrelated to your book, let’s work directly with your book. However, instead of trying to force your way through the blocks, turn your story upside down, and see what happens. That’s right do a complete one hundred eighty degree turn on your plot. Look at each new development, subplot, scene, and even characters in your story and imagine if exactly the opposite happened. Then write it down.

This is not an exercise in developing perfect grammatically correct prose. Instead, it is about having fun with your story and jotting down the opposite events and actions. Sentences can be simple three or four word phrases, or even a single word if it captures sufficient meaning to you. If you have the room to do it, write the opposite plotlines and new ideas on large flipchart pages, and tape them onto the walls around you.

Don’t stop at simply writing down opposite events and actions. Many of those opposite events can lead you in new directions if you were developing this opposite story. Think about the implications of each of the opposite actions or events. Write down any new ideas for subplots or even for new characters that you had not previously considered. Don’t stop until you have worked through your entire story, you never know where the next great idea will surface.

When you have completed the exercise, read through everything you wrote and then put it away a few hours, or overnight. Come back the next day and reexamine your original story, taking into consideration some of the opposite ideas you generated the day before. You may find that some of these ideas conveniently plug gaps that you were struggling to fill, or add new dimensions to an otherwise flat storyline.

The interesting thing about this opposite, or one-eighty degree, thinking is that is lends itself naturally to being converted back to the original mode of the story. That is, something interesting that occurred in the opposite view may apply directly to your story, if you simply think of its opposite, in the context of your actual story. Bottom line; write it down. If you can’t think of what to write, then write the opposite down. Either way, reading your own words on the page will help to inspire you to add more to complete the work, one idea at a time.


About Patrick Smyth

Patrick Smyth is an author, speaker, trainer, business coach, and principal at Enchanted Forest Press, a boutique publisher providing complete custom publishing services to authors from concept to marketing. For more information, visit 615.261.8585