You’ve noticed the roadside sign, but have you ever stayed for the night? It’s the Dew Drop Inn and it’s much more than a cheap stopover. It’s not one place, it’s many. This is the sanctuary where writers keep their most valued treasures. You can think of it as a secret society for the pen-and-paper crowd, a storehouse of moldy mind tricks. Here’s one from the vaults.
Suspend your usual habits and your swaggering disbelief. Let’s make some heresy. Let’s break some rules. For now, let’s start at the end and give nothing to the beginning. Don’t worry about the story line, don’t even think about it. Instead, create a character.
When your character begins to take life, the story line will follow. Most everything at the DDI is different, just a little crooked, so none of this should be surprising.
OK? Let’s go.
Choose the character. Animal, vegetable or mineral? Human or not? No detailed qualities for these first few moments. Just make the barest outline of a character.
We’ll go with a human female this time.
Fill in a few blanks, just a quick sketch. Alexis. Small, a bit undernourished. Sandy hair. Pleasing, in a quiet way. Smooth movements, delicate hands. Likes flowing clothes that don’t reveal too much but are clearly feminine. Prefers pale colors, easy on the eye and mind. An ex-expatriate from Lithuania. Multi-lingual. Might be some kind of artist but it’s hard to say. Not physical, more ethereal. Definitely not a spy or weightlifter. Could be a dancer, maybe. Moves like one.
Say some more. She’s living in Italy now. Don’t know why, yet. Small town, rustic, narrow streets. In the South of the country. She likes the weather here, and the anonymity. Is this a hideaway? She walks everywhere, likes to move around. Drawn to street-side shops and carts. Hair is long and a bit curly. Never seen with others. Lives alone. Is always alone.
Scene. Today, she’s sitting outside a cafe. Not the usual scene. This is a junky street, cluttered, but not with people. Nothing opulent here. No tourists. There are tables up and down the street, each with junk for sale. Mostly odd, small items. She’s been moving up and down the strada, fingering through the goodies, saying nothing, buying nothing, apparently thinking about nothing. She’s an odd fit for this scene. Speaks to no one.
Say some more. She is lazily scanning the street, watching people come and go. Everything looks a bit dark. It’s overcast today. It’s late in the afternoon. A little breeze, but comfortable. Her mood is quiet but not sour. She’s not smiling, not frowning, just absorbed in some other place, another time. Nowhere to go, nothing to do. Still, it’s not boredom that makes her muse. What’s on her mind?
Action. She hears her name being called from behind. It’s a familiar voice, too familiar. Her back stiffens and she turns toward the voice.
Cut to the story line.