Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Musings: Muse, real or myth

Happy 2017 Musers!

Because I've messed up we're going to jump right into the question of the week:

Is there such a thing as a muse?

Don’t know whether you’d call it a muse but perhaps my subconscious is at work during my sleep because I often wake with the next stage of a story clear in my head or a fresh idea to enliven the plot. Unfortunately, according to my husband, the process is quite verbal and frequently wakes him up. He assures me that no actual words are decipherable. What a pity as I could get him to write to my nocturnal dictation.

You've all heard of Pantsers and Plotters? Well, as a Pantser, I rely to a far-too-extreme extent on The Muse to pull me along through plot development, character development and even exposition. But it's a delicate endeavour; one requiring fuel to be added to the fire.
I begin by re-reading the previous three pages. Then I ask myself which area of my writing I intend to focus on, such as character development. Beginning with a mental picture of my character, I begin to write. Rather than describing their magnetic, sea-grey eyes, I look to their hands. What are they doing? Is there a character trait--brushing an errant stray curl from their eyes, or scratching their chin--that is so very characteristic of their mannerisms?

Are they an impatient sort, tapping their foot or cracking their knuckles? What are they thinking, as they pretend to listen to the other person?

I find an excellent way to paint a picture of your character is to describe their reaction of the words they are hearing. How they behave will reveal volumes about them, no need to tell us just how craggy their chin is!

So, these writing prompts: re-reading the previous tract, focus on one aspect of your wip, establishing a mental picture, telling what's happening with their hands (and feet, eg), and I especially enjoy offering an internal dialogue.

If I do this, The Muse seems to take over, and the next thing I know, I not only have a picture of my character, but Lo! my plot has been pushed along.

Trust the Muse. But give Her something to work with. 'God feeds all the little birdies, but He doesn't throw the food into the nest.' You've got to do your part.

Yes, I believe there's such a thing as a muse. At least, I hope there is! If there isn't, my brain must be wired incorrectly since an internal voice talks to me much of the time, both while I'm awake and asleep! As well as whispering 'what ifs' and ideas, she also allows me to watch movies inside my head, so I can see my stories in action.

MJ LABEFF, New Mainstream author

I believe all creative people have a muse that inspires us to create. My muse is an internal creative voice that haunts me. It's usually brought on by a vivid dream that wakes me in a panic and forces me out of bed, clearing my head and writing it down. Other times it's a character that pops up in my mind's eye out of nowhere and demands I tell his or her story. Even when the muse doesn't strike, my own desire to write another book kicks in and my imagination starts to run wild. One of my fave writing games to play is, "What if..." 

Yes, definitely. I write because I have stories I want to tell, and sometimes there is a Muse who does inspire me to write. Most often though, the Muse inspires me when I am photographing, but her appearance may inspire a story, maybe her eyes will inspire me, or maybe the way she moves, especially when dancing, provides an inspiration. There are other things that generate an idea for a story, whether a word or sentence, perhaps seeing someone at a distance, or seeing something from the news--but when referring to a "Muse," I always think of a real female rather than some esoteric phrase. Finally, a Muse does not just inspire you, she understands your vision and she patiently helps you to realize your vision. I have had three Muses in my life, and each was/is a wonderful experience.

I’d say both yes and no. There have been times a story came to me nearly fleshed out. Normally, I have to run a “brainstorm” page or two before I can start actually plotting.

The brainstorm page is an outline of sorts where I’ll ask myself questions, then write down the answers. Eventually, something will sound better than the rest and I can narrow things down. That doesn’t feel very muse-like to me.

When a story idea does land fully formed, it’s almost like someone else is dictating the words I’m supposed to write down. I’ve written dialog with no clue where it was going, only to laugh out loud when I reach the end. The thing is, those stories are hard to edit, because they don’t feel like mine. They are someone else’s words, even if they came from me.

Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. Never stop believing. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.

If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at

No comments: