Science is one of the cornerstones of our existence. So are your characters scientific? Do they f’ing love science? And even if they don’t, it can still inform what they say and do.
First of all, there is an enormous amount of inherent drama in trying to discover a cure for a disease. However, sometimes things go another way, where a seemingly serious breakthrough ends up having a rather different application. So consider minoxidil, which is used to treat baldness. It was originally developed to be a drug to treat high blood pressure.
And research, with all its successes and failures, can spark drama.
Chemistry and Physics
So chemist characters can do everything from creating potions on the edge of magic to working in pharmacies. And your physicist characters can study the cosmos. Or maybe they build nuclear weapons, and experience all sorts of doubts and moral crises due to that. Furthermore, any of these characters can teach at the high school or collegiate (or graduate school) levels.
Biology and Geology
Maybe a biologist character could unleash a plague or study alien creatures. And a geologist character could warn of an impending volcano eruption (this would be a vulcanologist, actually), or maybe help find fossil fuels.
Beyond finding cures, doctors also handle people at their most vulnerable. And they see the weak, the sick, the dying, and the naked. So some physicians find humor in the absurd, like in M*A*S*H. Psychiatrists can work with the insane or just the troubled. And that can spill over into marriage counseling, or helping people figure out how to come out of the closet.
So whether your characters are blinded with science or just need to get a sprain treated, scientific observations and pursuits can often inspire great writing.
Music is a rather common pairing with writing. Some people cannot write without it. Others are inspired by it. Still others are haunted by it.
Sometimes, it’s the lyrics. For me, personally, I pay a lot of attention to lyrics. As a result, I have a lot of trouble listening to tunes while writing or even editing. I have to shut it off, as I am unable to concentrate.
But I do listen when I go outside or offline. For a fan fiction piece, I created a kind of bad girl character. However, she did not come to life until I listened to Amy Winehouse’s You Know I’m No Good.
It’s not just the words, though. And it isn’t just the video. The bass line did it, too. As a result, the character snapped into sharp focus. I could not stop listening to the song until I finished the piece.
For a genius character addled with ADHD, I wanted his mind to be going about a thousand miles an hour. The best way to do this was to listen to fast-moving songs. This one was a must.
The song itself is kind of silly. The words are somewhat nonsensical. But the beat is fast. It’s not rap, although speed rap could have worked as well. Either way, the sound was discordant. And that was the idea. With so much clanging going on his head, the character was simply incapable of concentrating.
For those who need songs to write, playlists are a must. You can find several on YouTube by searching on writing playlist. However, that might not work for a lot of people. Writing is a personal thing, just like musical taste is. If I prefer disco, and you prefer country, we’re both right, so long as we keep writing.
If you need it, then by all means listen to tunes while writing or editing. If you don’t, then don’t. And don’t let anyone tell you their way is somehow better. It’s hard to find anything more subjective than this.
Literature sometimes feels like medicine writing. You know you should read it. But sometimes it just feels like cod liver oil in book form.
What is it about literature? From the classic to the lowbrow, it permeates our lives. As writers, we might appreciate it more than others do.
Reading to write
First of all, whenever people ask about how to best develop their writing chops, inevitably they are told two things. One of these is to read extensively. Hence if you are following this, you are already halfway there. And it does not have to be classics. It does not have to be Silas Marner or the like. You can be voraciously reading YA, or bodice rippers. It does not matter.
As a writer, examine the work. How does the author pull you from one chapter to the next? Or how does she start? How does the story end? Are the supporting characters as interesting as the lead(s)? Or do they take over? Or are they cardboard cutouts? Do you ever lose the suspension of disbelief?
Writing to write
The other standard piece of writing advice is: write a lot. And you can do that with any form of literature. Hence take whatever you just read. Flip the POV (point of view) and rewrite it. Gender swap. Figure out what happens after ‘The End’, when the curtain comes down. Decide what happened before the story started. Write a back story for a supporting character, or even a bit player.
So if the work is in the public domain, then you might even be able to publish your work. Yet if it’s not, then treat it like any fan fiction and use it as a learning experience. Since you can’t publish fan fiction, why not consider how to further alter your new piece? Maybe you can convert it to something more wholly original. Because you might even be able to publish it.
Since so much of writing is structural, why not pick apart someone else’s work? Because if they have been published, then someone liked their work enough to take a chance on it. Finally, a peek behind the curtain can also show you where even great works falter. And that can be comforting if you ever doubt your own abilities.