Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Secrets of Kidlit: Walking to Your Next Novel

Probably the best advice, and most commonly given advice, is butt in chair. And it’s true. There’s no substitute for BIC. But I’d like to suggest there’s also value in feet on the trail.

The best scenes I’ve ever written come to me when I’ve got my FOTT. (See what I did there? Feel free to use the acronym.) My characters have the most amazing conversations when I’m walking.

After two kids and lots of birthday candles, I can’t seem to remember things like I used to so I capture the dialogue or scene ideas on my phone by texting on a Notes page or talking into the voice recorder. (Note: joggers will speed up when they see you talking to yourself.)

I’ve been walking for several years now—usually five or six days a week for 60-90 minutes—and I’ve come up with some Rules of the Road to help you get the most out of your walk.
1) Safety first. Walk on a trail or safe sidewalk. I used to walk down a long road by my house, but I found that I couldn’t truly relax and think about my story for fear a car, driven by a texting teen (or writer texting on their Notes page), would cream me. Stephen King liked to walk. But in 1999 he was almost killed while walking along a highway in Maine. Don’t do that.

 2) Pay attention. Look around while you walk. There’s tons of inspiration just waiting for you. For instance, this looks like a portal. Where does it lead? Who’s on the other side?
And this. What kind of orange-haired troll lives under this bridge?
3) Go off-trail. Sometimes it pays to get off the safe trail and walk a little deeper into the woods. I never knew these slippery rocks existed until I walked a half mile off the trail. They inspired a scene in my latest work-in-progress.

So sure, put your butt in the chair, but don’t forget to also put your feet on the trail.
Happy walking and writing!

~ Dana


  1. Yes! I am a huge fan of FOTT, and it will definitely be kinder to your body than a lifetime of BIC! *acronym overload* Great post!!

  2. Thanks for stopping by the blog, Jess. Or TFSBTB! (Huge acronym overload!)
    And you're so right!

  3. Great advice! My first novel was born while I was sitting in a gazebo at a mountain park (kind of a mix between BIC and FOTT). It was just a basic idea, but the nature around me gave me the inspiration.

  4. Annie,
    That sounds like a perfect combination and the gazebo sounds lovely.

  5. I agree. I don't know if I could've written advertising and then books without my daily dog walks! That's when the ideas pop into my head.


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