Feb 8, 2010

Opposite Day

My kids have a favourite little game where they give me the response I don't want and then tell me it's "Opposite Day", they say there should be a day at school like that. I ask how would you know it was opposite day and they respond that you would ask someone. The trouble is if you asked on the day and they said it was, then that would mean it wasn't? And if they said it wasn't then it might be, but if it actually wasn't opposite day then that would still be the response? My 11yr old said you should ask the day before. Sometimes the answer is so obvious it takes a child to find it.

As writers for children we need to tap into that magical way of viewing the world where even the complicated things are simple. I think this can apply to our plotting and structuring of narratives.

I came across this talk that seemed to prove to me there would no one right or wrong way to write my story, I'm hoping it will ignite your imagination too (it's very short):

This week I watched Monsters Inc (again) and thought the opposite idea applied to this script. If kids are scared of monsters then couldn't monsters be scared of kids? And what would happen if a kids wasn't scared of the monster, but loved him instead?

While writing Dog Show Detective I carefully plotted and planned every step. This was helpful for most of the story, but when you get to one section that doesn't seem to fit, it can be hard to let go of all that planning. This certain event 'needs' to happen in the story because that is what we planned. Maybe not.

Freewriting or Riff-writing is a way of approaching edits for dull or awkward parts of your manuscript.  Romance Writer's Revenge has more information about this style of writing. To over-simplify, instead of writing to the plan, just write anything. 

Go random, go wild, maybe go 'opposite'. If you planned for your villain to escape into the night, have him trip on his way out and break his neck - then what? Everything in your story might change, and that might be scary - but it might be brilliant too. You're not married to this idea, if you write a scene the opposite way to what you intended, it may just prove that your original idea is better, now you'll have depth because you'll know why the characters act that way.

There is no wasted writing, you can always find hidden treasures for your story or ideas to be gently put away and returned to for another day and another story.


  1. Yes! That's it with Monsters Inc. I thought that was also a clever plot.

    In my wip the girls get involved with WWII. The boys can stay home and write the letters.

  2. Mary I like your idea - boys could use some practice with keeping in touch!