I always ask myself how the characters in my latest story would respond to Halloween. Would they dress up? If so, what costume would they choose to wear? Would they ignore the whole thing? If you knocked on their door, would they have treats? These questions can be very revealing because all of us, real or not, constantly express ourselves through our behavior. What we do is who we are!
The Good Luck Spot
Yesterday, as I hurried to my dance class, someone had drawn a giant circle with a smaller circle in the center on the corner of 72nd and Columbus Avenue. Inside the smaller circle, they had written, “Good luck spot.”
As you can see from the photograph, the people crossing the street avoided the circle. Why would you miss such an opportunity?
Your belief system shapes how you process reality. For these folks, the big circle was an annoyance, an obstacle to be avoided. For me, it was an opportunity to get some luck. I walked to the center and took a photo of me standing on the spot, summoning the promised favorable fortune!
What we think of as “reality” is not empirical. Our expectations and beliefs color how we process something happening outside of ourselves. We all know this example: There’s a half-filled glass of water. The pessimist sees it and believes that the glass is half empty, while the optimist believes it is half full. I describe myself as “an optimist despite the facts,” which is why I could imagine something written on the ground with chalk as being spiritually meaningful.
I was having a tough day with no end in sight, feeling very pessimistic about the possible outcome of a difficult situation. I expected that things would end badly.
When I saw the “Good luck spot,” it made me smile, and that changed my mood. I felt that things could end well, and they did.
What does that have to do with the magic chalk circles? Did changing my expectation from failure to success actually change the outcome? We’ll never know for sure, but I felt more connected and, in some way, protected by an outside force.
The best part of an event like this is the possibility to use it as a basis for a scene in your current story: Imagine now how you might feel if you saw this scene in a movie or read it in a book. The main character in the story has had a moment of crisis and sees no way out. They have lost their phone and have no memory of where they might have left it. Suddenly, they turn a corner, and there on the pavement is this giant circle with a small circle inside. The main character pauses, watches the other pedestrians skirt the circle, and hurries across the street. The character starts to follow but then makes a different choice. As the light changes to red, they step onto the “Good luck spot.” A waiter runs up with the missing phone. He says, “Thank goodness. I was chasing you, and if you’d crossed the street, I would have lost you.”
As an exercise, ask yourself if something interesting happened to you in the last few hours. Once you remember it, imagine how you can use it as the basis for a scene in your current project, then spend five minutes writing it.
Speaking of writing brief scenes, my upcoming webinar will demonstrate how to use a Word of the Day cluster to generate new material, and then we’ll write a short scene and share it with the class. Wow! (If you were a part of the last class, bring the character WOTD cluster we did there and build on it.)
Here’s to your writing success,
Professor Marilyn Horowitz