Sunday, May 29, 2011

Animating the Inanimate

I have started writing the first chapter of my novel this weekend. As a warm up, to get me motivated to write, I decided to do an exercise to get myself motivated. From the book Now Write, I decided to do an exercise by Joan Leegant called Animating the Inanimate.
   Joan suggests that ascribing feelings and behaviours to inanimate objects can add surprising elements to fiction. As well as illuminating a character, it can also add depth and texture to the world of the story by suggesting that all things - living and otherwise - play a role in our lives, even if we are not aware of it.
   The exercise is to try to give a physical object some emotions or behaviours of its own, and see what it does for your character and story. The writer can be as tentative or as full-throtle about the object's feelings and behaviours as they want, and be open to what it can show about the world of the story.
   Because I wasn't writing as part of my story, but using it as a warm up, I decided to write a quick piece from the point of view of the first physical object I saw. Here it is:

Unlike some of the others, who are brought out when they're needed and promptly put away, I have pride of place in the kitchen. I never get put away, because I am needed many times each day.
   Therefore, I am well positioned to know what is going on in my house. It is around me that the morning routine rotates. I am there when the happenings of the day are discussed as the sun goes down and the white florescent light shines on. I am privy to the financial discussions, the arguments, and the expressions of love. I witness many embraces, many tears, and many celebrations. I know all the family secrets before anyone else, because I alone am listening when no one else is around.
   They place a lot of trust in me, and they love me for it. It is me that they listen for as the dawn light filters in. It is my side that they cup tenderly, sometimes pulling their hands away with a shock, feeling my warmth. It is I that gets lifted gently, and then replaced in my cradle when they are done. I am indispensable ... I am a kettle.

It feels very childish - like something I would have written in primary school. But it did the trick, and got me motivated to right. I have completed the first draft of my first chapter.

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