Riding on a train many years ago, I glanced at a woman with a Mona Lisa smile. She gazed at me, but I did not engage with her. I continued scanning the passengers. A young couple, very much in love, was deeply involved in a conversation. An older man stared out the window.
Contained on that one passenger car was a microcosm of humanity. Lives were playing out before my eyes. Did I write about any of the people I saw? I did – in a college theme.
I wrote about the woman with the Mona Lisa smile, who wore a nun’s habit and looked very self-possessed. Inventing her entire persona, I used my imagination to provide her with a vibrant life.
Many people ask me what to write about. They may have an idea, but they don’t know where to start.
What I’m suggesting is that you begin with a character, someone you’ve seen or know or remember. This can work for non-fiction writing, too. Unless you’re writing a list of items, using a character’s story always enhances the point you’re making.
So begin with someone memorable. But, just begin.
This is a fitting way to start the New Year. Begin.
Happy New Year – and every year!