Friday, February 26, 2010

weekly writing coach: cut and dried

Searching for new words? Want to find odd or intriguing juxtapositions to make your descriptions more compelling? Looking to write in ways that make people think, or get ideas? Look for a sign...any sign. 

I was staying in New York City this week, and had to walk down a street in its flower district to get to my hotel.  Aside from ogling what was fresh in February, my eye caught the signs on these wholesale shops.  Often, they didn't say "flowers," just "cut" or "dried" -- the two main kinds of floral tributes offered, with the occasional "silk" thrown in.  Walking down one block, I saw cut...dried...cut...dried...cut...dried. Cut and dried -- a term that could apply to these signs, in a sense, and might make a great name for a flower shop.

It made me smile, and reminded me of another moment when two signs gave me the idea for a novel title.  It was a ladder of signs for a shopping center: All the same typeface, one above the other, just words.  In the middle of the stack, my eye caught "Bait and Tackle School of Dance," (really two storefronts next to one another) and I'm still working on the characters that might populate such a place.

Neither set of signs has an immediate application in my writing, but this type of mental exercise keeps the mind and your creativity sharpened.  And signs are a quick, useful tool for unlocking your imagination. After all, they're made to be like your writing: Short, compelling, action-oriented, useful.  What will you notice the next time you're seeing signs?

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