How to write a thousand words (or maybe more) by Amanda Bridgeman

I first met Amanda at GenreCon 2012, and we struck up an immediate friendship. She’s very unassuming – and barely let on she had a publishing contract with Momentum for her first novel, Aurora: Darwin. Until I caught up with her at GenreCon 2013, I didn’t even know that Aurora: Darwin had hit the number one spot in the iTunes book charts. Today, I’ve managed to convince her to drop by and share some of the secrets of her success. Take it away Amanda…

Profile shot of Amanda Bridgeman sitting on a red chair.They say a picture tells a thousand words, but I disagree. I believe a picture can tell an infinite amount more.

You see, in my mind a picture is not just a flat image consisting of colours and shapes. Instead, it is a window behind which lies a 3D world just waiting to be explored.

If you let your mind delve into, that is…

I recall undertaking an exercise during my creative writing course at university, whereby we gathered images from a magazine, then constructed a story from them.

It was quite fascinating to see what each student came up with, and more fascinating still to see what each came up with when given the same image to work from.

Everyone sees things differently. Everyone has different levels of imagination. Everyone draws from different experiences.

A wooden door.
Prague (Czech Republic)

I’ve always loved photography (and art) because I don’t just see that one flat image they project.

I see the world of possibilities they contain and the many stories that can be garnered from them.

This is why I just love Pinterest and find myself scouring it for hours. The inspiration it can provide to writers is endless.

I can scroll through Pinterest, see a striking image, and have a story flood into my mind about the people or the objects they contain.

One single image has the power to do that for me, and I’m positive it can do that for you too.

So that is what I want to share with you today: a writing exercise to get the juices flowing.

Believe it or not, I want you to construct a story from the simple image of a lone doorway.

During my travels, I have always found myself fascinated by doorways (see some of my photographs on this page).

There are so many intriguing, intricate, and beautiful examples, with so much history behind them, that the mind can run wild with the possibilities of just what these doors would have seen had they eyes, and what secrets they might hold had they ears.

For a broader selection of images, check out my Pinterest Board – “Doorways to the Imagination”.

Find an image that strikes you, then begin your writing journey with the following prompts:

An old door with rivets and a lot of the red paint worn off.
Beijing (China)
  • Where would you find a door like this? What town, city, country, or planet could it come from?
  • How long has this doorway been there? Is it an ancient relic? Or is it relatively new, but styled in the way of the local people?
  • What is it made from? Is it constructed from local resources? Is it made from imported goods? If so, from where?
  • Is it a stock-standard door, or has it been specifically handcrafted? Is there magic sealing this door? Or some laser force-field? Can it only be opened by one particular key, or code, or password, or by one specific person only?
  • What is it a doorway to? Is it someone’s home, a hotel, a bar, a prison, a church, a graveyard, a hospital, a magician’s den, a castle, a dungeon, a palatial mansion?
  • What lies beyond the door? What room will be walked into? How is it furnished? Is it a hovel? Is it extravagant and beautiful? Is it a friendly place? Is it haunted? Is it a portal to another world?
  • Who is approaching this door? Is it the owner? Is it a visitor? Is it a stranger?
  • If it is the owner, are they glad to be home? Are they terrified of what they may find behind the door? Is there anyone waiting for them? Or are they alone? Do they have something they desperately need to do once inside? Where are they returning home from?
  • If it is a visitor, are they pleased to be visiting? Is this a friendly, warm place, filled with good memories? Or is this a place they would rather not visit? Do they have good news for the owner? Or is it bad news? Are they here to confront the owner? Or are they here to declare their undying love? Do they have something they desperately need to do on the other side of this door? Where have they just come from? What led them here today?
  • If it is a stranger, how did they happen upon this door? Was it by chance? Or have they followed some kind of directions or map to get there? Is the stranger seeking answers to something? Or are they just seeking a place to rest their weary head? Why have they come to this particular door? Does this stranger have something they desperately need to do on the other side of this door? Where have they just come from? What led them here today?
  • What will happen when the owner/visitor/stranger enters through this door? Is this simply the beginning of your story? Or is this the point of climax? Or is it simply part of the journey along the way?
  • What is so special about this door? What does it symbolise? A journey come to fruition? A journey about to commence? Will entering this door symbolise someone opening their heart to another? Will it symbolise them confronting a problem/nemesis/part of themselves? Will it symbolise a character opening their eyes to all that they have been blind to before? Does this door hold the answers? Or does it only raise more questions?
A wooden door set into the wall of an old building.
Stratford-upon-Avon (England)

The possibilities are truly endless if you let your imagination run wild. So go with it.

Give this exercise a try and find out just where this doorway may lead YOU.

And if doorways aren’t your thing, you can run a similar exercise with Windows to the Soul!

About Amanda: Born in the seaside/country town of Geraldton, Western Australia, and raised on a diet of Rocky, Rambo, Muhammad Ali and AC/DC by her three brothers, Amanda grew up somewhat of a tomboy, preferring action/sci-fi films over the standard rom-com, and liking her music rock hard.

That said, she can swoon with the best of them and is not a fan of bugs.

A writer and film buff, she loves most genres, but is particularly fond of Spec-Fic. She likes action, epic adventures, and strong characters that draw you in on their wild rollercoaster rides.

Her debut novel Aurora: Darwin was published with Momentum in May 2013, and the sequel Aurora: Pegasus, will be released in December 2013 but is available for pre-ordered now.

Places where you can find Amanda:

Read another guest post about what Jen Christopherson’s learned about writing and publishing.

6 thoughts on “How to write a thousand words (or maybe more) by Amanda Bridgeman

  1. What a lovely post! And great ideas. Doorways are very evocative for me, too, and I use them as a metaphor in my novel for opening the heart to another person. Thanks, Amanda!

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