National Bookshop Day aims to celebrate all that’s great about bookshops. I’m a big fan of local, independent bookshops and have been for a long time. If at all possible, I’ll order my books through one of these rather than a chain store or on-line, for reasons I’ve explained in an earlier post.
I’m reminded of a story I began writing a few years ago, in which the main character runs into a bookshop to escape someone who’s chasing her. I imagined that somehow, she would disappear between the shelves and end up in a completely different time and place. I never finished the story, but it started with a writing prompt (which I’ve long since forgotten).
So I thought I’d come up with 5 writing prompts to ignite your imagination. Each involves a book or bookshop in some way.
1. The World of a Book
If you could enter the world of any book, which world would it be and why? Which character would you befriend, and which would you argue with? Where would you travel within this world? Do you think there will be a point when you’ll want to go home again, or will you choose to stay?
Imagine you’re running away from someone or something. You see a bookshop … who or what are you trying to escape from and what happens next?
3. Experiential Writing
Visit your local bookshop or library. Brainstorm or create a mind map using the five senses. i.e. what you can you see, hear, smell, touch and taste? If you can’t physically travel to a bookshop or library, use one or more of the images below.
4. Inspired by Life
While at the bookshop, select one other person you can see. It doesn’t have to be someone you know and in fact this writing activity might work better if you don’t! Describe this person:
- What do they look like?
- What is their body language and facial expression?
- How do they speak, move and behave?
Now’s the fun part. Create a backstory for this person:
- Why are they here?
- What is their favourite book?
- What are they looking for?
- What is their dream?
- What problem or conflict do they have troubling them right now?
Again, if you’re not able to get to a bookshop, here’s a few pictures to get you started:
The story I began writing was inspired by what’s called a ‘timeslip’ – where the main character somehow slips between the present world and the past. As a child, I was fascinated by Ruth Park’s Playing Beattie Bow. The main character, Abigail, follows a younger girl through alleys and up stairs at The Rocks in Sydney, and finds herself transported 100 years into the past. More recently I read Somewhere Around the Corner by Jackie French; Barbara walks ‘somewhere around the corner’ to escape an out of control protest only to find herself in the middle of another demonstration, and back in time.
If you could slip from the present day into the past (or future), where would you go? How might you get there via a bookshop? What would you do while you were there? And how easy or difficult would it be to find your way home again?
I know I’m too old for this particular writing competition, but I think I might have to dig out that old story of mine …
In the meantime, let me know what you come up with – I’d love to hear from you via email or in the comments section of this post.
And finally, what’s the name of your local bookshop? Why not show your support by visiting them this National Bookshop Day.