Monday, 24 March 2014

Differently Similar

I’m writing this in a Travelodge room on the M6. (I know how to live the high life!) Actually, I’ve always found the rooms comfortable (and good value when booked in advance), and because they are a national company you know what to expect from your room wherever you stay. The decor is the same, the equipment is the same and the booking in and out is the same.

However, adjacent rooms are built back-to-back (presumably it’s to keep the plumbing for the ensuites together) so, go into one room and the bed will be against the right hand wall, but go into the adjacent room and the bed will be against the left hand wall - so the room layout mirrors the other.

So, despite all of this similarity there is a difference. Looked at from a different angle you may see things in a different light, or get a different perspective. Even the view from two adjacent rooms can be different, even if the windows face the same direction.

It’s something to consider with our writing. Looking at things from a different perspective, or angle, can reveal things we’d never noticed before. I once wrote a walking route description for a magazine, and generally, I like my circular walks to operate in an anti-clockwise direction. A few years later, another magazine wanted a similar route, and because a few years had passed since I’d first walked it I tackled the route again to check for changes on the ground (a frequent problem for outdoor writers - while fields can become housing estates in a matter of weeks). However, I also decided to walk the route in a clockwise direction, and as a result experienced an entirely different walk despite using exactly the same paths and route. 

It’s a useful technique if you are stuck for ideas. Take something you’ve already written - and even sold - and look at it from a different perspective. Tell the story/piece from a slightly different angle. Choose another character and write the story from their viewpoint. Instead of an article focussing on the town’s Victorian heritage, why not scrutinise it’s Edwardian heritage? There are lots of pieces about the First World War and the men who went off to fight. So what was it like for the children left behind? Or the men deemed too old or unfit to fight? What was their war like? Same war … different perspective.

The topic may seem familiar to you, but from a different perspective it can take on a whole new interest.

Good luck! 


  1. Good advice there Simon, something new for me to think about. Linking the writing to a phsyical place as you have here is very clever and just shows how we can find subjects/plots anywhere and everywhere.


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  3. Clever post, Simon, and some good advice. Changing a viewpoint of a story even from first to third can revamp and revitalise a piece that doesn't seem to be working.

    1. It can even give you a completely different story, can't it, Tracy?