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To ring in 2012 we went with friends to see the movie New Year’s Eve. It’s a multi-plot story about relationships. The storyline that intrigued me most was the one played out by actress Michelle  Pieffer who hired a courier she knew, by office acquaintance only, to help her accomplish the resolutions she’d made last January. The payment was four tickets to an exclusive New Year’s Eve party that the courier salivated over the minute she showed them to him.

The items on her list included:

  • quit her job ( which she did before hiring the courier)
  • go to Bali
  • breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • take a trip around the world
  • walk the five boroughs of New York
  • be amazed
  • be kissed at midnight on New Year’s Eve

When the young man she’d hired looked at the list he exclaimed, “These are impossible to accomplish in one night.” Michelle told him to be creative.  I’ll not tell you how he accomplished each of the items, in case you haven’t seen the movie, but he (or rather the writers of the script) were very inventive.

 There are several obvious take-aways from this particular plot:

  • don’t procrastinate (which the character obviously did)
  • don’t make resolutions you know you can’t accomplish (which most of us do)
  • be motivated (which we need to accomplish those resolutions)
  • be creative (which writers should be)

These are all great take-aways, but the one that struck me the most was ‘be creative.” The courier knew he couldn’t get Michelle to the country of Bali in the few hours he had before midnight. He also knew there was no way she could physically walk all five boroughs of New York in such a short time. And a trip around the world? Forget that. But he was so inspired and motivated by those elusive party tickets that he thought outside the box to accomplish all her resolutions.

As writers it’s easy to think in concrete, literal terms when constructing our books. We tap into things we know or things we’ve seen or read about when we’re plotting or upping the conflict in our characters’ lives.  And that’s not a bad thing. But this year, try thinking outside the box. Go beyond the ordinary and look for the extraordinary in your plots, conflict, and characterization. Take your plot, your character, your conflict and look at them with a fresh perspective. Give them a twist the reader’s not expecting. Who knows, you may amaze yourself in the process.