Embrace Your Inner Hoarder

Writing is all about inspiration and this month’s blog topic came to me while cleaning my six-year-old daughter’s room. When I lifted her bathrobe off her chair I found a hoard of stuffed animals.

First I groaned. Megan had been told to clean her room. However, for a six-year-old shoving stuffies, as she calls them, under a chair would be tidying. She couldn’t see the mess anymore and therefore neither could her mother.

As I threw stuffies into the cradle to join their brethren, a thought struck me. Well two thoughts. The first was Megan had far too many stuffies and the second was the importance of hoarding story details and ideas. (There was a train of thought to this conclusion but I won’t bore you with all those details.)

One of the many things I’ve been learning about is how to make stories and characters more richer. One “easy” method is to Always Be Collecting Details (ABCD). By details I’m referring to constantly observing little things in the world. For example, how people stand, phrases they use, how they greet other people, and what foods they prefer or dislike. As well, and more importantly, collecting quirks or oddities that make characters memorable.

The other day I attended a funeral where a lady came in wearing an Indiana Jones-style hat. Odd and interesting. Could a character in one of my stories be attached to a similar hat?
I recorded it and didn’t second guess myself. Maybe I’ll use it or maybe not but it’s in my collection. (I have a palm sized journal in my purse to record these details.)

So as I continued to dust and vacuum I thought about story details like a baby cradle handmade by an expectant grandpa now overflowing with stuffies of all sizes.

I use the term hoarding because it includes the concept of having more than you need. An overflowing pile rich with colours and textures, fragrances and emotions. Every random and obscure detail that presents itself to me has value just like Megan’s menagerie of stuffies have value to her.

Even the ones that live in the basement, which is a cool metaphor for unconscious details ;).

Thanks for the inspiration Meggie,

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