creativity / inspiration / writing

What is in the box?

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Christmas in the Golding house!

How did Boxing Day get its name? I don’t know about you but I always thought Boxing Day was something to do with opening up boxes. Wiki appears to agree with this origin as it suggests that it was named in reference to giving service workers a little something extra on that day which was called a Christmas Box. I don’t like the idea this was just money. I’d prefer to keep the image of a box with mysterious contents, ready to be unpacked.

That’s the heart of storytelling. Each book you open is like a mystery present. You can only explore the contents by exploring it for yourself. Someone else’s opinion won’t be yours, so though I take book recommendations, I’m not guided by them.

A wrapped box is also like the beginning of a plot. Each one starts with some kind of question: will Harry get to go to Hogwarts? Will Katniss survive the Hunger Games? Will Bella and Edward be able to get together? Will Winnie the Pooh get the honey? The story then unpacks the answer. If you are looking for ideas for a story, there is no better way to start than asking yourself questions.

A mystery parcel is also like the most exciting events within a story. ‘What have I got in my pockets?’ Who can forget the riddle game in The Hobbit, which is really about will Bilbo live or not?

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Look carefully at this tree to see what it has in its branches!

Will Lyra survive Mrs Coulter’s horrible child factory? How is Alex Rider going to escape the hospital in Ark Angel? Is Alice going to get to the right size to enter the garden by eating and drinking in the correct order? Again, if you are stuck for what happens next, start setting yourself these kind of questions and work out how you would answer them.

I hope you’ve had some lovely mystery presents to open this year. Now the wrapping paper is in the recycling bin, perhaps you can start on that story you were thinking about? So let me ask you a question on Boxing Day: what happens next?

Merry Christmas!

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