My kids and I used to spend hours playing the Nancy Drew computer games. The games were a great way to spend some quality time with my kids, and were educational as well. We learned about movie sets, theatre, the old west, Hawaii, the Mayan culture, and Paris, among other things. The fun method of learning also seemed to stick with the kids. A number of times they would point out something they saw on TV and remind me that they learned about it when we played Nancy Drew.
But the kids weren't the only ones learning. Here are seven things playing Nancy Drew games taught me about writing.
1. Talk to people. Ask questions - everybody has different interests and you never know when someone you talk to might share a tidbit of information that will intrigue you. Don't assume your neighbor Bill is an uninteresting person, just because you never see him doing anything but working in his yard. He might be an inventor who works in his yard to unwind.
2. Make phone calls. Don't be afraid to call someone who might be able to help you. For example, if you're interested in Mayan culture, don't be afraid to call a museum and ask for information or even a tour of their collection. You might be surprised what you learn!
3. Keep a notebook. Write down ideas, thoughts, quotes - even odd things that don't seem to make any sense at the time. Things written here may provide ideas for a new story, or even a quirk for one of your characters.
4. Check out your surroundings. Explore new places. Use your senses to become aware of your location. And if you're in a familiar place, look around. Take notice of little things that you never really paid attention to before. Pretend you're a curious kid and see what kind of mischief you can get into!
5. Call your friends. Good friends will be there to ask questions, offer suggestions and support. Check in with them often!
6. If you mess up, try again. Maybe a scene just isn't working, but you can't put your finger on why it's not working. Try rewriting the scene from another character's point of view. Learn from your mistakes and improve your writing. Be tenacious.
7. Never give up!
Parts of this post are excerpted from an article originally written for Romancing the Prairie, newsletter for Prairie Hearts RWA.