Lara Ehrlich Recommends...

“Plot does not come naturally to me. Instead of staring at a blank page hoping for inspiration, I take a long walk and dictate to myself using my phone’s recording app. I pose a single question like: In this scene, how does character A anger character B? Then I talk to myself. My monologue is far from eloquent and includes a lot of hemming and hawing (‘How about.…’ ‘This is just terrible.’ ‘Oh, okay, this makes sense.’). Dictation lowers the stakes because I’m not committing my thoughts to paper yet. I give myself permission to follow tangents to dead ends, try out god-awful dialogue, and suggest crazy—and honestly sometimes stupid—ideas. Almost always, this practice yields at least one piece of useful material; sometimes it’s tiny like a single sentence, and sometimes it’s essential like a missing plot point that makes three others fall into place. I upload the recording to the Otter transcription app, and on the best days I end up with thousands of words to incorporate into my rough draft. Starting from there instead of with a blank page has revolutionized my drafting process.”
—Lara Ehrlich, author of Animal Wife (Red Hen Press, 2020)