Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Wordplay Blossoms

Wow. Stories suggest themselves in the oddest ways.

Lyda said something enigmatic on my blog, and I responded to her by writing the following:

Ah... kemosabie speaks goodness, like smooth wind of honeysuckle for the mind. I will drink green tea and mediate between the yin and the Yangtze...

There I was, just playing with words, and the story title "The Yin and the Yangtze" pops out, immediatly suggesting a girl in China, growing up alongside the world-famous river--perhaps drowning Ophelia-like. The Yangtze, being the yang part of that equation, is clearly the male element--so a story where the river represents the powerful, unmoving male dominance of women in Chinese society over their history. Weave in some of the difficulty that people have with crossing rivers, the concept of "crossing" the powerful in society, and the grass is greener on the other side mentality, and I'm beginning to see a touchpoint story for a woman who, in her own quiet way, wants to break out of the social bonds that are put on her; a commentary on one part of Chinese society and its struggles. Populate the story with her family--men who demand or ask for too much, who expect her to do what they say; women who are too silent except amongst themselves, but who wish for more--and the river, flowing inexorably, silently past them, inexorable, timeless, and forever changing.

Just the seed of an idea, but how quickly those seeds blossom!

How does wordplay figure into your story development? What ways do you find stories springing into being? How do you become aware of a story waiting to be told?

6 comments:

Douglas Hulick said...

Dude, you put WAY more thought into the initial underlying themes of a story than I do. :)

Mari Adkins said...

What ways do you find stories springing into being?

Well, I always swore that Midnight would be a stand-alone book - no sequels, no prequels, nada. End Midnight, end Harlan Vampires. HA HA HA. :ahem: As I was finishing up my line edits on the last draft, I saw and heard a scene in my head - and the prologue to Heir was born. Pretty much the same thing happened with Heir, and some obscure piece in what is now Elders was born.

How do you become aware of a story waiting to be told?

I recently finished up the first rough draft of a 70k piece that I'm calling Debra's Story. It's very roughly my first three stories from someone else's point of view. I was sitting here working on Elders one afternoon when I heard this voice in my head. "Hey, it's Debra. We need to talk." So, we did, and her story spilled out.

Erik Buchanan said...

What ways do you find stories springing into being?

Like Athena, springing fully formed from the head of Zues.

Which is a fancy way of saying, I got no idea.

But literally, the best ones suddenly appear, either concept or plot, and I desperately race to write the idea down before it vanishes entirely.

For me, the trigger can be anything: a picture, something someone says, the changing of the leaves, or the sight of someone in the street. Whatever it is sets off a subconscious chain of "what if's" that leads to the story.

Sean M. Murphy said...

Doug, I almost never have a theme that runs through a story, not like the one described in the main post here. This was admittedly an exception, but normally, I have ideas that sort of bubble up as the story is being told, around which I try to frame later drafts. I was talking to Lyda about this the other night, noting that it is so odd for me to have a story idea that is driven by a theme--and how I don't want to add things into the story that might corrupt the clarity of that theme. I'm not sure whether or not this is a good thing for the story. Maybe I should write a blog on that.

Muneraven said...

I NEVER have gotten a story idea from wordplay. Bradbury got most of his ideas that way, though. I think it's a really cool concept.

I get all my stories from a scene, full-fledged, like I turned on my DVD player and it started up at a paused moment in the middle of some movie. I hit the play button and the scene plays out a little. Sometimes it is fairly long, but sometimes it is nothing more than a few exchanges of dialogue. And at the end of the scene the action stops and one character looks at me expectantly.

And I am supposed to finish the movie.

Sean M. Murphy said...

Hey Muneraven, thanks for the note on Bradbury. I always have enjoyed his writing because of the playfulness of his language, the sheer joy of words that courses through his text. It makes it a joy to read, too!