Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Story to Idea -- Some Random Thoughts

What is it that transforms an idea into something that will actually work as a story?

I mean, besides MAGIC.

Or luck.

Or Muses.

This is one of those places where I find I interscet a little with Kelly's mode of writing (which I may be misrepresenting, but bear with me.) Once I have one of those "ah-ha" moments while reading non-fiction, watching people on the bus (or on TV), or randomly firing synapses, I've discovered that -- unless I want to watch the idea wither on the vine -- I need to approach my story writing a bit mechanically.

Depending on the kind of idea that's hit me, I usually have to sit down with a pad of paper (yes, for this part of the process I actually prefer the old fashion pen and ink,) and start asking myself questions like: whose story is this? Why does it need telling? If my idea is x, is there a conflict that involves whatever x is and can it be resolved? (Note, if I can't answer that last one, I usually have to shelf my idea for sometime when I can think of an answer to that one.)

I actually write down these questions and their answers until I start to get a sense of how the story might move from a problem to a solution. Then, I feel like I can actually start to write.

This, of course, is my process for short stories. Novels I usually start with the question: what can go wrong this time? Or, how should my character change in this book? Of course, I quite obviously write serial books. Otherwise, I suspect my issues would be much the same as with short stories.

Sometimes, despite all this prep work, ideas still die. Sometimes it's because I forgot to ask the most important question, which is: why do *I* need to tell this story? or, why is this story important to me?

Thoughts? Comments? Arguements?

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