Monday, February 11, 2013

Do you have a story idea I can borrow, please?

Where do your story ideas come from? How do you decide on what it is you’re going to write about? These are questions that writers and authors are frequently asked. For myself, I have no true rhyme or reason for the conception of any particular story. Many times my stories start out as nothing more than a few scribbles of rambling words in a notebook. Ah, there’s an idea, I may think and then jot it down. Or, ooh, I like that concept, and make note of it on scrap paper, or on whatever is available at that time.

The real answer to these questions is that story ideas linger everywhere. You just have to look around you. And there is no systematic plan for acquiring them. I, for one, cannot go anywhere without the possibility of a potential story jumping out at me. I literally cannot close my mind’s creative eye. I’m always inconspicuously observing people and their actions, mannerisms, dialogue, and so on. Whether standing in line at the movie theatre, or sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, I’m constantly taking mental notes of my surroundings and looking at what it might have to offer, artistically.

Many times ideas filter into my brain at such a rapid rate that I sometimes become overwhelmed. So, what do I do about this creative overload? How do I rifle through all these characters and plot lines? It’s simple, really: I pick out the ones that fascinate me the most. I try to work on the stories that often stick out in my mind; the ones that constantly yell out: What are you waiting on? Write me, damn it!

Other times stories simply originate from a writer’s own life experiences. Maybe last year’s family trip sparks an interest for you to write a post-apocalyptic thriller about a family’s vacation to Miami. While there, they discover flesh-eating zombies that haphazardly lurch along vile-ridden streets of chaos and destruction. Or if that is not your cup of tea, maybe you’d rather pen a happier tale about that first hunting trip you and your dad took together when you were only nine-years-old? It could be the groundwork for a classic coming of age story. Or maybe the beginning to a nifty fairy tale about a young hunter who goes into the forest, only to discover that the woodland creatures talk back to him. The possibilities are endless. It’s your world, your vision. Only you can decide how the story is told.

If you are an aspiring fiction writer – who is not sure what to write about – merely think of your own interests and passions. Think of the stories and books that you yourself enjoy reading the most. Cultivate a story line or an engaging character from these personal fascinations and go with it. Don’t hold back. Turn off your inner critic and write freely, letting your ideas spew onto your notebook or your computer screen. Save the self-critiquing for your rewriting session/s. As long as you hold a passion for storytelling and a desire to create art, there will always be stories to write.

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