Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Story ideas

I get ideas for the beginnings of stories often, mostly the beginning of November (thanks, Nanowrimo).  I then write a fabulous page or two, and lose the story.  Positively awful.  My problem is the plot, which I suppose is a pretty normal problem.

I really like some of my beginnings though.  I had one where I was writing from the perspective of a toddler.  I felt like I was capturing it pretty well (ha, if one can capture the thoughts of a toddler...), but then after a page and a half, I decided it wasn't going anywhere.

So I instantly started a new story about a dragon. That was even shorter (only three paragraphs).

Then there is the story I titled "Until the Last Rose Fades", written in first person, and I got four pages into it.  That's basically a record for me. But four pages in I had a love interest, but no plot, and no skill for writing romance.

Now I am writing "Ada".  I'm about a paragraph short of the length that "Until the last Rose Fades" died at, and I'm still going strong.  I've got the whole plot lined out, and most of the story.  I'm a bit shady in some of it (lots of it, rather), pretty much any time that the main character stays in one place for a while, but I do know what I want her to accomplish in that time, so I think it will be okay.  I'm pretty excited about it.  It is nice to be working on a story that I think may actually work.

I'm considering posting it on my blog as I progress, but that might be over-sharing on my part.  It isn't very good (ugh), and I wouldn't want to subject you to it.  However, I'll probably tell you occasionally how it's going, like when I reach page 10, etc.  It's kind of hard imagining me actually getting to page 10 on a Word document....


  1. You got the writing bug a lot later in life than me, but it sounds a lot like it hit you in a similar way that it hit me. I was once very good at stating stories. I am not shy in complimenting myself on this, because it's not really a compliment unless it is tied to the skill of ending the story, which I haven't got

    My only recommendation (and I'm not sure that it will do the trick) is that as soon as you start off with a promising story, as soon as you slow down, do not spend your efforts trying to think of what's next, but rather, where your story need to end or what it needs to accomplish. This will be slow but profitable work.

    In theory, it would be a good idea to work this all out ahead of time, but practically speaking it is just so impossibly fun to start a story.

    So, 1) start the story until you start petering out, 2) jump forward to the end and figure out where you're going, and 3) go back and inch your way forward from your beginning to the end. I think inching your way forward before figuring out what you're trying to accomplish is more likely to end in failure.

  2. Hmmmm. I somehow missed the second half of your post. Sounds like you've already figured out where you're headed. Good. This means that you know already that inching forward one sentence at a time actually is taking you where you want to go, so it's worth pushing ahead. Unless you are comfortable with your writing, I would not recommend posting it as you go.

    Some folks like Sir Walter Scott and Dickens are great at serial stories, but some (Tolkien) do an insane amount of editing and re-editing along the way.

    1. Yes, and I would not say I am comfortable with my writing. So I won't post it. Thanks for the feedback!

  3. The key to plot is conflict. If you ever don't know what to do with your protagonist, get her/him in trouble or give him/her an enemy.