For those of you toying with the idea of writing, I thought I’d share some of the steps I take before and during the time I’m writing a story. I had a page titled Story Steps on an earlier version of my website, but dropped it when I started blogging. This will be the new improved and expanded version of Story Steps that I hope will provide you with some ideas to use when you write.
A popular question writers field from non writers is “Where do you get your ideas?”
If you’re like me, your world is bursting with ideas. An overheard comment by a stranger, something you see during the drive to work, an article in the newspaper, an snippet of historical fact from a book, a family crisis.
Bam! You have the germ of an idea? Notice I used the word germ.
According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, germ is an initial stage from which something may develop, i.e. the germ of a brilliant idea.
Basically, we’re looking at a starting point, but what do you do with that germ?
Well, writers have an annoying habit of asking, "what if" – what if that empty plastic bag by the side of the road contains a dead body? What if I lost my job? What if the enemy has a code no one can break?
"What if" is a magical phrase that ignites a writer's imagination. Let me show you how it works for me.
Many years ago the girl friend of a neighbor’s son ended up pregnant. They were both young and wild and doing stuff they shouldn’t. Not exactly parent material. But the young man’s older sister, now she was married and in a stable situation. And unable to have children.
For the good of the child, the young unmarried couple asked the older married couple to adopt their child.
This situation became the germ of an idea for a book that blossomed into Feather’s Last Dance. Of course this germ needed lots of work because an idea needs to be big enough to keep readers (as well as the writer) interested for the duration of the novel.
Instead of a wild young boy, I thought what if the heroine is the rebellious teen who seduces the very nice boy next door?
What if she gets pregnant? What if she doesn’t want to ruin his life? What if she has the baby without his knowledge. What if she gives the baby to her sister who just happens to be married to the hero’s brother?
Talk about complicating matters.
On the sad side, I had to remove their siblings in order to put the biological parents together. Now they're six years older and the hero is a conservative banker who doesn’t believe the wild heroine is a suitable guardian. Probably because he discovers her fan dancing at a night club.
This is where I "found" the idea for a story that would hopefully grow into a novel. Stay tuned for the next step in how I create stories.