If I’m not terrible, and I am allowed to continue then I have a theme in mind. That theme will be from the ever gay, ever kitsch film of The Wizard of Oz. Mostly for the lulz, and partly so that if you don’t come here to read what I have to say, you’ll come here to see how I can tie in the film into EVERY single aspect of writing. Yes. There will be Oz metaphors aplenty in these blogs.
What are my blogs going to be about?
For the main duration of Summer, I’ll be writing a story from scratch. And I’ll be doing it with you guys, so that when I get to the “writing” bit, I’ll post a blog about it and talk you through some different approaches. It’ll be like a reality TV show where you can watch a piece of writing take fruit from a simple idea, to a story that I could send out to publishers.
Hopefully this’ll generate some interest, but we’ll see. I’ll be blending some bad jokes, good articles, and general writing help. Well, as much help as I can be.
These blogs will be a journey. Dorothy will travel to the end. And it’ll be numbered so. I may get bored of WordPress norms, and splurge a little meandering. Dorothy gets distracted by shiny objects (tin man?) and such.
Dorothy Lands in Munchkin Land
Ideas & How to Get Them (1)
You’ve decided to write a story (novel, whatever, but I’ll be addressing ‘short stories’ primarily). You’ve got your pens out in order, paper crisp, and laptop keys polished.
But you’re stuck because you have a lack of ideas.
And this is the first hurdle of writing.
You can’t be a ‘good’ writer without ideas, without creativity and imagination. In my opinion, it’s just not possible. Yes, fan-fiction is a thriving community, and can be productive but there’s nothing like having your own original ideas, and eventually writing them down.
Ideas come in different shapes and forms for different people, and different writing styles, so here’s a basic low-down, throw-down (although most of these originate from experience/observing in one way of the other):
Thinking — This is something that SF/Fantasy/Speculative writers might use. Basically, ideas come from you thinking about stories and ideas. Seems obvious? Well yes, but “thinking” in terms of “What if”s and play on scenarios, thought experiments and the like. What if trees could feel pain? What if people were born female and had to get sex-changes to become male? What if it snowed in Summer?
Take an ordinary situation and turn it into something else. Presto. You’ve got conflict.
They are often a good way to get thinking. And they could influence a number of SF, dystopian ideas (1984 might be, “What if your thoughts were being watched?” Fahrenheit 451 “What if books were banned?” Brave New World “What if people were born into their social classes?”) but not limited to that genre. They just came to mind first. It also works just as well for realistic fiction.
Another way of thinking up ideas would be trying to draw up conflict (crucial to every story) and give it a setting (in time/space). Think of a contrast that seems striking, something that will hook your reader and yourself. Abnormal circumstances that pivot around characters. Try and make your “character”/”setting”/”conflict” unique, or abnormal, and that might help get the juices flowing, since a good story hinges around originality.
- A vegetarian, and an avid meat eater are locked together in a meat processing factory
- A girl who is afraid of the dark becomes allergic to light
- The Earth starts to orbit the moon
Flashforward is the first example that come to mind. It’s TV show where everyone on Earth glimpses their future for 6 minutes or something like that (a major what if). Immediately there is a conflict between the future, and the present. And that is quite a big one that’ll spawn other internal conflicts within the characters etc…
Another more structured way of getting ideas, though the easiest yet often most over-looked, is to write about something that interests you.
If you like playing badminton, then write a story based on that. If you like researching about anti-matter then write a hard SF story about that. The more it interests you, then the better you will write.
So how does this come into my story experiences personally?
Well, a large majority of stories do spring off What If situations. I have plans on writing a novella based on the idea of “What if a small child became God?” and the tangent–the plot bunnies that come off that are bordering on wonderfully dangerous. Contrast is also an important aspect that I try to get as early on as possible.
Turtle Bay, is where I played with the conflict between my two main protagonists, and partners who can’t bear to stay together. The idea of the turtles acting as a veil for death is also something that I wanted to play about with. This idea of innocence and death, both being natural, and how I could write a story based on one, but about the other (double meanings).
Death and children is an interesting one. Again, the idea of innocence/death appeals to me (morbid, meh) and I think that the ‘blog story’ will revolve around the conflict of Death vs Innocence. Well Summer to be exact, but that’ll be explained in later posts. So you gotta keep reading to find out where Summer comes in. I’ll thank whoever manages to figure out how Summer comes into the conflict. CLUE: Films, and the scenes revolving around death, cemeteries, and burials.
I may not be able to cover all the points next blog, but I’ll try.
Next Time (on Oz TeeVee):
Ideas from Experience/Observing (Plot)
Ideas from Fan-Fiction/Expansion on other stories
Ideas from Images (Poetry/Setting)
Ideas from Characters (Novels)
Ideas from Technique