Thursday, June 16, 2016
Where to find story ideas worthy of your writing time
What do you like to write about? As the brand statement in my banner above states, I focus on writing "Fiction that explores the monsters and strangers among us.” I also write nonfiction on assignment from companies and individuals, especially those who want to publish or self-publish their own business books. But fiction is what I love to write because, at heart, I’m a story teller. The “monsters and strangers” bit comes from something that happens almost every time I create a story. A monster shows up or a weird person pops in who definitely fits the definition of “stranger” that your mother warned you to stay away from.
There’s an old song with the line “Love is Strange” recorded by Mickey & Sylvia. The title is especially true when the lovers in a tale include at least one strange person or monster.
I enjoy spinning yarns about lovers in the moonlight, but don’t be surprised if one of my lovers grows a long snout, sharp fangs and lots of hair when the moon is full.
So where do my strange story ideas come from? Sometimes I begin with a single sentence that pops into my mind or when I have a young man in mind who is about to meet the girl. As I wander down the page with the keys clicking like crazy, something happens in chapter 4 or 5 or 6 when a monster or stranger shows up. I dump the first 4 or 5 or 6 chapters and begin with the stranger. Why? Strangers are interesting. Lovers only so-so. I have to admit that as I have grown as an author, I'm less likely to dump an entire chapter. Instead, I just hang out at my desk until the monster shows up so I can start the story with reader-grabbing moment.
Other times I recall a nightmare and write about it. It could be a regular, ordinary nice dream, but those usually aren’t memorable enough to make it to the keyboard.
Another place story ideas show up is when you play the “what if” game. What if a boy meets a girl at the beach and they fall in love? Nah, it’s been done. How can we make it more interesting? Boy meets girl? Well, duh, that has to happen, but what if it’s not a pleasant first meeting? What if the meeting takes place in a forbidden place?
Here’s an example…
What if a teenage boy wakes up in the middle of the night to discover the girl he has a crush on has pointed a pistol at him. It’s not the way he imagined her in his bedroom at that hour. She proceeds to insult his private parts that, as far as he can recall, she has never seen, but she insults them anyway.
The girl fires her pistol.
Fortunately, the boy’s best friend breaks in with a possible female terrorist. They’re both carrying military-style rifles with bayonets fixed. The teenage girl terrorist takes out pistol girl all the way through the bedroom window. The boy’s best friend announces “This didn’t happen.” He then leaves with the terrorist.
As it turns out, the female terrorist isn’t a fanatic at all. She’s a teenage alien shapeshifter from some planet on the other side of the galaxy who crashed on earth and is now dodging the men in black. The boy could chalk up the whole episode to a nasty dream, except that doesn’t explain the actual bullet hole above his bed, does it? And it doesn’t explain the broken window his teenage crush crashed through with a bayonet sticking out of her chest.
And that’s just for starters.
I find the events described above fascinating, especially when you find out that the young lady who fired the weapon is still alive, was never stabbed, and has no recollection of the event despite the bullet hole’s continued existence above the boy’s bed. How does the boy with the crush know all this? It becomes obvious when the girl climbs back in through the window the next night with romance in mind.
The right story idea leads to interesting events, places and the strangers among us. It’s why I like to write about them in my novels. If you want to read how the story described above turns out, download a copy of my ebook Snpgrdxz and the Time Monsters from Amazon. Also available in paperback.