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16 May 2009 @ 05:21 pm
Ideas are not stories  

I have a lot more ideas for stories than I have stories.

The ideas come all the time, and they're all "interesting" in the sense that they present a new twist on an old idea, or exploration of a new one. I keep a running list of them. From an intellectual or gee-whiz perspective, they're good.

The reason a lot of them don't turn into stories is that I fail to envision a set of events proceeding from those ideas that really moves me. I can think of characters and a plot, maybe even a theme, but I don't get driven to write the thing (or not more than a few hundred words) because it doesn't engage my passions.

Often I have a lot more success with single, evocative images that strike me so strongly that I can't let them go. Often I don't know what the "idea" behind the image is, but I feel that I have to write that scene and then see where it leads.

Or, on the other hand, I start with a particular emotional reaction I'm trying to get, and I work backwards -- "How would I get a reader to feel that about this?" Highly manipulative, that last one, but sometims it works wonders.

I've had half of a first draft of a particular story sitting on my hard drive for nearly a year. I had a clear idea, and a clear set of characters, and I got a few thousand words into it and lost steam. Then, yesterday, I realized the real emotional, painful thing that was behind the story (and *snort* I'd actually begun writing a scene about that very thing, but had deleted it as an irrelevant digression). So now I'm going to start again.
 
 
Current Location: Inside my head
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Stravinsky
 
 
 
girlspell: dangling the carrotgirlspell on May 17th, 2009 12:39 am (UTC)
Often I have a lot more success with single, evocative images that strike me so strongly that I can't let them go.

As I recall, you wrote at terrific story after looking at a clock.
ajjones on May 18th, 2009 01:29 am (UTC)
The reason a lot of them don't turn into stories is that I fail to envision a set of events proceeding from those ideas that really moves me.

I think that's the sign of a good solid writer. I've known people that will stick with a plot idea even if it becomes painful and is clearly not working, like shoving a puzzle piece into the wrong hole. If we were back in the typewriter days, I'd have dozens of crumpled up balls of paper burying me in my office, because I tear it down and tear it down and change it and dump it until it's something that tickles.
Jon Gibbsjongibbs on May 21st, 2009 11:31 am (UTC)
Ideas improve if you let them stew for a while, don't you think :)
Kenken_schneyer on May 21st, 2009 04:58 pm (UTC)
Hi! Welcome to my mob.

I agree that they do, or usually. Some ideas just lie there and slowly putrify. :P