Saturday, November 15, 2008

New Ideas

The other day, as I was out driving, an story idea struck me. It was just the kernal of an idea really, a shell. I saw the cast of characters and I saw the setting. But, as I kept chewing it over, I realized that the whole story would revolve around one sinister plot.

And . . . what that plot is, I have no clue.

So, I've been thinking a lot about ideas and how they develop into plots. Because, let's face it, you can have a premise or a theme or a main character in mind and go ahead and start writing, but if you don't have at least the skeleton of a plot, you'll run aground pretty fast. That, or you'll kind of wander for fifty pages until a plot presents itself.

The trouble is, it's not easy to just think up a plot. Unfortunately, I can't just wiggle my nose and have a workable story idea pop out of thin air. I'm no Samantha Stephens. (I've actually tried to wiggle my nose at a sink full of dirty dishes, but much to my disappointment, they just sat there.)

So, I've been curious to ask all of you. Please feel free to share in the comments section. How do you develop your early shreds of an idea into the plot for a novel?


Kasie West said...

Now, don't laugh, but if I have a really strong idea for a character, sometimes I just have a conversation with them. I say, what do you need to learn in your life that will help you grow into a better person or overcome one of your weaknesses. Then, depending on what I find out, I try to work on a plot that will help them develop in this area. Good luck. It's so fun to develop a new idea. My favorite feeling is when the answer comes (usually after weeks of pondering) and I know what my plot is going to be. It's quite amazing.

Natalie said...

Ahhh, what a great question. I've been through quite a few plots this last year, as you've been witness to.

I think I'm lucky though, because when I get a book idea, I usually get the beginning and the end. So for the most part, I just have to fill in the middle.

But let's see if I can describe how I even get that far...I'll use Void.

I was cooking dinner, and I thought to myself, "I love cooking, I'm so glad I don't have magic because then I'd just flick a wand. How boring." (I know, WEIRD thought.)

Well, it stuck. What if there was this girl in the wizarding world who didn't have a lick of magic and was TOTALLY FINE WITH IT? What if she loved technology? What if she left her world and came to ours?

So there, I had Coral Starfall and her family, and Charles her jilted suitor turned stalker.

Then I started thinking of the Void world, who she would meet and what she would do. Luke and the gang were born.

That's when the Neophyte ideas came, which added a whole new party to the mix.

Originally, Baron was going to be the villain, but I realized he had no reason to mess with someone else became the villain, which worked beautifully.

With all the characters in place, I knew I had the beginning—she was running away from home. And the end—she beats bad guy. The middle was a little rough but doable, and Kiersten can attest to my stress in putting all that together. This post is long enough:)

JaneyV said...

I am such a make-it-up-as-you-go-along writer that I think any advice I gave would be a hindrance.

I like what Kasie said. I think that knowing your characters and their motivations is half the battle.

The other half is writing it down.

JaneyV said...

And everything that Natalie says is as always pure gold.

Joanne said...

I usually start with a pivotal situation, and that's the springboard from which reactions/developments grow.

Renee Collins said...

Kasie-That's a great idea, I think. I was big into drama in high school, so sometimes I talk in the mirror as my main character. I would feel so embarassed if my husband ever saw, but it's usually pretty fun. And sometimes even enlightening.

Natalie-A great example. I guess that's kind of the way it rolls, huh? You just massage the idea until it works. :)

Janey-Well, you manage to come up with a great plot usuing your method, so I'm sure you've got good tips. And it's true, knowing what the character wants is probably the most important thing of all.

And Joanne, you mentioned the second most important thing, I think. The catalyst that puts everything into action. Knowing that is a pretty great place to start.

Terri Tiffany said...

I struggle like you do. The plot just doesn't come to me--I really have to work at it. I always worry how realistic it is and that I think makes me get stuck.

Kasie West said...

Hey, Renee, just in case you check this more than you check your email or just in case my email went straight to your spam pile, or just in case you didn't recognize my email address and felt the urge to trash it, I just wanted to tell you I sent you an email.

cindy said...

very interesting question. i'm not sure i have a plot for my stories before i start. i have a loose framework. various jigsaw pieces. then as i writer, the plot emerges slowly.

good luck with your writing!!

*lucky dust****
*****dust luckiness**** =)

Renee Collins said...

Yay!!! Cindy sprinkled me with lucky dust!!!

I feel so fufilled. :) Thanks for visiting my blog.

I like the way you phrase that, jigsaw puzzle pieces. I think that's kind of what it's like for me. I usually know the main catalyst, a rough idea of the ending, and then I have several smaller scenes that I know will take place.