This is a question I get asked a lot when discussing my writing. Not just the novels, but the short stories, as well. "Where did you get the idea to write that thing?" People ask me this question as if they are expecting the answer to be "Aisle five at Kroger." It's not that simple... and then, sometimes, it is.
As a storyteller, I discover ideas for books and short stories just about everywhere. Recently, after sharing a bit of my upcoming novel, "American Plague" with one of my writing groups, a member said, "I don't know how you keep coming up with new story ideas." I replied, "I don't know how you don't!" Ideas for stories are always inside me... I'll notice something in everyday life and think, "I bet that could be a story", or "hmmm, how could I make a story out of that?" It's a near-constant barrage of thinking about life as snippets of stories that simply doesn't go away. The only reprieve I get is when I sleep, and even then, sometimes I'm awakened with new story ideas.
Here's an example:
My novel, "A Tryst of Fate" came to me initially as a collection of short stories. If you've read the book, (and if not, why not?) you'll see that there are several chapters that are short stories that Thomas (the main character) writes to his ex-wife, Gillian, as a way to attempt to win back her heart after they split due to a horrific tragedy. Each story he writes is quite different from the rest, with different landscapes and characters... but the underlying theme is always the same... Thomas and Gillian's own relationship.
As I said, initially, my intention was to write a collection of short stories, and be done. However, the more I wrote, the more I noticed that each one of the short stories had an underlying theme that could not be ignored. At their core, each story was getting at the same point. That's when I knew I had something more than just a simple short story collection. That's when I knew that I had to find a way to weave each of the stories together and create subtext to showcase the common theme.
That's when the primary characters evolved, and then the secondary characters, and then the subplots. But it all started with several little pieces that shared different adventures. And I suppose this brings us back to the point I made at the beginning of this post. I observed what was happening and said... "Hmmmmm... there's a bigger story in there. How can I write that?"
And so, a novel emerged.
It's true that each novel or short story that I write comes from a different set of specific ideas or motivations... but at the core of my writing, it really comes down to just one question...
How Can I Make THAT Into A Story?
If you haven't read "A Tryst Of Fate" yet, I'd love to hear what you think of it, after you do. If you order it through my publisher's website (Grey Wolfe Publishing), I'll be happy to inscribe it for you... and you'll save $5 from the Amazon price, and you'll get free shipping. Or, you can order it from Kindle, if you'd prefer.
In the meantime, as you're walking throughout your days, consider the stuff happening around you. Observe what's going on, and ask yourself, "Is there a story in that? Is there some detail about that thing I just saw or heard that could grow into a story?" It's an entertaining way to go through life, even if you never get around to writing any of it down.
Diana Kathryn Plopa
I love being in love; writing; reading; mammals of nearly every kind, and especially micro-humans! Come enjoy my world with me - Secret Decoder Ring not required!!