Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Writing Wibbles

Today, I’d like to talk a little about the story bomb. But before I do, go over to John Wiswell’s blog and read Making Ideas. Writers get asked about imagination a lot, he begins. Where do you get your ideas? It’s a really insightful post about the beginnings of the writing process.

Me, I ’m not that insightful — or at best, most of my insights don’t lend themselves well to description. I’m mostly a pantser (i.e. I write by the seat of my pants) and that really starts with the ideas. These Writing Wibbles can be difficult to write simply because I often don’t put that much thought into the process of writing; I’m too busy doing it. In the best of times, the characters are telling the story and I’m just taking dictation.

John makes an excellent point: you have to immerse yourself in good stories, in good writing, to train yourself to recognize it (and, we hope, create your own). I read a lot from the time I could read (before my fourth birthday… I cannot remember ever not being able to read) up to the time I plunged so deeply into the world of FAR Future that I was spending all my free time writing.

So where do I get my ideas? They just come. I’ve mentioned before, I believe creativity to be a reflection of the Divine, the image in which we were created. Sometimes, the idea comes in a snippet of a dream (in which I tell someone, “Dammit, you fool, I’m her father!” although she was made rather than born). Or there was the time I was driving to work and was surrounded by white pickup trucks for a half-minute. Writing prompts usually work best for me when I ask a question — what happened up to this point? — and if I ask the right question, the answer often comes in a story bomb and I’m off to the races. White Pickups was originally a flash piece, about 700 words, ending with Tina in the Saver-Mart parking lot. When I asked myself “so what happened next?” I got a 200 kiloword thermonuclear story bomb. Well, no — I didn’t get one Big One, it was more like a carpet story bombing that has kept me busy for nearly two years now. Accidental Sorcerers (and some partly-written follow-ons) came from a photo and an off-hand comment by the photographer.

What about you? Do you get ideas as a story bomb? Or do they just trickle in? Or do you just lasso an idea and drag it into the corral?

5 comments:

  1. "Story bomb" says it pretty well. Me, I get image bombs which, if I'm lucky, flower out into characters who have a story to tell.

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  2. I'm flattered that I seem to have inspired this post! Thank you for the shout-out, Larry. And I think you're plenty-insightful.

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  3. Mike, an image bomb sounds pretty cool — it sounds cool, being able to visualize the characters right away.

    JohnW, thanks right back!

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  4. Larry, is it? I had a completely different comment for this post but now am intrigued by the fact that Mr. Fetched as a first name other than FAR.
    Huh.
    I feel a story bomb coming on.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi, Cathy. Yup, look up in the sidebar at the book cover. That's me (the author, not the girl with the rifle).

    ReplyDelete

Comments are welcome, and they don't have to be complimentary. I delete spam on sight, but that's pretty much it for moderation. Long off-topic rants or unconstructive flamage are also candidates for deletion but I haven’t seen any of that so far.

I have comment moderation on for posts over a week old, but that’s so I’ll see them.

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