Sunday, January 17, 2016

Beginning Your Story: Finding the Spark

Beginning Your Story: Setting the Fire(I've been doing some writing about the process of writing, essentially trying to work through my own process while at the same time digesting a lot of reading on the subject. I've been posting these thoughts elsewhere, so I thought I should probably post them here on my much-neglected blog as well.)

Beginning Your Story: Finding the Spark


"Where do you get your inspiration?" From the numerous interviews, articles and blog posts I've read by and about authors, this seems to be one of the questions authors most fear. Some have admitted to having vague or flippant stock answers on hand to deal with it. I suspect many fear this question because they don't know how they do what they do and worry the day may come when they can't manage it when they need to.

The Source

The idea usually bubbles up from the subconscious, a "what if?" question, and not just any "what if" question, but one which captures the writer's imagination and demands to be answered.

Writing coaches have numerous tricks and techniques to tap into that subconscious such as word association games or guided imagery prompts. (If you know of any good ones, please share or post relevant URLs below.) The best approach, particularly when you're feeling frustrated, may be to just not think about it. Go out and do something else, clean the house, run some errands, get out of your normal rut. Relax your mind, watch a new movie or read a new book.

I believe writers are naturally curious people who like to "look behind the scenes," who wonder how things really work, and who like to take ideas apart then put them back together in novel ways. At some point you will, now doubt, find yourself saying, "That's interesting and all, but what if..." and you'll have your story spark.

The Spark

It may start with an interesting character: A crown prince who discovers he's actually a commoner raised to become a sacrifice to save the true heir to the throne. How will he react? Kingdom of Shadow

Or an interesting situation: To save his first love, a shy Japanese teenage boy must prove to a Shinigami (Japanese death god) that love exists by making it fall in love with him, without his girlfriend finding out. How might he do it? Courting Death

Or an Interesting setting: A secret war taking place in our own world between two strange supernatural forces that grant mysterious agents supernatural powers. It includes intrigue and espionage, rival shadow societies competing for lost or forbidden knowledge and a spreading curse that involves the undead and stranger things from other dimensions. What kind of things might happen here? The Awakened

Unconsciously or consciously, exposing yourself to interesting new ideas and asking what if, stirs the coals that produce the creative spark. Once you've identified it and learned to recognize it, you need to chase it.

Next time - Beginning Your Story: Chasing the Spark