PDA

View Full Version : How do I come up with a Good Story?



rich
04-08-2006, 08:32 PM
I write short stories, personal experiences, essays, and poems. The first three are so intertwined that I seldom know the difference. One time I wrote an essay for a magazine and it wound up in their Annual Fiction Review issue.

I deliberately left off How do I come with ideas for good stories? Reason: my "muse" works slightly different. Sometimes I'll get an idea, but most times I come up with an image, or incident that took place in my life. I jot down about 100 or 200 words in sequence on the event based on the observation and when I'm through I say to myself. Okay, now where's the story?

The significant part of doing it this way is that if an image or experience stuck with me for so long I just know there's a story in it. That is the key for drumming up most stories.

Then I ask myself, "Now why did I, she, he, it, they, behave that way? The story may come based on a direct answer or it may come obliquely having nothing to do with the incident. The story can also be totally made up outside of the incident. To me, the image/incident is the thing.

So how do you come up with a good story? If you never tried it this way, please add it to your muses repertoire. I can almost guarantee your output will increase.

Paint
04-08-2006, 10:01 PM
Thanks for the tip! One of my favorite muse-busters is a calendar on another site. It has a prompt for each day. Sometimes I mix them together just to see what comes out of it. I've written some good stories that way. I haven't tried using all 30 prompts to write one story, but I will sometime. I do like the memory thing.

Paint

rich
04-08-2006, 10:17 PM
It's crucial. We don't spark our thoughts with the abstract. We do it with images. We feel we're that fanciful to believe our lives are made up of ideas. Truth is everything comes from the concrete. We are blessed, or cursed, with the ability to formulate that abstractness, but only after the concrete has laid the foundation.

(do I detect an oblique metaphor there?)

Paint
04-08-2006, 11:26 PM
Yes, I think it may be something about churches, rocks and sand. Took me a minute to figure out your post.

So you are saying you cannot create on an abstract thought alone, you must have the image first, and build from that.

a. have experience, hence memory-image
b. have prompt or abstract thought
c. fill in story about thought with image from memory.
got it.

So like this:
a. memory: sisters rolled up in quilts on a hot night
b. prompt: write a murder story about a rug
c. remembering how it felt in the quilt, fill in the story about a man who rolled up his wife in a rug, thinking he had killed her but she was not dead.

Now I got a story!

Yeshanu
04-09-2006, 09:03 PM
I write fantasy, but it works somewhat the same. I'll take an experience I've had or heard about, and ask, "What would an elf do in this situation?" (Or whatever other fantasy character I'm writing about.)

I visited Banff one year, and found out how Lodgepole pines reproduce, and ended up with an idea for a short story about dragons and their place in the ecology from that.

I get ideas for poetry in a similar fashion. An image or an experience will sit with me, and the words will start pouring out...


One of my favorite muse-busters is a calendar on another site. It has a prompt for each day. Sometimes I mix them together just to see what comes out of it. I've written some good stories that way. I haven't tried using all 30 prompts to write one story, but I will sometime. I do like the memory thing.


Link, please?

I also like using prompts from books and other sources. I worked on two prompts from two different books at once a few months ago, and came up with the lyrics "Makin' Love." (See the St. Williams Valentine's Day Poetry Contest...)

Mostly the prompts either help me remember experiences I may have forgotten, or they prompt me to go out and have new experiences and write about them.

In this case, Jenna's prompt in Outwitting Writer's Block urged me to listen to country music and write the lyrics to a ballad. Another prompt by Jack Heffron in The Writer's Idea Book told me to write about my beliefs about love. And I ended up Makin' Love... ;)

Jaycinth
04-10-2006, 09:13 PM
When nothing is happening...I take out the newspaper and I find a story..( flip a coin, where it lands..that is the story) Then I rewrite the story to fit my genre ( Sci-fi/horror/fantasy).

Paint
04-13-2006, 01:13 AM
Here's the link Yeshanu--

http://www.toasted-cheese.com/webcal/webcal.cgi

It has a prompt for every day.