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Author Topic: #4 Getting Started  (Read 2294 times)

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Bob Mueller

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#4 Getting Started
« on: October 15, 2006, 12:53:27 PM »

 Date:         Wednesday, November 25, 1998 02:05 PM

BookMarc #3
Getting Started - Part 1

First you need the idea.

Sometimes a single event will spark an idea for me and I'll carry it around for months, even years in one case, before the rest of the story clicks into place At other times I'll pop up early in the morning, like God speaking to me, with a full blown idea--wow, wouldn't it be neat to try this? I know one woman must have a title before she can start. Others keep meticulous notes on various subjects of interest, keep adding to them, and when one reaches critical mass, they go to work.

But a story idea is the least of your problems. If you're even reading this it probably means you already have an idea. Of all the ingredients you'll be putting into this pie, the idea is the cheapest item. People often offer ideas with the comment that all the author has to do is write it up for a sure-fire bestseller. Oh yeah, and split the profits no doubt. Anyone can have an idea, that's why ideas can't be copyrighted.

The idea can be either for a plot--suppose a man were to wake up and find himself in a different time? What would happen next? And what would happen after that? And after that?

Or it can be an idea for a character--Sundance Moonflower. What is she like? Chances are with a name like that she's a Native American or a sci-fi character. How does that affect her? Where does she live? That's how a character story develops, how she reacts to things happening in her life, and why.

Okay, so you have an idea. Where do you go from here? Once again it depends on the individual. It's not how others do it, but what works best for you. Some write extensive outlines, others write no outlines, they have an idea in their head and they strike out for parts unknown. It all works.

Having said that, I think for the beginner it's best to start out with some outline. This gives you a road map for the journey, something to pull out when you come to a crossroad.

Some will be happy with one-page outline, just enough to start putting down words. Others will write a small outline and then keep reworking it until they practically have the first draft. You really have to try them all on to see what fits for you. If the short outline doesn't get you into the story, try working out a long one, and if a long outline starts to destroy your interest, slap something short on a piece of paper and go for broke. The main thing is, if one way doesn't work, try another. You develop your craft by trial and error.

I do it both ways. If I know where I want to begin, what's in the middle, and how it ends up --> Charge! If the idea is nebulous, I have a location, two main characters, something happening in the background, say a juicy murder or two, then I'll try to work it out in an outline. A few lines switched around now saves time over changing the bulk of the story later.

But an outline is not a Moses tablet. Follow it too rigidly and you will ignore logic for storyline and lose credibility. Treat it as a road map. If you come to a new fork, go with it a bit, see how it works out. As we write with the forefront of our minds, our subconscious keeps churning away like a computer chewing over mathematical data, and at unsuspecting times slips us new solutions. We have to be ready to grab them and go because they often result in a better story.

In BookMarc #4 we look at blocking out a story.

Copyright Peter E. Abresch, BookMarc February 13, 1998

Sometimes it takes therapy to put the past behind you. Other times, it takes a 20 gallon trash bag and a couple of cinder blocks.
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