Saturday, August 27, 2011

From Ideas to Story

"I've got so many ideas I just can't get them all down."

"The voices of my characters are in my head and I need to write to get them to be quiet."

I've read these statements on Twitter, on writing chat rooms, etc.  I'm not envious of these people, I'm amazed by them.  It's these kind of statements that make me wonder if I'm fooling myself into thinking I'm a writer.  I like to write, I enjoy writing, and I want to write stories that others will read and say 'wow'.  I know every writer does things a little bit differently, but do they all have ideas and creativity flowing all the time? 

And I don't have so many ideas that I can't get them all down.  I don't have voices in my head demanding to be put on paper.  Does that mean I don't have what it takes?  Maybe I'm not creative enough?  Is every writer bombarded by ideas and story lines all the time?

For example, here's the way my thoughts normally go.  I rarely start with a story idea.  I actually start by thinking that I want to write something.  But what should I write about?  I daydream for a bit and then I get an image of a character in my mind.  It unfolds like a movie.  He's in 7th grade.  He's popular.  He's good at soccer.  He's walking down the hallway at his school and there are some nerdy boys watching him.  But not out of jealousy.  Like they're waiting for something to happen.  For him to join them in some adventure.

But what?  What adventure?  What mystery can ensue that will force a popular boy to team up with some nerdy boys to ......whatever.  I'm stumped.  Is there a bad teacher threatening to do something?  It's been done before.  Is there a bomb in the school by the school bully?  Too quick to solve.  I don't know where to go from the original thought.  So the boy is just stumbling around in my brain.  I've got nothing for him to do that hasn't been done before.  And he's not speaking to me, telling me what he should be doing.  So he isn't even helping!  He just keeps walking down the school hallway.

So this is where some writers claim to be pantsters.  You know, they don't plan, they just start and see where it takes them.  But I have trouble really understanding how that works.  Do they start out with just a character and see where he goes, or do they really have a general idea of the mystery/activity/heart of the story and just don't know the details on how they get there.

Are you a pantster?  How much of a story is clear to you when you begin writing it down?  Help a sister out, wouldya?  Leave a comment so I can find out what others do.  Thanks!!


Riley Redgate said...

Oh, girl, I know exactly how you feel. Some people just get the entire novel already written out in their heads, and can just spew it out onto paper! It's crazy! And some pantsters just start writing and toss plot twists in as they go and it turns out fabulous. That is not me.

I DO have a lot of ideas, but they're never organized enough for me to consider just-start-writing now. What I do is I keep a notepad document with bunches of fragments of ideas, and then I link them together as I see fit. Usually the characters follow, and then the plot after that. From idea to start-writing is usually a month or two for me.

To each her own! I really like planning - I think it's fun - but it's also exhilarating to mix up the story while I'm in the midst of it.

I've awarded you the Liebster blog award at my blog! Hop over to check it out, if you'd like. =]

KellieM said...

Thanks Riley, I'm glad I am not alone in my admiration for those folks who just seem to be able to think of a story so quickly.

I guess I'm definitely a planner. I like the idea of using a notepad document. I need to find something easy and get in the habit of writing it down when the idea strikes.

I always think I need to have the whole thing in my mind or else it's not going to work. I need to loosen up a little. Lol

Lanette said...

I'm the opposite, which means we have different personalities and different ways of tackling the same problem. I always start out with a character and some hazy idea of the problem the she must face, and then I trust her to tell me the story as I dictate. To bring it down to less esoteric language, when my fingers are on the keyboard, my mind knows that it's supposed to create, so I think I have made some connection between my brain and my fingers. In fact, I just figured it out as I wrote this comment.

KellieM said...


Thank you so much for your comment about how you get your ideas to story. I like how you said you have a hazy idea of what's going to happen. I might be trying too hard and limiting myself. I may just have to start writing and see where it goes.

In fact, I signed up for NaNoWriMo this year which means I'll definitely be writing like crazy (and probably without a plan!)