Interview and Thoughts on “the Idea Behind the Story”

WOW! (Women on Writing) interviewed me on their blog:

Reading back over it, I think my answer to “the idea behind the story” is a little garbled. Probably why my idea file is full of notations like “Old Man and a Train!!!” Had great significance when I wrote the note, had to reach for the story, ended up with a story that reads like two stories had a terrible accident and the carnage may not be able to be separated.

I had a writing teacher who said, “All stories sound stupid when you say what they’re about.” I think this may go double for story ideas. Which is sad, because it’s the thing most people are really, really interested in. I’m always interested in where my favorite authors got the idea for their work. Sue Grafton has made some of her journals and rough drafts available, and they’re a great way to get an inside look at the process…but I think I have a hard time after the fact saying what actually happened to get from an image or small idea to a complete (if not finished) story.

And (because I love to reference Joss Whedon’s work whenever possible) for your viewing/listening pleasure:

So…where do you get your ideas? And what’s the biggest leap between idea & execution you’ve ever accomplished? Are your “notes to self” more helpful than mine are to me?

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4 Responses to Interview and Thoughts on “the Idea Behind the Story”

  1. I get ideas from so many places that I can’t ever really explain where they came from or how they morphed into what they did. I don’t believe that stories have a life of their own, but while I’m writing, I do go off on tangents just to explore and have to pull them back later when they’ve gone too wacky. I think I usually start with a character and then a thing. Aliens with sharp teeth, a princess with a monster inside her and so on. Then comes….the rest. ^_^

    • For me it’s not that stories have a life of their own, but that I’m not always sure what I think until I type/write it up. It may make the story seem like it came “out of thin air” but it was really in my head all the time.

      That’s one reason I’m lousy in an argument…unless I can take notes during.

  2. My “idea for a story” notes fill files on my hard drive, reside on scraps of paper stuffed in a cracker tin, and cover the margins of puzzle books and business papers. I have pictures of interesting people and furniture shoved in a drawer, and many more ideas that never make it from my brain to paper. Few of the notes make sense when I finally try to develop them into a story. An interview with my mother this summer has turned into a rough draft for an inspirational romance, so at least those notes have been useful.

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