Sunday, February 28, 2010

I Have an Idea, But ....

An idea pops into my head, maybe a great idea--we all get them, right?--and I think, "what a story that would make!" And then it fizzles, it deflates, it floats away until it's soon forgotten. Why? Probably because I don't think beyond the idea. I don't imagine what would happen, how it would happen, who it would happen to, etc. So, what does a writer do?

Thinking It Through: I was reading the other day about human trafficking in Ohio, how the laws aren't really protecting children and women from it. Again, I thought how this would make a great story. But how? This is the point where you have to begin a journey. Develop a plot where you can imagine all the possible scenarios. What could happen to a young girl who is abducted and placed into sex trade? Would she manage to escape? Is there someone who searches for her? Will the bad guys end up being exposed? Planning it out, all the possible scenarios. You are the creator :-)

Who: At this point, you are thinking about the characters. It's logical to begin with the main character, (but who's to say you can't start with the antagonist?) In any case, you are putting the details into the faceless beings of your plot, filling them in and out until they come alive. You can see them, hear them, watch them acting out your little scenarios. The images are coming to you, right? Perhaps, the young girl is from a mid size town in Ohio, say Zenia. Or maybe she's Amish, from Walnut Creek. Sweet, innocent, trusting, the picture of purity. Can you see her? And then there is the crusader, maybe a detective, maybe a rogue vigilante who will search until he either dies in the process or manages to rescue her. He is strong, opinionated, crudely honest, maybe a father himself. He has a scar across his cheek that he won't talk about. The Amish girl's parents don't trust his demeanor, but he's all they have to help find their daughter. Is he moving and talking in your mind, now? Create your characters in 3D. Get to know them.

Research: Stumped for details? Need to know more, find more to create a believable story? There are experiences in your own life, in others you may know, in those whom you read about. Always keep your eyes open and listen to what's out there. Everyday, something is said, something happens, and you never know when a tiny detail might be a perfect fit in your story. The Amish girl's experiences during her seedy captivity might need some added credibility. Research to find it. Or maybe the "crusader" is a war Vet, and you happen to have a friend or relative who served and has lots of experiences to share. These details are from such great primary sources, how can you ignore them? Believable details entice your readers and generate admiration for your work.

Have a great idea? Before it has a chance to go up in smoke, or become some other writer's great idea and best seller, grab onto it and develop the heck out of it. Thinking it through, creating the characters, and researching--a great way to get started. Good luck!

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