Thursday, October 17, 2013

As NaNo Nears . . . .

I have a story idea for NaNo. Okay, it's really just a scene. Not even a scene. More of an image, like a still from a movie. 

I've tried to rewind it to see what happened before.... Nothing. Fast forward to see what happens after.... Nothing. I know a story exists; I feel it.

I sorted through my folders of ideas - news stories, scraps of overheard dialogue, shreds of dreams scribbled down in the gray morning light - wondering if anything would shake something loose, would make that still move

And move it did. Only not in the smooth flowing way I'd like. No. Instead, I'd come across an idea, an article, a character sketch and I'd feel that ping, the one that says "Yes, I belong in this story. I don't know why or in what capacity exactly, but I belong here. Trust me."

And so I do. 

I still don't know what my story is about. I don't have an outline or a timeline. I don't have a working title. I do have a main character. I have a sense of foreboding and fear. I have more stills than I care to count, but I also have blips of movement, of actual scenes. I have the essence of the story, and for me, for now, that's enough.

How do your ideas come to you - fully formed or in pieces? Do they arrive visually, like in images, or do you hear your characters' voices? Do you get a ping or something else? If you're participating in NaNo, how prepared are you?  

26 comments:

  1. Madeline it sounds like your creative juices are flowing and that this really could be something. I personally think that there shouldn't be a prescribed way of a story developing. It probably happens differently for each and every person.

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    1. Sometimes those creative juices flow like rich red wine. Other times, they move and goop and glunk like sludge. :)

      I enjoy hearing about how other people's ideas develop, and not just in writing. It always amazes me when I go to art shows or craft fairs and see the things people create. I often wonder "How do they/did they think of that?" :)

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  2. My ideas come in pieces as well. Then all of the sudden things seem to fall into place and it's such a great feeling when that happens.
    I was excited for you just reading this! I hope you will be able to take this and run with it. :)

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    1. I love when it all falls into place, too. It's like when you're working a great big jigsaw puzzle and you start to see the image taking shape beneath your fingers....

      I just hope it doesn't run away FROM me. :)

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  3. HA! I love seeing peoples' stories forming. I get pieces... flashes... ideas... and I write them down. And sometimes the SAME idea builds and bugs me, where other times I go through that notebook and pull together things from DIFFERENT places. In fact the stories end up most unique when I pull together two or three pieces that could have been their own stories... I've had them get too big, but that is how I like them... big and messy.

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    1. Isn't it interesting how our stories come to us in so many different ways? Sometimes the idea is fully formed, other times it's a line or two - rarely is it ever the same way twice. At least for me. :)

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  4. You still have two weeks to make it all come together.
    Mine come with and image and a basic storyline. It's the details that I struggle to fill in.

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    1. But those two weeks are going to go by very quickly....

      I tend to have the details but then need to fill in the rest, like the uh, story. :)

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  5. I usually figure out a character first and build the story around them.

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    1. I would have to say that characters - in some form or another - are what come to me first more often than plot.

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  6. I know what you mean by 'pings'. Sometimes I'll wander through a dollar store or a craft store and something will call out to me.

    I wasn't going to do Nano this year but then I heard a phrase and the Nano excitement started to burble inside me. I knew that I could do something with this. Working Title: Circle of Safety. That's all I know for now. Two weeks will go by WAY fast. Yikes.

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    1. I forgot that I hear that "ping" in other situations, too! Like in a craft store or at an art fair. Or a bookstore - although that sounds more like "Pick me! Pick me!" :)

      I'll see you on the other side of October...in NaNo Land!

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  7. Two weeks... TWO WEEKS!!!!! It's like the Christmas shopping countdown, only worse! I love the way you describe the process as a "ping" and it sounds like you're on your way to figuring it all out. I've been pinging myself but finally, FINALLY, sat down for a couple hours today and gave the idea some serious thought. Basically I came up with the roughest of outlines, sketched out the first chapter and came up with an idea for the end. Like Alex said, it's what goes in the vast middle that is freaking me out. Must do more outlining in the next two weeks. Oh wait, did somebody just say TWO WEEKS? ARGGGGGHHHHHHHH! :)

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    1. The excitement DOES remind me of the Christmas countdown! :)

      I need to sit down with my notes, too, and come up with some semblance of...something. I read on a blog today about coming up with a synopsis or blurb beforehand. I might try that, as a loose guideline.

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  8. Yay! I love stories that come organically, sprouting up around you and surprising you with how they unfold. BEST STORIES EVER! The ones that have to be forced--a rigid outline, carefully cut out characters, those ones always feel false to me. Best of luck going forward!

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    1. Thanks, Crystal! I love the image of the ideas and scenes, etc sprouting up and unfolding, like my own weird story garden. :)

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  9. Mine come in scattered pieces, and I collect them, and sometimes write out an idea, and then wait for a bit. If the story idea doesn't go away or get forgotten, it's a keeper, and I start adding more pieces. My idea of a plot includes three points - start, climax, and finish. . . and then add pieces around those, like building a big puzzle.

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    1. Sometimes I think the dog - or the tortoises - ate some of those story puzzle pieces because a lot of mine are missing....

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  10. No worries! I'm gearing up for NaNo next month and i'm no further along in my process than you are. I had a scene- omething from a dream that I scrambled to jot down before reality set in and chased away in the stark light of morning. While I have a very, VERY loose arc in mind and working title that's pretty much all i got. My characters are vague, amorphous concepts with no names or personalities and my setting changes depending on my mood. But I'm sure that come November 1stt the wild abandon will come and the words will start flowing. God, I love Nano!
    If you want to be my writing buddy, BTW, that'd totally make my day. My Nano name is bevimus.

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    1. You have a lot of faith in the month of November. :)

      And I'll find you next time I get on the NaNo site.

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  11. Sometimes, I'll get a visual and expand on it, but generally, it's a feeling--sort of like that ping you mentioned. An idea pings and I feel in my bones that I have something--and I almost always work from the end back. The end may change a bit, but the essence of it stays the same. The beginning, though...oy. The beginning makes me crazy. :-)

    (Good luck with Nano! I thought I'd do it this year but I've got a revision to work on. Though technically, I'm rewriting the whole dang book so I guess I could claim the rewrite during Nano.)

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    1. You could consider yourself a NaNo rebel and go for it! :)

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  12. Usually they come in little pings, kinda like you said. One basic idea. Sometimes a few little things, but it usually develops as I start writing.

    With one of my current WIPs, I actually got most of the main plot points right away as I just started thinking about it. That usually doesn't happen.

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    1. Most of my "pings" are more character related than plot related. I wish there were more plot point pings since I struggle more with that. :)

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