Jean Verno asked me to post this for her.
Inspired by life with enhancement and modification to increase interest.
By Jean Verno
Where do I get ideas? The most common and least complete answer is “from life”.
My stories begin with an image usually sparked by a something, song or an overheard conversation, a person or action that catches my eye. A unique location or photo will give me a feeling that something interesting happened here, and I am drawn into spinning what fantastic event it would have been
Sometimes I will see a person in a public place and wonder how they got there or into that circumstance and before you know it, I have made up an impossible story. I never know where my imagination will go but the characters end up quite different than the original.
Give me a title and I’ll make up a story but if I have a story first, I struggle to find a title.
A story is told about the writer* who left journalism to become a novelist. When asked why he chose to leave a successful career for the unpredictable life of fiction he gave this answer. “I was covering a major fire, it lasted all night and tragically lives were lost. I realized then that what I wanted to do was to write the story with a more satisfying outcome.” He went on to write very successful novels in which, ironically, many lives are lost.
In fiction, we can make things come out the way we want them too, mostly. Sometimes your characters just insist on following their own paths. Still, it is the author who decides which way the story ends.
Once I get these flashes of imagination I am usually sort of left hanging and then the work begins. It is like turning on the stove with a vague idea of cooking something. Now you have to assemble ingredients, decide what to add where, and how much. Should you chop or slice the onions or just use the dried flakes? How long should you cook it so that it is done perfectly, not raw and not overcooked? How should you serve it to best enhance the whole meal? And a big question, how do you let the world know that your wonderful creation is there and ready for them to consume with pleasure? And, hopefully look forward to more.
Getting ideas for stories is the easy part. It is the developing, plotting, refining, editing, adding, removing reediting, and on and on, that is the real work. That is the crafting; that is what leaves blood on the keyboards.
Life, after all is what you make of it but most people don’t make stories, poems or books. It is only those of us who believe that we can improve on the common experience by twisting it and twirling it and coloring it to our fancy that do.
*If you want to know who, email me. I couldn’t find the original source so I didn’t use his name.