Monday, September 26, 2011

A bubblin' and a brewing

When a new story idea hits you, how does it work?

For me, I get this sizzle of an idea. It sparks in my brain... just a small thought. It might be inspired by a song, or a line from a movie, or a poem, or a scenario that flits through my head.

That spark lights a small flame that begins to simmer in my brain. The small idea becomes a scene. From there things begin to grow. I usually start with the ending... where do I want these characters to end up? The end scene then sends me shooting forward to the beginning... where were these characters in the first place? What about their life needed to change?

Once I have this base, I can stick my cauldron of water on top of my flame and go for it. As the days pass, new scenes pop into my head. Like adding flavours to a good stew, the ending of my story changes and gets better, my beginning develops more depth as back stories are given to my characters. Layers are added, themes start to appear, the characters become real people with real problems. Other characters pop out of the wood work and add to the story. More days pass and I come up with better scenes and dialogue. The story changes yet again.

It usually takes a couple of weeks. The story bubbles in the back of my brain continually during this time, distracting me. By this stage I have run the story through my mind dozens of times. Re-enacting favourite scenes over and over. Memorising what the characters said, picturing their facial expressions, feeling their emotions.

Throughout this time I've been writing frantic notes. Like scribbling down ingredients that I'm shoving into a recipe. I don't want to forget how a character spoke, the expression they used. I don't want to forget the essence of a particular scene.

My notes become a jumbled mess. Characters get new names half way through the process. Bits get added in a mish-mash order. My 'Ideas Document' would be total confusion for anyone to try and read.

Eventually the story comes to a place of satisfaction in my brain. My stew is starting to taste like stew. That's when I sit down to sort through my notes, research what I need to, write character profiles, outline exactly where my story will go.

Finally, finally, I get to start writing. No doubt the story will change some more, but I have a solid foundation.

I have to say, this cooking stage of a project... it's my favourite part :)

How about you guys?
How do stories form in your brain?

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