1. BigL95

    BigL95 New Member

    Apr 15, 2007
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    Help with this book

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by BigL95, Apr 15, 2007.

    I have contemplated the idea for a long time, constantly procrastinating, but now I have no excuse not to. We require an end of year project for my Transition Year in school, and this book will be mine. I see it as killing two birds with one stone as I have always wanted to do this anyway, so why not use it as my project.

    But what to write about? When I was younger i had many ideas, but, in time, they slowly died in my mind as I had neither the time (due to schoolwork) nor the conviction.

    What i am wondering about is where you guys get your inspiration from? I would like to know what novels or short stories have you written and where the idea came from. I would be pleased if you obliged.

    Also, I need to know how to get started without a plot or an idea of what I am writing about. Do I just begin writing about subjects that appeal to me and attempt to shape them into a story?
  2. Evelyn

    Evelyn New Member

    Apr 1, 2007
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    The answer, for me at least, is: Everywhere.

    The novels and short stories I'm working on now were inspired by:

    - a story contest at a local writing center (deadline long since past, but story still worth developing).

    - a news item I heard on the radio.

    - a semi-legendary incident I read about in a history book.

    - a war story my BF told that I semi-misunderstood at first.

    - reading one too many mediocre murder mysteries and thinking "Aw, c'mon - even I could write better than that!"

    - sea stories my sister told me (I do have a rare advantage there in having a sister with sea stories to tell :)

    - too many trips to the doctor's office.

    - the very vivid dreams I had while on morphine after the surgery that all those doctors ultimately recommended.

    - a story contest on another online writing forum (deadline long since past, but story still worth developing).

    (I seem to have a harder time not getting inspired: "Oh, damn, I'm out of coffee!... - hey, you know - there could be a short story in that...)

    For you, I'd suggest thinking about what you like to read, and what you like about that genre. Also, when you and your friends are sitting around talking, what kinds of stories do you like to tell?

    And you might try reading the story contest prompts on this site and see if any of them inspire you - sure the contests are over, but they still might give you some ideas to go on.*

    Good luck with your book!

    - Evelyn

    (*In fact, the one that just closed, about writing a story from a relative's point of view, gave me a great idea for a story about my grandfather - I'll have to add that to my list :)
  3. Evelyn

    Evelyn New Member

    Apr 1, 2007
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    Yes :)

    That's a great way to get started, and often a great source of inspiration.
  4. Domoviye

    Domoviye New Member

    Jan 8, 2007
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    Proud Canadian. Currently teaching in Nanjing, Chi
    How long must the novel be? That affects a lot of things.

    I've written a bunch of stories, you can see most of them on the link in my sig. Here's how I came up with some of the ideas.

    The Boy in the Attic: I got to thinking one day about a guy trapped in a tree with zombies beneath him waiting for him to fall. This might have come from the first "Tremors" movie, but I only remembered that particular scene a few days later
    My first thought after that initial inspiration was that it wouldn't be a very long story, so I thought about a tree house only to reject it in place of an attic. Now adults in zombie movies have been done to death, so I made it a little boy. And since he's young and in a stressful situation, imaginary friends come to help and hurt him. The imaginary friends are used to keep things interesting, and after briefly looking it up seem completely appropriate.

    Awakening: Myths and legends have always interested me. Plus the Sandman comics, which features the Furies, are some of my favourites. And a book "Path of the Fury" is one of my favourite books. So I wanted to write a story about the Furies from Greek legends.
    But I needed to have a reason for them suddenly appearing. I don't really like stories where the supernatural has successfully hidden for eons in the modern world. So I listed a bunch of reasons for them to come back. Especially when the character wasn't a reclusive scholar with a lot of one of a kind books.
    So I picked the idea of ALL the Gods waking up after centuries of slumber and bringing magic back to the world. From there its a simple case of looking through old myths, picking aspects I like, and figuring out how they'd react suddenly placed in the modern day.

    Simple Truth: After having writers block for a month, I asked my Mom to write up ten sentences on different pieces of paper, and chose one at random.
    The sentence was "eenie meenie minie mo". That sentence had to appear in my story at least once.
    Since I was a little depressed, I decided that a guy would have his afterlife chosen at random using that simple rhyme.

    Blind: Another zombie apocalypse one. Not sure where this one came from. I wanted to write a story, but didn't know what about. I was struck by the image of a blind woman running through a dark factory with zombies running around howling.
    I liked the idea of a blind person in a zombie apocalypse. And a blind organization had recently been running commercials about legally blind people not being totally blind. So I researched for a half hour, decided how I wanted to do it, and thought of ways she could survive.
    But her smelling the zombies and leading survivors through a zombie infested pitch black basement hallway, which are very important to the story were my Dad's ideas.

    The Long Walk: This was originally suppose to be part of a longer zombie apocalypse book.
    In Stephen Kings' book "The Stand" he had this one chapter showing how other survivors of the plague died in the aftermath. One of them was a little kid who fell down a hole as he wandered aimlessly.
    I thought it was really well done, and was going to do a similar chapter. But the idea of a kid all alone in the woods as zombies walked around really intrigued me.
    So an image of a kid yelling into a toy radio kept rattling around in my brain.
    But since I like twisting ideas around until they're mine, I made it into a brother and sister, who actually had a goal. And the radio became a Teen Titans toy.

    So my inspiration and stories come from my own head, books, general interests, other people, planning, and forethought.

    I'd recommend either picking a sentence at random and making a story out of that, or just start writing until something hits you. As long as your not simply staring at a blank screen for more then an hour hoping something comes to you.
    Good luck
  5. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
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    Coquille, Oregon
    everywhere... short stories, novels, a musical comedy and much else came partially or near-entirely from personal experiences... one screenplay came from a dream... other pieces came from imagination, born of observation/reading/learning...

    for you, i'd suggest picking some incident you remember vividly and building a story on it... doesn't have to stick to reality... just use it for a concept and let that take you wherever it wants to go, as you write up the storyline...

    then, you can get into the hard work of outlining and actually writing the thing... a novel may be biting off more than you can chew, however... it often takes a year or more to write one, even for a seasoned writer...

    best of luck with whatever you decide... if you need help at any point, feel free to drop me a line...

    love and hugs, maia
  6. HeinleinFan

    HeinleinFan Banned

    Jan 6, 2007
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    I recommend looking at situations in books that didn't work. You know the ones, because you put the book down and said, 'How the heck did that happen?'
    The bad guy manages to escape without explanation. The magic system is overpowered. People act in ways totally inappropriate to their station, the times, or the situation. The Sword of Truth series. Bad science fiction.

    When I come across one of these, usually I get annoyed and keep reading. But every now and then I say, "I could do better." My second-favorite character is the antidote to Richard Rahl. My favorite one is descended from all those movies and books where the character goes through terrible experiences and comes out perfectly fine - unscarred, unworried, no doubts, no second-guessing.

    Another source of material for me is science magazines. Discover, Science News, and Science Fiction are all good here in the United States. I'm a space travel buff; if I see something that induces hibernation - like, say, small quantities of hydrogen sulfide gas - I jump on it.

    A third only works if you have vivid dreams. But flying dreams, end-of-world dreams, dragon war dreams, and shapechanger dreams have all created scenes which I intend to use later. Most of them are currently stored either mentally or on the computer.

    Good luck, Big L!

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