This month's merry-go-round-blog-tour topic is where our ideas come from. I've blogged before about where I found my latest idea here: three random images combined to turn into a story idea. In this story's case it was a girl who hated having her photo taken, an abandoned amusement park, and a murdered boy that have coalesced around a YA project that is part ghost story part murder mystery. So far, I have nearly a dozen pages of hand written notes and a few trial scenes to explore my protagonist's voice.
But ideas are easy. Listen to an hour of NPR and plot bunnies will come scampering out of your radio. Take a trip around wikipedia and you will have to fight them off with a stick.
It's not the idea that's hard. It's figuring out which ideas have enough sticking power, enough inherent conflict and interest to become a capital "S" story. How do you know? Haven't a clue. It's an in-the-gut feel for me. If the initial image or images that spark the story are the stone in the pond, then what supports that story are the ripples that move outward from the stone.
The more ripples, the more layers of 'what if' that emerge from the central images, the stronger the idea and the more certain I am that this idea will spin itself into a novel length project.
If the spark is just a shiny image that doesn't grow and change, doesn't twist in my mind in all sorts of possible and exciting directions, then I know it doesn't have what it takes. And that's a sad moment. I've spent time with shiny ideas, even written a bunch of chapters on several projects that weren't solid enough. I still have those fractions of novels on my hard drive, but I probably will never try to resurrect them as they are. It takes me about a year and a lot of hard work to take an idea from spark to finished novel. If an idea isn't stable enough to go the distance, I will get frustrated, the writing will suffer, and in the end I won't have a story.
My new idea? It's a keeper. That doesn't mean it will write itself or be easy in any way, but it has what it takes to be a Story. I can't wait to see how it turns out.
Return to the Merry-go-round-blog-tour site for a list of all our participants.