Writing Report June 26, 2017
Another glimpse at how this writer’s mind works…
Had an idea for a short story the other day; won’t go into the details because I don’t want to spoil it.
Suffice it to say it’s a genre story in kind of a Twilight Zone-ish sort of way. Has a rural setting, rural characters.
I had the idea -- the gimmick, actually -- while we were driving to visit Soon-ok’s mom on Sunday, and since I always take a collegiate size notebook with me (wifi at mom’s place is nonexistent) I was able to sit at the table while they watched Korean soap operas and write my story.
I knew who my characters were (narrator, friend, friend’s mom), I knew what the set-up was, I had a good but vague idea how to wrap things up.
At about the 400 word mark (roughly 1/5th of the way thru the final story) I wrote: “Around here all older ladies you’re related to are Aunt So-and-so or Aunt Such-and-such, and who here isn’t related to somebody?”
And then, without my even thinking about it, my hand wrote this: “(Other than the folks from out of state working at The Lab, that is, but we don’t see much of them.)”
I had no idea who or what The Lab was, but =bang= I knew it would be instrumental in resolving my story.
I didn’t know how, but I knew the details would be there when I needed them. (And they were!)
And oddly, when you see the final story, you’ll see it it’s a bit of a metaphor for the creative process.
For many of us, it doesn’t feel like we’re actually creating anything or thinking it up, but rather that we turn a corner or a page and all of a sudden =bang= there it is.
The Serenity books came about this way. I was working on a wholly unrelated project involving little kids and thought about one character “well, she’s certainly going to be a handful in her teen years” and =bang= Serenity and her story just came spilling out and in about 72 hours I had at least 80% of what that story was going to be.
(Serenity, BTW, is far from done. I’m still writing out her story; the question now is simply the format it will take.)
Not all stories emerge the same way, or as subconsciously as this one; there are stories where I get the core idea and then have to work out the mechanics of it.
The second story I’m writing about the female barbarian would fit into that category: I knew what the story was but the actual story mechanics of getting from point A to point B needed work. (And I finally cracked that problem, so it should be wrapped up soon; at least the first draft.)
Likewise with several other stories I’m doing. I find once I uncover the core idea, it’s just a matter of picking around the edges like a paleontologist extracting a fossil from stone: Sooner or later I clear away enough unnecessary junk and the specimen is revealed.
This is the system that works for me.
Others report vastly different procedures.
Whatever works, folks.