Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Now, how do I do this again?
After months of disciplined work on Project Sparkle, I'm feeling rather adrift. I have a new idea. I have some time to play with it. I know I need to be playful to really mine the depth of this story. All good. Except... I'm not sure how to begin.
I looked up beginnings on Verla Kay's Blueboard, but didn't find anything.
I looked up beginnings on my own blog, and found similar worries from when I was first starting Project Sparkle.
But this past Saturday I had a weird experience that may answer my question.
I sat down to write, determined to figure out one of my minor characters. I started a character exercise that I usually find helpful, but couldn't get further than "1. Female." Because every time I closed my eyes and imagined my character, she completely wasn't who I expected her to be. Let's say she was a demolition derby lover*, something I know nothing about. So I googled demolition derby. I read up on it a bit, but wasn't sure it worked with my plot. She was supposed to fall madly in love, except now she seems a bit of a tomboy. She reminded me of a classmate I went to high school with. So I googled my former classmate (what did writers do before Google?) and discovered all sorts of interesting, shocking things. Then I started thinking about my classmate's parents, and my parents, and how all this relates to the type of story I want to tell, and my demolition derby character. Good stuff, except I was out of time for the day. I put away my notebook and headed to the Children's Literature Festival where I was volunteering at Zombies vs. Vampires. Charlie Higson said something about an old black and white movie, and suddenly I knew how to make everything work with my character (no, she's not a zombie).
So, what have I learned? I guess the trick to developing a story is to keep playing and hope that my subconscious will work to bring the characters to life. I'm not quite sure how to plan for that. But for now I intend to just enjoy myself and see what happens.
How do you begin a new story?
*By the way, my character is not actually a demolition derby lover, but a lover of something else equally obscure which I know nothing about. Though it is now tempting to refer to this work in progress as the Demolition Derby novel. Or... maybe now I really do need to write a novel about demolition derbies.