Tag Archives: ideas

Fiction: The What, How & Why of It #2

In continuing my creative writing experiment, I have come upon the section titled See the Seeds. To dive into fiction there must first be something to dive into.

Ideas are the seeds from which the mimosa tree or the watermelon or Delphinium of a story will arise. There are no rules about what constitutes a proper seed. It can be a character, a name, a situation, structure, over heard dialogue, a setting, a theme even a vague feeling. — Steele 9

I’ve come to realize, thanks to Steele and Chapter one, writers will inevitably write from what they know whether it simply lend itself to the emotions characters experience, the perspective or the tone of the work. But that isn’t the most important thing when it comes to writing. Write what ignites your interest. It is so incredibly simple. Write about the things that gnaw at your conscience, things you cannot let go of, things that keep you moving forward. You may find it is life’s little unanswered questions that provoke the urge and if that be the case, run with it and see where it takes you.

Personally, I think that is the allure of writing. The possibilities are literally endless. It all depends on where you allow yourself to take it.

Your Turn:
Write down ten things that might possibly serve as story ideas, drawing from things that happened to you over the past week–people, emotions, thoughts, situations. Nothing is too big or small, cosmic or microscopic. Then review you list and pick the idea that looks the most promising for a story. The right idea will probably give you a buzz when you see it. Then list several ways in which this idea might be turned into a fictional story. Will your idea result in a brilliant story? Maybe, maybe not. But you’ll probably discover how plentiful ideas can be.
 

1. A character finds they have everything anyone would want in their lives, but still struggles with finding happiness. Gives up search…

2. A seemingly normal corporate working woman begins painting images on her Buddha Board at work to relieve stress. Her images come to life start butting in where they don’t belong. She’s committed.

3. Man accidentally finds himself in possession a winning gum ball worth $70 million. He spends the day dreaming and contemplating his next steps.

{He just wanted to chew some gum. He hadn’t heard about the contest for the $70m as he put in his quarter and watched the intriguingly intricate gold-purple-paisley-gum ball tumble down the swirling slide to crash through the tiny little metal door at the bottom of the bright red classic gum ball dispenser. Man gets distracted. Man remembers gum ball. Man examines gum ball and decides it is just too beautiful to eat. He isn’t convinced he got what he paid. He wanted some gum. Goes to Bodega to buy some Winterfresh. Sees ad for $7om gum ball search. Decides to leave store before pulling out gum ball out of pocket in the middle of the street. Stands as life rushes around him, examining the precious ball. Could it be? What now?}

4. Bank teller steals $100 from middle-class stay-at-home-mom too feed family. Mom calls bank to report. Teller loses job & gets revenge on SAH mom.

5. Vintage love.

6. Detailed description of a character realizing the days are getting shorter and what this means in their life.

7. Sex addict meets virgin. Fall in love. Will they make it?

8. The story of the roller coaster ride.

9. Woman grows up with the hope of one day finding her long lost mother only to learn late in life her mother died shortly after her birth by finding stacks and stacks of journals in the attic of her recently deceased father. Questions never asked will always be questions unanswered.

10. My first moments with my new baby mini giraffe.

Some of my ideas are ridiculous, but they were meant to be. Steele explains that first you need to work on producing ideas. These ideas all popped into my crazy-lame head by looking around my tiny little office and day dreaming for about half an hour. Can you imagine how many ideas would come if I decided to devote one day to just brainstorming creative ideas?

These ideas are just seeds. To plant these seeds and get them to grow big and strong, they need to be both entertaining and meaningful and satisfy our primal need for fiction. To satisfy both, fiction demands better story telling than real life, according to Steele.

What are your thoughts on my crazy seeds?

Try it with me! Look around you for some idea seeds of your own?

Did you brainstorm a seed that made you buzz?

This post is part of my creative writing experiment that will get me writing more often and more creatively. All excerpts and “Your Turn” prompts are from the Gotham Writers’ Workshop Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide From New York’s Acclaimed Creative Writing School. As I write my way through this book, I welcome all constructive criticism, suggestions, advice and comments. 

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& so it begins…

I’ve decided to go ahead with the write-my-way-through-a-creative-writing-book idea.

The book:

Gotham Writers’ Workshop

Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide From New York’s Acclaimed Creative Writing School

Last night, I got re-acquainted with the book {I’ve had it since high school}. I read the “From Gotham Writers’ Workshop Founders” first. I learned that the workshop has turned into a large operation with hundreds of instructors and thousands of students each year.

When I discussed my idea I met some heavy criticism, which I wasn’t expecting. I was told “you can’t teach talent. You can either write or you can’t,” and another said “The only way to write well is to read.”  I was thoroughly  shocked at both of these responses. Yes, you indeed can’t teach raw talent, but you can certainly foster, refine and improve your skills. Then, of course, reading absolutely makes you a stronger writer, however, I’ll have to argue that reading is the only way to be a good writer {calling BS on this one}. Though these responses to my {what I considered brilliant} idea were unexpected, they did make me realize these people were completely unfounded in their criticisms and just wanted to discourage me for some reason or another. Mission incomplete. Discourage me and I will do anything to prove you wrong {I’d like to thank those who didn’t believe in me or my idea. You were a marvelous inspiration and I couldn’t have done it without you}.

To my surprise the book agreed with me:

“Simply put, we believe anyone can write. We believe writing is a craft that can be taught. True, talent cannot be taught, only nurtured, but the craft of writing can be taught. We’re devoted to teaching the craft in a way that is so clear, direct, and applicable that our students begin growing as writers during their very first class.”
 

From “How to Use this Book”:

“You shouldn’t just read your way through this book, but write your way through it as well. After all, you’re reading this book because you want to write….You shouldn’t worry about turning these exercises into brilliant works of fiction. Rather you should simply focus on experimenting and having fun with the task at hand.”

{That I will!}

Now that I am confident my idea/experiment is on key and in harmony with the purpose of the book, I was ready to get started. Not so fast. Before diving into chapter one, I first had to read the short story Cathedral by Raymond Carver. The book references this short story quite often.

Cathedral is a great short story. As it turned out, I liked it a great deal. I won’t go into great detail in case you’re interested in checking it out yourself {recommended}. But, it is about a man who is visited by his wife’s blind friend. He is horribly uncomfortable with the idea and doesn’t know how to go about interacting with someone with a disability. You almost hate the guy from the beginning because he is so ignorant. As the story progresses, his point of view becomes more and more enlightened as he learns about the blind man’s abilities. The shift in the way you feel about the almost ignorant man is incredible. That is what I would like to achieve with my writing.

I’ll jump into chapter one as soon as possible.

Excited to move forward!

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Day eleven–Alive

One moment during which you felt most alive this year.

The weight of the wine she just inhaled on the train was heavy in her stomach. It felt like she had somehow managed to get the glass bottle down her throat too. She didn’t seem to mind too much because as soon as she got inside she accepted an over-priced beer from her date and boyfriend. Then another. And another. And maybe one more? They had taken the short train ride into the city to see Matt&Kim play at Webster Hall. She really liked them a few months earlier at the Siren Festival. She was excited to see them play again.

As expected they were great. The girl was a bit beyond tipsy and got the idea in her head she wanted to do something a ‘lil bit crazy. She turned to her boyfriend and gave him a silent look. She hoped he could read her mind.

“Hey babe, I want to do that. Throw me up there pleaseeeeee.” Their eyes had a brief conversation and a second later her boyfriend and the stranger next to him were throwing her up into the air and on to the crowd. Time froze. She didn’t feel anything below her, no hands, no heads. It was smooth like she was floating on a wave headed to shore. It was silent and all she saw were the bright lights and balloons dancing around her. She and both members of the band were the only ones in the room. Until, She was thrown over the metal barrier crashing into the stage and down onto her ass. It didn’t matter though. She couldn’t feel much now anyway. It was all over in a maximum of 4 seconds. But, it was worth it.

She was a complete mess. Her hair was glued to the side of her face wet with sweat. She probably wreaked like her sister’s hockey equipment and she probably looked like she was just hit by a sanitation truck. She didn’t care. She’d been with her boyfriend for three years now and he’s had to have seen worse. She was confident that even though she looked like she was recently released from the nut house, he was happy because she was truly enjoying herself.

BUT all that music and beer makes the couple pretty hungry. They turn the corner. Score! Street meat. Two orders of chicken and rice with extra hot sauce and a short walk later, they are back in Grand Central.

They have some time before their train leaves. Sitting on the ground indian style, the girl is people watching. Even in her slightly clouded state she watches the people come and go wondering where they’re headed, if anywhere at all. She’s absorbed in making up elaborate stories of the travelers’ destinations and of course, the best meal she’s ever had, when she hears his hiccup. She turns to him suddenly ready to pounce. She finds his hiccups hysterical. How the high-pitched yelp of a preadolescent boy can come from his 6 foot 2 Rugby frame is beyond her. She turns towards him, instantaneously he turns towards her. They both hiccup! Looking into each other’s eyes they smile. The girl gives out a small giggle. They turn away and go back to eating.

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