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A discussion to stoke your writing fire.
Posted: 10/5/2008 12:11 AM PDT
I agree! You are all hilarious! I am so glad I found WeBook! Good luck Sarah!!!! I am sure it will turn out well!
Posted: 9/26/2008 7:12 AM PDT
This sounds like it will be hilarious. Brilliant, indeed! I'd love to see it when it's done.
Posted: 9/25/2008 8:27 PM PDT
These are good ideas. My brilliant thought as I was falling asleep last night was that I should set it in a support group for romance novelists who steal Jane Austen plot lines . . . then I can get the zookeeper and the abortionist and the discussion of Thomas Jefferson in. Then the overweight guy comes in, looking to pick up chicks and end his widowdom, and the scene explodes . . . ending in unexpected nudity?
What do you think?
Posted: 9/25/2008 8:19 AM PDT
That's, er, "whom she can't say NO to."
Posted: 9/25/2008 8:00 AM PDT
On a more specific note:
Of the kernels of ideas you present, Sarah, the ones that jump out at me as having the greatest potential for a 1500-word story are:
1) Beth, a single woman at the zoo. I like this one because the setting provides a natural boundary. It's not very likely that Beth will spend more than a day -- or even just a morning or afternoon -- at the zoo. So what could happen in this limited time and space that would make a story? It might be helpful to make a list of Beth's limitations and character flaws. Then think up a situation that hinges on exactly these limitations. Your story can either depend on your character's limitations -- if, for example, Beth is compulsively polite to strangers, perhaps she gets drawn into a prolonged interaction with some interesting, shady character whom she can't say know to. Or, the story can challenge your character's limitations. If Beth is deathly afraid of heights, maybe she's forced to climb into the polar bear enclosure to save a little boy who's fallen in. (I saw this happen once.)
2) Thomas Jefferson; brilliant, but a rapist. You've got your conflict right there. I could see this as a story about two people who are having an argument about Thomas Jefferson. The fight could bring up all kinds of interesting issues.
3) Unexpected nudity. I like this one because it automatically gets the mind thinking of situations in which unexpected nudity might occur. And then there's the word "unexpected." Unexpected to whom? To the nude person, or to a witness? Spend 20 minutes or so writing down all the reasons you can think of for a person to be "unexpectedly nude," and then write a 1500 word story that either ends or begins with that scenario.
I'm feeling an urge to go write a 1500 word story right now...
Posted: 9/25/2008 7:41 AM PDT
Pinkerton's mash-up of all Sarah's ideas is pretty inspired...but not very practical for a 1500 word story!
I'm like you, Sarah -- I have a great time dreaming up characters and situations, but a harder time making that into a story. For practice, I've started challenging myself to write a complete draft of a story in no more than an hour. This forces me to rein in my natural inclination towards rambling, background-ing, and abstract "character development" that's not tied to specific actions or events within the scope of the story. I know that when that timer goes off, I need to have a beginning, middle, and end. I may start without a lot of focus, but by the time 10 minutes passes, I think, "Okay, okay, so Dierdre and her husband have been trying to have a baby, and she thinks he might be cheating on her -- but what's happening RIGHT NOW?" I force myself to bring my characters and their broad situations into a specific time and place, performing specific actions. ("Dierdre is in a hotel room holding a glass to the wall to amplify the sound, trying to hear her husband's voice.")
As soon as I jump into an actual present-moment scene, I try to commit to that as the full scope of the story. For a one-hour story, I keep things small -- the story usually covers no more than 24 hours of time, and I try not to switch settings more than once or twice, if that. It's like zen meditation...while I'm writing, extraneous information about the background, the character, and the "situation" keep popping up, and I keep setting it aside and coming back to the moment of the story.
I'll be honest -- this method doesn't always produce the richest or most fully-imagined prose. But it's a great way to practice discipline if you find that you often have a hard time getting through all your ideas to the STORY.
Posted: 9/24/2008 5:55 PM PDT
I always start with the charcter. Once I have the character I run my mind through their life, where they are, where they are going and then usually something will jump out at me. Some event or encounter that this character is going to have that is interesting and needs to be written down.
Although sometimes the character turns out to have a boring life and I link on to someone that the character meets and follow there life for awhile. Okay my head is very crowded with all the imaginary people that I encounter there but I can usually find something to write about.
Just remember anything can be an interesting story, if told the right way. Write about a character making toast and have it go wrong. I'd read it if it was well written.
Posted: 9/24/2008 5:54 PM PDT
Sarah, try not to think of each of them as one each. Perhaps a combination of them would be in order.
Nicole needs and abortion because of the fallout of atomic weapons. She had two other previous children. One of them she drowned in a bathtub because it was just too hideous the other died of radiation posioning. She died later due to complications of the liver from the fallout leaving only her husband Bruce who got depressed and started eating making him get overweight. All of this happened in a Jane Austen rip-off book where a woman traveled in the future which Beth was reading on a bench in the zoo. When she leans back, a monkey in one of the cages, the zookeepers call Thomas Jefferson steals her hairpin. She turns around thrusts his privates in her face.
See. If you close your mind, you can't open any doors.
Here's tip. Something I do. Go for a run or walk and think about these ideas then. Or in the shower or bath. You can also just start writing verbs and nouns down. That sometimes help. You could watch some movies or read some books. Those give me ideas as well. I hope I have helped.
Posted: 9/24/2008 1:55 PM PDT
I gave myself an assignment to write a 1,500 word story . . . but I'm feeling stumped about what to write about. It is easy for me to come up with characters, but after I imagine the people, I can't think of what to do with them. I thought I'd throw out some brainstorming, and see if anyone can pick up the pieces and help me run with them.
Here are some possible characters and potential settings:
Nicole uses abortion as her method of birth control
Beth, a single woman at the zoo
Hailey's first child drowned in a bathtub, the second died of SIDS
a book club for chick lit Jane Austen rip-offs
Thomas Jefferson: brilliant, but a rapist
Bruce had let himself get overweight, and then his wife died of liver failure
atomic weapons: melted flesh, corpses, craters, ash