Last time I talked about getting rid of those top of the brain new story ideas which are clamoring for attention while you are trying to write. And I mentioned I tend to save a note, perhaps the scene with three or four tag line ideas as to why it happened or a short paragraph if there’s a more solid story racing around. This is because for me, ideas come in one of two categories, scenarios I wonder about and people I see doing things and I wonder what they’re thinking.
For a scenario I note the trigger and perhaps one or two thoughts I’ve had, but generally not full sentences and no characters. Just the scene and the ideas it sparked.
Ambulance – u-turn in forest. Stops.
-Attack from inside?
-Spill coffee in lap?
-Let changed Were creature out to roam?
Then I force myself to stop. Just stop.
Okay, usually I do succeed; sometimes one of the ideas becomes so entangled with the idea for a character I instead jot down a paragraph about the character and scene. While I always try to use good grammar, just getting it down and out of my head is top priority here:
If Daria had just done her job and searched in the Hudson’s garage as well as the house while they were there with the warrant Harris wouldn’t be standing in the sweltering sun without a lick of shade going through the dumpster which supposedly contained their trash. Although, it wasn’t like Daria to be slack on the job, heck, she usually busted balls over someone screwing up like this. Which made Harris wonder why the screw-up had occurred in the first place, and why she wasn’t ripping her partner Jude up one side and down the other. She was clearly covering for him. What hold did Jude have over her that she’d let him get away with a stupid mistake? Harris would find out, if only so he’d know her secret too and make her cut him some slack. Some days being low man on the totem pole at the sheriff’s office was hell; no matter how much you’d done before you got here, you were treated like a greenie and watched like a hawk. And given the worst and nastiest jobs; right now, sweat dripping off him, eyes squinted against the glare of all the white paper in the mid-summer sun, life pretty much sucked.
There done, I have it for later.
If, and it’s happened, I seem to have a lot of ideas (and this does seem to be inverse to how far I am in a piece, i.e. the further I am the more ideas will pop into my head, keeping me from finishing my current project) I try to set a time or number limit generally three ideas or fifteen minutes.
For me scenes and scenarios are always easy to come up with and, along with them, some general ideas for stories. I’m always curious, though, how other people come up with their ideas.
When not distracted, you can find Ellie Heller at her blog