Developing that initial idea (pt. 3 – World)

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Developing that Initial Idea

So far in this record-breaking series (most hate mail generated; least shits given; and the erroneous and unexplainable best series of blogs about apple tart), we have discussed how to turn your ideas for a story into a fully developed novel and how to insert character ideas into a story.

Now comes the final part. How to turn an idea for a world into a story.

World

I have, in the past, had many many ideas for many different worlds. And, to clarify, by worlds I do not mean other planets or even fantasy worlds.

I have come up with many different versions of the world we sit on. Some with minor changes, some with major.

The problem? When a world comes to you, there is no guarantee a suitable story will arrive to slot right into it.

For example. I once had an idea for a world in which property ownership equated to having a share in the country and how it was run. Only the very elite could afford property and the rest lived in squalor.

Yet, despite this world, which I believed was strong, I could not find a story to fit within it.

I gave up, but you shouldn’t. Remember your worlds, if they excite you. If you love them, they will continue to build naturally in your head. From there you may one day find the perfect story to go with them.

And if you don’t love them? If building upon them feels like hard work? Chuck them. Writing is hard. It’s a pain in the arse. Editing is awful at times and the marketing (writing blogs like this one) is a real time drain.

The creation, and the first draft. That’s supposed to be exciting. Wonderful. So good it stops you drinking heavily for a few days.

If the fun bits aren’t fun… stop right away. Do something else.

it isn’t worth it.

Conclusion Ideas come in all shapes and sizes and this series has looked at them through three broad categories. But, in each case, I guess the advice is the same.

When an idea comes to you. If a story within it is not immediately apparent, play around with it, build on it, see where it takes you. Let it sit in the back of your mind while you do other things and allow it to grow naturally.

Do not stress about it. Do not let the fun drop.

Just like with gambling. When the fun stops. Stop.

After all, we’re never going to be published, so we might as well enjoy the crap we’re churning out.

Developing that initial idea (pt. 2 – Character)

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Developing that Initial Idea
Since the first blog in this series dropped, I’ve been getting a lot of mail through the letterbox from ardent fans, begging me never to write again.

Surprising though this is (how do they know where I live?) It’s just the motivation I need to keep going. After all, it was my mother’s pleading that I never pick up a pen again after my first short story that made me determined to be a writer.

So this week, we’re going to talk about character… and how to take the initial idea and turn it into a novel.

I described getting an idea for a story as a “gem” in part one because it is the easiest element to work with. However, getting an idea for a character is by far the most enjoyable way to start off.

Characters are everything. They are what carry any novel, film, comic, or whatever. You can have an intricate, marvellous plot but, without engaging characters, no one is going to give a shit.

A great character can almost stand on his own, but he does need a story. Unless you are planning to hand out character sheets and be done with it. That can be a problem. Sometimes it can be tough to find a story that suits the character, or which fits perfectly.

This is particularly challenging with brilliant characters. Ones you are obsessed with. A few characters are living up in my head I’ve never been able to do anything with, because there isn’t a story good enough to justify their deployment, and I don’t want them wasted.

It wouldn’t be fair.

Consider great villains. They’re a one and done deal (usually), so you don’t want them to be wasted on a bad story and other characters that don’t match up. A lot of the time, this is what leads to great character ideas being left on the shelf.

But you can take steps towards starting the story forming process. For example, think about what type of character you have. Are they the main character? A wise sage? A love interest? You need to decide the part they need to play so you can build a story around them.

I tend to come up with antagonists because I find them the most interesting. From here I’ll assess what they want to achieve. Once I have that I can start building a character that opposes them, that wants to stop them.

This can work the other way too, and having the antagonist or protagonist first puts you in a great position. Take the first, flip them to find the second, and decide what the main conflict will be. Once you’ve done this, you have the central premise of your novel, without having to do much thinking about a story at all.

From there, you just need to build, turn it into a solid plan, and start writing.

As with story though, don’t stress too much about it if it just isn’t working. Some characters will seem brilliant at first, but won’t fit into any story. And while you should always try your best to make it work, you won’t be doing yourself any favours by forcing a square peg into a round hole.

Sometimes, you have to drop your babies entirely, and just go with something that makes sense.

R.I.P. all those great characters that never made it…

Developing that initial idea (pt. 1 – Story)

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Developing that Initial Idea
Ideas come at writers in different forms. A new character will hit you harder than the boyfriend of that cute blonde you’re checking out. A storyline will appear faster than that rash after your last night out. A new world will spread around you like the blood of that hooker you murdered “by accident”.

I’ve had thousands of ideas over the years, each fitting into one of the above categories. So let’s look at them one by one, and how you can build your novel/ series/ erotic comic book around them.

First up…

Story

Getting an idea for a story out of nowhere is a bit of gem. People will tell you character drives story and those people are right, but you still need a story. In much the same way people drive cars, but what use is that if you don’t have one? I find it’s often hard to know what characters you need without the story in mind.

Still, it can be difficult to progress. You might have an idea for one scene, and your job is to expand this in each direction. Did you think up an ending? Well, how the bloody hell did you get there? A beginning? Where do you go from here? Or somewhere in the middle… Christ, now you have to go backwards and forwards.

Initial story ideas take thought but don’t let them mess you around. Play with them in your mind, write a few things down if it helps, test the story idea. Where does it begin, where does it end? This doesn’t have to be in any great detail, but you need to know if this story idea has strength enough to carry over an entire novel or even a short story.

Test that bitch and, if it keeps growing, if it makes sense, act on it. Drop characters into it, decide they’re shit, throw them away, and start again. Build your world around it. If the story works, this won’t be too difficult.

And, if it doesn’t stand the test? If it won’t grow? If you get frustrated trying to put characters that make any sense into it? If that world won’t thrive?

Throw that fucker away!

Stories are like attractive flirts in a bar. If they’re hot enough, you’ll be desperate for the relationship to go places. The trouble is, sometimes it won’t, and you can spend years chasing down something that is never going to work until you end up so frustrated you turn into a violent alcoholic.

I know I’ve been there.

Don’t let this be you. Take the story, let it excite you. Try to flesh it out, but if it doesn’t work, don’t let it kill you because another idea will come and, sooner or later, it’ll be a winner.

Just gotta be patient.

Next up… Character