It’s time for another Round Robin, where a group of authors each post on the same topic on the same day (but not necessarily the same time zone :) )
This week’s topic has been chosen by author Rhobin Courtright…
Where do stories come from?
I’ve always found it fascinating how we can imagine whole stories in our heads and tell them to someone else in such a way that they can picture it, too. And we start to love stories from such an early age. The photo here is of a story my daughter wrote in Primary School when she was about six years old. I really liked the punchline, so I saved it. You might not be able to decipher the spelling mistakes and the handwriting, but the story is lovely. It’s all about a man called Mr Mean, who “didn’t live in a nice house at all, because he never wanted the windows mended.”
She writes, “Do you know what he gave his brother for Christmas? A piece of clay.”
Mr Mean is visited by a wizard, who punishes him for his meanness by turning his money to potatoes.
“No, no,I’ll never be mean again,” says Mr Mean, and his money is money again.
Then he went to town, and an old lady asks him if he’ll carry her bag. “No,” says Mr Mean, and she turns his nose into a carrot.
Mr Mean goes through a character arc and learns his lesson. At the end of the story, he is a changed man. There is a witty punchline: “Because he is so generous, he gave his brother two pieces of clay.”
What a great story – and how amazing it is when you think about it, that even small children are able to use their imagination and make something up out of their heads to entertain others, and that even though there are only a few words in this story, we can picture it exactly in our own minds, using our own imagination in turn.
As writers, we have the power to make readers feel a whole range of emotions, even though what we are writing is completely made up.
But this doesn’t answer the question, “Where do stories come from?”
Here’s an example of how one of my stories evolved. I was watching the Channel 5 TV series The Hotel Inspector and I was fascinated by how Alex Polizzi, businesswoman and hotel expert, transformed the fortunes of an ailing hotel. I loved the cast of real-life characters in the hotel she was staying in – their personalities, their enthusiasm, their stresses, their relationships with each other, and even the wonderful setting by the sea. I imagined how a setting like this would make for a great story, in which a hotel is transformed, and so are the hero and heroine. And this was the seed of the idea for my novel, Felicity at the Cross Hotel.
Once the seed was planted, the “mulling” began. In the back of my mind all sorts of characters and scenes slowly began to take shape – while I was walking the dog, cooking the tea, or just sitting staring into space, thoughts and ideas were forming. Of course writing isn’t just inspiration. If only…! How easy it would be just to write my ideas down. Writing is a craft, too. And to craft a romance, you have to have a hero and heroine who are unable – or at least strongly believe they are unable – to be together. This romantic conflict is at the heart of the story. (And the art of creating conflictt was the subject of a previous Round Robin, which you can read here.) Once I have an idea, and things start to come together through “mulling”, I then have to sit down and work out who my hero and heroine are, and what exactly is keeping them apart. My stories come partly from inspiration, and partly from working on the details as though they were a puzzle to be solved.
A book of ideas
I have so many ideas that are just waiting to be stories. I wish I had time to write them all. I have a folder with cuttings from newspaper stories that have taken my eye, or else interviews with real people, or jottings about a real event that friends and family may have told me about. When I flick through this folder, I get excited thinking about how these tiny snippets could possibly become full-blown stories, with characters who are fleshed out and real, and interact with one another, and have lives and hopes and dreams. Creating a story out of your imagination is like a form of magic.
But the main thing about a story is to entertain someone else, and I constantly find it wonderful and amazing that characters and scenes from someone else’s mind can come alive in my own – even with just a few sentences, like my daughter’s story as a child.
* * *
And now I’m very curious to find out what the other authors in the Round Robin have to say on the topic. If you’d like to read how they find their own inspiration, please click on the links below!
If you’re a writer, where do your stories come from? If you love reading, do you ever feel that characters you’ve read about are actually real life people?
If you have any comments at all, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you!
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Anne de Gruchy https://annedegruchy.co.uk/category/blog/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1dm
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com