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How do you *spark* your ideas, and creat your stories?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by McYork, Oct 20, 2011.

  1. McYork

    McYork Acolyte

    As it says in kind of says in the title I'd like to know how you come up with a plan for your story. This topic can probably be broken down into two different questions... first off how do you *spark* your ideas? Do you create a main character and then build the story around them? And secondly how do you plan out your story? Do you draw up an outline of the whole story before you begin or just kind of write whatever comes to mind?

    I can say that for me I've always made a main character and build a story around them, just kind of writing whatever comes to mind... but I'd like to know how you guys start writing.
  2. I still don't have a story in mind. With every bit of research I do for my world-building, I think of little details and plot points that I write down. Eventually, when the whole world is build, I'll be able to take that list of ideas, and separate them into one, or more, stories. (I can't guarantee this works though, as I'm still working on it. XD)
  3. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

    Stuff I read spawns the stories I write.
    Usually some small incident would spark the thought, of how this story would be interesting.
    One book I read dealt with mind speaking, it reminded me of Psonics in D&D, and the background fell into place.

    Another book dealt with people bonding with magical beasts, I began my dragon series.

    I have also written short stories from fantasy pictures. (Dragons always welcome, visiting blu are two written from one picture)
  4. McYork

    McYork Acolyte

    This sounds interesting... Every one has there own way to plan out their story. It's interesting to hear new ideas... I think I might try your method some time.
    Arcbound Phyrexian likes this.
  5. McYork

    McYork Acolyte


    Awesome! I'd love to read your short stories! What was the picture inspired you? (Could you link it or describe it?)
  6. Digital_Fey

    Digital_Fey Troubadour

    'Sparking' ideas is usually easy enough...taking a nebulous idea and setting it out as a logical draft is another matter >.> Usually it starts with a scene or a character, the former giving me a potential setting and the latter determining the thoughts/emotions I want to build the story around. Inspiration is an unpredictable creature, but I usually find it in books, art, lyrics and oddments from everyday life.
  7. ShortHair

    ShortHair Sage

    It seems to me that most speculative fiction starts with a "what if" thought. "What if dragons actually existed?" "What if people could use magic?" Those things aren't possible in our world. You then have to create a world where those things are possible, which opens several cans of worms. Who lives in that world? How do they survive? What do they wear? What languages do they speak? And so on and so on and so on.

    Coming up with a story is simple. Pick an inhabitant of that world who does interesting things. Follow him/her around with a camera crew. I think of it as a reality show from an unreal world, somewhat scripted, character driven, unpredictable.
  8. Yeah, I didn't even come up with this method, it just kinda happened. I am way better at world building that story writing, so I decided to kind of ignore the story writing part for now and what story I do have just found it's way out of my world naturally. Lol.
  9. The most successful for me have been stories based off a simple idea. My computer backgrounds are all computer generated from digital blasphemy, and one day I was looking at one and got an idea, and from there it grew. Actually, I had a couple more ideas come from some of those pictures.

    Sometimes I get a situation that will spawn an idea, and that can be worked into a decent story.

    Of course, once I have an idea, I then have to come up with the people that are going to drive the story. I prefer stories that are driven by the characters, they are more enjoyable to me, so that's what I try and write. I do spend time planning and organizing the plot and scenes, that is important as well.
  10. boboratory

    boboratory Minstrel

    I will imaginary role play as the character, and try to document whatever comes into the experience... It's kinda silly, but in a quiet space where you can just let your mind wander, and channel your inner 10 year old, I get some great stories...
  11. I think about totally random things to come up with stories. take what would come to be my main world. I was laying in bed and then some kids were making noise outside so I went to close my window. I saw what was referred to as "the hill" (I wonder what it could have been.) and I imagined myself running through all the annoying kids where I was living and killing them all and then me standing atop the hill looking at all the carnage I'd caused. The complex became the city gëldïs galhëm and I became hëramïs and things just snowballed until here I sit hammering out details of the war of strife, which takes place more than a five hundred years from its end to the start of Damrïk's attack on hurkyulës.
  12. Ghost

    Ghost Inkling

    It's easiest when characters appear out of nowhere, fully formed and raring to go. I still learn about their histories and how they react to different situations, but it's as if I've understood the essence of them. As I'm reading Cracked or clipping my toenails, a young woman pops up. Her hair is shaved off unevenly, and black tattoos mark her wrists. She kick back and puts her grimy feet on my coffee table. Gross.

    Bald woman: Hey.
    Me: Hi...
    Bald woman: How are you?
    Me: I'm good, I think. How did you–
    Bald woman: Guess what. I live in an insane asylum! Look at these runes on my arms and legs. They keep me restrained.
    Me: ...
    Bald woman: Don't worry, I figured them out. Ooh, look at me! I just escaped the asylum! Runes are fun. I want to destroy things now. Bye-bye!
    Me: What the?!

    It doesn't happen to me very often. I don't even know how it happens, which sucks because those are my favorite characters. They come pre-packaged with a conflict and a setting, which cuts out a lot of the guesswork. That, and their persistence means they're the types to set the plot in motion instead of being passive.

    Sometimes a story or plot idea grows out of an imagined location with an unusual atmosphere. These are harder because residents in new locations always evade me like it's a local pastime. The rest of the time, I expand on a simple idea, like brothers betraying each other or a man's conscience at odds with his familial obligation. The ideas blossom out of that.

    Er, still having a problem with this part. :eek: Plans are necessary for me, otherwise the story stalls. I decided on one or two sentences describing the key development in each chapter, without it turning into an outline riddled with roman numerals. We'll see how it goes.
  13. Thursday

    Thursday Scribe

    My characters usually come from someone I see in a grocery store, something they're doing or wearing will spark something in me that makes them otherworldly. As far as planning I definitely use an outline, I've tried it without one and I end up getting so sidetracked I have to start over.
  14. This too. Lol. I love watching cool people. XD
  15. mythique890

    mythique890 Sage

    It seems like a lot of my ideas come when, for a split second, I think something is one way (usually weird or crazy), then find out it's another, if that makes sense. Like if I'm looking at the mountains outside, which I've seen thousands of times, but for some reason this time it looks like there's a cave half-glimpsed in the shadow of a cliff. Then I look again and realize it was a cloud shadow. But then my mind starts going. What if there was a cave? And what if it only appeared at certain times? Why? Does someone or something live there? Where does it lead?

    When I have about fifty ideas that go together, I have the beginnings of a story. :)

    Often though, I come up with one idea I think is cool then make a character to go with it... then realize I have nothing for that character to do, because he/she lives in a vacuum. That's where I am right now with an idea I'd really love to do something with. I have the character and his opening scene and I sort of know his backstory, but that's about it. I think I need to do a bunch more worldbuilding on that one, though I am sort of thinking of setting it more in an alternative history sort of setting. But ugh, alternate histories mean so much research! Steampunk might be cool, too, but I'd have to do a lot more reading in the genre before I'd feel comfortable writing in it. Anyway...

    I also tend to get a lot of my ideas from things I read. Sort of a "but what if the author had done it this way!" kind of thing.

    Oh, and I'm an outliner. Have to be, since I'm no good at plotting and need to know where I'm going!
  16. Shadoe

    Shadoe Sage

    My story ideas come from everywhere. I keep them in my idea files folder and go through it periodically so I know what's there. Eventually, something will come along that will make a bunch of notes from the file come together.

    Usually, I have a character to begin with, and the stories are built around how I want to torture that character next.
  17. Codey Amprim

    Codey Amprim Staff Article Team

    Honestly, I rarely will sit down and try to pound something out of my head. Quality things take time, a lot of time. I may come up with a major plot event, but then days will pass and tidbits will come to me that add to it. But most of the time, ideas will come to me whenever, mostly before I am trying to sleep or showering... at moments when you're alone with your thoughts. Sometimes I've actually been kept up for hours on end because of a really great concept or idea that I just cannot let go.
  18. subdee

    subdee Dreamer

    I think sometimes you do have to pound things out of your head, you have to make the story move along and eventually end at some point. I have a feeling that if you just wait for things to come up, yea you'll get a great story most of the time but you might never finish it or it might become cumbersome and lose interest.
  19. Zak

    Zak Dreamer

    I like to create my world first. Afterwards, I usually develop my plot.
  20. Wordweaver

    Wordweaver Dreamer

    Admittedly I'm pretty new at the "real writing" thing, as opposed to just jotting wicked-cool ideas on sticky notes instead of taking calls at work, but here are a few things that help inspire my concepts and ideas:

    I take a situation that I've been in, or someone I know has been in, or that I've witnessed, and write down the details of the situation IN ITS ENTIRETY. What happened, who was there, how I felt, how other people around reacted, what effect the situation had on other people who are NOT present and the rest of the world/universe, etc. Then I translate the situation into the language of my genre. How would it have gone down in my fantasy realm?

    My main style of writing is very sword-and-sorcery...esque, so I adopt a kind of archaic, elven-elder-narrator tone and adapt the setting and scene to match the style of the story. Even when I'm not working on my main story, I've found this to be great practice for developing authenticity and believability in my writing.

    @Ouroboros, I actually have to disagree with you...I've always felt the "ready-made" character with a self-evident past written all over his/her appearance and/or attitude to be kind of...(no offense intended)...cheap. Like "Where was I when this character was developed? Oh...they weren't." But then again I tend to king of over-develop my characters sometimes if that's possible.

    BTW...was "Bald Woman" Jack from Mass Effect 2? Chillin in your living room? What's she like in real life?
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2011

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