Let us say that we have a story to tell, or at least some idea of a story. Ah, you say, how do we come up with that idea? Well, it is very simple and then again, it’s not. One could use a song title, perhaps a romantic one. What might we think of if the song was an old torch song liKe, “Someone To Watch Over Me”? What story line would that suggest to you? It might be a story about a woman, usually adult but of younger age feeling lonely or vulnerable. Or perhaps looking to get married or at least have a relationship and feel wanted. A short story needs but one to three elements, any more only confuses the reader and makes the story too tedious. On the other hand, a novel needs more elements so as to provide a richer examination of the theme and the sub themes that support the reader’s interest.
So we start by trying to picture in our writer’s mind what this woman looks like, how she acts, what she feels. Visualization is one of the greatest tools for writing both fiction and non fiction. If I see a snake I may feel threatened. If I hear the word I immediately form a picture of some snake, any snake, and the feelings aroused by that word. We as writers must visualize the settings and the time frames. We do this by drawing our frames of reference from our experiences and knowledge. Maybe we want to set the scene in some particular past year like 1933. Or we might want to give it a contemporary setting to now, 2016. Shall the place be rural, small town, big city, or something foreign? Again, what does the title or theme suggest to you?
Now, do you want to outline the story complete with ending or will we start with a beginning scene and let our imagination take its course. How we open the scene sets the tone for the theme. We want to have some description that draws the reader in as well as a little action. Or we could start with action and dialogue. ‘Ella slammed the telephone done in anger. “Damn him, that cheap, disgusting man. Must I always do everything in our relationship?” ‘ Now we, as the readers, start to ask ourselves several questions about Ella and her relationship and the man who is cheap and disgusting. Or you could try something dreamy and romantic. ‘Delia stood at the window of her third floor walk up, looking at the bright moon as it climbed to its zenith. The returning light bathed her in a soft moonglow as she wistfully remembered the time George had held her on a night like this. The war had taken her Geroge from her, taken him forever, and now only the empty feelings held her in their cold grip. Delia was longing for another to take his place, George’s place.’
Two beginnings, at least two possible outcomes and perhaps ten more, depending on where the story takes us. Remember, we become our characters and much of the story line is about our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. Yes, It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Except it’s not. Writing is a craft and to become a mere journeyman takes a lot of practice. I hope that for those who read this post and wish to write fiction will find something of usefulness.