My Year of Ideas: A good fortnight, idea-wise, anyway

The last two weeks have been good ones, idea-wise.

I’ve spent a lot of time writing a story that I’ve had stuck in my head for almost a year, this one involving Blake, my mid-teens character. The story is the composite of two story ideas that weren’t strong enough on their own, but when I put them together, SHAZAM! And, as I mentioned in the last Year of Ideas post, the more ideas I use, the more I get. Ideas about his back story, about his relationship with his aunt, uncle, and cousins (who are actually not relatives), about his relationship with his late mother, about what she did for a living, etc., all of which flesh out a character that I hardly knew anything about.

I’ve focused on creating as much conflict between Blake and the other people in the story, something I’ve been bad at in the past. I get a little too close to my characters, and find myself wanting to protect them from harm, be it physical, mental, psychological, financial, whatever. When I went into this project, it was with the intention that I would be a real @$$hole to him. (Pardon my French.) Again, the more things I do to the poor kid, the more ideas I get for further things to do to him.

I’ve made another discovery: Scenes and plot points are like Legos. It’s all right to take a scene out and replace it with another, to have a different idea that takes the story in a completely different direction. Almost like a fork in GitHub. Which has me thinking that maybe, just maybe, Scrivener would be a help. One of the reasons that I am loath to take a story in a different direction is that it’s such a pain in the butt to edit pieces in and out of Word documents (in my case, Google Drive documents). That’s something to think about.

So, in the last two weeks, I’ve learned:

  • There’s a synergy of ideas, in my case story ideas. Putting two weak story ideas together ended up being like combining baking soda and vinegar.
  • Being mean to your characters is not only fun, it results in some really great story ideas. This ties back to the discovery I made the last time, that codependency has no place in writing. I now know that it applies not just to real people, but imaginary ones as well.
  • Building a story can be just like building something out of Legos, or Lincoln Logs, or Tinkertoys, or an Erector set (I’m showing my age, aren’t I?), where you come up with ideas and assemble them, kind of like a fork in GitHub. It helps to develop in an environment that allows you the freedom to do just that. Time to get Scrivener out of mothballs.

I can see that I have a lot of work ahead of me. See you in two weeks.

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