Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Writers’ Wednesday 100512

Wednesday, May 12

This past Monday a story idea came up and slapped me on the head. For some reason, I thought back to a photo I took around 1980 of a girl sunbathing.

In college, I belonged to a fraternity at Northwestern State University. Our house sat at the end of what was called Greek Hill. She tossed out a towel behind the fraternity house and got on it to tan. Another feature of this house is that if you looked out the back door, you watch planes take off and land on one of the Natchitoches Parish Airport runways.

Now, toss in a fictitious fraternity brother who has premonitions. The various ideas flooded my mind and began to develop into a story. One idea fed another and that one spawned another. Before I knew it, I had the basis of a story. Granted, it will probably be a short story.

Then came the argument of whose point of view that the story should be in. At first, I wanted it to be in his point of view. But, I did not want to have him thinking about what is going to happen all the way through the story. In his POV, the story would be much longer than I wanted it to be.

In her POV, I can lay down hints but not reveal the true problem until the end of the story. That way I can have my surprise ending. The reader knows something is going to happen, but what, they do not know.

An exercise to help you develop a story idea: Look through an old family album for photos that grab your interest. Whether it a person, place, or thing, let your imagination fly about the circumstances behind the photo. Even if you do not know the particulars about the photo, use the “What if …” question to expand on the ideas. Then let the ideas feed off of each other.

Example: A photo of a someone taken in the late 80s – 1880s. Look at the photo carefully for items in the background. What if you recognize this person? He is a neighbor that disappeared two weeks before. How could this be? What if this neighbor claimed that he could travel to the past? At the time, everyone just laughed at his ridiculous notion. What if he succeeded in traveling to the past? What if his house exploded two weeks earlier and his body was not found? What if a strange van has been spotted in the neighborhood? What if the neighbor gave your main character a jumpdrive with notes on it for the character to keep safe? What if the character’s grandfather told him stories about this strange man that visited his grandfather’s home? What if …?

Now, have fun.


  1. Oooh, good idea! I've been struggling to come up with a new book idea over the last few days, I'll definetly try this!

  2. I'm glad someone got some benefit from this post.