Posts Tagged ‘idea’

The only way I will care about your story is if you make me care. You can’t expect your reader or audience to care unless you make it happen. You are in control. You create the emotional link. Think of three basic steps.

1. Your idea

Your story can be stand-alone or it can be illustrating a point. Either way, the basic idea is one that your readers or audience can relate to. It seems obvious. A group of women with small children will relate to a story about toilet training but a group of business men will think that a waste of time.

Let’s look at those businessmen. Are they entrepreneurs? Franchisees? Local business? International? Well established?  Focused on a product or a service? In other words you need to know more about this audience as you formulate your ideas. Define as precisely as you can the concept of what this audience is looking for. What is their primary interest? What are they hungry to know more about?

Once you can state what they are hungry for you have found your basic idea.

2. Your perspective

You are speaking or writing about this topic or idea because other people want a piece of the experience and knowledge you have. Experience and knowledge add up to an educated perspective. Some people may have the knowledge – they may have read lot about it. Some people may have hands-on experience but feel they lack the theoretical background that would give them a wider understanding.

Your perspective melds these two together to  unite the best in both those worlds. And you have stories and anecdotes from your experience to bring this to life. Every point you make you will be illustrated by a carefully chosen story from your experience. This is the story that vividly adds context and meaning to your basic idea.

Your  story or anecdote and your perspective are closely linked. The story supports your idea and your perspective – it it doesn’t do this, then pick another story.

3. Your words

Once you’ve found an idea that will draw people in and a perspective that offers your unique knowledge and experience you can start building your story to give that idea depth and meaning. A story is built from words. Try to use simple direct words wherever that is possible.

Tell your story through the senses. What do you see in the story – a landscape, a streetscape, a room? What components can you see? Trees, parked cars, a bookshelf crammed full of books?

What can you hear in the story – bird song, the screech of brakes, heavy metal music? Is there the smell of cedar, garbage or furniture polish? Do you feel the wind, the elevator button or the smooth leather chair? Can you taste the tomato in the sandwich, the popcorn, the repulsion of milk turned sour?

All the senses draw people into your story, bringing your idea to life and making your perspective real to audience or readers. and we haven’t even started on the immediacy of dialogue.

So, to make people care about what you have to say choose and hone your idea with care, present it through the lens of your own knowledge and experience and spend time selecting the words that will bring it to life.



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The bright idea is the easy part of writing a story. We tend to think of that as the inspiration, but people with creative minds have brilliant ideas quite often. (I was going to say they had brilliant ideas all the time, but that would be stretching it.)

The true inspiration is carrying that idea through into a story, novel or screenplay. Recently a couple of people have told me they have this great idea for a story.

One said “There’s this hillside, rocky, and there’s this man standing near the top looking down on soldiers, and he’s going to attack.”

I asked about the idea- “Who is he? What’s going to happen?”

The speaker had no sense of the story, he just expected that it was there, somewhere, somehow, for some time.

Another writer knew he had a great idea – “There’s this fire-and-brimstone preacher in the pulpit thundering out “Thou shalt not commit adultery…”

He had a complete picture of the preacher and the pulpit. He even had an idea that perhaps the preacher was having an affair. But the actual story? Not there. He was having an affair with…well, er…. He was straying because…mmm, not sure.

Ideas like these are seeds. You look at a seed and what you see is a seed, not a flower.  We tend to look at our seed idea and see it as the flower. To make the seed create a flower work has to happen. You need to plant it and supply water, nutritious soil, sunlight. You need to clear off the weeds, perhaps prune a bit and then, maybe, you’ll get the flower you were hoping for.

Your idea seed needs to percolate in your imagination for a while as you try to fit it to different characters and scenarios. Maybe the obvious – the preacher’s affair – isn’t the way to go. As you get to know the preacher in your mind other avenues come to mind. You try them and discard them until…

Until one seems to fit just right. So right it takes your breath away. Now the seed is planted. You nurture it by developing and honing characters who will carry the story forward, bringing out all the nuances that are floating about loosely in your brain.

You add active scenes, strong dialog and the most vivid language you can squeeze out of your thesaurus. You edit, and edit some more. You try it on your writer’s group and edit yet again.

And finally you have a story and not just a seed idea. You are looking at the flower. Inspiration is not about a flash of a bright idea. It’s about the time and focused, intelligent work taken to grow a beautiful creation out of it.

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