Don’t Lose Great Story Ideas in the Depths of Your Imagination
Novelists seem to be able to come up with great story ideas at any given time and in any given situation: morning walks, feeding the baby, staff meetings, sitting in traffic, discussing politics with a friend, etc.
So you have all of these story ideas that bubble up in your imagination, sometimes perhaps at not exactly the most opportune times. How can you make sure these wonderful ideas don’t get lost in the depths of your fertile imagination?
Well, it comes down to what a story idea is worth to you. As a novelist myself, I know from personal experience that when a great story idea strikes and I think for certain that I’ll have no trouble remembering it, the idea typically slips away unless I am intentional about saving the idea in some fashion.
My first method of saving ideas was to carry a pen and small notepad with me so that when a story idea (or an idea for a current work) came along, I could jot it down. This method worked quite well, and still does when the situation calls for a quiet, discreet way of making some notes for myself. But then something better came along.
Lay Aside All Other Goals and Simply Aim to Tell a Good Tale
Hearing fingernails dragging across a chalkboard has never really bothered me. However, I can imagine how many folks feel about that particular sound every time I hear someone say something to the effect of, “Well, what’s the point of the story? What’s the novel’s message or moral?”
I think what gets me most is that these people assume that a novel has to have some “higher” goal than simply being a good story that engages and entertains readers. (Please note: I am still more than happy to give such individuals plenty of kindness and grace, because fiction just isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and it’s thus hard to connect with someone philosophically if you’re not at least somewhat a kindred soul with the person.) But can I say plainly that if you’re a novelist, the point of your story is THE STORY. To wit …
The point of your story is not to make sure people clearly understand some message you want to share with the world, perhaps about the dangers of deforestation in the Amazon, for example. If you have a passion about that subject, then by all means write a nonfiction book on it and let your passion emanate from every sentence you pen, finishing with a bold call to action for the reader.
A Brief List of My Personal Favorites
If you’re a novelist and looking for a good book on the craft of writing, you likely have realized after perusing the Internet that you have about a bazillion choices. So, where do you start?
Well, it may grate on some people’s beliefs, but technically, you don’t need any books on writing to be an author. If you have a good grasp of the English language and you read a lot of fiction and write fiction regularly, then you’re already pretty well set to get started. You’ll have room to grow and mature as a writer, certainly, but the more you read and write, the better you’ll be. Further, if you’re spending more time reading about how to write fiction than actually writing it or reading it, then you’re hurting your own potential as an author.