Every storyteller gets their ideas somewhere.
Some from back alley bins others from storefronts. Me, I get mine in flitting pieces. A snippet of dialogue, a strong emotion, sometimes a feeling of a scene or a visual moment. Most of the time what I find comes to me isn’t even necessarily a piece that ends up in the final story, not as a whole anyway.
The pieces are like double sided confetti and I only get glimpses of each side as they flutter toward the ground. Snatch at them as I might I can only scribble down the shape of what I saw before it’s gone forever.
Sometimes a turn of phrase unlocks a whole scene. Sometimes it’s just that, short, sweet, simple.
I take these pieces and I stitch them together I build up a world in which they could exist unpacking each moment that led to the snapshot I captured. Often I find the story is in the periphery. It’s somewhere else in the world from which I plucked that moment.
For my current WIP, the one that I’m so nearly ready to start pitching, it came to me first as the post-break up, the letters. It looked different then, even though I start in nearly the same place. I saw the handing over of the letters, the indecision riding one of my protagonists. There was the almost of it.
There was nothing then, in that moment, of the world I built after.
The world that became was influenced by the winding road between the two cities in which the girls live, the golden color of the deciduous trees in fall tucked between the pines and firs. The wide expanse of the night sky over the mountains that bisect the state and build a wall between the lovers.
In another WIP, my next project, a story of the sea and safe places, an image came to me of a girl standing alone on a cold beach, wind plastering her hair to her face, a surfboard, broken and dangling from her arm. And then another, hands linked, buried in the sand, while another, across the bonfire flames tells a tale of the land they’re on.
The building began, unpacking. What do these moments mean, how do they fit together. I teased them out, gave them names. Picked apart the land they stood on until I could see the shape of it shimmering there. Sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn’t, just like the story until it snapped into sharp focus. There’s a lodge up at the top of the hill that overlooks the little cove. It’s empty, for now, but soon I will fill it with the story that needs to be told.