L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami July 30, 2014 - 11:54am

Has anyone else figured out helpful short hands, so your not stuck in the "how do I find an idea" situation in the beginning part of writing?

I was making a chart of different science fiction and fantasy classes, as well as a list of different landmarks common on maps I tend to draw. Then sort of by accident made a random plot generator.

There isn't as much love in it as dreaming up an idea, and going with that. But sometimes you'll generate something amusing like a hitchhiking journalist traveling to prairie-sea, and chased after by a pack of shark-wolves.

I'd still need to find a theme that's resonant to me individually.

The other downside is that for realistic fiction, real life doesn't really have science fiction classes. Some one would have to roughly guess and put people into stereotypes in order for it to work. So I wondering how it would be done with a more realistic character selection.

By classes I mean what you'll find in old JRPGs.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore July 31, 2014 - 5:30am

Creative people are good at making uncommon connections. Mashing up two random things can often work (like, "write a story that incorporates both a bulldozer and a gecko"). I often begin with a character type, whether it's their career or personality, and try to imagine the worst possible thing that could happen to such a person. Can't get much more conflict than that. I think the best inspiration source I ever had was when I worked at the airport. It's a cross-section of society—people being split up or reunited with heightened drama, traveling for all sorts of different reasons: war, love, illness, business, crime—and I used to make up backstories for them while eating my lunch in the terminal. Sometimes I didn't have to make them up; they'd tell me, which was often more interesting than anything I could invent.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami July 31, 2014 - 10:02am

I may need to try that method.

Of course luckily I lucked out and dreamed up a smaller scale fantasy plot. I always try to get that written first, as once I boot up the twitter I usually forget from all the unsolicited writing advice on 140 characters.:/ I've written since 2006, I know what developed active and undeveloped passive characters are. Thanks.

Josh Zancan's picture
Josh Zancan from Crofton, MD is reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck July 31, 2014 - 12:40pm

It hits me randomly.  Sometimes it's a prompt I'll read from somebody soliciting submissions, and sometimes when I'm daydreaming, I'm like "Well, I'm daydreaming this because I find it interesting, maybe I'll write something like that."

From there, I sort of let the story write itself, as trite as that sounds.  My process usually goes like this:

Something happens to character.  How does he react?  Write that.  What are the conesquences of that action for situation, the character, and/or any other character in the story?  Write that. 

And so on and so forth.  Eventually, that rising action will come to a close, and that's where I end the story.  Even if I have other subplots going off of it, I always end the story when the main conflict is over, regardless of whether or not anything else is totally wrapped up.  I find it to be a more realistic approach with how life works.  (If I find that my subplot does need more closure than I'm giving it, I don't know what I'd do.  Never happened to me before.)

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer July 31, 2014 - 1:12pm

There is a method in the Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror book that uses a random picture generator. You pick two and then make a connection between them.

I've used a lot of different things, but I rarely actually end up using them. I just sort of sit down, start writing, and feel it all out. I've taken random words out of dictionaries and magazines and wrote about what they meant to me. I keep books of poetry and will look for random lines taken out of context then think about what they might mean to me. I've used prompts, random lists of elements. Basically anything. I don't have a normal process beyond just sitting and writing.