Friday, March 6, 2009

A New Idea

Where do story ideas come from? They come from other stories, either fact or fiction. We may see something on the news and it triggers a thought for a story or we may have read the work of other authors and decide to write something similar. But while that is the beginning point of a story, we should allow the story to take shape until it is substantially different, and hopefully better, than the story from which we began.

Let’s look at the typical romance novel. The plot is simple. Boy meets girl, boy and girl don’t get along, boy and girl separate, boy and girl realize how much they need each other and try to get back together do they can live happily ever after. It’s a story that’s been told thousands of times, so we might wonder if it is worth telling again. As is, no, it isn’t. So let’s mess with it a little. What if the boy is the owner of the company where the girl works and he is going lay her off? That adds interest, but it’s been done many times. What if instead, the man wants to expand his factory and to do that he has to find a way to kick the girl’s grandmother out of her house? It’s still not unique, but it’s a little better. Since it is romance and readers are more interested in character differences than plot changes, we’ll make the man a widower with a daughter the woman teaches in her fifth grade class. We might as well make the kid an unruly child. And so, we have taken a frequently used plot and turned it into our own.