Sunday, January 23, 2011

So where do you think stories come from?

Well I’m a quarter of the way into my new novel, but there’s still a long way to go. I have a very rough outline, but to be honest, most of it is written off the cuff, so what happens in the story and to the characters is a surprise to me too. But that’s what makes (at least for me) the writing process so interesting, because I often feel like I’m an instrument whose sole purpose is to write the story down, but that the story is something that’s already happened. That in some respects it’s real, and that the words that appear on the screen have been channelled through me. I mean, inspiration has to come from somewhere, so who’s to say that in an alternate universe, the worlds and people I create don’t really exist, and that really I’m writing their story, not mine.

Another scenario: The creation of imaginary worlds or fictional universes is often called 'world building', so what if by writing about them, these worlds and people are brought to life in an alternative dimension? If that's the case, the author of the story would be a God who has given life to his creations. Thereby we could be someone's fictional creations. That would mean our God(s) would then be struggling authors too.

I just wish I could create my world in 7 days. And for the record, no illegal substances were consumed or injected while writing this.

So where do you think stories come from?


Phil N. Schipper said...

This is something that's been in the back of my mind since the beginning of my writing life. I thought about the alternate existence idea for a long time, until things started changing in my revision in such a way that I thought no real world could mirror it.

Now I'm probably back to the old way of thinking, though: a lot of the old details are coming back in ways I didn't expect. New aspects are things my characters maybe didn't want to admit to me before. And that leads to more discoveries, when I ask myself: why would they have kept this a secret from me?

So I think the truth of the matter is unimportant to us, because just believing or even considering something can go back and shape the writing.

Well, putting aside issues of guilt and morality as a creator, that is...

Shaun said...

Writing is such a strange thing though, Phil. Ideas spring to mind, or at least they seem to. But then again, as I alluded, they might already exist. All I know is that it's hard work, regardless.

Michael said...

Before working on a long writing project, such as a novel, I like to plan the bare-bones and understand the back story of each character involved. There have been numerous occasions where I have wanted to steer the story in a particular direction and my characters have refused to go along with this, opting for their own story and creating events and experiences in their own terms.

For a story to really work it's critical to have authentic believable characters that are neither inherently good or bad. This leads to unexpected turns in the story that even the creator could not anticipate.

When free will is present does God still have ultimate control?

Shaun said...

The strangest thing for me, Michael, is when a character does do things that you're not expecting. You want them to do a certain something, but no matter how you try to write it, they dictate otherwise, whioch does give them a semblance of life that you have no control over.

Bridget Squires said...

My stories come from real life experiences or things that happen in everyday life that I morph into something scary. Sometimes a simple word or event can inspire ideas. Often I find myself overwhelmed with ideas making it impossible to even know where to start on a new story. Now I jot down ideas in a notepad and go back to write later. Stories are always connected to the author in some way so that's where I think stories come from, inside the author.

Shaun said...

Yes, it's interesting how something can spark a story, Bridget. Inspiration can arise from the strangest places or events!