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formulating ideas - Where do you start?

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Tim G View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tim G Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jun 2019 at 5:54am
Originally posted by SisterRosetta SisterRosetta wrote:

Originally posted by MissKeister MissKeister wrote:

Originally posted by Vernacula Vernacula wrote:

Originally posted by NilesPerry NilesPerry wrote:

Originally posted by lisafox10800 lisafox10800 wrote:

And I am fortunate to have amazing beta readers.
I hope the people I beta for will someday say the same of me.
LOL


You're a fantastic beta reader! Wink

I second this!  :)

Thirded! Isn't this just like the final scene of It's a Wonderful Life, where he finds out just how many lives he's impacted? Wink

Fourthed! Even if I'm too busy wrestling with the breadth and depth of your suggestions to thank you for providing them!

And big thanks to everyone who beta'd my script this time. It's now one of those scripts where if it doesn't achieve anything, it will still get filed under 'no regrets' in my own headspace.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote JeffreyHowe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jun 2019 at 10:13am
Originally posted by Vernacula Vernacula wrote:

Sometimes I get an idea of who someone is, and if they start to become firmer and more clear (and persistent) in my mind, then I know I'm probably going to be able to finish their story. 

The character test for me is the first draft. I need to see them move, hear them speak, for them to become real enough to work with. And often by the end of the first draft they're different than they were at the beginning. The trick is noticing that's happening.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ChristiLB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jun 2019 at 3:53pm
WOW! Thank you all so much for so many great comments and suggestions - I'm actually blown away by how many of you commented, and how great and varied everyone's processes are. I can definitely see areas I need to work on as far as brainstorming. It sounds like a lot of you jot a number of ideas down, whereas I tend to mull several different things over in my mind, trying to mold them into one big ball that I can roll with haha. I will have to start making notes from now as I think things over.

I'm very jealous of everyone that is able to see their prompts and then fall asleep thinking about them - I tried to do that but my brain doesn't shut off...I'm so concerned with the deadline, running out of time, etc. That I actually get stuck in this wide awake state racking my brain trying to come up with something. Maybe with the new ideas you've suggested that will change. I want to respond to certain things you've all suggested but instead of making a separate post for each one (and having 10 or so posts right in a row all from me) I'm going to make the comments all in the body of this post - I hope that works for everyone, and thanks again for all the helpful ideas. I already feel at ease with so many new techniques to try for next time.

Originally posted by Joni Joni wrote:

Once I've gotten my assignment, I put tv on in the background that fits the genre. Not really to get ideas, but it just gets me in the proper frame of mind. I got comedy this time around, and I knew I wanted some sort of misunderstanding, so I had I Love Lucy playing all weekend. 


I Love Lucy is always the perfect choice for comedy - I'll have to try having something on in the background next time I'm trying to create.



Originally posted by JeffreyHowe JeffreyHowe wrote:

Thus, when presented with a romcom that had "cannabis dispensary" as a setting and "snail" as an object--I made the main characters and the comic relief snails. Then I did some quick research whether snails were a pest for cannabis farmers, and I was off.  When I got "ghost story" and "South Pole" and "hamster"--I thought about who would haunt the South Pole, and why, and ended up with a story where the ghosts want to help the biologist who's doing an experiment with hamsters


Your suggestions, and examples of how you put the pieces together, I find really helpful. I think I might be a bit too rigid in my thinking sometimes so ideas like snails as main characters wouldn't even cross my mind. Those are where the original ideas are hidden though so I will have to tap into that whimsical side of myself.



Originally posted by NilesPerry NilesPerry wrote:

I start by simply reading the prompts. I let them sink in for a few minutes, then my thoughts turn to which one is the most prominent and should be featured over the other two. Example: In SSC two years ago, I got "Shetland pony" as one prompt. Comedy was the genre, and I forget the other one now. Anyway, the pony became my main character right away, with her human owner being sidekick and second fiddle. That same year I got a credit card as a prompt (the prop) and I turned that into an offbeat murder weapon. So, I start by selecting the best prompt to take center stage, if you will.


Scott, I really like your process of picking one prompt to be featured and starting from there. I get myself stuck because I'm trying to piece everything together all at once but your idea makes a lot of sense. I love coming up with ideas to make a credit card a weapon (maybe even maxing the card out could make it a weapon if, say the husband, gets mad at the wife for maxing it out and then kills her haha).



Originally posted by NilesPerry NilesPerry wrote:

When faced with writer's block, just think a moment about what a couple close friends or family members would do with your prop, or how they would react in a given genre/setting. You might find you suddenly have an abundance of really workable ideas.


Yes, I've heard the old motto "write what you know" numerous times but it gets lost in the shuffle when I wind up with the most random concoction of prompts known to man haha. Great idea to consider people I know and place them in situations where they are interacting with the prompts. I'm getting excited to try these ideas out - Perhaps for Flash Fiction :-)



Originally posted by T.E. Bradford T.E. Bradford wrote:

I tend to toss out my first idea or two because others are probably thinking of the same thing. Too easy. So I use Rule of Six (or Ten, or Twenty) method and try to dig deeper into better - and less likely - combinations. 


Tracy, I really need to work on making a list of ideas at the beginning so I have stuff to pull from. I do struggle with the worry that my idea will be too typical and everyone else will have written a similar story.



Originally posted by SisterRosetta SisterRosetta wrote:

I try to brainstorm on a run, too - for some reason, the first idea that makes me want to stop running immediately and write something down before I forget it, is usually going somewhere worthwhile...I usually try to watch a movie during a 'post-first draft' downtime that's in the right genre - more for dialogue style than anything else. It also gives your brain a rest while feeling like you're still doing something ‘useful'.


I love that idea, that the first idea that makes you want to stop running and jot stuff down is usually worthwhile. I don't run (I'm so out of shape haha) but I'll think if there is some other activity I can do while brainstorming and maybe that'll help get my creative juices flowing.



Originally posted by lisafox10800 lisafox10800 wrote:

 After I'm finished laughing or crying or both, I start googling. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn't...But at the end of the day, my strategy has always been to land an idea early. Even if it's not the best idea, or the most original, I just try to make it work.


I did a bit of googling for the first round and it did actually help a bit but then I threw out the ideas that came from it when another idea formed. I'll probably use google a lot more in the future as it does provide a lot of helpful resources and ideas to pull from.



Originally posted by Vernacula Vernacula wrote:

My approach is pretty much coming up with unique setups, and matching them to a twist if I can. It doesn't even have to be a big twist or gotcha - I just like knowing what the button is going to be. The rest can all be finessed.


Your process sounds similar to Stephen King who has said that his stories usually start off with a "what if this character encountered this scenario..?" but usually the ideas have twists to them. I'm usually trying to match everything in my head but I think getting them down on paper would be much easier to mix and match and come up with something original.



Originally posted by Suave Suave wrote:

I pick the prompt that is gong to be worst to work into whatever genre I get and try and come up with any story that could use that prompt.  Then I try and work the other prompts into one of those ideas


Oh, that's an interesting process. That makes sense though to nail down a solid idea with the prompt that is going to be the most troublesome and then feed in the other easier elements afterwards. I'll have to try that.



Originally posted by manifestlynot manifestlynot wrote:

I tend to approach it like a puzzle. I make columns of all possibly characters and themes, then cross reference them to each other and to the selected genre. I reference genre tropes and read examples of said genre and try to do enough research that something gets hammered out...Then I wake up in the middle of the night with a completely different idea and go with that one instead. 


Do you have a website or anywhere that I could find info on the different genre tropes? I've tried searches online but haven't really come up with any good websites that offer info on the different genres. Or what I come up with seems more like info for directors. I looked up horror story tropes and they talked about lighting, music, etc. I've read Robert McKee's book "Story" and he suggested looking up the different tropes as well. He mentioned one for comedy which is that nobody ever gets hurt. Even if they get hit by a car or fall off a building, they are always fine and even if someone dies it's not a dire tragic thing. That was one trope that I found very useful and would love to find more for other genres as well. That would definitely help a lot as I'm writing.



Originally posted by Tim G Tim G wrote:

Most times I start writing out single sentence summaries (loglines minus any wit!) and then go with the one that feels most promising in that kneejerk basis. I’m always about the plot though. Characters come after I know the story. 


I love this idea. As I've said, I usually don't jot anything down when I'm trying to formulate my idea but I will start from now on for sure.



Originally posted by northernwriter northernwriter wrote:

I generally have to find a character I love. Then I think about their strengths and flaws and what kind of trouble they might get themselves into, and that’s where the plot comes from.


I'll have to try that process - I usually try to come up with the scenario/plot first but probably the story would feel more organic and real if I started with a great character and let their actions move the story a bit.

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Tim G View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tim G Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jun 2019 at 4:23pm
Now THAT is a post.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote NilesPerry Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jun 2019 at 4:26pm
Originally posted by Tim G Tim G wrote:

Now THAT is a post.
Yeah, what Tim G said...
LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ChristiLB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jun 2019 at 4:48pm
Originally posted by NilesPerry NilesPerry wrote:

Originally posted by Tim G Tim G wrote:

Now THAT is a post.
Yeah, what Tim G said...
LOL

Haha thanks guys! I always like to try and respond to everyone that takes the time to respond to my posts but then there were so many and I didn’t know which was the best way to go LOL LOLLOLLOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NilesPerry Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2019 at 12:58am
Originally posted by Suave Suave wrote:

I pick the prompt that is gong to be worst to work into whatever genre I get and try and come up with any story that could use that prompt.  Then I try and work the other prompts into one of those ideas.

What I have found is that since my first entry into short story, where I was left aghast at having to write something that I had never ventured into, each time has been easier as my mind has adapted I guess.
I think I like your approach better than the way I've been doing things. You pick the least likeliest prompt, where I've been picking the one I think works best. I think I shall apply your technique in the fall and see how it works out.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suave Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2019 at 1:02am
Originally posted by NilesPerry NilesPerry wrote:

Originally posted by Suave Suave wrote:

I pick the prompt that is gong to be worst to work into whatever genre I get and try and come up with any story that could use that prompt.  Then I try and work the other prompts into one of those ideas.

What I have found is that since my first entry into short story, where I was left aghast at having to write something that I had never ventured into, each time has been easier as my mind has adapted I guess.
I think I like your approach better than the way I've been doing things. You pick the least likeliest prompt, where I've been picking the one I think works best. I think I shall apply your technique in the fall and see how it works out.


Ya, sometimes those prompts can be horrendous, lol.
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