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Chris James

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Okay, I've come to the conclusion that I am missing the writer gene. After staring at a blank screen for two days, I've decided to stick to what I know. When I look at almost anything, I can see a photograph needing to be taken. It could be an animal, a stream, a person, or just an open field. I always have my camera with me just in case I see something that would make a great photo. Taking pictures is my way of relaxing and seeing the beauty in the world. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Maybe, I can create a novel through the photos that I have taken over the last 30 plus years that will tell the story I wish I could write.

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Okay, I've come to the conclusion that I am missing the writer gene. After staring at a blank screen for two days, I've decided to stick to what I know. When I look at almost anything, I can see a photograph needing to be taken. It could be an animal, a stream, a person, or just an open field. I always have my camera with me just in case I see something that would make a great photo. Taking pictures is my way of relaxing and seeing the beauty in the world. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Maybe, I can create a novel through the photos that I have taken over the last 30 plus years that will tell the story I wish I could write.

I've always been bummed that I can't draw or paint worth a damn. My Sister got that gene. What I got (or like to think I got) was music - and more recently, writing.

There's no reason, Eric, why you shouldn't post a photograph and let the writers here have at it. Maybe a short story competition for sometime next year?

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I've always been bummed that I can't draw or paint worth a damn. My Sister got that gene. What I got (or like to think I got) was music - and more recently, writing.

There's no reason, Eric, why you shouldn't post a photograph and let the writers here have at it. Maybe a short story competition for sometime next year?

That's a really great idea, and sounds like it could be a lot of fun.

As for drawing, painting, or really anything graphical, I'm absolutely useless. Just ask The Dude as he pulled his hair out trying to get me to give him some idea what graphics to use for the title page of my stories. After politely turning down my first couple of ideas, I think he's learned his lesson, and doesn't even ask me anymore. Good call.

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Okay, I've come to the conclusion that I am missing the writer gene. After staring at a blank screen for two days, I've decided to stick to what I know. When I look at almost anything, I can see a photograph needing to be taken.

Some people are artists; some are writers; some are singers; some are sculptors; but there always has to be a bigger part of humanity that's the audience.

I think it's good to start off with a basic premise: someone has a major problem they have to solve. Maybe along the way they fall in love, have a fight, have to confront enemies, have to overcome their own limitations. One great piece of advice (which I have yet to add to my "Gay Writing Tips" piece) is: the lead character of the story has to want something. Maybe he or she wants love; maybe he or she wants somebody dead. Maybe they want to be rich; maybe they just want to survive. Maybe they want to save somebody. There's 1000 stories out there.

I think you can start writing a short story or novel with a basic premise. Stephen King insists he often has no idea how his stories are going to end until he gets there; J.K. Rowling, on the other hand, fully plotted out all the Harry Potter novels so that she basically knew the great story arc: the villain kills a baby's parents, gets injured while doing so, the baby survives and eventually grows up and avenges his parents death. Harry wanted revenge. Very simple plot, when you think about it. But the story is also about loyalty, friendship, personal growth, learning, and the journey from boyhood to manhood.

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There's no reason, Eric, why you shouldn't post a photograph and let the writers here have at it. Maybe a short story competition for sometime next year?

I actually like that idea! I'll have to look through my photos and see if I can find a couple that would be good to base a story. :icon_thumleft:

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I actually like that idea! I'll have to look through my photos and see if I can find a couple that would be good to base a story. :icon_thumleft:

That's terific, Eric!

At the moment we're in the middle of a writing project that Gee Whillikers is running. That's going to be finished and released on Valentine's. So after that would be good - provided The Dude is up for another one.

Maybe you could offer a selection and we could vote on one - or, we could find out who wants to take part and each participant could be given a different picture, or...?

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That's terific, Eric!

At the moment we're in the middle of a writing project that Gee Whillikers is running. That's going to be finished and released on Valentine's. So after that would be good - provided The Dude is up for another one.

Maybe you could offer a selection and we could vote on one - or, we could find out who wants to take part and each participant could be given a different picture, or...?

I'm in. This could be a lot of fun, and sounds like a great way to build a story.

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"What if?"

All my good stories start with me asking what if... and then you imagine all the ways that life becomes difficult if that thing happens.

For instance, I have a story I plan to do based on 'what if a psychic kid knew he was going to die before he was an adult?' The key is what comes after that happens. You start wondering about the consequences of that what if: How would that kid treat his schoolwork? I mean, would you study calculus if you weren't going to use it as an adult? Would you even bother with school? How would that kid treat the idea of saving for college? How would he view drinking and driving? How would his parents deal with his insistence that he was going to die young? How would he look at friendships? What would his biggest goals be? fears? What if he's wrong about his destiny? What if he's got a plan to save the world, but he won't live long enough to enact it?

Then there's step 3: deciding what problems created by the what if you want to follow and then figuring out ways the characters could deal with the problems, e.g. the psychic kid could find a way to convince his parents to donate his college fund to a worthy charity. Maybe he bribes them, or bargains with them, or even blackmails them.

So, to sum up: 3 steps: 1) Imagine 'what if...?' 2) develop the interesting problems of such a thing happening 3) Find a way for a character to solve this consequence/problem.

Of course, there's other stuff involved in development of the story, like plot , characterizations, descriptions etc, but that's perspiration. The inspiration is the three steps above. (And the inspiration is the comparatively easy part. And also the funnest.)

In fact, it's so fun, I'm gonna throw out 5 what ifs right now in real time as I think of them:

1) What if only eunuchs could enter politics?

2) What if diamonds stop being rare because of cheap artificial diamonds that can't be told apart?

3) What if a mentally challenged kid had a great idea for his community but couldn't express his thoughts clearly?

4) What if the future of space exploration is robots with human brains?

5) What if you're an FBI agent at your class reunion and you find evidence that your 10th grade crush is a serial killer?

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Steven,

You've outlined one of the ways I also come up with story ideas. But where do these "what-if's" themselves come from? I get mine from TV and the newspaper and snippits of overheard conversations and a sentence in a book and billboards and posters at school and songs and sounds the way a tree in our neighbor's yard looks at sunset and anything and everything else that goes on around me.

To describe how this works for me, if I'd come up with your #5 it might have been generated this way: First, I see a TV news item that includes something about FBI agents; second, a friend of mine tells me he's going to his five year high school reunion; third, I read a review of a book about a serial killer in this week's New York Times Book Update email; fourth, the next day I'm in the shower just thinking about not much at all and all of a sudden these three seemingly unrelated items come together and I think, "Hmm, what if there's an FBI agent..." and I'm off and running.

I collect these ideas because even though I'm unlikely to actually take action and develop a story based on more than a few of them in a year, the rest are there for me to look at and ponder whenever I need a "What if..." to get me going.

Colin :icon_geek:

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Those sound very much like how I get ideas for stories too. Small things, tiny things, inconsequential things. Then another one. And another. And maybe combine them, and shake a bit. Who knows what will blend?

For example: Sitting on my desk, right here in front of me right now as I type, is an old Blockbuster Video membership card. I was cleaning out junk from my wallet a few days ago, and forgot this was in it. Since Blockbuster went bankrupt, I took the card out and instead of tossing it in the trash, set it on my desk. So I was looking at it earlier today, and that made me think of the still empty store near my place, and that made me think of all those empty buildings, infused with the souls of all those movies, empty and yet maybe not so empty. What if all those movies, all those plots, all those heartbreaks and car chases and explosions and sex scenes somehow left an imprint on the spacetime in those buildings? What if some poor sap wandered in there, maybe a real estate agent, or a utility company guy, or even a homeless skateboarding teen looking for shelter. Then, what if something happened.....

Stories can come from the most innocuous things. Even a wee bit of flat plastic with printing on it sitting on a computer desk.

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You are so correct. As I spent more years than I care to remember showing and working on movies, I can vouch for the imprint of many an epic onto my subconscious (or is that, my unconscious?) Anyway lets just say that it is not unusual for my nightmares to consist of the theatre manager or film director handing down the Commandments, and being mutilated by that most horrific of assassins, Mickey Duck in his hockey outfit wielding a chainsaw whilst dancing like Gene Audrey and sounding like Brando Pitt. Things have gotten a bit mixed up, I think...just a little. :icon6:

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Ideas come from your involvement with the varying stimuli around you. For instance, reading the above post by Des just gave me an idea. What if when the Ten Commandments were handed down, the message was garbled, or truncated? You could do a lot with that. Just one of many thoughts that flashed through my mind was: What if there had been a message attached to the list, and it had said no one could come to Heaven if they had wasted their life, had not experienced any of the important, significant elements of life; that the commandment list included the most basic elements of how to be good, but that a full life included some intersection with each item on the list, either as a participant or an involved bystander, because without the knowledge and feelings that came from experiencing each of those, they wouldn't be whole?

And then that codicil was discovered. What happened next?

C

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Ideas come from your involvement with the varying stimuli around you. For instance, reading the above post by Des just gave me an idea. What if when the Ten Commandments were handed down, the message was garbled, or truncated?

Mel Brooks said it was originally 15 commandments, but Moses dropped one of the tablets!

moses_brooks.png

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The thing that surprised me most when I started writing stories, rather than scenes and sequences for stage productions, was the ease with which the story hijacked my initial ideas. It wasn't just a wandering tangent of thought as much as it was, choosing from a multitude of possibilities that only present themselves after I started to write. I think that is the creative process at work.

I've had beginnings that needed to be discarded and ends that suddenly became something different to where I thought the signposts would lead. The middle however, is where the enigma of thought uses truth, experience and reality to drive the muse insane with all the variations that are possible and impossible, without an object in mind.

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