Everyone has their own beginnings, the impetus that starts a story running through their heads. For some, I imagine, it comes from thinking of a plot point, or a character flaw, or a world they want to create. For me, it comes most often like a movie clip from a movie that’s never been made.
I had a complete Cinderella adaptation played out behind my eyelids as I was waking up one day. It’s written down now and waiting for me to do something with it.
I saw Pete in the stables at Ridgemoor, silently worshipping Rosalynn. I saw the details of the sun slanting through the windows and the dust motes floating down from the hayloft. I felt his longing and her indifference. I could even smell the horses.
June’s post-dance encounter with the school teacher was inspired by the same experience happening to my grandmother when she was that age. After hearing the account of my grandmother, I had it pictured in my mind, the details forever engraved. The aftermath every bit as devastating.
The rest of the story flowed from that.
Of course, I knew going into it that I wanted it to be a love story, that the two of them would end up married and happy. That it would be a long journey for both of them. That June would have to forgive. That Pete needed confidence. I also knew I wanted June to triumph over James Jamison by herself. I felt she needed it. Also Pete would have to confront Rosalynn and find himself disenchanted.
Originally, I told the story linearly, without flashbacks, starting with the day Pete’s father died. We didn’t even meet June until much, much later. Almost halfway through the book. I was told that it was too slow, took too long to get to the good stuff. So, I added a lot more backstory for June and rearranged everything. I printed the story off and cut it up like a puzzle to put back together. Believe it or not, I cut out a good chunk of the flashbacks.
Of course, other stories have come in different ways. I have dozens of notes to myself describing story ideas, little bursts of inspiration that I just had to remember.
Sometimes I just start writing with no clear idea of what the story will be or where it will take me.
Other times I want to try my hand at a certain genre, or way of writing, and go from there.
For some, the hardest part of writing is coming up with an idea, but that’s never been my problem. My biggest problem is finding the time to write up all my ideas.
I had someone ask me how I completed the story once I got the concept in mind. But that’s for another post, I think.