Finding Stories

I’ve been asked many times how I come up with my stories. Well, for me there a few ways:

  1. Looking into my own life and creating new pasts and/or futures.
  2. Having an idea or situation in mind (rarely a character for me).
  3. Prompts.
  4. Just making it all up.

I’ll say that the last one is the most difficult, for me. I have a hard time searching for a story to tell when I have nothing in mind. I belong to the camp that believes that stories find me, characters find me (true in the most recent novel that I’m working on). I believe I am the conduit of story, the one to set it down, and more often than not, I do very little creating.

Don’t break a pencil on paper.

Now that makes number 1 and 2 look a bit suspicious no? Well, sometimes the stories that I need to tell are my own. Admittedly, they are few and far between (and I like writing poetry to address some of them). But yes, sometimes the very stories that I’m told to write, are, in fact, mine. And that can be a good thing!

I’ll address how point two and point three are very much related. Which makes both suspicious, right? When asking for a story or sitting down to write, it can be daunting to try to capture one story when many, many can vie for your creative attention. When I have an idea (in one case, a gay jock falls in love with a straight drama guy), the characters reveal themselves, and say, “Hey, that’s me, that’s my story. Lemme tell you.” Whew! That’s a lot less searching! With prompts, I feel the same way. I can ask the storyverse, “Hey, anyone out there have these qualifications? I need a story that takes place at 2 am.” Sure enough, I’ll get a response (in fact my latest short story publication was based on this 2 am concept).

What are some ways you come up with story? I find it fascinating how we all have the same outcome (a story) but the approaches are so different.


2 thoughts on “Finding Stories

  1. Usually a character starts whispering in my ear – I have a terrible time just thinking of a story, prompts can spark that voice, but I can’t write anything without the character revealing himself!

    • Yes! I need character to reveal themselves too. Though sometimes they do and are very shy about telling me what is happening. Or they make me guess which leads me down the wrong path.

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