1-19-23, Day 18 In PTL Perrin’s Life
Welcome to day eighteen of A Day In My Life! Happy Thursday!
We had winter just five days ago, with an early morning frost and a breeze from the north keeping the feel-like temps in the icy cold range all day. Floridians who ventured out into the bitter cold wore jackets, gloves, and hats. Those from farther north wore sweaters. Today, we’re back in the upper seventies, low eighties, and all the windows in the house are open to the refreshing breeze. Have I mentioned lately that I LOVE Florida winters?
Something I read in another blogger’s post made me think about how a story grows from an idea to a plot. I regularly met with one writer’s group before Covid, where we would write to prompts. We were given about twenty minutes to write a story about a random photo; or someone would give us a character, an item, and a place. We would have to come up with something coherent and interesting from a mere suggestion in just minutes. I still laugh at some of the wild stories we wrote. How could a seed of an idea grow into an entertaining story in that short a time period?
I believe three questions are all it takes for an idea to become a plot that doesn’t get bogged down, whether in a short story or a novel. Three questions have helped me move my books along, but then I write a blend of sci-fi and fantasy. Would this method of keeping my story moving work with other genres? Why don’t you decide? These three questions work for me.
What If? Here’s were the idea germinates. What if the girl in the photo above comes to this isolated spot with a view when she needs to pull her thoughts together? What if her parents just announced they were moving? What if that boy she likes has started messing with the wrong crowd? What if she’s tired of the busyness of her life and just needs some space to breathe? What if — can run your imagination down any number of rabbit holes.
The next question might nudge the story in a certain direction. Once you know the character, the setting, and the problem (your choice), you need to ask this: What Comes Next?
Since I write what I do, it could take me somewhere like this:
An eagle snatches the girl from her lookout point and takes her to its aerie, where it drops her into its nest. From there, a young man spots her, rescues her, and takes her to his village. Nice story, but other than the rescue, where would it go from there?
That’s where the next question and the fun begins for me. This question, alternated with “what’s next?” keeps the story moving, no matter how long it is, and adds tension, excitement, color, and growth opportunities. Ready? Here it is.
What Can Possibly Go Wrong?
The girl wants to go home and figures it must be over the mountains, since the eagle flew her over them when it grabbed her. She leaves the safe village, climbs the mountain, only to discover she’s in a different world. Where is the boy who rescued her? Is he inside the city? Did he lose her? Will he find the eagle and will they rescue her together? It’s time to go back to asking, “what comes next?”
I haven’t written a story like this one. There’s no copyright, so it’s fair game if you can flesh it out and make it yours. Not so with my real stories. They are copyrighted, which may be the subject of another post. Stay tuned!
How about you? Do you have a method that keeps your story moving forward? I’d love to know!
Here’s my to-do list for today:
- Write my daily blog. (Check!)
- Read the blogs of everyone participating in this challenge and comment. (daily)
- Balance our checkbooks. (Hmmmm.)
- Put Christmas bins away and start taking down the Christmas tree. (*sob!*)
- Spend an hour editing my friend’s book.
- Get tax information together for four corporations. (Must do by this time next week!)
- Make dinner and watch a movie with Bill before turning in for the night.
Thank you for reading my blog today, and please visit my friends and fellow RRBC Bloggers at https://ravereviewsbookclub.wordpress.com/rrbc-member-chat/
Patty Perrin (writing as P.T.L. Perrin)