Monday, August 17, 2015

Story Creation: How Creators Create

I was chatting with some friends the other day and I was sharing some ideas I'd recently had for my next book. One of my friends asked me how I did it. Um...did what? Sound crazy while talking about characters as if they were real people? Because yes, I definitely do that!

She wasn't asking about that. She wanted to know how I came up with my story ideas. Admittedly, they can get a little crazy because I like to dive deep into my characters, thinking about their internal motivations in addition to the external ones. But, at the end of the day it's more than that.

 My explanation to her was this:

I literally feel like it's all “out there” in my mind and I’m just pulling down these threads of the story, waiting and pulling, until they become clear.
Before you go and lock me up, I fully believe that the ability to have these ideas comes from the Lord. He is the ultimate Creator but He has created us to create (wow that was a lot of "create" going on there). Because God has a huge imagination--if I may be so bold--we have been given the ability for some of that creation because we are made in His image. How amazing is that?

I wanted to share some ways in which I go about "creating" things, whether that's plot, character motivations, setting, or ideas. These are by no means the only ways you can create or maybe even the best ones, but sometimes it helps to see another perspective.

5 Ways To Create

1. Visually
When I'm struck with an idea one of the ways I flesh it out is by taking it to the drawing board. The literal drawing board ;-) I have a way too small white board that hangs right above my desk area. I usually start with a time line then draw/write in things to help me visualize my plot arc. If that feels stiff, it's really not. It's just a way for me to see what's going on, not necessarily a way for me to write out everything that will happen. This usually covers the basics and I leave the gritty details to my notes.

2. Mentally
Never underestimate the power of a great walk. It may seem trivial, but taking that amazing idea and giving it room to breathe is essential. This is where I "see" those threads and start to pull. I will usually try and focus on one aspect of what I'm working through. For example, with my new book simmering just beneath the surface, I'll take walks with my characters. The other day my main character and I had a bit of a chat (in my head of course - don't want to look like a lunatic talking to myself). I found out some pretty deep and personal things about her during that walk. I'd call that a win!

3. Verbally
Talk. It. Out.
Make sure you have those friends who you can turn to who will listen to all your crazy ideas. I've got a few of them and there are times that I think back to what I've told them and am super thankful that they didn't turn me into to be evaluated. I'm not crazy...just imaginative ;-)

4. Physically
There are times we create out of what has already been created. We look at something and we think, "what if". Those are magical words. When you're formulating an idea, take in what's around you and think about it. For me, that looks like the field I've been walking through each morning near the house where I'm house sitting. I'm thinking...this is the perfect place for one of my characters to live near.

5. Coffee
Ha! I couldn't resist this last one. Honestly plays a BIG role in my writer life and I have to give it a shout out every once in a while.

No, the coffee itself doesn't do anything, but I would say it plays a role in my creation on several levels. On one side it helps me stay awake to think things through BUT it's also great for socially connecting with others. I can sit down with a cup of coffee and discuss a plot idea with a friend.

What about you, writers? How do you create? 
For my readers out there, what "created things" (like plots, worlds, or characters) have stuck with you over the years? Why do you think they have?


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