Step One of creating any story: get an idea. I think the best ideas come out of the either, unprovoked, prompted or even asked for. I love it when a story idea comes to me fully formed, ready to be written. These are the kind of stories that just write themselves and seemed to do really well. But I could be biased because they also require the least amount of effort on my part.
Most ideas require more work than that. Sometimes, that fickle muse is stubborn and just won't cough up that precious "good idea." Prompts are useful in these times. For me, prompts with a deadline are particularly helpful. If I know I have to write a story in two weeks about a golfer with a time machine on the run from the FBI... I can do that. Might not be any good, but when push comes to shove, if I have a deadline and a need to produce a product, I can do it. Sometimes these result in duds and sometimes they're gems. This is also why I believe in writing a lot of short stories and throwing them at the proverbial wall. It's a great way to learn what sticks.
This particular story I'll be writing in the coming days was the result of a prompt, albeit, a very loose prompt. I was listening to a Writing Excuses podcast (www.writingexcuses.com or on Twitter @writingexcuses ) when they gave a writing assignment to brain storm story ideas from various sources. One source was media: movies, books, music, etc. I love music and have been inspired by new unfamiliar songs fairly regularly, so I pulled up my Apple Music and found an album that I'd never heard before. Didn't matter what album or what kind of music. I'm a metalhead, but I'm open to other genres. Rock. Punk. A little reggae or rap every once in a while. My favorite new-to-me-bands right now are The Dirty Heads and Rival Sons. They're both great. I highly recommend them both. But what would Apple recommend for me? I tapped on the first "recommended" album to come up.
What's the worst that could happen?
Miley Cyrus' "Bangerz."
I pinched the bridge of my nose and whispered with deep resolve, "You can do this, Joe. You can do it."
I had a long car trip and a full finished cup of coffee. I turned off the podcast and let Miley rip. The first song on the album was a tune called, "I Adore You." I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, it was a run-of-the-mill love song, but it has this haunting vibe to it. Real eerie and empty, like she was in love, but there was definitely something empty and missing about it all.
And low and behold, an idea came. Something that might even be a "good idea." That might be a little premature. We'll see what comes out of it. But I think I got something I can sink my teeth into.
Now the real work begins... fleshing out that idea, adding some characters, creating a setting, building a structure and eventually actually writing. Follow along and let me know what you think of my idea-generating technique. Comment below!