M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Finding Story Ideas

Where do you get your story ideas?  The lack of new story ideas in my files -- until yesterday, the New York Times (8 June 2010) delayed my morning routine -- had been bothering me.  Suddenly all sorts of ideas bounced against each other in my head -- all inappropriate for "fantasy writer".  After all, I write the serious make-believe stuff.

On the front page, a headline gives the bare bones of a great novel pitch:  "Army Leak Suspect Is Turned In, by Ex-Hacker".  Add a few names, motivations (anti & pro), a setting, and reduce it to "A wants x more than anything in the world, but D stands in the way because ..."   Need a situation to surround these combatants?  How about the implications of Estonian language police patrolling classrooms for signs of Russian being spoken?  --- Change the cause and you could have a dozen novels.

If you need more ideas to flesh out your idea, the Business Section has an article about how the US Air Force is using savvy social networkers in the war efforts.

The first story structure that grabbed me:
This story idea leapt at me as soon as I picked up the Science Times.  An entrepreneur, named Robert T Bigelow, may be providing the world with a viable, moduale space station -- that would work in space, on the moon ... and, hopefully, on Mars.  Bigelow bought the exclusive rights to unused NASA patents for inflatable spacecraft and ran with them to create what might become a commercial space enterprise.  The biggest hole in his plans at this point seems to reliable transportation.

Besides transportation, other possible glitches exist -- like supplying food, water, air, sanitation, etc.  Think of all the things that could go wrong from bureaucrats to asteroids, and you have a hundred stories or more, once you got your world set.  Still, this is the first time I've been hopeful about the space program since Nixon castrated it.

Then, for those who are wondering 
why they are
in debt for a humanities degree,
I offer David Brooks, New York Time columnist and PBS News Hour commentator.

"Over the past century or so, people have built various systems to help them understand human behavior:  economics, political science, game theory, and evolutionary psychology.  These systems are useful in many  circumstances.  But none completely explain behavior because deep down people have passions and drives that don't lend themselves to systemic modelings.  They have yearnings and fears that reside in an inner beast you could call The Big Shaggy."

Isn't that a nice, polite way of saying people are messy?  And, we writers get to slog through all that mess.

The Read ...
Am thoroughly immersed in Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper, Bloodhound and wish for the days when I could just sit down for a couple hours and a stretch and read.  I guess if you nit-pick publishing categories, you might say Beka is a fantasy police procedural.  To me, it's a fantasy and a darn good read.
Half-way through the book and enjoying how she develops her cast of primary and secondary characters.  Has two real good villains, old standbys from the first book, and a cast of new allies.  Keeping a series fresh tip:  Pierces locates the book in a new city where Beka and her partner are at a disadvantage. 

Progress ...
I put another Half-Elven story on the desktop to work -- a sword and sorcery romance which answered Linden's question about what the blazes his Defender of the West saw in her ring-mate.  I'm sending it to WolfSinger Publications -- even though it might be a mistake -- because I have some ideas on marketing I want to try on something small.   If they reject it, I get to start water-skiing at 60 miles per hour.

Voices ...  Am finally getting words down on the computer screen ... and not revising (very much). 

Trivia ...
Wiggles got totally disgusted with me yesterday.  While I sipped coffee and read the paper, he waited on the kitchen table stool.  Glared at me as if to say, "Why isn't your butt in the chair?"  By the time, I wandered into the living room, he was no where to be seen.  Though his brother hopped on my lap for a quick pet. 
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