I blog about inspiration both here and over at Book View Cafe. Feel free to comment either here or there!

How do you start a story?

Book View Cafe will be doing a blog series on story starts. I figure the way I approach novels is of no use to anyone. I call myself a gestault writer: Generally the entire idea for a novel arrives in my head. The first few chapters are there in pretty good detail, I’ll know some of the middle, and I’ll see at least a couple of the pivotal end scenes. The characters main characters are already there — I’ll create minor ones along the way.

While I start writing the novel, I have to figure out how to get from point A to point Z, and all the points in between. Since I have the structure figured out, I’m frequently discovering the emotional journey of the characters along the way. (More than one writer has told me that’s backwards, with the implied I should be working from the emotional side first. But every writer’s process is different, yo. Respect the process.)

This doesn’t happen for every novel. For example, The Raven and the Dancing Tiger. This novel started from a short story and I had no idea where the ending was until I was further into it.

So this series of blog posts is really about short story idea generation. And for me, stories can come from anywhere. Like the post I did about the bees. I keep thinking about the beekeeper’s daughter. She lives in a world that’s very Blade Runner-esk. She’s starting to stir in my dreams. She hasn’t started talking to me yet, but that’s just a matter of time. I will write her story before the end of the year.

That’s a story inspired by character.

The post where I admit to just how much of a geek I am actually has already generated a short story. It’s currently out, looking for a home with a magazine.

That’s a story inspired by a game.

I have stories that start from a mis-read title of a book, from real life events like taking apart the mortar in my chimney, from a desire to explore the world of a novel just a bit more, from fairy tales, from everything.

How about you? Do you have a particular source that you go back to for inspiration? A particular key that unlocks all the stories you tell? Or are you all over the place like me, and even a few places I haven’t gone yet?

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