Fiction: How I Start

Was talking about some of these things with a book club (that just read Truest and invited me to join them for discussion) this week. Thought I’d repost. Tell me about how YOU start a story.

JACKIE LEA SOMMERS

Not that you should necessarily take writing-life advice from me.  Perhaps you ought to listen to Jo Rowling and spend seven years plotting.  But this it the irrational, backward way I start a new story.

1. I have a tiny idea.  Teenaged wards of the state in hospice care.  That’s nowhere near a full-blown idea, let alone a plot, but it’s enough.  Just a tiny idea is all I need.  But I have to love it, have to want it.

2. Characters.  Whatever-this-is-going-to-be is going to be nothing without a handful of characters.  I start with names and photos, which I find by scouring the internet until angels start singing.  Again, this seems backward, doesn’t it?

Yes, I think.  Her name will be Macaulay, and she will go by Mack.  And this will be her.

mackThat’s fascinating, I think.  She has purple hair.  I didn’t know…

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4 thoughts on “Fiction: How I Start

  1. I found the short story! It was great! Question though, Chap brings in the letter and then it ends? Must I live with the curiosity? OCDers don’t like that………….. 🙂

  2. So fun to read this. I wish I started more strongly with character. All of my favorite writers seem to do that. I really let the plot run away with me before I try and think, who would be the perfect character for this to happen to.

    What I really don’t understand and am totally intrigued by is authors that say they begin their stories by focusing on setting. So interesting.

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