Where Does A Story Come From?

Ok, here is the deal, My PC is down, and I’m setting in my car, in a parking lot, waiting for someone to finish doing something (God help him).

So, I thought, why not write something about some stuff?

Yes, please, you say?

Alrighty then, I wouldn’t turn you guys down no matter what, wouldn’t want to displease my future fans 🙂

Let’s talk about stories. What makes a story interesting? What makes a reader want to read your book?

Is it the mystery of it? Is it the need to find out the ending of whatever happened in the beginning?

Or is it the setting? Does the world or the time period you write in draws the readers to your novel?

Maybe it’s in the characters. Does an interesting character marks the main attracting element to your work?

Or Is it a combination of all these things? And if it is, how exactly does a writer go about creating a story from these elements?

Let me rephrase the last question: From where do you begin to think about a story?

Is it correct to assume that a story in its purest form is actually pretty simple?

I’m asking this because when I set out to write a story, I tend to think about the setting, or the incidents, first, and I keep writing on and on, until I get lost in the process.

So, what I want to ask you, my friends, is this: How do you begin to think about creating a story? Do you create a foundation, and build your whole story around it? Or do you write it as it comes, and sort it out later?

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27 thoughts on “Where Does A Story Come From?

  1. My process is wildly unpredictable, but I do have some general trends. Overall I’m a plot-pantser, a weird hybrid. See, plotters tend to outline everything, figure out the general course of the story, and then start writing on it. Pantser just start with a blank page and have at it, flying by the seat of their pants. I start with an end in mind, and perhaps several plot points along the way, and write in those directions. It generally works quite well if I have a solid grasp on the setting. Darkness Concealed has never been outlined, and yet after finishing my readthrough I found it lacking any major continuity snags.

    Beyond that, I’m a setting-driven writer primarily, though I’ve been letting characters grow on me more recently. I’ll start with a simple idea, and flesh it out until I’ve got something to work with. One handy advantage of that particular approach is that ultimately any setting I write can be boiled down to one sentence, because that’s where it started.

    As for your other questions, it depends on the writer, the story, and a host of other factors. All stories rely in some portion upon the setting, the characters, the action, but the proportions shift with each and every one.

    • Thanks for taking the time to go in detail about your process. I think I may have been driven by the setting in my current WIPs. BTW, congratulations on the new site! Are you planning to leave WordPress for good?

      • It’s still WordPress-powered, and I don’t plan on leaving the blog platform for the foreseeable future, I just wanted more control over how it looks and what plug-ins I get to use. That, and having my own website has an air of professionalism about it.

  2. This was a topic I was going to blog about actually. I have a few story generators so far.
    The simple one line such as…A succubus does not want to be a succubus. What happens? That made my Celestial Series stories.

    Then I have the single scene where I dream up something and build a story around that scene. Deep Abyss came from that type of generator.

    I also have characters that need a place to live. I like plopping them in the most exotic setting possible. I’m brain storming some Aliens for that right now.

    Some characters are so odd it makes me wonder how the heck they got that way. Echo in my cyborg story is like that. She needed the most screwed up backstory and world in order to pull off her appearance.

    I also have idea from other authors. I read a story and think to myself that I would write a character or scene differently. Well, that changes the whole darn book then.

    Now with vague ideas, I start plotting which isn’t always easy for me.

  3. Emery posted pretty much what I do when storming with a one or two sentence approach. It really is one of my fav ways to come up with ideas. I have pages of one sentence wonders waiting for a plot. I need time and brain power to get them fleshed out though.

    I also love the one snap shot scene approach. An example is Triton telling a modern day woman that his brother, Hades, would not have her. As in Hell won’t take me. Okay…I love that idea how does she get in a conversation with Triton? How does she feel about him saying that? I day dreamed up a scene and built a story around it. Very similar tot he one sentence approach, but with an entire scene instead. Love these ideas! I plan on checking out Emery’s post in more detail when I get home from work. Thank you for sharing! I missed that post.

  4. I start with the environment/worldbuilding usually. I’m somewhat of a perfectionist with details, so I ask a lot of questions: why this? why that? Sometimes it hinders me more than it helps. Usually, I have an initial character in mind — the main character — and I’ll sort of do a test run with him/her in the world (in my head). But I’d say I tend to start on the outside with the setting and work my way in to the plot.

    I like Emery’s plot-pantser term, and it suits my style quite well. I don’t like to do outlines because I know I’ll never follow them completely — and I see it as taking up time that I could be using to actually write the story. I always start from the beginning of a story and then write it chronologically. This is a slow process, but I’m meticulous about writing my scenes in order. Usually I have the ending in mind and a few specific scenes, but the rest I make up as I go along.

    At the same time, however, when dealing with a complicated fantasy world (like my current WIP), I’ve found it helps me to jot down details and some elements of the world — especially the history. I also like to note important tidbits of any research I do or any important character quirks.

    P.S. We should have a contest for that laugh-out-loud romance story. 😛

    • I’m really glad I wrote this post, I’m learning a lot from you guys 🙂

      As for the competition 🙂 I already have an idea what my story will be about. It should be up by tomorrow, I hope 🙂

      • Oh! So you’re going to write one? 🙂 What’s the competition, then: who can write a romance that seems even remotely romantic? 😀 I’d be lucky to write a romance that doesn’t make me laugh the whole way through it.

      • Sounds good to me. 🙂 I cannot partake until after Friday, unfortunately. I have an exam, so instead of writing, I get to study the ever-so (not) interesting aspects of Language Typology. But I look forward to reading what you come up with, and I’ll try to think of something to write, as well. 😀

    • I also write everything in strict order. Everything I’ve written in the past 3 years was done without any skipping ahead at all. It really only works for a plot-pantser, because a pantser skips over the boring stuff generally, and a plotter has an outline to reference and can skip at leisure. Us? Well, the pants part is to surprise ourselves on the way to finishing the plot, no?

      • I feel better knowing that I am not the only one who does this. In general, I don’t like surprises, but at the same time, I like seeing where my characters lead me — after all, it is there story. When I get stuck on one scene, people tell me that I should just move ahead and come back to it later. And I’ll complain that I must know now whether, for instance, this character lives or dies in this scene because I will need to know if the character will appear later, etc.

        We seem to have similar approaches to writing. Do you ever get stuck on details?

      • Please forgive the use of ‘there’ instead of ‘their’ in that last message. I blame the early morning hours before coffee.

      • Yesterday, I wrote ‘Waiting’ instead of ‘Writing’ in the title of my post. I was fully awake at the time and full of caffeine. What I want to say is, don’t sweat it 🙂

  5. Apparently my mobile device doesn’t want to nest comments deeper than two levels, so this is in reply to Michelle’s question to me.

    I’ve learned how to stop getting caught on the minor details. The trick is themes. My stories all have underlying questions and overarching themes, and I’ll have a mental list of all of them as I’m writing. Whenever I get to a point where I’m stuck I think “is this matching my themes?”. Nine times out of ten a good portion of what I wrote didn’t match at all what I was aiming for. So I deleted however much didn’t fit and rewrote twice as fast what SHOULD have been there. And here you went and gave me a blog topic…

    • I’m glad that you liked it :). If you are referring to the romance-story competition, I was supposed to post my entry yesterday, but my phone decided to go crazy and deleted all of my unpublished posts 😥
      I’m currently rewriting it, and I hope I can post it today.

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