Hardcore scribblers that we are, our brains are constantly searching for the perfect story that will enthrall readers. Its tough to sort and sift through the complicated labyrinth of our minds, navigate through alleys darkened by writer’s blocks and stumble or, shall I say pounce upon a story idea that brings an instant smile.
At any time there are several ideas floating in my mind. It’s extremely difficult for me to zero in on the one I would like to work on. Several times I have started a story and after a chapter or two realized that it’s just not happening, that I am unable to do justice to the theme, perhaps the genre does not interest me at this time. I feel guilty about these stories, but its better to shelve a project in the initial stage then be stuck with something that is unexciting and elicits a half hearted effort. It’s not like I will never return to that story in my life. Few story ideas are not worthy of a book, its better that they remain a short story. Perhaps more justice can be done to them that way.
One thing I have learnt is that I must let the story idea marinate and stew in its own juices for several weeks, sometimes few months before I start working on it. During the marinating days, my mind constantly hovers over the story; creating a vision of the character, the journey it has to trek, his/her life story, love interest, goals, aims, principles and attitude in life, motivation, the problems they have and the solutions they crave, their dreams and aspirations. I note down these as bullet points in a folder called the Ideas Folder.
Even tiny sub plots that fall my way are noted down. As are names of places, people and incidents that occur in the story. After several pages are filled, I read my notes. Its then that I decide whether I would like to go ahead with the story, or not. This free style thinking is quite liberating because there is no pressure on the imagination that a full fledged WIP brings. The creative cells go into an overdrive and come up with several wonderful ideas when they are not under pressure to perform.
A fellow writer advised me that we must work on only those stories that Must and Should be told. “ If you don’t tell your story, will the world lose out on a story that could have made a difference, if your answer is yes, then, by all means ensure that your story makes its way out into the world.”
I found her suggestion hard to digest. For me two things work in favour of a story. I must be really excited about it and I must hate being away from it. That’s when I know the story is on firm footing.
How do you all decide whether a particular story is worthy of investing your time and effort. Is there any particular criteria the story must have before you plunge headlong into it. Any tips you would like to share to transform a basic story idea into a full fledged book?