Lessons for Life, Writing Tips

Beginnings Times Ten

I wanted to share a little bit about how ideas develop by sharing about my longest running story. Plenty of stories have been started and dropped before I finished them, and some I have an idea tucked away until I feel more of a drive to develop them. But this one, I’ve been working on for years and I know it’ll be one I finish.

I realize that sometimes it’s hard to figure out what to do with an idea and make it into a story. In Making Potions I talked about compiling tidbits from life until it’s a magical concoction. Here, I want to show a real-life version or example of that. Taking an idea and develop it.

I distinctly remember writing stories in first grade and realizing that it was something I really loved. In middle school, I knew I wanted to be a writer and I was looking for my first, good, original idea. Up to that point I had been mimicking and retelling.

The Source of the Idea

The spark for my story came because of my youngest brother. At the time, he was a toddler that had outgrown naps but periodically needed one before dinner. This was one of those days, he had fallen asleep on the floor in my parents’ bedroom. My mom had warned me not to wake him up, but I couldn’t resist stroking his cute little hand. As I watched him sleep, I was aware of my inability to leave him alone.

I distinctly remember writing stories in first grade and realizing that it was something I really loved. In middle school, I knew I wanted to be a writer and I was looking for my first, good, original idea. Up to that point I had been mimicking and retelling.

I know that the draw I had to my sleeping brother was the maternal instinct in me as well as the love I had for him. But I imagined that there was something more, almost a magical pull and impulse to watch and protect him. That was the beginning of Ava’s Story.

The Development of the Idea

That idea of a powerful impulse to watch and protect someone, led me to develop a character that was worthy of being watched and protected. Ava is a princess, the heir of two joint kingdoms, who is living in hiding. Her situation necessitates a protector of some kind.

In the beginning, there was almost a magical spell that transferred from each of her protectors to the next. The source of the magic is her mother, who had been burned at the stake, hours after Ava’s birth, for witchcraft. With each version, the magic or spell hasn’t fit as well, to the point where there isn’t any magic or spell in the story at all.

I’ve written hundreds of versions of the beginning of this story now, and finally gotten a few drafts to the end. The story has completely evolved as I continue to develop and fine tune the story. More about that in Revising.

An idea for a story won’t create the story in and of itself. A completed story may only retain a small aspect of the original idea. Take the idea and run with it, write a hundred versions of it if you need to, the process is the development.

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