Planning is so important
Ideas for stories come easily, it’s just the actually going from the idea to the actual writing that sometimes doesn’t go well. That idea, that little nugget of gold, that you thought was so brilliant when you first thought of it. It’s all down to planning before you right. It still amuses me that people will start writing a story with no idea where that story will go, or even worse no idea where beyond that first chapter the story is going. You see a good idea alone doesn’t make a story, it sometimes doesn’t even make sense. For ideas to work, you have to invest times and energy into developing them. You have to have an idea of the characters that you use, you have to know exactly what they feel, how they look and what their personalities are. You need to know how the story will end, put in place three or more key points in the story. All this without even writing a word, although this doesn’t preclude you from writing the odd bit of dialogue that comes to mind. My notebooks are full of, what I regard as, good phrases that are just waiting for a character to bring to life.
For myself I’m lazy. I base most of my characters from my life. People I’ve met, friends and enemies alike. Their personalities and looks just ripe for exploiting in my words. Sure I’ll disguise them in another persons body so that they might not realise, hopefully, it’s them. I’ll mix certain traits up to further muddy the water, but essentially it’s me nicking people from my life and placing them inside a fantasy world.
Basing stories on your own experiences is so important. The world will feel far more real if you know it’s possible for it to happen. If you’ve never fired a gun, how can you write a convincing story about shooting ? The best, most real stories come from pieces of your own experience. Research helps though and if you’re not sure then it’s worth spending time looking into other peoples experiences. Non fiction books are great for this, as well as reading others blogs.
We should never however forget that the stories we create are fantasy , even those rooted in real life experiences. The trick of a good writer is to make you feel empathy with the characters, to make you feel you want to live in their created universe and interact with these people. Whilst we might never measure up to these people in terms of realism, it’s something we should strive to attain.
So my latest story, I never call them books, is based partly from my own experiences in life. The characters are a rough pastiche of people I know, people I’ve met. Most of the places are real and you can visit. However I never found ‘success’ like those in the story, the most I played to was a couple of hundred. Instead I slowly faded from the light. However a part of me yearns for that number one album, yearns for the heights. Maybe the story is fantasy, maybe it isn’t that good but like everyone who’s used a hairbrush as a mic and pretend they’re in front of 100,000 screaming fans this was partly my dream and aspirations.