Ideas are like bones. On their own, they’re a little useless. One thing I always struggled with was taking each of those bones and fitting them together to form a skeleton of sorts, a bare outline of a story. Taking those ideas and turning them from a simple sentence into an essential part of a greater body. Over time, I found the marrow, the ligaments, the tendons that hold those ideas together (I’ll stop with the analogy now) and somehow, my ideas began to fit into place. I want to share some of those tendons.
Lists are great. You can use them for shopping, housework, Christmas, decisions, blog posts. Better yet, you can use them, as simple as it sounds, for your bones.
When my brain first receives a promising idea, I write it down, usually on the notepad program that’s on my laptop. When I think up another, no matter how small the idea, I add it to the list. Character names, themes, plot twists. Every little bone adds to the skeleton, so shove it on the list. For my current WIP, I’m still on this stage, just adding and adding to the list until patterns start to emerge. Connections between the ideas, little links that form the first breaths of my imaginary skeleton.
Take, for example, this idea:
– A man dines on goat in a fine hall, his warriors standing proud around him.
I keep adding as they come:
– A little girl finds an abandoned puppy, who gives her a magical gift for saving his life.
– There is a village dominated by red flags.
– The village is secretly ruled by a guild of rogue cultists.
– There is a terrible hurricane that later destroys the village.
These ideas don’t really make any sense when considered as a greater whole, but eventually your mind will make the connection. The more ideas you have, the more of a plot you’ll have. In the end, I used these on-the-spot ideas to come up with a synopsis.
Sally, a twelve-year old orphan, finds starved puppy and nurses him back to life. She is surprised to wake the next morning with a host of magical powers at her disposal. Well timed, in fact, for the village, which is dominated by red flags to ward off strangers, is suddenly host to a freak hurricane. As the only survivor, Sally, must travel to the palace and find the king, who is said to spend his life dining and feasting, his sword barely used. She must beg for his help before the same mysterious magicians unleash another hurricane, one that will destroy the entire world.
Okay, obviously that is a highly clichéd and pretty boring plot. But you get the idea. A list of ideas can become a plot if you look for links, connections, tendons.
Do tendons even connect bones? I’m not even sure. Oh well.
This is the first part of my From Bone To Body series, which looks at turning ideas into a story. If you liked this post, or have any suggestions about the topic, feel free to drop a comment.
‘Till next time!