I love coming up with story ideas. If I had to earn a living coming up with a story idea every day for the rest of my life, I think I could do it. Yes, some ideas aren't as good as others, but they keep coming to me.
I divide story ideas into several categories: Big Ones, In The Moment Ideas, and Random Curiosities.
Big Ones are ideas that I've had for a while, stories that I've either started or maybe even finished. Ones that at some point in my life, I hope to someday do. This includes my Pat Conroy-esque novel Bull Road. It also includes my Lost-esque series idea that I started to write then decided it was too big and special to simply crank out.
You know a story idea is a big and special one when it keeps coming to mind time and time again. Your perspective on the story might change, but the heart of the story will remain the same.
In The Moment ideas are ones that are based on what's happening to you at the moment they come. A high school reunion story that comes to mind because your reunion just happened. A story about someone your age going through something you might be going through. Even a collaboration like Paper Angels with Jimmy Wayne resulted in a story about a character about to have twins which mirrored my real life. (Thankfully Jimmy was gracious enough to allow me to add that storyline).
The one thing with these In The Moment ideas are the timely nature of their creations. My novel, Admission, was one of those stories. I knew that if I didn't write my college novel when I wanted to, the moment would pass and I'd move on from the idea. Many ideas are like that. It's a great idea for the moment, and for the month, but as the years pass, the idea fades and something new replaces it.
Finally, there are the Random Curiosities. These are story ideas based on something that I like or find fascinating. A profession, perhaps. An idea. A piece of pop culture. These are about diving into a world I want to know more about and creating a particular story around that.
The picture above is of the famous director Stanley Kubrick. I've always found his movies fascinating and his own life intriguing. There's an idea I've had for a while that involves Stanley Kubrick. The idea doesn't involve time travel and isn't set back when Kubrick was alive. It's a quirky idea that's completely original and could be brilliant or could be a trainwreck. The reason I want to do the project is to learn more about Kubrick and craft a story around him. But that would be quite an endeavor. I know it's not something I'm going to do anytime soon.
Another one is a story involving a climb to Mt. Everest. This has been a source of interest ever since the nonfiction work Into Thin Air was a bestseller. I'm intrigued by the compulsion by some people to climb this mountain. I've thought of various ideas--one of my book ideas attached to my Moody Publishers contract (Admission, Blinded, etc.) was an idea about a climb to Mt. Everest.
I'm fortunate to always be having ideas. I'm also learning to be realistic about certain ideas. The Kubrick idea--it's big and ambitious and I'm nowhere near even attempting it. The Lost-esque idea--I hope to get to that sometime soon. And the stories involving having twins or having three girls--well, yeah, those will be coming sometime down the road too.
Some ideas are too impossible to resist.
Labels: Inspirations, story ideas, works in progress