Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Thought Storm

Untouched word count at 17,500. I'm just barely making those 1,000 words/day goals. Hopefully I'll be able to get ahead soon.

Everyone comes up with their ideas in a different way. My stories reveal themselves to me because I ask them to. When an idea strikes it is only the beginning. Usually I start with the main character. A concept for a character enters my mind- a quality, an outlook on life, a personality quirk- something that makes them an individual. Then I start asking questions. Tell me, MC, what is your story?

For example, I recently thought of a young female who was an empath. She feels other people's emotions so strongly she can barely live a normal life. So, how does she live?

She would have to live in solitude, or at least a very secluded life. But she would probably need a roommate to go shopping, buy groceries, etc. What kind of roommate could she have? Somebody happy and perky- a cheerleader type maybe. Or maybe the roommate takes Prozac, and is always numbly happy so the MC isn't tormented by her emotions. Maybe she's a cheerleader on Prozac.

Now, what do these girls do to support themselves? The Prozac cheerleader comes from a rich family- she only has a job at a fashion boutique for the employee discounts. Her parents pay her way because she's going to college.

But what does the MC do? Well, she's turned the basement into her room/office. Sometimes when she goes upstairs she can feel the neighbors' emotions and it's not always numb or happy. Jealously, envy, hatred, sadness; she feels the pain of the world and at times it's utterly unbearable. So she stays underground where she feels nothing but loneliness, for that feeling is unavoidable. She takes college classes, online of course, and she manages web sites for an income.

Now, what could occur that would be a story worth telling?

She starts feeling murders. They're happening all around town, but somehow they effect her as strongly as they would if it happened in the same room as her. She can't escape the emotions- the terror and fear of the victims, the fury and blood lust of the killer. In fact, the emotions are so strong they pull her out of the comfort of her house.

She feels the killer's drive to murder as though it were her own, and she inadvertently ends up at the scene of a crime, where she meets a detective who's drive to capture the murderer is so intense it feels like her own. She's torn between the motivation to kill and the desire to capture the killer. While she would prefer to hide in her room and continue her detached existence, she knows she can't while the killer is still roaming free. As long as he is killing, her emotions will not be left alone.

She has no choice but to try to track him down. She feels as though she wants to kill the victims as much as the murderer does, and because of that, she knows where to find them. And she just might be able to catch the murderer- if she can control her foreign rage long enough to not go on a killing spree of her own.

And that's how I brainstorm for most of my ideas. It's not a perfect story concept- it needs a lot more thought, but it's a decent start. Maybe someday I'll sit down, sketch out the whole story outline, and get to writing.

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