A few weeks ago, I was driving home. There was a black car with blacked out windows in front of me, driving faster than the speed limit. In fact, they were so close to the car in front of them, that car pulled in on a grassy bank to let the person overtake. A car coming the opposite way flashed their headlights as the black car sped past, and, to my surprise, the car ahead slowed.
What are your first thoughts?
“Oh, they hadn’t realised it was X speed, and the flash reminded them to look at their speed.”
“Maybe they knew that person and just slowed by… coincidence following the flash of lights.”
Things like that?
My mind didn’t.
My first thought was “Maybe they were the FBI and they had already “warned this driver” to behave and the flash was an undercover agent reminding the driver to behave – and the driver then panicked and slowed, looking over his shoulder in fear.“
That’s one of the biggest differences between a writer and a nonwriter. Because I then followed that trail of thought for the next 30 minutes; creating a full backstory for a character I hadn’t even seen. When I told a friend, her first thought was “drug dealer”.
I’ve decided to begin some brief planning of my next story. I’ve been working on the Planes Trilogy since January 2012, and I just want to have something else to absorb all the other ideas I’ve had, especially as NaNoWriMo is coming up. I’m still not sure I’ll do it this year, but I wanted to try out a new method of plotting.
I began with: a blank piece of paper, a blue biro and “it’s in a city”.
Then I asked myself what I could see in my mind.
It’s dark, there’s a woman on top of a building. There are fires below her – but no fire brigade. And it’s raining.
That’s all I needed. A couple of google searches and some scribbles, and I had two full names. One with backstory. And a hidden secret. And then I left it for 30 minutes while I edited Planes Shifter some more. I did a scene and a half of editing, and then, the idea of character two for the new story came to me.
And that’s all a writer needs.
– A location. Situations to put your characters in.
– Characters, with reasons for how they act (backstory).
– A bond between characters (friendly or opposing wishes).
And then, within one of those three things, conflict.
And there we have a story.