I’m learning that when I get a story idea I have to be very careful not to scare it away. I’ll get a tiny seed of an idea and if I jump in and try to make a story from it right away it comes out all forced and undeveloped like a malformed embryo.
I’ve also learned not to talk about an idea with anyone. It’s almost like the story wants to surprise me along with the reader and if I try to explain what I want to do with it, the story loses it’s excitement about unfolding. It becomes flat and we lose interest in each other. Then it slowly withers away.
I will let an idea sit for a while. I’ll take that seed and gently suggest a story to go with it. I’ll hint at how it will end. I rarely know how it will get to the end which makes it fun. I get to discover it along the way.
Sometimes an idea forms into a complete story with a beginning a middle and an end on its own. Those ideas are few and far between but when they arrive, I find that I can get the whole thing down in a quick first draft.
Most of the time I need to take tiny snippets of a scene and introduce it to the idea. If it sticks, a new leaf of the story uncurls and I quickly move on to the next scene.
Eventually, once I have enough scenes and the seedling is thriving, the story almost writes itself. Of course there’s a lot of dirt that needs to be brushed away and pruning to do to get a the shiny new plant, but that’s what revising and editing is for.
With careful nurturing, the new story forms into a vibrant healthy plant full of life, action and an end which blooms as a flower.
In the long run I hope to have an entire landscape of stories.