Many a time, I will “share” a story on Facebook using a header like “Story fodder!” or “Start your synopsis NOW!” There are sooo many news articles out there that just make the writer in me go, “Oh! Oh! I know where to go from there!” It is, apparently, a “writer thing”. I saw this story just today, and it melded so well into the topic, I’m including the link:
It’s all about a unique gold ring that was found in an English field…and an unusual curse found at nearby temple ruins that happen to mention a lost ring—and the writer who was intrigued by the local archeology dig and the potential links between the two. That author? J.R.R. Tolkein.
It doesn’t matter what the story is:
- Tarantula the size of a human face discovered: http://news.sky.com/story/1073751/tarantula-the-size-of-a-human-face-discovered
- The famous shapeshifter who won the boxing medal in the Olympics, as recorded by a Greek geographer of the era: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damarchus
- Or just an image that makes you wonder: http://pinterest.com/pin/575827502325320617/
- Or one that puts a form to an idea you’ve had: http://ljspillowbook.tumblr.com/post/11341670498/historiated-chalice-of-abbot-suger-of
- Or one that makes you go, “Oh, yeah…I know who’d live THERE”: http://bijouxnoir.tumblr.com/post/21813066582
You’ll often hear writers trying to explain what they do talking about the “What if…?” Often followed by the, “And then what happened?” And I pause here in typing and wonder, “Do I need to explain this more? It seems pretty obvious to me.” THIS is what happens with writers. If it’s the start of the process, something triggers the “What if…?” A photo, a word, an overheard snippet of conversation, a desperate daydream during a really boring meeting or class can become the start of a story. A photo illustrating a news article provides a certain perfect thing for your characters already under development. A news story can provide the perfect “Ah ha!” moment for your plot…
…A glimpse of a impractical evening dress in your heroine’s favorite color makes you suddenly want a scene with her desperately wishing she could afford it or had a place she needed to wear it…and then wearing it…and the hero trying to seduce her out of it…or snatching her into adventure where she has to cope with being in it…
…Or the golden Roman coin with a lion etched on the back morphs into the griffin talisman worn by the young hero battling an evil magician on another planet…
…or the annoying lyrics of the song your daughter is playing over and over and over again makes you say, “HA! MY heroine wouldn’t put up with that—she’d sit her lover down and…” and suddenly you’ve got the best breakup fight scene you’ve ever written.
World building pulls from wherever it needs to pull to get the story told. More on that next time…