Born from a Scene

So where do my story ideas come from? Everywhere is the most obvious answer and it's true, but I'd like to be a bit more specific. It's a stretch to call them ideas because my stories are born more from a scene or an image. A couple of years ago, I remember vaguely my brother mentioning the DVD player clock going off for no reason and instantly, I thought of ghosts. With only that in mind, I wrote a short story. As always, it didn't turn out the way I expected. It's not a ghost story but I'm very pleased with it.

I started another short story simply with the scene of a female working late at the office. I had no idea where I'd go from there but, several edits later, it's one of my favorite stories. One I'll be turning into a novel.

My stories aren't built from grand or even well thought out scenes. I see or hear things and sometimes they speak to me. While riding in the car with my parents, I heard them say they hadn't been able to sleep the night before and I, too, hadn't slept well. Instantly I thought- monster, some creature may be playing with us. What a great story that would make!

On one occasion, I created a story in my head simply for fun. During my twenty minute walk to work, I decided to create an event out of what I was seeing. I created a monster and then imagined what it would do to this street, to that car, to that person, to that building. What would this area look like as it attacked? As I passed shops, I imagined the store mannequins coming alive with frighting expression, attacking people as they passed. What would I be doing in this situation? What building would people run to for shelter?

Don't worry. I acted like an adult and didn't run into small corners as if something was chasing me or stare at store windows as the mannequins came alive though that would've been hilarious. I didn't expect this to exist anywhere but my mind but as it happened, it stuck with me and I turned it into a novel. I ended up changing a lot of it but still, the novel was born from me just having fun with my imagination.

Often, while I'm out and about, I'll come across things screaming "put me in a story" like a contorted tree, a lone red glove draped over a fence, a rose sitting on the floor in the middle of a subway car, an abandoned factory. At my parents' house, during a bad thunderstorm, the wind toyed with the door of the dog pen. It opened and closed slowly as though something invisible was moving it. That, coupled with the heavy rain, thunder and overcast sky, made for a chilling atmosphere. I had to pull out my camera and record it.

Another time, the power went out for the entire neighborhood. I'd opened the backdoor at night for some reason and froze. The yard was pitch black. I've always lived in the city so total blackness was never something I'd seen before. I was totally fascinated with it but not enough to walk outside. That would've just been stupid. I stood on the porch for awhile registering what it looked like and how it made me feel because I was going use it in a story.

I also draw a lot from anime. In one novel, a character was half human so, I had the villagers call her a half-breed. It didn't occur to me until my brother pointed it out that I'd taken it from my favorite and first anime, Inuyasha. It's not surprising I'm drawing from animes given how much I watch them. The storyline for most is similar to what I'd write and they always have some great looking creatures.
One thing I didn't mention and cannot be forgotten- dreams. I have a lot of weird dreams and I mean really weird, probably because of the type of stuff I read and watch. You might call them nightmares but I never see them that way. (As you can tell, I'm a writer and reader of dark fantasy and horror.) The dreams can be annoying because I wake up feeling as if I'd been running all night.  They're great for spare parts though so I keep a journal nearby just in case.

Don't expect to be knocked clean off your feet by a story idea, just keep your eyes and ears open. Great stories can come from small place. 


Kelly Hashway said…
I love the story you created on your walk to work! That's just great. As a writer, you really need to be able to find stories hidden everywhere.
Auden Johnson said…
It's funny how it happened. I didn't intend it to be a story. I was a bit upset and was just looking for a way to cheer myself up. It brightened up my day a lot.
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Alex said…
I love your imagination and can't wait to read your first novel.