Three Sides to Every Story

My trip back home was fruitful. I found many old journals, stories, and story ideas. I found dictionaries, thesauruses, and grammar books, along with books on writing, complete with exercises. I don’t know what I expected to find, but I found far more.

There’s one story idea that I’ve had for a long time that I wanted to unearth and work on, possibly for this summertime incarnation of NaNoWriMo that is coming up (Camp NaNoWriMo). Through the years, I’ve scribbled this idea out as both a story and a play, never getting very far with it, just writing down the basic premise. I’ve come back to the idea any number of times, and promptly put it down when something else came along. As a result, I am now looking at three similar yet different plot points.

The story centers around a young woman who has a)just lost her father b)just lost her mother, or c)lost her father three years ago. In either scenario, both parents are now dead. She is a)a very wealthy heiress or b)drowning in debt. She’s either very meek and inoffensive or very rude. Obviously, I’ve come to this story with very different things in mind each time.

It’s kind of like what happened with the Southern Gothic novel. It started, in it’s earliest conception, being about the murder of a despised public figure. That idea somehow morphed into a ghostwriter helping a prejudiced woman write her memoirs. Explaining that huge leap is really simple: a minor character became the focal point instead of the original story, then the original storyline was cut away from this telling.

It’s interesting to look back at the evolution of a story, to see what ideas I scrapped that may be stories of their own. At the moment, I’m not sure which storyline I want to pick up in this possible Camp NaNoWriMo story, but the loss of a parent is so searing that it can be used again, taken in a completely different direction. But it does beg the question, which would you rather have: too many possibilities or only one alternative? When are you the most creative–when you have to choose between several options or when you have to make one work?

For me, I like options. I will take one, follow it along until it hits a dead end or I get bored with it, and choose another one. Sometimes, though, one option becomes the only option, the more I get to know the characters. If you ever get stuck, as I do, instead of killing the story, it may be time to go back a bit and take a left where before you took a right. I’m not sure if I’ll finally be able to focus long enough to make a great story out of this idea, but here’s to trying, right?

Wish me luck.


4 thoughts on “Three Sides to Every Story

  1. I like to have a lot of options. I like to work on one or two ideas at a time, but I have to get them to a point I call them “done” because it’s not satisfying to me to not finish what I started. (I do have six chapters of my first novel number two, but I do intend to get back to it one day, just from a different angle.) In the meantime, I jot down ideas so that I can pick them up later, if they still seem interesting to me.

    I do hope you can see this idea through into a complete story. Good luck! Keep us posted 🙂

    • Do you work on two ideas for the same piece at once, or two different ideas that could turn into two different pieces? I jot down things all the time for later. The only problem with that is taking enough time to write it out so that I know what I’m talking about without getting sucked into actually working on it. That happens a lot with me. You don’t want to lose the thread of a really good story.

      I think, for once, I may have too many options. It all depends on where I want to go from here. I think I think I’ve found a way to combine the best of all worlds presently on the table: her mom died three years ago, but she just lost her father. She has no idea what state the finances are in yet (I know that’s a cop out, but it works for now, lol). These explain her rudeness (just how she expresses grief), which isn’t how she normally is. These are all minor details that can be summed up on page one somehow, before we get to the good stuff. Let’s just hope that there are plenty of options on how to tackle that!

      • If I’m working two ideas at once, one is often a novel and the other is an un-related short story. As I’m writing a novel length piece, I jot down ideas for the story, but don’t develop the scenes until I get there. I know some authors write chapters out of order, but I haven’t been able to do that because I have such a loose plot line, I’d end up with a mess. I tend to have a loose outline and then let the story go how it makes sense. Sometimes, I’m even surprised by an ending 😉

        It can be hard to resist the urge to fully develop an idea, especially if I’ve been working on a piece for a long time and have grown a little bored with it. I have to force myself to leave the new ideas alone until I finish something that’s in progress.

  2. Indeed! This is a beautifully written post 🙂
    I guess that for every writer sometimes loads of ideas from the past comes back… and as you elaborate you definitely get closer to the characters and all… anyways I’m considering in participating in Nano too this year.
    Good Luck!

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