You wonder where writers find ideas for novels? Really good ideas may seem impossible to find but they are all around us.
In our last workshop one writer had a true epiphany.
We ask that each writer describe what their story is about in a few sentences but when it came to this particular writer, she confessed to having no story at all.
I prodded her a bit. No story? Not even a snippet of an idea?
There was a time she asked why something happened and the why stuck with her. The experience that made her ask why? She was driving behind a car when she saw someone throw a sneaker out of the window.
Just one sneaker.
And she thought well I wonder why it was just one sneaker? There might be a story there.
And then she thought there might be a lot of other observations that could be put together into a book of “whys”. Why did an old lady stop to give a random little girl a book on a city street? Why was there an old baby buggy stuck in a tree?
Why? Why? Why?
Yes. Do it. Absolutely. That was the reaction from the group.
Because we have all watched people do curious things, seen curious things and asked ourselves that question.
I know I did. Years ago, in Chicago I asked myself why is there a huge piece of marble in the middle of a busy street?
I found out the answer to that question and put it and the man responsible for it in my novel.
Every journalist knows the power of asking why. You may have the answer to who, where, when and even how but the real story lies in why.
The same exact story can be told differently as long as why changes. The why provides a compelling underlying causality that exposes the workings of a character’s true desires.
You don’t have to know why Miss Scarlett killed Mr. Boddy in the Kitchen with the Candlestick to win the game of Clue. But wouldn’t it interesting to know the whole story?
There is one author who taunted her readers to ask why from the very start of all of her novels and all the way to the very end.
Agatha Christie wrote sixty-six detective novels and she gave the reader a murder to solve right away with an intricate plot to follow. Plenty of questions left unanswered until the last few pages. She was a master of the why.
The next time something or someone catches your eye and makes you ask why, don’t let it go. Write it down. Keep the observations like a packet of seeds. At some point they will grow – into a story.
Every day writers are witness to stories that haven’t been written.
Why ask why? Because it’s where a story begins…
Christina for Penpaperwrite www.penpaperwrite.com
If you are interested in participating in one of our 60 Scenes® Writing Method Workshops so you can experience your own epiphany the next one is in Marietta, GA on March 23rd.
We limit the number of participants to fifteen so please register early.