Planting Story Seeds

Some time ago, I wrote a blog post about Ideas and Story Seeds. Thought I’d follow up on those thoughts since I’ve had some time to consider my process post-idea.

So, I’ve gotten a story seed that really grabs me. Even more, I’ve got the time and energy to actually write something. What now?

As far as I can tell, that answer starts with what kind of story seed it turned out to be.

Usually, the story seed I have has to “planted”, which means more questions. Lots and lots of questions. What kind of world would allow this story to happen? What are the story jobs I’ll need to “hire” characters for? What kind of plot points sound interesting and exciting? (For many authors, questions about themes/moral attitudes will come up too, but I prefer to find those organically within the pages as I write.)

As I answer these questions, and all the ones that come up because of those answers, the seed starts to disappear and the story itself starts to grow. At some point in the writing, the seed has spread throughout the work and is gone in its original form.

The other, more rare (for me), kind of story seed is “the perfect moment”. It’s so vivid in my mind, that it’s–it’s just THERE. The entire story is just to frame the perfection of the story seed. I don’t want it to change. I want to weave the story carefully around this little bit of perfection so it’s showcased exactly as I imagined it.

To date, I’ve only been successful in that kind of story when I that “perfect moment” fit within a fandom and I could write a fanfic out of it. Being able to draw from established worlds and characters, with all the underlying work therein, have I been able to focus on that story seed and keep it pristine in what I have to put around it to make it a story.

I have one seed that doesn’t fit into any fandom, though. I’ve tried to do the same kind of work around it, the weight of the creation–I don’t know–crushes it. Muddies it. Covers it with stuff so it’s no longer what I wanted and I gave it up in disgust.

I have to assume there are people who can do this in original fiction. Say what you like about Twilight, but to hear Stephanie Meyer talk about her process, she found the way to move from that fanfic to original fiction and keep that seed perfectly intact. And readers appeared to have appreciated that ability.

If someone has found other types of story seeds, or ways to get stories started, I’d love to hear about them.

As I’m pushing to get a novel finished by the end of July (a personal quasi-NANO effort), I’ll likely be posting more about process and this particular novel. It would be nice to get some convos going.

What’s your experiences with story seeds and getting them growing?

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