I was recently asked by my good friend and writing buddy, “What do you do when you have a glint of a story idea but no story around it.” (I know she’s reading this. Thank you for all the post ideas you give me!)
This cannot be an uncommon issue. I collect pages of glints as I go about living life , especially when I travel. Sometimes it’s a sense of place, a what-if question, or an interaction with a stranger.
They don’t feel like they have the potential to develop into a story, but there is some reason the mind takes note of these details. Don’t ignore them.
Here are a few things you can do to develop these bits and pieces into full stories.
- Write down as many possible storylines and outcomes as you can imagine. Nothing is too boring or too crazy. The act of doing this alone will set dominos of ideas into motion. Choose the one that clicks with you and run with it.
- Combine two or more glints together. I did this with my story Manifesto. I wanted to make the cut for the Sirens’ Call Women in Horror Month and had no ideas. I pulled out my notes and combined two glints—a sense of place with a vague premise. Once I put them together, it set off sparks, and the dynamics of the story crackled into life.
- Start writing. Do I have to say it again? Yep. You will be surprised to find your mind has already been laying the groundwork. I’ve done this with several stories. SICK Part I was a glimpse of a scene I experienced in a nightmare. I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I started writing from the atmosphere and the emotional impression. The story materialized as I wrote. Once it was all out from beginning to end, I was able to discern what it was really about and fine tune it from there.
As with most things in writing, the most important thing is to not overthink it.
Leap, and the net will appear.John Burroughs