Falling in love with a story

Joe’s Post #151

loveThoughts on having to fall in love with a story to write it?

Silk posted about this almost as an afterthought to her blog, but for me, it’s a vital part of taking on a huge writing project like creating a novel.

So if you need to fall in love with a story, what do you need? What makes you fall in love with a story you have to tell?

For me, here’s a quick list, cuz that’s what I do, I make quick lists. Sometimes big lists. Sometimes big long lists. It’s who I am.

  • The character. If I don’t love my character, I can’t write a story. This has changed over the years, evolving from me liking an idea then thinking of a character. It’s often a chicken an egg thing when it comes to creating the story, but falling in love with it, yeah, that starts with character.
  • I have to love the setting. It’s why I often write slightly weird settings (or fantasy settings). I set a novel in the California desert, in an abandoned airfield. I’ve set one in a reimagined Venice. I set one partially in the clouds.
  • I have to have a great antagonist. Again, this is something that has evolved over time. In my first novels, my antagonist was often barely visible (like some dark lord), but now I need that character to be real flesh and blood, to be active, to be interesting and exciting, like a ballerina twisted by abuse and torture to become a merciless and highly skilled killer.
  • I have to like the voice I’ve chosen. Oh, I’ve tried to write a flowery romance (it’s pretty sad, actually), but I felt bogged down, as much as anything, trying to write in a way that I couldn’t write. Like trying to print with your left hand. Or speak backwards. Or a pitch a novel. It’s awkward and often embarrassing.
  • I have to like the plot. This may seem like a no-brainer, but something about the story has to excite me. Character alone, setting alone, voice or antagonist alone cannot carry a story. I have to love an idea. Silk’s come with a stunningly good idea. Paula worked on a novel with an idea I’d love to steal. Karalee created a serial killer concept that was brilliant. And Helga, my God, that woman cranks out Big Concept Novels like no one else I know.

So that’s just a quick list. Mostly common sense, I think, but understand that creating a novel and spending weeks and months and maybe years on it requires a bit more. It’s like dating someone vs marriage, it takes a lot more than a nice smile for the thing to work.

And, in keeping with past post ideas, here is my week.

Blogs Written – 6 (5 at justjoe, my ‘being a stepdad’ blog.)

Pages on novel written – 0

Links of other writers/bloggers to check out

Our latest person to sign up for the 5 challenge. Richelle Elberg. (She’s got a great site.)

Anyone else up for the challenge?


2 thoughts on “Falling in love with a story

  1. Well said, Joe! My “fall in love with your story” point wasn’t really an afterthought — I thought of it more as a punchline. It’s definitely guiding my choice of project for the new 5/5/5 challenge. While it might make more logistical sense to finish my 2012 story, or go back and rewrite “Bridge”, I can’t get the new book off my mind. You’re so right comparing it to a marriage. A brief infatuation with a story idea won’t get you through 400 pages — at least not happily.

  2. After a couple of glasses of wine, or Scotch, or port, or beer, or cider, most of my stories start looking better. It might not be love, but warm affection isn’t to be under-rated.

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