Monday, July 25, 2011

How My Stories Start

I love writing. I love when I sit down and these characters come into my head and I have to tell their story.

For me, my stories start with the characters. Always.

With Meg's Melody, it all started with Meg and the fact that her husband had left her. That's it. There wasn't a Matt a Johnny or a pregnancy or issues with her Mom or any of that fleshed out in my mind yet. It started with a girl who was really sad (and kind of bitter) because her husband just left. My first draft of Meg's Melody was all in first person. I LOVED it, but felt like Matt needed to be fleshed out a little more. So, for kicks, I decided to write his side of the story from his pov. I liked it so much and felt it added to the story, so I had to merge the two story lines together. I've wondered sometimes how the first person version would have been received. It was a little funnier and Meg was quite a bit quirkier. A lot of that was lost when I went to third person, but I really think I gained by having Matt's story in there, too.

For Falling (I know, I know, most of you haven't read Falling yet, but it's on my mind so much I have to blog about it) my story began one night when my husband was out of town and I was supposed to be doing edits on Meg's Melody, but I needed a break. I opened up a new document because I had this girl saying to me, "My brother didn't die in the accident, but sometimes I wish he would have." And I had to ask myself: What accident? If he didn't die, what happened to him? And why does she wish he was dead? The first draft of this story was really depressing (by the way, no one has read any of my first drafts except for me. From first draft to second draft is extremely different--which is why no one gets to read them!) so I had to go through and give Brenna some lighter moments here and there. It's still a very serious book, but there are a lot more lighter moments that her voice originally led me to believe there could be.

Then there's my YA wip about kissing. And friendship. Two of my favorite things to talk about when I was a teen. But the story idea started with this girl named Chole who has to be in charge all the time--her voice just came through as snarky and spunky and kind of controlling. I love Chloe. She's the spunkiest character I've ever written and she doesn't let anyone get away with anything. This is the one that I'm actively working on and having so much fun with it.

(I'm also working on another LDS one. I'll post more about that one later. Also so much fun.)

I know I've said this before, but characters are where it's at for me. If I love the character I'm writing, then I'm loving my writing and having so much fun doing it.

I'm always curious about how other people start their stories.
Do you have to have the entire idea for your plot and where you're going before you start a story? Or do you just start with a character that starts saying crazy crap and go from there?
Or is there some other method unique to you?


  1. I was JUST thinking about this today because I was cursing myself for trying to start a mystery. I was on istock photo looking for something completely non-related and saw a pic of this totally simple girl. Plain jeans. plain white t-shirt. brown hair with bangs at that awkward stage and classic aviator sunglasses pushed up on her head. All I could think was - this girl needs to have a roadtrip. And now I'm in the middle of it. But yeah, my BEST stories start with characters rather than ideas. The ones that start with ideas never feel as FULL to me, no matter what I do.

  2. Sometimes out of no where characters chatter and write down their chatterings. Sometimes I dream vivid and memorable dreams. The next morning I write them down and build a story from there.

  3. IF you read my first book, you know I'm all about character. So much sometimes that my plot can be a little lacking. Characters are where my stories always start.


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