The life of a story

19 Aug

I’ve been thinking about this for a few days.

A lot of my stories start the same way. By that I don’t mean the same words or the same ideas, I mean they start with me thinking of a title.

They also all end the same way, with me typing “THE END”.

I don’t always have a title, sometimes it’ll be something like “Rough outline for ghost idea”. That’s not a title, it’s a vague idea what the story is about. In these cases, the title comes later. Once I settle on a title, it’s rare that I’ll change it.

I’m not saying that I lock in a title forever once I decide on it. Not so. I’ve had stories where I’ve gone through four or more titles before settling on a final title.

Some stories begin life as a dream, or an idea I thought of in bed, or while in the toilet or out walking.

My ideas come from all sorts of places. A lot of them start life in the toilet. It’s quiet in there and you have time to turn ideas over in your head.

Don’t worry where an idea comes from. Toss it about, see if it’s got potential. Scribble it down, type it out. It might never get finished, but at least you’ve got a hard copy to develop later if you need it. There might come a time when there’s a call for zombie girl guides. Or whatever your idea is.

Accept this, some stuff you write will NEVER sell. It’s too weird, it’s not weird enough, they don’t get your humour, you’re too far ahead of the curve. But for whatever reason, know which stories won’t sell. But still, don’t be afraid to submit them.

Heck, I’ve recently sold stuff where I thought “No bugger’s going to want this,” subbed it any way and been paid actual real money for it!

On the other hand there are stories where I think “Everyone wants this,” and no bugger likes it.

Never self censor. If you’ve got a story you think fits, sub it, let someone else tell you no, it doesn’t fit.

Ray Bradbury said in order to write the good stuff, you’ve got to write the garbage first.

So get your title, write your garbage and hope the next one is going to sell.

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