Something I’ve taken to doing the last couple years is jotting down story ideas in a pocket notebook (and also online) when an insight or scene hits me. In high school and college, I tended to fixate on Big Ideas because my focus was largely on novels. What I enjoy about my current collection of ideas is that they come in all shapes and sizes.
First with my flash fiction collection, then with my binge reading of Ray Bradbury and writing several novella-sized pieces (a la Children of the Wells), I’ve come to appreciate and understand the way different size stories can communicate an idea.
Because, here’s the thing: You can get a novel out of almost any decent idea. And you can transfer the seed of many of those same ideas into a flash fiction.
For instance, in my “Story Idea” file comes this (probably Bradbury-inspired) tidbit: Tattoos that dictate your future – permanent giving over of your personality – irrevocable?
Could you build a whole YA novel out of this? Almost certainly. Do I want to? Not right now. But I would like to write a story about it someday. Flash fiction? Maybe–but probably a tad longer, to give it space.
There’s a lot of freedom in throwing down these ideas in one place, especially when I’m preoccupied with Strin & Fred. First, it keeps me from getting distracted from what I’m working on right now, which is always a temptation. Second, it gives me something to look forward to and dream about. And, third, it gratifies the spark of creation that wants to write something down when it has some insight it wants to capture, while allowing it to settle among dozens of other ideas to see if it still remains interesting later.
Sometimes the ideas are really vague. Take this one for example: Deut. 20:5-9 – Enjoying wife/wine instead of war
This isn’t a story yet. It’s just the seed of some possible emotion/conflict. It doesn’t demand to be written, but it’s there to remind me I once had the idea and that, just maybe, it might be worth harvesting at some point, perhaps in conjunction with some other idea.
So, you can expect some of these in the future, hopefully. Or, if you’re curious, you can check out two that have already been written. See:
- “Behind the Curtain” – (A Private Work of Art – great artist makes a piece no one can see – sells it (why?) – provision: buyer can’t ever look at it – is it a hoax or real?)
- “Above” – (Man in bunker – paranoid – cut off from world – opens door, sees beautiful landscape, untouched — “Lies, lies!”)