I no longer sit at the computer to begin a new story/novel. If I do that, I'd be staring at a blank screen for hours with a sore back and stiff neck. Been there, done that.
Nope, now the tactic is to roll over the plots in my mind as I lay in bed before sleep or upon awakening earlier than intended. I begin with the name of my characters first, then I envision the opening scene, as if watching a movie. After all, the reader will be doing the same - seeing a scene that will keep the pages turning...or at least, that is the goal of any good story.
I come up with a plot and then think: "I've read too many novels with that same plot." Okay, then comes the next idea, and the next, and the next. Sigh. If I'm bored with my own ideas, imagine how my agent or readers would react? Not good. So, what is the alternative?
Sometimes I take a brain rest - a diversion from thinking up stories and instead, I do some critiquing in my writing group, word puzzles, or I get out more. I step away from my story hunt and wait for the story to come to me. After all, there are lots of potential stories out there right in our own lives with the people we are most in contact with, within our families or circle of friends. Like a recipe, the story can come from a dash and a dab of stories we hear about in our midst, then fine tuned to fit the genre we write.
Once in a great while. I'll be searching Facebook or reading blogs as an entertainment break, and wham! A story line hits and I can't type fast enough to get it all out. That's a great moment in the life of any writer.
Stepping away from reading and thinking about the particular genre we write is also helpful, at least for me it is. Reading biographies actually makes for some good ideas. And there are some great stories, even on TV, like the Marshall Dillion western episodes (I just love that show)and even some of the Lifetime movies. Stories abound, and in the midst of reading and watching different ones, come the ideas for our own story.
In the world of music, it has been said that there are really no original songs. Down through the ages, combinations of chords and tunes have been borrowed with slight changes here and there. It seems it's the same about our stories. Romance, tragedies, cultural differences, new beginnings, dysfunctional families, passion, loss of faith, renewal of faith, all of these and more, are age old human experiences, so basically, no story we write is truly new, but simply told in a new way. Written in the unique perspective and the added creativity of the author. And it's all quite amazing to me. I am privileged to be among the mini creators of new stories of the human condition. Able to instill hope and happiness in the pages that can lift up a reader. And even if one of my stories lifts up only one reader out of a thousand. Then, that might be the very reason it had to be written.
Words change lives. That's a sacred undertaking I hope I do not take lightly.
Some books that have brought hope and uplifting to me just when I'd needed it for various reasons, are:
God On A Harley by Joan Brady -
The Healing Woods by Martha Reben
It Takes A village Idiot by Jim Mullen
Time Is a River by Mary Alice Monroe
The Summer I Dared by Barbra Delinski
Christmas Therapy by Elf Help Books
There are many more, but those came to mind first.
So, off to the story board I go...