I'm back from a long vacation touring North Carolina and Virginia. Vacations get me thinking in different ways and I'm always on the alert for a good story element. This year I became interested in hawks.
That's a picture of a judge in North Carolina who brings his hawk to court with him. North Carolina is really into hawks. It's hard to name a predator with such a strange relationship with humans. Now, my daughter has been bugging me to write a book about animals, but all the good ones are taken. There are a million books about dogs, cats, wolves, bears, dolphins, and owls. (Trust me, she's read them all.) But maybe not so many books about hawks, am I right?
The trouble is, I don't have a story idea. I have, I don't know, an interest.
So what is a story idea? Is it a plot, or is it a character with a goal and a problem? Can you rattle off a good story idea in ten words or less? If so, why don't the ideas come to us that quickly?
I go through this long process where I come up with characters and settings and challenges, and eventually, months and chapters later, I can distill this mishmash into a sentence. This is totally backwards. I should be able to come up with the sentence first!
Not that I haven't tried to formulate the sentence first. It just never survives the first few chapters.
But I think one day, it will happen to me. I'll be driving or folding laundry and presto! The perfect storyline will pop into my head, just like that. All these years of experience will have brought me to that point. And it might have hawks in it. And I will do an outline and (here's the key part) the story idea will be so good that I will stick to the outline!
Sigh. Vacations are all about daydreaming.
-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages