Monday, May 18, 2020

Where do the Stories Come From? #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Where do the Stories Come From?

Someone once asked me where my stories came from. I will have to be honest, many of them came from the television I watched. Yes--that great wasteland we were told in the seventies would rot a child's brain. When I was a kid, I watched a great deal of Westerns. They were the big thing back then. I have a picture to prove it!

Tuckered out saving the West.

I watched television for a while and then created new stories for my favorite characters. I won't tell you which characters. The picture will give you a good clue as to how long ago this was. As I grew up, I used those settings and some of the characters, threw in my imagination and had so much fun. Alaska, New Orleans, forests and beaches, I could make up stories wherever I was.

In my grown up years, that imagination drew me toward fan-fiction. I have scads of stories. They were easier to write and didn't depend on publishers, agents, marketing, or the like. But eventually, that wasn't enough. My writing had improved and I wanted my book on that shelf; something I had totally created and that others enjoyed reading. So where did these new ideas come from?

Let's take my latest novel, Moon Crusher. That one actually came from my fan-fiction days--sort of. I thought to myself- What would happen if a boy from the old days (1829 California-just a little past the time of most Zorro stories) was captured by fearsome reptilian aliens?  It's not that there weren't alien abduction stories. It's not that there aren't stories about old timey folks meeting technology. Or modern technology going back in time to meet pre-industrial individuals. There are plenty. I just had to give it my own spin.

I wrote my draft when I went to the YMCA to work out on a recumbent bike. I was a school librarian in those days, so I took my opportunities when I could. I had a notebook, a pencil, tuned out Bill O'Reilly, and wrote while I pedaled. It was disjointed, sometimes unreadable, but the story of a young boy in overwhelming circumstances took shape. And what's more incredible, the big bad aliens took shape, too. They weren't just demonic reptiles or cats or whatever. They had personalities. Despite his gruff, sometimes angry demeanor, Commander Ziron became heroic. Diego's friend, Rreengrol became his BFF. The otter people were both amusing and courageous. They were slaves who wanted to be free just as Diego did.

A reviewer pointed out that this wasn't just a story of space battles and a boy overcoming horrendous odds; it was also about diversity and how a group of very different beings learned to live and work together.

Wow! I like that. I like that in the stories I read, too. All about getting along even when life stinks....

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  1. Fan fiction is so intriguing to me. I feel like an outsider to this wondrous world, and I don't know how to get in!

  2. Think about a favorite show/character. Then think about that character in a new situation. The character that I messed with the most was Captain Crane from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. You could put a submariner in so many situations, on land or sea. He saved the day in many of my stories. As did Zorro, Buck Rogers, et al.

  3. One of my favorite things about creativity, storytelling in particular, is how "even if we 'try' to copy something else, we almost always end up doing our own version of it." The very fact that we are choosing to write "our own version" almost always is rooted in "something" that we wish was different about this story, and that "something" inevitably leads to other changes. Originality is just more fun.

  4. Same, I am so inspired by the TV I watch and I think it drives my university tutors a little crazy that I prefer TV as inspiration over books :)

    I'm currently working on turning a super old fanfic I wrote into an original story for my university assignment. It's proving to be quite a challenge, but because I adore the characters my story is based on, I'm more attached to the project!

  5. Love it! I firmly believe that there's nothing new under the sun. No story, no trope that just hasn't been told. But what is unique is our voice added to the mix. Our take on these age-old stories. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Great post. I find music always serves as inspiration for ideas for a story. I really enjoyed what you had to say.

    1. Thanks, Matt and Maggie! Bill O'Reilly wasn't my favorite background, but I wasn't in charge of the remote. Sometimes I brought my CD player and headphones and listened to John Williams or Jerry Goldsmith. Great inspiration!

  7. That's really my favorite thing about writing: no two stories can ever be the same, because we all have different experiences that inform our writing! Happy Hopping :)