Thursday, January 15, 2009

Finding the Story

Like most writers, I draw inspiration for stories from real life. One problem I am having is deciding what is the right story for the inspiration.

I have thought that the story of the serious accident I was in- head-on collision with a drunk driver with my two small daughters in the car- would be compelling. But I am having trouble determining exactly what the story actually is.

I originally thought of the story when I was completely debilitated and my husband turned into my servant. Not that he had much of a choice, but he ended up being a very good nurse. My imagination sparked, I thought of the story of a woman with a stale marriage, maybe just bored, maybe contemplating an affair, when the accident occurs and by the time she recovers, she realizes what a good thing she has in her husband and her family.

But my writing tends to lean toward crazed killers, devious psychotics, the things that interest me. So my next idea was that the story is really about a woman who is targeted by someone, and the accident was an attempt to kill her. Like me, she is confined to a wheelchair for several months, but unlike me, she is scared to try to walk. She has to confront this when the killer comes after her and she has to walk to save herself.

And option number three, my personal favorite, average housewife gets hit by drunk driver, he gets off the hook, she hunts him down and kills him and gets away with it. Or someone else kills him and the police think she's the culprit, and she has to prove her innocence.

So the question is how to pick the right story. I take after the stoic German side of my family, so the first option is a little more emotional that I'm used to dealing with and would be the most difficult for me to write. Option three would be the most fun and personally fulfilling. Option two would be easiest. So how to choose?


Gayle Carline said...

Why don't you combine 2 & 3? She is hit by a drunk driver and he gets acquitted - as he has many times in the past because he's a ruthless sociopath who knows how to work the system. He then turns around and begins to stalk her (& maybe her family). She gets out of her wheelchair to stop him, not out of fear, but out of rage.

Personally, I wouldn't read option 1. I like mayhem.

BillieJohn said...

Option 3 interests me most also, and I think it offers the most opportunity for twists and turns, and red herrings. Also, I am a sucker for correcting thwarted justice stories.

You need to chat with Marilyn Meredith! She does a great presentation on how to get your story rolling!

What say you, here, Marilyn?

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I'm the type that would start with the idea that I'm most comfortable with and then see where the characters take the story.

Jane Kennedy Sutton
Author of The Ride

Christina E. Rodriguez said...

Unfortunately you don't have to be a sociopath to get away with a series of DUIs or work the system. I rather like Option 1 or 2 (Option 2 if maybe the intensity of her needing to get out of the wheelchair is really amped up). I like the idea of people surpassing disabilities when all the chips are down.

Beth Groundwater said...

Why choose? Write them all!

Marvin D. Wilson said...

I like Beth's answer - LOL - seriously. But to decide how to prioritize, why don't you do a poll? There are some easy to install poll widgets (Google them) and then you write your adblurb about each story idea - you know a short grabbing two or three sentence about the story, and have your readers give you feedback which one snared them the most. Bingo- was his name-o!

Joy said...

Flesh out all three and see which one gives you more of what you're looking for in your story. You might find that as you work on one, another one of the ideas is nagging at you to be written and turns out to be the right one. Play with all three, maybe you'll end up with a story that has sub plots and combines all three.
Have fun!
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Krista said...

I like the idea of #3, especially since you said it is your favorite. If you make her the killer, then when you use your autobiographical experience, her feelings will be so real, that the reader can be stretched into understanding why she became psychotic and even rooting for her to kill the guy in the end. That's such a great opportunity to take a reader where they don't think their mind could ever go. Also, re: #1) I read an interesting article a while back about trying to fictionalize autobiographical stories. What I remember from it was a recommendation not to try to do it very soon after the event, because it's hard to stay away from the actual details and chronology, which gets in the way of being able to rearrange them to roll out a good story. Unfortunately, I don't know where I read the article...!