Anatomy of a story…part 1…

Hey there. I actually would have posted sooner but I’ve been down with a bug. Nope, not COVID but something else that took me out of commission for several days. But, I’m back on track so I thought it was time to check in.

First, I got a story picked up by a press called New Myths:

A big thanks to Susan and her group for thinking enough of it to pick it up!!!

They bought my story, A Murmuration of Starlings. It’s a little longer piece but as I worked on it and hashed it out I really got excited about it and wanted to hammer and sculpt it until it was just the way I envisioned. I was so excited when it got accepted it made me think about the story process because this one got complicated and changed several times.

Which got me to thinking about the writing process–you know, my favorite topic of conversation. I am fascinated with how this story-generation-process works; for myself and other writers. So, while the story is fresh in my head, mostly, I thought it might help other writers to see how I tackled this one. If nothing else it may help you look at your own writing to see how you develop a story from page one to end.

I’ll post several times this week to make sure I get the details down before it falls out of my head :).

First–the idea. Several blocks from my home is a wide open field set across from a four lane road. During at least the fall and probably spring, hundreds and thousands of starlings gather. In the evenings if I’m outside I can see them gathering–smaller flocks of them flitting across the sky all in the same direction, like there was a big party planned.

I’ve walked past that field many times and stopped to watch. It’s amazing as they cavort and wind through the sky in massive clouds. In the story I compare the sight to a giant black serpent twisting and winding through the air and that image captures it. It’s something to see.

Which got me to thinking about a story about those birds. I started as I always do: my imagination tapping on my shoulder and saying, “Hey Craig. What if you had that mass of birds and there was a dark story in there?”

Yeah. And, what if the birds became possessed by a dark spirit and the birds became the embodiment of a monster. “Oh, and you can have a character who’s the only one who can see it,” said my imagination.

We talked it through on the way home and I started work that evening.

It usually starts like that for me. My imagination takes something I see or come across and starts shaping it toward some dark, strange, weird or odd tale. Then I get excited about it and start filling in the details. My imagination and I keep attacking the story and any problems until we shape it into the first draft.

It’s the most fun aspect of writing: getting that new idea and knowing you can do something cool with it.

Alright, enough for the moment. I’ll get on for the next few days and flesh out this process. Feel free to ask questions along the way, or even better, tell me how it works for you. I’m guessing writers have lots of different approaches to writing a new story. Enlighten me 🙂