As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m working on a novella for one of my classes this semester. Now that it’s April, I have less than a month to finish, and there’s a lot to do. In the past week, I’ve been scrawling notes wherever I can find space whenever I’ve had half a chance.
As with so many stories, this project began when I thought of a MacGuffin. The object, in this case, is a key. For the sake of full disclosure, the first idea popped into my head while I was watching a James Bond movie over my winter break, but the story has nothing at all to do with James Bond. I promise.
What I thought was, what if there were a big pillar in the middle of a city? What if this pillar had a number, seven’s a good number, of locks or doors in it? What if those locks concealed some great power? What if there were a character who possessed one of the keys? If such things were true, many people would try to find the remaining keys to access that power.
My next thought was, I could throw in some airships and ornithopters and shit; those things are awesome. Later, I decided that I couldn’t do that for reasons which will be revealed later, but I stuck with the airships idea for a long while.
For a few months, I sat on these initial ideas, not knowing quite what to do with them, but really wanting to do something awesome. I thought about a collection of stories. I thought about just doing one short story. I thought a lot, but I couldn’t come up with anything I thought I could make amazing. Then, I found out that I would be writing a novella, and things started to gel.
As things have started coming together in my head, I’ve been asking myself more questions, so that my notes sometimes resemble a conversation which I have with myself. When brainstorming, I try to think of as many questions as possible which my readers might ask if I were to show them an early draft of a story. In this way, I try to make my story as tight as possible in its first draft so that subsequent drafts get closer to a finished, publishable piece faster. These questions are also one of the methods I use to try to combat slacking when I start actually writing the piece; the more questions I answer before “once upon a time,” the fewer places I’ll find that trip me up.
Please watch this space in the weeks leading up to the 26th for more updates on the status of the piece as I flesh out my ideas and begin to write in earnest.