Evolution of an Idea, part one

Tonight while I was walking my dog, I was thinking about a topic for my post.  Since I was having some trouble coming up with something, I thought it might be a good night for writing practice.

Almost as soon as that was decided, these two sentences popped into my head:
She glared at him from across the room.  He was ruining her life and he didn’t even know it.

Now, I will be the first to admit that these need some work, but the idea was intriguing.  As I started to chase the nuggets of story, it occurred to me that I could write a post about how inspiration (above) becomes story.  This will end up being a series of posts; while I can usually follow the path subconsciously and come up with something, tracing the path as I follow it is likely to make this a much lengthier process.  So let’s dive in!

Two trains of thought followed the inspiration.  The first was the development of the idea, which usually happens in my mind as questions.  Why is he ruining her life?  What relationship do these two have?  Where are they, and what’s going on around them?  I’m not always fully aware of these questions, although I’ve thought about them before in a more amorphous way, and I’m sure this is a similar process every time.  (I haven’t answered the questions yet, because my awareness of them led to the idea for the post.  We’ll pin them down at some point.)

The other idea rabbit we’ll need to chase right away is the one that started working on the initial sentence ideas.  I think that’s actually the one we’ll follow now.

Let’s be honest, these two sentences could be so much better.  How, you ask?  They can say a lot more without adding action.

Okay, first sentence first.  Some description of our main character would be nice.
The mousy young woman glared at him from across the room, glasses concealing the anger in her vivid green eyes. 

That helps, don’t you think?  We are running into the risk that the sentence will get too long, but I think that one more word might help.  Making a word change can also answer one of our earlier questions.
The mousy young woman glared silently at him from across the lecture hall, glasses concealing the anger in her vivid green eyes.

And the second sentence?  Sometimes simple is effective, and mixing up sentence length is a good idea.  Let’s see how we do without changing it.
The mousy young woman glared silently at him from across the lecture hall, glasses concealing the anger in her vivid green eyes.  He was ruining her life and he didn’t even know it.

Not too shabby, but I want to make it more interesting with a quick word switch.
The mousy young woman glared silently at him from across the lecture hall, glasses concealing the anger in her vivid green eyes.  He was ruining her life and he didn’t even know her.

That’s a pretty good start!  Typically working on revisions is not the best way to start a story, but this one led to the answers to some of our questions.  We know that the two have only a peripheral relationship (since he doesn’t know her, but she must at least know of him) and that this one-sided exchange is occurring in a lecture hall.  I’m thinking college – I actually played with a few different options (cafeteria? classroom?) but I decided that college would be more interesting than high school.

I’ll try to get my brain to leave this alone until we pick it up again tomorrow, but no guarantees.  I’ll at least make sure to track the process, so I can share it with you after the fact!

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. deshipley
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 22:44:11

    Amazing how much additional information a little specificity can pack in!

    Reply

  2. Trackback: Evolution of an Idea, part two | Butterflies and Dragons
  3. Trackback: Evolution of an Idea, part three | Butterflies and Dragons

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