In 1816 Mary Shelly, Percy, Lord Byron and John Polidori were spending time on the shores of Lake Geneva, one cold and stormy night, as the story goes, and they decided to have a competition to see who could write the best horror story. “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus” was Mary Shelly’s submission, and we have the idea of Frankenstein. It should be noted that Frankenstein is the name of the fictional doctor “Victor Frankenstein” not the fictional “The Monster."
Story ideas come from everywhere, and it is not the idea itself that make or breaks a story, it is in the way it is written, how the story is crafted. From the beginnings of the story tellers art it has been the structure of the story that make the story live in the minds of the hearer, the reader, and now the watcher.
Mary Shelly drew from the new science of galvanism, and a now mostly forgotten first experiment with a frog’s leg. The dismembered frog’s leg jumped when a static charge was applied to it; now a standard science demonstration in high school science classes. But in 1816 it was a wonder of the age. So the idea of reanimating the dead took hold in Shelly’s mind, and one of the most famous monsters of all time was put to paper, and one of the first examples of the “science fiction horror genera” was published.
So you have an idea; the first person that you need to sell on the idea is yourself. Today in the age of the PC and word processing programs you can write and re-write and save full trashcans and some trees. Vision is the key; if you cannot see your story, follow your story, and give life and personality to your characters then you need to rewrite, and rework your words until you can shake hands with and care for and be fearful and joyful about the world and characters that you put to paper.
So where do you start? Just start writing. A story starts out much like a jig-saw puzzle. Put the general idea down then work plots and characters, with each character there are sub plots, and then the back drop of a world or time or a place you wish to put them into. You will have questions, and with every turn of a plot line more questions. If you do not work out the answers to them, you will have a hole in your story that you and your reader will fall through. But questions can also fuel interest. Therein lays the art of good story telling. The Q&A of a story and the quid-pro-quo that occurs between your characters weave the plot line and move the story along.
Plots will be next, but work on your ideas. If you have any questions drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org)