Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Talking Out Your Story

Mike and I were running errands this weekend and catching each other up on what we've been doing during a busy week. I finally admitted to him last week that I'd started a new novel, and he wanted to know what it was about. I was shy about it at first, since I'm still feeling things out, but I finally spilled the beans.

Unlike my last manuscript, I've started this one with a clear idea of the story in mind, and a crucial plot point. Thing is, I'm not sure yet where in the story this event should take place. I've thought about all the different impact this event could have if it happens earlier. Or, on the flip side, all the tension and obstacles that could lead up to it as a climax.

So I have a few paths of possibility in mind. Mike listened very nicely and attentively as we weaved through the snowy city streets and I rattled along, describing all the different ways I could tell this story. I'm jabbering on and on about my story, verbalizing ideas that have only existed in my head or in my computer.

And then when I got to one specific idea, Mike perked up and said "Ooh! Wow, that's really something!" One of the many ideas grabbed him. And that's a branch of my little story sapling tree that I'll now pursue.

For me early drafts of stories are safer in my head, or just on paper (and not even real paper, but a virtual electronic document). But talking out my story at this early stage gave me very clear feedback on what ideas were working and which were better left in my head.

What about you? How soon do you share your story ideas with the universe?


  1. My hubby is very supportive, but he doesn't like to read or write, so I forget to include him sometimes. However, when I do talk it out with him, it usually helps a lot!

  2. Hi Kristi, a supportive partner is a great treat, isn't it? And whoever it may be -- spouse, friend, online writing buddy -- finding that one person you can share your crazy, not-fully-baked ideas with can be a huge plus.

  3. It varies. Sometimes I'll share ideas with my wife just after they've popped into my head. She's a writer, too.

  4. I've found that if I talk about things too much, the satisfaction of telling the story is met and I don't stay as excited in what I'm working on.

    My wife is very supportive of my writing, but she refuses to let me talk about what I'm working on. Her rule: "Finish it and give it to me," and then she will spend days or weeks discussing things with me.

    Even in my writing group I tend to not talk about the specifics of what I'm writing. If I'm stuck on something, I'll chat a bit about technique with the two people in my writing group, but I try not to talk too much about the story.

    Whether it's a short story or novel, for me, I have to keep everything bottled up until I'm done and can drop completed manuscripts in people's laps.

    Then I'm the most hyper, talkative thing on the planet and won't shut up :)

  5. Paul, you are lucky to have a spouse who really gets this crazy world of writing.

    Christopher, I admire your process!

  6. Interesting question, Lisa, and one I'd never considered. But now that I have, I see that I don't talk about my story in the idea stage at all, and not much after I've written it.Now, I'm wondering if I should. It could save me time.

    Of course, I'd think it's important who you share the idea with.

    And congratulations on starting a new novel.

  7. Hey Linda, I've never really talked about my works in progress either, but I've started to lately and I'm finding that it helps a lot. Sometimes I describe the story differently when I say it out loud, which leads to new layers of the story, or brand new thoughts about what the story is really about.

  8. I talk everything over with my editor husband. I am spoiled rotten.