Okay, so I am a notebook nut. I love spirals and constantly have a new one started. A few years ago, Staples started carrying spirals made of eco-friendly sugarcane, and I fell in love. One of my favorites is a book I call “Collections.” This is the closest thing I have to the kind of journal that people in the movies and other books refer to. It is a collection of stories about people I meet with a story to tell, or people I see who inspire a story. The official purpose of this notebook is “to collect images, stories and random thoughts about my world.”
For example, I saw a woman walking across a parking lot recently. She looked much older than me (and I am pretty doggone old myself). Her scoliosis was quite pronounced, her walk more of an unconfident shuffle than a stepped movement from point A to point B, but there she was, walking away from the community’s indoor swimming pool building. Hmm…what was her story?
That random image is one I want to turn into a short story. The woman’s name might be Agnes and I think perhaps at one time she was a ballerina with the National Ballet of Cuba. I had the chance to see these incredible dancers once. If you like dance at all, be sure to put a visit to Cuba to watch them on your bucket list.
By putting the two random thoughts together, I don’t have a story, but a reasonable story prompt. I think Agnes was a very young dancer when the conflict between the United States and Cuba erupted. Fidel and Che said the greedy U.S. corporations could not break the back of the Cubans. I guess that Fidel and Che did not know Agnes…
I like this image. It presents the opportunity for a good story.
BUT it is not a story, just a prompt…
How would you finish this? What are Agnes’s goals? What is keeping her from reaching them? How will she overcome those challenges? Maybe she won’t overcome them. How will this eighty-something woman grow from the experience? How will you as a writer grow from this? What will your readers get out of spending their precious time reading your story?
Now, it’s your turn. How do you collect story ideas? What do you feel about spirals? Do you keep a box of ideas? Where is your muse?
Wishing you well on your adventures with words.