September 21st, 2011

Let me see..

Go Ahead — Write This Story: Ideas

Long ago and far away (the late 1990s in Milwaukee), I wrote a column about writing for MSFire, the Magazine of Milwaukee Science Fiction Services. Looking back at my column, called "Go Ahead — Write This Story," I see two strengths rarely duplicated now on the internet:

1. The columns were brief, one paragraph long.

2. They came accompanied by a few story ideas called "loopy and random but inspiring" by MSFire readers.

I've decided to revive the column as a monthly feature here. Let us begin:

So — you have an idea for a story. How do you develop it? There's no easy way, but you might consider these questions: What important thing is at stake? Who are the characters, and what are their desires and motives? What complications will arise among your characters? How will they act and react to each other? How can you dramatize their conflict with a series of scenes? Remember: "Plot" is a verb.

● This is a young adult novel which begins when settlers in orbit around Venus miss horses and decide to add equine-like artificial intelligence to their transportation pods.

● This is a sociological thriller about robots who discover that recent "temporary" deactivations were suicides.

● This is an elfish story in which old prairie dogs learn new tricks, which causes inconveniences for the tourists of South Dakota.

— Sue Burke