Friday, October 2, 2009

Going Big

The Storytellers writing prompts have taught me something about my own creative process ... believe it or not, I usually have no idea what I'm going to do when I put up one of those prompts. So there's always this period of mild panic, when I'm walking around and thinking, "What the heck am I gonna do with that?"

Ideas pop in, they get rubbed a bit to see if there's a genie inside ... and during this process, I've noticed that I'm always asking the same thing: "Yes, but can I go bigger?"

You know what I mean? I'm not the kind of writer who tells intimate stories of people's lives (and actually, I kind of envy those writers with all their emotional insights and clever dialogue). I like to tell BIG stories about BIG EVENTS. So it's not enough to have a kid recover a stolen jewel ... I want that kid to have to fly off a skyscraper with homemade wings and recover it from the New Year's ball in Time's Square on the afternoon of New Year's Eve. I want hot air balloons, explosions, creaky old mansions, bulging eyeballs and muscles, genius inventors with wild hair, mob scenes, demon babies ... hyperbole and cartoonish caricature. Mostly, I want it to be big, big fun.

So what about you? How do you blow up an idea?


Mark Terry said...

Y'know, I just can't stop myself from commenting on you rubbing your ideas to make your genie bigger.

Well, Derek's adventures tend to be to prevent the end of the world of the deaths of millions of people, so it's harder to get bigger. I think BIGGER is a good idea, though. I admire the writers who can write interesting stories about emotional insights, too, but I tend to go big, partly because I write thrillers, partly because years back an agent wrote a column on how the feel and scope of novels should be big.

My oldest son has a million and one story ideas, and he's got this one that keeps attracting me--some people want to steal The Hope Diamond. Okay, that's big. But then, it's because The Hope Diamond has special properties, maybe even technological and/or magical properties. Ooooh, that's even bigger. And then, last I heard him talk about it, aliens from another planet wanted it because... yeah, we're getting big here all right.

LurkerMonkey said...


Glad I wasn't drinking when I hit the genie comment ...

Yeah, that's the kind of thing I do too. It's just way more fun to have aliens stealing the magical Hope Diamond.

Melanie Avila said...

For me, going bigger is going deeper.


I write about emotions and feelings and all those things you say you avoid, so the only way to make that bigger is to dig out the feelings hidden way down inside.

Natasha Fondren said...

Well, I was drinking tea when I read Mark's genie comment. My computer needed to be cleaned, anyway.

I always feel like I'm not getting big enough, or that I've gone too big for my story, or too big to be plausible. Yes, I am neurotic. No, my editors don't know thank God. Yes, my friends do.

LurkerMonkey said...


Ha ha. Ahem.

I don't know that I avoid that stuff as much as it doesn't come naturally to me ... that's been a challenge and obstacle to publication, actually. So send me some feely vibes :)

Natasha Fondren said...

HAH! Melanie!

LurkerMonkey said...


Send the bill to Mark.

I definitely worry sometimes that I've passed through fantastical to ridiculous. My crit group is wonderful at popping my bubble.