This is the official blog of Scott Swift. Here I will be discussing my stories, the writing process, ideas, etc.

Monday, April 11, 2011

"Where do your stories come from?"

Ok, one of my test readers saw the blog and sent me a question via email (he's too young to have an account on blogspot so his parents forwarded me the question). 

"Where do your stories come from?"

It's a pretty simple question, and one I planned to get to eventually, so here goes...

I can't speak to how other writers get their ideas, but for me at least, the stories have always kind of just "been there". I'll see something like a cool picture, or even an ad on TV, and BAM!  The story is there.    

I do have some control over how things play out (the sequence of events for example), but major plot elements (a tiny house on the outside with a huge inside, who lives there, a magic birdcage, and a warning) are all "written in stone" for me so to speak. I’ve tried changing them but it just never works. 

When the salesman walks into a room, I know exactly what it looks like. I can see what color it is, what the furniture looks like, how many windows it has, and so on. I even know what it smells like. Same with the characters. I know exactly what they look like, what they sound like when they laugh, etc.

You might also be surprised to learn that even though I don't give the characters names, I do know their complete histories. I know the backgrounds of every character I've ever written about, even if they only appear in the story briefly. I know how many brothers and sisters they have, did they grow up rich or poor, how educated they are, etc. The whole she-bang. Again, all this information is just "there" for me. I do get to pick and choose how much of it to tell, which is a good thing I suppose because if I included everything I "know" about all the characters I'd never get to tell the story!

One last thing - I'm always learning new "stuff" about the salesman's world from the stories. It's probably the part of the writing process that I like best. For example, if you asked me last year "How do gargoyles have kids?" I would have said, "What the heck are you talking about??" But now that I'm writing a story that includes a bunch of gargoyles, I know *exactly* how they have kids (in case you're wondering, they have litters of 4-6 offspring like cats or dogs, but only once every 10 years). Now that bit of information might or might not make it into the story you read, but it's a "fact" about the salesman's world I know nonetheless.

Well, that's it for now. I hope I answered your question B----.

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