I'm baby-stepping towards being ready to talk about my new story idea. I'm still not ready to divulge the storyline itself, but a few things have happened that I'm anxious to share.
The whole time I was writing my memoir I was jealous of all these writers talking about character development and motivation, plot running off in an unexpected direction, characters doing things you didn't expect, new characters taking on more important roles, the list goes on and on. I could work on my character development to an extent but it felt more self-help than I really intended. Sure, I analyzed myself to figure out how I had grown over the course of the book so there would be character arc, growth, etc, but I can only do so much with my life.
The thing I heard most and that I knew I'd never experience while writing my personal story is the idea that the story writes itself. What do you mean, writes itself? My imagination is always two steps ahead of me and I can create scenarios in vivid detail without much prompting, but to have the story just flow out of your fingers without first thinking about what you're writing just sounds too... I don't know... surreal.
There's a long-standing debate between people who follow outlines and those that wing it. The outliners also tend to do a lot of research and have a very clear idea of where their story is headed. The wingers complain that outlines limit you, prevent you from following new plot bunnies that pop up as the story develops.
Both sides have merit. I followed a loose outline for my memoir but didn't need to do much research as my story was already in my journal. When the idea came for this new idea it arrived in a fully formed scene, a movie in my head. I dream that way, too. I scribbled down my ideas before they could flit away, then didn't go back to it for over a month because I couldn't decide where to go from there. I've already strayed from my original idea but I'm still using that initial spark for inspiration.
In the past few weeks I've figured out more of what's to happen, sketched out a rough outline, so to speak. I'm worried there's not enough story to fill out an entire book but I'm not getting hung up on those details right now. I had one particular detail that I knew I wanted to happen but couldn't figure out the transition to the next scene. Well, the craziest thing happened. As I was writing my pen came up with the perfect explanation. It was exactly what I'd been brainstorming but I didn't hit on it until I was "in the scene." Amazing.
I'm finally getting what all those other writers were talking about. This whole time I've been thinking it was just a fluke that I finished my memoir. Everyone writes a memoir. Sure, it's an accomplishment to get the words down (almost 100K of them in my case) but this feeling I have while writing, the way the ideas just flow without even thinking about them, that's what I've been striving for.
*wip = work in progress, not leather strappy apparatus