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A Story at the Snap of a Finger

Well, maybe not that quick, but that is what Lesson 3 is about. One of the things that Holly is trying to teach us is not just how to write a novel, but how to consistently write one novel after another. After all one great story idea, one great book, could be like Mambo Number Five by Lou Bega — a one hit wonder and could have just as easily have been nothing but pure dumb luck. The idea is to be able to produce a number of books, potentially in multiple genre, representing the collective works of the Author. This is generally the difference between a Writer and an Author in my mind (though others can gladly disagree).

So Lesson 3 was all about being able to come up with story ideas. It is not as easy as one might think. At least coming up with good ideas. Using the map we created in Lesson 2 we had to come up with three story ideas. Not the complete story but an over concept, beginning, end, and some stuff in-between. Probably just a few paragraphs. But something you could stick in your file and go back to if you needed a quick idea for a story.

There are tips & tricks that Holly teaches us for how to do this. How to generate story ideas. But I stumbled around for over a week with nothing, nada, zippo. Oh I came up with two of the three ideas real quick. But they were ideas I already had. One is the novel I plan to start in a couple of months. But the assignment was to come up with three new ideas. See, this once again relied upon Willow (See Meet Willow) to do most of the work and we are still at the early stages of our relationship. We are still trying to get to know each other better and, as everyone knows, that makes it hard to sometimes communicate easily.

So I would look at my map, walk away and think about it for a while, and draw a blank. I think the problem was that I was looking at the assignment through the eyes of IE (See the Meet Willow post again). And he was still fuming over Lesson 2. He thought that he would be back in charge for Lesson 3 and when he was told to take the backseat again, he stubbornly blocked any progress on the assignment. He doesn’t really understand the map from Lesson 2 anyways.

So after more than a week I decided to sit down and just try to add some more items to the map. I figured if I couldn’t make any progress on Lesson 3 I might as well continue building the map from Lesson 2. But to do this I had to let Willow take over again. IE already knew he had no control over the map and Lesson 2 so he got out of the way and Willow jumped back into the driver’s seat. I secretly think this was Willow’s ploy all along. With IE preoccupied, staring off into never-never land, Willow started adding items to the map and snap, Willow wrote something down (the word Fly) and like a bolt of lightening, out of no where, Willow got an idea for a story. Almost without thinking Willow wrote nearly a page of information about the story based upon the word Fly and pulling in some other items from the map. All of a sudden there was the setting for the story, the two main characters, the conflict, the idea for how it would start and where it might go.

At some point IE started paying attention again and noticed that he had been hood-winked (interesting word) and started ranting-and-raving. But too late. I didn’t get three new story lines, but I did get one really good one (I am definitely keeping it around for a future novel). And I actually also validated the other two story ideas I had already developed before I started the course. I could easily see where ideas from the map would fit into these two stories. So Lesson 3 DONE (or as much as any of these can be done — I am still going back and fiddling with Lesson 1 and 2). But on to Lesson 4. CHARGE!

Oh, I got rid of that book I was complaining about last time and found another one that I am well pleased with. Well I didn’t really get rid of the bad book. It is still in my Kindle library. After all I did pay $0.99 for it 😉

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