It’s always exhilarating when a story idea grabs you by the head and gallops off down a road you didn’t even see. Of course, you have to run as well as you can to keep up. And it’s a little scary not knowing if it will go somewhere or if it’s just going to smack into the wall at the end of a cul-de-sac and waste all your effort. And your neck can get a little sore.
My current writing project started as the story of a young man discovering the ability to influence weather in a world ravaged by climate change. I struggled with that for a long time, trying to get a decent plot happening. Eventually, I realised that the problem was that my ideas were clichéd and the story had been told in other forms too many times before.
Then, inspiration struck and I suddenly had a new main character – a grief-stricken woman, conscripted by a government agency to confront and overcome the weather systems that destroyed her life. I found this story much more fascinating and almost immediately a solid outline formed. Once I had the plan, I began fleshing out the supporting characters.
However, now that I’m getting to know the other characters, they’ve started getting more and more interesting. The story has changed again. I now have an ensemble of increasingly complex characters working with and competing against each other. The plot is now looking very different to both of the previous iterations. It’s a lot more complex and will need a lot more planning but I think it will (eventually) be a much better story. Of course, that wall at the end of the road is looming. I just have to hang on, stay with it and hope we either bust through or jump over.