An Aspiring Writer's Blog Site

Metamorphosis of a Story- Part 1

“A toast to the new story:
May it hurt going out as much as it does going in.”

A story isn’t just written. It evolves.

Well. Maybe that isn’t true. I guess some are just written, but for me, a story comes along slowly. Usually painfully. Its probably not unlike giving birth, but I’m a guy and though I saw my wife do it, what do I really know about . . . I’m getting off track here. . .

A story really is a metamorphosis from idea to the finished work. I’d like to invite you on my journey as I pick up another project and hack it to death. Let’s see how far along this one goes. Maybe it will end with it being published. Maybe it will end in the trash can with somebody peeing on it (well, maybe it won’t end in the trash can, but I can guarantee you it will be pissed on—plenty of times).

So, first step. You got to have an idea.

I’ve been muling over some for the last few weeks. A lot of the stories I conjure up have to do with people turning into animals or spirits or something. I had been strongly considering writing a story that took place in Colonial America and would have to do with werewolves based upon American Indian legend. Then, last night, I was reading a historical fiction (aka a bodice ripper) and I thought, why are so many stories set during this time period? Dumb question. The Victorian age is just damned cool. I just stopped writing a story set in the same century.

I thought to myself: a lot of paranormal-type stories happen during this time frame. I wonder if there was a way I could put my own spin on it. A lot of those stories had to do with high society. What if it was low society? I thought of the clichéd idea of the two lovers from different classes. But what if they were both from the slums? What if there was a werewolf in the slums? What if it wasn’t your typical werewolf? What if the werewolf was an Irish immigrant living in the New York Slums and the werewolf was more in line with the werewolves of Celtic mythology? What if it wasn’t just about werewolves, what if was magic based on Irish/Celtic lore? Well now . . . that has some legs. So, this is what I’m gonna do . . .

I’m going to write a group of fantasy short stories that are based upon Celtic mythology and legend that are set in the Irish slums of 19th century New York.

OK, so, I got the idea. Now, what I do is start some research. I’ll tackle Celtic Mythology first—get a pretty good grasp on its icons and themes. Then I’ll go do some research on 19th century slums. All the while, I’ll write down story ideas as they come to me. I’ll write down possible scenes. I’ll write down character descriptions.

So, that’s how I usually start my stories. How do you go about starting your stories? Got any advice for me as I tackle this thing?

Note: Some of you may remember the original Metamorphosis of a Story I did back in the day. That thread kind of went kaput after awhile when I ran out of steam on the project. I am renaming it to Sphinx. This will be the new Metamorphosis of a Story.

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13 responses

  1. I have to say Dan, I like your idea. My new novel idea is very Celtic themed, though in a more traditional sense; you being the historian type I can see how your idea suits you better.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    • Oh, you’re working on a Celtic themed story too? What resources are you using? Today, I picked up an “Introduction to Celtic Mythology” by David Bellingham. Currently reading about CuChulainn. This is all pretty new to me. Never got into this part of mythology before. I’ll let you know if I find anything of interest.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm

      • Right now I’m just browsing the internet, is CuChulainn The Hound? Or is that another really strange name I don’t recognize yet?

        August 23, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      • Heh. I never heard of him until last night. I gather he’s one of the more popular heroes from Celtic lore. What sites have you gotten?

        August 23, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      • Right now I’m actually studying alot about what habitats would consitute a place that looks like Irelan, moorlands, highlands, and different types of lakes. I really want to capture the feel of the place and since my main character is going to be a druid I need him to understand these kinds of things.

        August 23, 2012 at 4:27 pm

      • Ah, I see. Lots of picture looking then, eh? Cool. Let me know if you get anything cool. Also, I’d like to know any sources you have on Druids. I’m sure I’ll have something like it eventually.

        August 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm

      • Will do, though they’re a hard lot to find anything on, we don’t know much about them at all unfortunately.

        August 23, 2012 at 4:44 pm

  2. I love the way you broke down your brain process for coming up with the general idea–are you always that organized?!

    My second thought while I was reading your post was that you have that concept of developing originality within an already-told story down to a T. A tweak here, a tweak there, throw in well-developed characters and viola! You have a story no one has ever read before.

    And lastly, probably because I’m not in the habit of reading historical fiction anymore and I’m always looking for a change of pace with my reading, if I saw a book on a shelf with these ideas as the synopsis, I think I’d buy it. 😀

    August 27, 2012 at 8:56 am

    • Hi, Whitney. I really liked your blog and I feel honored you dropped by.

      I used to not be so organized when I wrote. I used to be in the game industry and was a project manager. I learned the importance of channeling creative energy into a finished product by having a strong development process. Keeps me focused, keeps me disciplined.

      Thanks for your thoughts about reading the story. It means a lot to me to hear that from you. 🙂

      August 27, 2012 at 10:06 am

      • I think it’s interesting how experiences from traditional jobs play a role in how and what we write. For a long time, it’s been my goal to get to where I can freelance fulltime and have a part time job somewhere, just for a bit of steady income and also for continued contact with the outside world. It’s important to not totally isolate yourself, wouldn’t you say? Hmm… I feel another post idea coming on!

        August 27, 2012 at 11:10 am

      • Yeah. Definitely agree. Even if I was a full time writer, I’d want something that I did outside of writing to give me some perspective and fresh ideas.

        August 27, 2012 at 12:11 pm

  3. Cat

    I admire your passion for research. I tend to discover an idea and then just write like crazy until I figure out what – or whose – story I’m supposed to be telling. I tend to get lost in research otherwise and end up with multiple stories that could potential be a whole novel’s worth!
    Let us know how you do – can’t wait to find out how you get on!
    Take Care, Cat

    August 27, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    • Hey, Cat. Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, you got to be careful not to get lost in research. I fortunately haven’t had that problem (yet!). I’ll be posting part 2 in a day or two.

      August 27, 2012 at 4:32 pm

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