As I’m sometimes asked when someone has finished reading a particular story – Where on Earth did you get an idea like that?
Very commonly in the bath; in a waiting room; middle of the night; or in the evening with the telly on, or with the iTunes on; in the (pre-Covid) pub. I might hear a chance remark, or a line in a song, see something unusual – and it might strike me that, in a different context, that could be a good situation for a story. Maybe the storyline will come with it; and possibly the character; and, rarely, the end-line. The end often comes when I’m 99% through the story – and if nothing comes, the story rests where it is.
Think vast, I tell myself, or tiny; think future on Earth, or in the remote recesses of time and space. What kind of characters, what actions, prejudices, wants?
So I jot down anything from a sentence to a dozen or more pages. I always carry a notebook and pen (and facemask these days) and sometimes a smartphone.
I photograph the scribbled pages; upload them onto the PC; ponder about them; maybe add some more text and bundle them up in a folder for more pondering. Eventually, I’ll get round to spending a few days getting them writ. And leave them a while, then getting them right – as the saying goes.
Sometimes, I see a picture on the net that seems to gel with one of the stories, and it seems to be a waste if I don’t adapt the story to fit the pic – so that happens on occasion.
Drawing the Caveman Line – above – was twenty minutes’ scribbling in the bath, filling four pages about a year ago. The unfortunate mutineer aboard a spaceship is dumped on the Earth of a million years ago, and he encounters a tribe of early humans… The story is still waiting on the computer, though I do know the ending, in outline. One day...