How to Talk About Your Story Without Giving Details

As you know, I’m working on a new project.
As you also know, I don’t talk about stories I’m working on.

Sometimes I want to talk about the work, especially when I’m happy with the way it’s falling together, but I loathe giving away details before the story’s basically finished. Instead, I have this bad habit of making really awkward metaphors, which probably don’t tell anyone why I’m so excited in the first place.

I was trying just now to tell my husband about the new book/stories/thingy that I’m working on, and I didn’t want to jinx myself by telling him what exactly it’s all about.

This is what happened:
“Okay, so there’s a really obvious…thing…that connects the stories. Like BAM! right in your face. Say it’s a bunch of stories about dogs. ‘Kay? Now, there’s also a more subtle theme; like, say the dogs are like metaphors for the soul or something. Whatever, just listen. Okay, so I just figured out how two of the stories connect, specifically…like, Lassie is the dog in the first story, and she has puppies, then in the second story WHAM! one of puppies is there! There’s like…layers.”

So to those of you who have been asking…there. That’s what the current project is about. Glad I could clear that up for you.

Write the Words and Solve the Puzzle

I don’t plot my stories. Not in any real sense; I find if I have the whole thing written down and planned from A to B to C, the story is robbed of its magic and it’s no longer fun.

Instead, I have a very vague idea of what I want the story to be about, some spark that’s going to serve to set it off. “Murder”. “Sociopath”. That kind of thing. Then I’ll decide what big event I want to have happen in the story (hint: people often die). Then I get to sit back and write the thing.

It’s an adventure, not knowing exactly where the story will go. I’ve heard it said by other writers and I can vouch for it myself: half the time I’m just as surprised as (I hope) the reader is. Things will turn at the last moment and suddenly it’s a whole new story. (For example, What’s Inside was going to be about a terrible little boy mutilating animals in his backyard. Then I thought, don’t many kids who torture animals grow up to be murderers? I skipped a step and BAM Cody kills his teacher. I had no idea that was going to happen when I sat down to write.)

The reason I’m talking about this today is that I’m stuck again. It doesn’t have the sense of frustration that often accompanies being stuck; instead I have a couple pieces that I like and I need to solve the puzzle of how they tie in to one another. It’s fun instead of frustrating, because once those pieces click I’ll be off in an exciting new direction.

So I’ll sit back and wait. I’ll trust in my brain, my Muse, wherever the hell these ideas come from, and know that the puzzle will fit together at some point.

If you happen to catch me smiling to myself today, that’s a pretty good sign I’ve figured it out.

Insomnia, My Best Worst Friend

Couldn’t sleep last night. That won’t surprise many of you; I have sleeping…issues. Mostly I can’t get settled, can’t shut my brain off. The longer I lie there, not sleeping, the more resentful I become. It starts off a horrible cycle where I’m angry because I can’t sleep, and I can’t sleep because I’m so angry. I finally drifted off around 4:30. I had to be up at 5:30 for DayJob.

Why am I telling you this?

BECAUSE…as I stared off into the darkness, my mind wandered and BAM! fell right into an idea. An idea for a novel. Pieces fell together and suddenly I had a loose outline, a title, hell, even a cover all planned out.

I rolled over and told myself I’d revisit it today, to see if any of my half-asleep ramblings actually made sense. I even (and this is a cardinal sin: writers, look away) decided not to get up and write any of it down. I figured I might forget it, sure, but it was late and I was busy in the throes of a bitchy little funk.

Luckily, it stayed with me. And the more I think about it, the more I like it.

I’ve never had a story come together so easily before. I have whole little mind-movies climbing over each other to be written. And they make sense and they work.

This is easily the most excited I’ve been about a story, and I owe it all to that sleep-sucking rat-bastard. Silver linings, I guess.

(And no, I won’t tell you what it’s about)