An idea hits and we run with it; the perfect beginning to what could become the perfect story pours out of us, our fingers racing over the keyboard or our pens gliding over the page. The divine beginnings of story streams along, characters appear and splendid descriptive settings emerge in a rich tapestry of words. Sometimes throughout this initial burst, a magnificent ending materializes, and before it’s lost, we leap ahead to our final conclusion. This is the easy part. We have the preliminary slivers of a developing story and the only thing missing is the body that links beginning to end. This is where the real work begins, picking your way through the mire, building the core of your story.
In school I was taught to create an outline before sitting down to write; but I’ve learned when a concept comes crashing in like a rogue wave, I don’t have the time to design the framework. I write down everything as it comes –settings, descriptions, beginnings, characters, conclusions and back story. Once the flow has been purged, I sit down and begin my first outline, filling in the holes and piecing together the events that guide the story from beginning to end.
Inspiration does not arrive in an orderly fashion. I build my stories from the fragments of an initial vision, like purchasing the tools before designing the structure. Sometimes I find my best work comes from shifting the order of things.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.