How do YOU get your ideas for a story? Do you see an incident you think you could expand on? Is there something in the news that catches your eye? I find both of these work for me, and I immediately start up a conversation between two imaginary characters and see where it leads. Does it have the staying power to make a short story?
My mind and my notebooks are full of snippets of ideas. Conversations. Single sentences. Concepts. One in about forty might be worth really turning into something. Gosh, that makes me sound pretentious, but one elegant sentence does not a story make. You should see the In Progress stuff on my computer. Started out well, with that magic first sentence, but fell in a heap a few hundred words later. Plot? What plot?
A snippet of conversation or the perfect sentence is great, but the plot, the whole plot and nothing but the plot is what matters, and the plot has to come in the same blinding moment as that perfect sentence for me or I’m a goner. (This is why I write short stories, not novels. Imagine Margaret Mitchell plotting Gone With the Wind around ‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.’.)
You can see where this is leading. I had a perfect sentence last week. And I can’t do a damn thing with it. I have half a plot but can’t resolve it. Maybe this weekend, which I’m spending on my own, will turn into a writer’s retreat for me. Bring on the chocolate.