Monday, June 20, 2011

Anatomy of an Idea: Saplings

Warning: contains spoilers. Please read "Saplings" first if you're going to.

"Saplings" is easily one of the most peculiarly populated stories I've written in terms of the characters and elements I used. My initial inspiration for the story was to do a word-hop. This is a writing exercise I created for myself where I gather a list of words, put them in any order, and start writing. For every hundred words, I have to incorporate the next word on the list somehow.

With "Saplings," the word list was every "fun" word I could think of that started with H. I got some volunteers from to offer me suggestions, as well. I ended up with a sizable list, though not enough to take me through the whole story. So be it! If you look at Saplings carefully, you'll notice some of the more unusual H words popping out here and there.

Before starting, I needed some general idea of the plot. The word list suggested that an herbalist would be a good idea. I'm not sure where the idea to write about a character who watched royal / prominent children came from, but as I developed it, I realized I needed a reason for a young, fish-out-of-water herbalist to be entrusted with such responsibility. Ping! Nanny powers. (And even though I didn't use that term in the story, that's how I think of them.)

I quickly decided that I wanted the story to take a twist in that the child who was abducted was not going to be the prince or the High Sorcerer's daughter - but rather the gardener's son. My main character would probably assume that this was a mistake, but it wouldn't be ... and what kind of foe would hold a grudge against a gardener, a man of growing things? From there evolved the idea of using vicious tree spirits as my antagonists.

I didn't know how the story was going to end when it started, but as I hopped along from word to word, I realized that it had to somehow stem from her nanny powers. I only figured it out as I got much closer ... that her ability to protect had to overcome the odds, had to be central to the conclusion.

So that's "Saplings" in a nutshell. No pun intended. Ahem.


Aubrie said...

Wow, you play such complicated word games. Makes me head hurt. Ouch! But I bet it makes you a better writer.


Thanks for watching my trailer! Only another musician would notice the sound. We bought two packages of expensive sound effects.

Your CD is beautiful btw!

Lindsey Duncan said...

It just makes me neurotic. ;-) I find the challenge of the structure enjoyable.

Oof! Well-spent for the product, though. :-)