How I Write - Part 2: Fleshing Out the Epiphany

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn't.” ― Mark Twain

In part one, I discussed the concept of "having an epiphany" as the beginning of my writing process. In part two, I take my epiphany, which also (usually) equates to my initial incident, evaluate it carefully, then try to uncover as many of the potential outcomes that might grow from that incident to determine if any of those possibilities will lead into viable story options. If so, I then determine which of those possibilities are the best and/or are most appropriate for me as a storyteller. 

But what determines whether a story option is viable or not? I think each individual has to determine that for themselves, but I would start with the premise that everything has to be—or at least feel—believable. That doesn't mean it has to actually be real. As noted, my story is very much science fiction (space ships, aliens, etc.), however, within the universe I'm creating, the characters must feel true to themselves, and their actions and activities must be in accordance with what seems plausible within their reality.

For example, if I were writing a story where telekinetic abilities had never been introduced or even discussed as a possibility, and then one of the characters suddenly displays telekinetic powers, without any introduction or plausible explanation, it wouldn't feel right—it wouldn't feel "real". It would seem as if I decided to throw the telekinesis in as an afterthought, or as an easy way to solve a difficult problem. Readers won't buy it. I know I wouldn't.

So what do I do if, as I'm writing my story, I find there is a need for a character with telekinetic powers? My best course of action is to go back and find a proper place within the story to begin introducing the idea, so when the actual display of those powers first arises, it fits naturally within the universe I've created. That can often mean a lot of extra editing and/or rewriting. I've had to do this in my current book, Your Truth is Out There—not using telekinesis in particular, but other additions to the story that were necessary, but hadn't been previously introduced. It was a significant amount of extra work, the end result was worth the effort.

This same concept can and should be applied to the overall storyline possibilities as well. If the overall concept is too unbelievable, it should perhaps be reconsidered, or at least thought through further, so that the story can be presented in a way the reader will be able to relate to.

Aside from making your story "feel" believable, it also has to be contain something that resonates within me in order for me to go forward, otherwise, I'll lose interest way too quickly. Whether it's the actual storyline I find intriguing, or the individual characters who play it out, there has to be some kind of passion driving the writing. If I don't feel it, not only will I lose interest, the reader will too. 

Speaking of characters, once I've explored and chosen the storyline I'm going to follow (loosely follow, I might add-but I'm getting ahead of myself), then it's time to move on to Part Three: Figuring Out Who My Characters Are. See you next week!