There are certain stories and certain characters that resonate with me, like a tuning fork humming inside me. These things go deep, and make themselves comfortable in my subconscious. Often I will take bits and pieces of these stories and characters and make something new with them. I suspect most if not all fiction writers do the same thing. The writer is just sitting there, minding their own business, and one or two of these bits floats up to the surface, maybe collides with something external, and BAM! Suddenly there’s a new story idea. When a good one of these hits you, and hits you hard, it’s one of the best feelings in the world. That’s what happened to me late this winter, while I was trying to write something totally different. While reading a book at lunch, a bit from the book and a song I’d wanted to turn into a story for a while smashed into each other. I remember saying “Whoa” out loud.
There’s also a slower formation of a story idea, where it swirls around getting stronger and stronger, and one day you realize it’s become a whirlpool. At that point it’s easier to give in than to fight it. That’s where I’m at now. Yesterday I gave in to my muse and started a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera. I’ve been calling it “Erik’s Tale” in my head for weeks. This goes back to the resonance thing, because The Phantom of the Opera is one of those stories that settled deep in me (the musical as well as Gaston Leroux’s novel). Trying my hand at this tale is exciting, but I’m also scared. I mean, really, who the hell am I to try to tackle a classic like this?
I’m still giving it a try, though. Hopefully my love of the story and my daring changes will combine to make something that others will find enjoyable.