The First Scene

All writers work differently, but the universal first step before any writer can pick up a pen or boot up their word processor is The Idea. I’ve had people come up and tell me that they really want to write a book, but they don’t know what they’d write about. Unfortunately for them, The Idea is fundamental. The things people write about are so amazingly varied! Some think, “I want to write about my grandfather’s experience in XYZ” or “That trip to W could inspire others!” The non-fiction that comes out of those ideas can be deeply inspiring and informative. There are fiction writers who also start with that sort of thought, “I will write a story that will show the Civil War in this sort of light,” or “I want to write a book in which the topic of V is a key element.” I’m fond of these, because, if written well, you are entertained as well as educated. Some of my best history factoids were learned through historic fiction novels.

But there is another sort of writer: the type who simply gets an interesting idea and wants to write about it. J.K. Rowling has stated in interviews that Harry Potter came to her head virtually out of the blue. These are the writers whom I shall be primarily addressing, as this is the type of writer I am. As I have mentioned before, I am the author of a science fiction novel. Here I must make a grave confession: prior to writing this book, I had no deep fascination with science fiction as a genre. I always thought that I would be published as a historic fiction/fantasy writer. Two things happened that turned me towards sci-fi. The first was a friend who wrote sci-fi and wanted me to co-author a book with her. The second was an Idea.

For nearly a year before my friend approached me, I’d had a scene in my head, sort of like a short movie clip. Just a brief, dramatic episode that happened to be set in space. Once my friend approached me, I thought that it would be a good place to put that little scene on paper. From that scene I developed my plot, arranged my characters, and set to writing. The end result was the novel Universe of the Soul: Adri Adept. Many things changed within the story during the writing process, but the short scene that started it all remains, almost exactly the same way I’d pictured it years before. Knowing that Idea got to paper makes me feel incredibly satisfied.

In my previous blog, I wrote about the idea of a Creative Universe in the mind, where a writer first develops ideas. This is the first step, creating an original idea and formulating a story out of it. It sounds like an obvious first step (and I suppose it is), but it is so vital that I thought it worth monologuing about. This phase – coming up with an Idea – is one of my favorite parts of the entire writing process. This is the fantastical stage where the mind goes wild and the possibilities are only limited to what you can think of. In this stage you don’t have to worry if it makes sense, or would actually all fit in one tale; just experiment with it all and see what you end up with!

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. HaleyWhitehall
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 18:09:23

    Jennifer, I love this post! I reblogged it on my blog today. I hope you get more traffic. I have also added you to my blogroll. Keep up the good work, writing friend 🙂


  2. Trackback: The First Scene | jennifermandelas « Soldiering Through the Writing World  
  3. nkeda14
    Feb 11, 2011 @ 02:50:16

    Yeah I love that too.
    The “idea” stage, it’s so care free! I feel that I am the same kind of “out of the blue” idea getter as you.
    It happens all the time. That’s why I always have post-its and a pen on me, you have to capture them as they come!
    (Kind of like having a butterfly net vs waiting for one to land then trying to pick it up)
    Sorry, metaphors are my thing.

    Love the post, will be waiting for more!


    • Jennifer Mandelas
      Feb 12, 2011 @ 19:29:37

      Your metaphor is great! It’s exactly like that. I have nearly two dozen notebooks that are all half-filled with random ideas that I’ve gotten at one point or another. I have one by my bed, one in my purse, in my car, and stuffed on shelves by my desk! It’s fun to flip through them every once in a while, and see if you can take those random caterpillars and turn them into butterflies (to follow your metaphor)!


      • nkeda14
        Feb 14, 2011 @ 00:54:23

        HA HA glad i’ve found another metaphor girl! 😀
        I have a notebook by my bed along with a writers binder where I transcribe all the post its I fill up. I LOVE post-its they are a life saver!

  4. HaleyWhitehall
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 01:45:38

    I second that post it notes are terrific. I carry a notebook with me everywhere. Sometimes I can’t get my ideas to come out right when typing on the computer and they come out better when I’m writing out my ideas by hand.


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