How do you start a story? Many of my ideas come from some sort of dream, but really they can come from anywhere. From a song, from a scene in a movie, from something someone said, or something that happened across the street. But what do you do when you get that great idea? The first thing I'll do is jot down the idea. Then comes the fun part.
Here is one of my ideas:
An infant prince is smuggled out of the palace by his aging nanny just before the royal family is destroyed. She must hide him until he is old enough to use the family heirlooms.
Not much of an idea but that's just the beginning. Such an idea needs some details. What are the family heirlooms? And how could they be of use?
I decided that several items of jewelry could be used, so what kinds of jewelry does a man wear and what use could they be put to other than, say, holding clothing up or together?
These questions prompted the creation of a world. I decided the pieces of jewelry could be some sort of matrix keyed to the royal bloodline - mostly useless to anyone else.
Ring - opened sealed gates and doors
Buckle/girdle - activated portals between worlds
Cloak pin/Broach - was personal defense or body shield
Earrings - enabled hearing at a distance or hearing the royal computer at the palace
Wrist band/Bracelet - was some sort of personal offense
Collar/Torque - enabled the wearer to understand all the languages of the realm
Scepter - A scroll of sorts containing the laws of the land
Crown - Ultimate control of the royal computer
Of course, these items and/or their use is highly subject to change.
Now that I have the jewelry of sorts and some sort of thing they can do, I also have a feel for the society and the world. It's very rough though. Details will come with the telling of the story.
Next comes names. I decided to give the boy a royal name, Leo, short for something much more regal. Something he'd likely never have been called if things had been different. And the old nanny? Leo always called her A'ma. Other names along the way just kinda have to happen.
"A'ma, come on, get up. Burtold said we can't stay here anymore," said the boy as he burst into the small room that had been his home for the last year. They had moved from hovel to inn to basement every year or two for as long as he could remember. Admittedly, he didn’t remember much of it but he knew. Always they had been asked to move on - eventually.
The old woman on the pallet opened her eyes and looked at the young ball of energy that had just burst in the door. He was only eight years old, but he had been supplying much of their sustenance for the last two years - too young to be saddled with so much responsibility. Just now, his blond curls were in disarray - then again, his hair was almost always in disarray - and his face was smudged with dirt. “There was so much I should have told you,” she said in a weak whisper.
“A’ma, I know you haven’t been feeling well, I’ll go get you some more tea. Burtold will let me have that much before we go,” said the boy as he reached for the door again.
“No, Leo. Burtold is anxious enough, leave him be. Come here and sit with me for a while.”
Young Leo crossed the small room to sit down on the pallet beside the very old woman who lay there. She was the only parent he had ever known and yet she had always insisted that she was not his mother or even a member of his family. “I found us a new place,” said Leo lightly. “It’s down by the docks; it smells like fish all the time, but I can find work almost all the time there. You’ll get well soon when you start eating three times a day.”
The old woman reached a thin hand up and cupped his cheek. She smiled weakly. “You’re so young,” she said and a single tear slid from the corner of her eye.
“I’m almost nine,” said Leo, he was starting to get a little worried. Over the last few months, a’ma’s health had taken a plunge. Recently she had been unable to get out of bed for more than a few minutes at a time. He had worked very hard, over the last two days, to find a new place and arrange for transportation to get her there.
“I have something to give you, but you must promise me that you will never part with it, no matter what. You should be so much older for this. Your father should have had this honor, but it was not to be.” A’ma’s voice was fading and her hand was beginning to shake.
“A’ma, you’re tired,” said Leo. “You should rest.”
“I’ll rest, my boy, don’t worry. I’ll rest soon enough.” She struggled for a moment to pull out a pouch from under her pillow. She had never parted with that small blue pouch, but Leo had never seen her open it. She didn’t open it now; with hands that still shook, she pressed the pouch into his hands. “That belonged to your father. You must guard it with your life, and keep it with you always - always.”
Leo took the pouch hesitantly; why was she giving it to him? Why now? He looked into her smiling eyes and then untied the small string that held it closed. He pulled out a piece of wadded up shiny cloth and wrapped in its folds was a heavy ring. Turning it over in his hand, he could tell that a good deal of gold had gone into its make and the blood colored stone in its center had to be worth a fortune. “A’ma, why did you keep this hidden? We could have eaten for an entire year. We could have hired a doctor for you when you first got sick.” He looked up when she didn’t answer. Her eyes were closed now and there was a soft smile on her withered face. “A’ma?” Leo called softly. He touched her cheek. “A’ma?” he called again, but he knew she was resting. In his heart, he knew that she was not going to wake this time. “What does this mean, A’ma? Who is my father?” Who could he have been to have such a ring? Who could he have been to cause his a’ma to keep this at such a cost to herself?
That's just a beginning, but that's all I have so far. Quite a quandary for poor young Leo to decipher. How do you suppose he'll manage it? He's only eight, what will he do now? Where will he go? Who will he meet along the way?
What do you think? Would you read this story? I have a lot of ideas.