Or, What's The Big Idea?
Every story begins with a premise, a place to start. All the ideas in my Little Black Book begin with a suppose, along with ideas for a working title, genre, characters, themes, symbols, etc. I write tidbits in as they occur to me, otherwise I’ll forget when it comes time to put a project into play. The story I’m going to develop comes from the following Suppose:
Suppose a fallen knight returns home after a mysterious absence only to find his past has followed him across the world to lay siege to all he sought to escape from.
Subgenre: Survival (?)
Let’s say my Main Character, let’s call him the Fallen Knight (F.K.), has done some things in his past he’s not proud of. Let’s say (I love a good brainstorm) there’s only one way for him to make a clean start: he must return home after an extended self-exile to beg his inheritance from his father so he can buy a ship. If his father is the epitome of the perfect knight, this will be a difficult meeting, especially as FK is determined to keep his secrets. To make matters worse, what if he’s got a younger brother is who seems to be the perfect prodigal son? Emphasis on seems.
So why did he leave in the first place? Perfect opportunity to incite conflict. Thwarted love? Betrayal of a friend or lover? Open or barely-scabbed over wounds make for some luscious character development. I want him to have escaped what he considered, in his youth, to have been an untenable situation, really got in trouble and escaped another, worse situation he’s partially or wholly responsible for, only to come home to find Situation 1 still waiting for him, nicely aged to delectable potency, and have the rest follow him with a vengeance. Then we pile on the troubles until he just can’t take it no more. I'll make a list of crises for consideration.