I can't speak for other writers, of course, but when I write my brain seems to have a mind of its own. Well, it would, wouldn't it? What I think I mean to say is that while one side of my brain has a definite idea in mind, the other side tends to roam all over the place. Case in point, a little ghost story for campers. Nothing too scary, no Carrie here. More Ichabod Crane. So...
It was a dark and stormy night and all the kids were sitting around the campfire. Someone said, "Come John, tell us a story," so John began. Yes, good beginning. Sets up a nice scene, gives an inkling that some sort of horror could be lurking.
Too trite? Too obvious - dark night, thunder in the offing? Maybe I should go another way. A more normal kind of day, but still add a little something ominous. Okay.
It was a sunny afternoon and they were all sitting around the campfire. But where was John? All right, but if it's a sunny day, they wouldn't be sitting around a campfire, would they? They would be hiking or fishing or skinny dipping.
Hmm, how about it was a sunny afternoon and they were all sitting down to lunch. That would get them all together. Oh come on, no one wants to hear a story about lunch.
What would work? Rain. Rain is always mysterious. It was a rainy morning and they were all - what? what were they all doing? Obviously not sitting around a campfire. Rainy morning, stuck in their tents. Do they all pile into one tent, so John can tell a story? That wouldn't be much fun. It would be crowded and would smell like wet gym socks.
How about changing it up a bit? It was a starlit evening with a soft breeze coming over the hill. John and friends were walking along the water's edge? That's nice. It's soothing, idyllic, peaceful. John could tell a story about camping under the stars when he was a kid.
Or better yet, it's just John and Mabel walking under the stars, holding hands, a nightingale's singing in the distance. She looks into his eyes, immediately they know, he leans down and gently kisses her. Wonderful! Good start. I like it.
But will my audience like it? Sure. Who doesn't like a nice love story? So this is it. John and Mabel falling in love on a balmy evening in springtime.
Wait a minute! What the heck have I done? John and Mabel? Love? Springtime? This is a ghost story - for campers! Delete, delete, delete!!!!! (The problem with computers is that you don't have the dubious satisfaction of yanking the paper out of the typewriter, crushing it into a tight ball, and making a three pointer into the trash can.)
Okay. Back to the drawing board. Spooky camping story. Needs a good beginning. Something that sets the tone. A little eerie, with a hint of some nameless horror to come. Let's see, I've got it! I think this will work. It was a dark and stormy night and all the kids were sitting around the campfire. Someone said, "Come John, tell us a story," so John began.
And so the process goes.