On the TV show MacGyver, the title character comes up with creative solutions by picking things up along the way and making something with them. That’s the process for writing a story without using an outline.
It starts with letting the idea gel. I write a short summary of what I think the story will be about. Then I try another summary, and another, changing the story into different directions–whatever I think of. Most of the characters don’t have names at this point.
Then I’ll see a newspaper article, or a book, or go to the museum and BANG! The idea takes a sharp turn in an entirely different direction. Everything changes in an instant, becoming a different story than what I started with.
But what do I know about it? Only very broad aspects–the story will be set in X; the main character’s name is X; there’s going to be a fight on an island or a mountain. I don’t know any major events, who the bad guy is, or even most of the character names. Even the definition of the story itself hasn’t solidified yet.
For anyone who MacGyvers a story, what’s your process for developing the idea?