The best stories—novels or movie scripts or whatever—start with an infinitesimal flash of light. It is as if a curtain is parted for an instant to give you a quick and intriguing insight into a human being, or a human situation. If you are a writer, you should never lose that moment. You should jot down a word or two as a catalyst for memory, for the flash is fleeting and unsubstantial as a rainbow, and there may be, if you are very lucky, a pot of gold at the end.
Sometimes the flash is the beginning of a story, often an episode that will find its place in the middle, infrequently the end. After that, you toss around at night, and there are days when you don’t answer immediately to your name, until at last you have the framework of a plot, and know the ending, the last line, the last word. After that you sweat it out on paper. Sometimes you are one character, and sometimes another, and you talk aloud to yourself, listening for the clean ring of dialogue, and you are a hero and a villain all in one day, and unfit to live with, and your friends consider you anti0social and probably schizophrenic. That’s the way you write a good story.
- Pat Frank, The Long Way Round