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A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Idea Generators

Someone recently asked me how I center myself for writing. It's a good question. Actually I spend way too much time dinking around with Facebook and emails. So by the time I get around to working, I simply kick myself in the bum and tell myself to quit wasting time and get to work. Myself sounds a whole lot like my dad...;o) 
Seriously, I generally play a game or two of Beleaguered Castles or Solitaire to loosen up my brain and then I'm good to go. Actually sitting down and opening the program works wonders.

I get most of my ideas and inspiration when I'm lying in bed in the morning. I rarely get to do that, however, because I'm incredibly busy. So the stories have to unfold while I'm doing other mindless things. I also rumble through scenarios while hanging clothes, especially at night. (I have six kids and several volunteer jobs. Lots of mindless jobs in there.)
I read like a freak--almost anything I can get my hands on. I take a book or my Kindle everywhere. I even read while I walk. Mostly I don't bump into things unless it's dark and I'm reading with a flashlight while walking. If you're looking to generate ideas, you've got to read a great deal. Stuff the time you don't spend writing, with reading.
I try to keep current on information as much as I can. All kinds of scientific breakthroughs catch my fancy (Bucky balls, Aerogel, polymers, etc). The list is endless.

At any given time there's usually a traffic jam of ideas in my head. Scenes and ideas for new novels are all backed up at a light and waiting for me to bring them to the public. It's the editing that takes me the longest.

I come up with ideas several different ways:
*Sometimes I come up with a kickin' character first. People like Vari Faro or Larkin will bang at the inside of my head and beg me to let them out. Then I plunge that character into as much trouble as they can stand. Sometimes it's more than they can stand. At times they've revolted and made me change the story. 
I recently tried to kill off one of my characters at the end of the book and she came and kicked me and told me she wasn't dying. So I let her live.
*Sometimes it's a story that unfolds. I have one I haven't written yet about a brother and sister who live under London Bridge and pick through the mud for abandoned or lost goodies. That story nearly sprang full-fledged from my head. I'm pretty much waiting until I make enough so I can actually go to London to do research for this book. Sigh.....
*At times it's just an idea that begins like a little seed and takes over. My WATCHERS series grew from my latent rebel tendencies. It ended up being a five-book series, which I'm still polishing between writing three other books.
*I like to take two disparate ideas and crash them together and see what emerges alive. FIRETHORN was like that. I wanted a character that was wildly out-of-the-ordinary without being the same old vampire or werewolf. Kerry was born in all her woodiness. Then I stuck her in high school with all the regular witchy cheerleaders and geeks. I'm hoping it'll appeal to teens and tweens by the bus-load.
*I've gotten ideas from dreams. I have a picture book I haven't written yet, that was such a vivid and color-splashed dream, that it's indelibly ingrained in my mind. I will write that book when I can scrape up time to paint the pictures. It's going to be breath-taking. Someday.
*My first published book SMALL DECEPTIONS grew out of a wish for more books like Jane Austen's. I'd run out of hers and most of the good spin-offs and wanted something more. I'm always looking for a well-researched historical romance with some meat to it. SUMMERHOUSE was another book like that. It's a paranormal Regency romance.
*It also helps to do a loose outline. I plug things into that outline and keep fleshing it out. That helps me keep the book on track so it doesn't stray off into murky byways.
*Write something every day, whether it's on your W.I.P. or a limerick about lawn gnomes. Keep the generator primed and oiled.

My main goal is not to swipe from anybody. Ever. If it's already been done, why write it? Same with movies. Why all the re-dos when there are perfectly good brand new stories out there screaming to hit the big screen? It annoys me that publishers look for books that are current but they also want fresh. That's a knife-edged line. I write what I want to and hope.

My main trouble is in getting books sent to publishers. I never feel they're polished enough. I do have one in submission (PIVOT POINT is the title so far) and A TERRIBLE MAJESTY is nearly out of the polishing stage. FIRETHORN is going to Beta today (thank you Courtney).

That said, it's time to get back to editing. Cheers!


  1. I love hearing about where your ideas comes from. Paranormal regency? I love it!

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