It’s always fun to get this question. People who don’t write are genuinely intrigued with how an idea is transformed into an engaging story.
But writers know it’s not easy to answer this question. It would be great to say, “Oh, I just go down to the Idea Store and buy the bulk pack — it lasts me for weeks that way.”
In reality, we don’t find the ideas. They find us.
I wish I knew how it works. I’d love to ask a roomful of ideas, “So where do you get your authors?” They may not be willing to give up their trade secrets though.
Supposedly there aren’t any original ideas, but when an idea jumps into a particular writer’s head and connects with other ideas they’ve stashed along the way. . .all of a sudden a brand-new story emerges.
For example, the idea for my contemporary romantic comedy novella, Summer Lovin’, came about because of a writing prompt I put on my blog one day. It was short and sweet: The puppy chased the ball. It doesn’t even really seem like an idea, does it? It was meant to be an exercise in showing each writer’s voice. It ended up doing that, but it was also a lot of fun to see all the different stories that resulted from that simple sentence. (The mystery writers had some of the scariest ones, by the way.)
My little snippet had a woman dogsitting for a friend, and she was desperate to distract the puppy with a ball in order to keep the animal from chewing apart her favorite shoes. This one idea led to another, and then another, and soon I had a sexy story involving a chef hero and the dogsitting heroine, brought together by the puppy with a shoe fetish.
The idea for Lord Midnight, my Regency historical, surprised the heck out of me when it showed up. I knew I was going to do a story about a highwayman, because I think they’re witty and charming and roguishly sexy. I just didn’t know why the hero had taken on that profession. One day I was reading a newspaper article which had nothing at all to do with highwaymen. It was about the political fortunes of vice presidents hinging on something horrible happening to the president. It made me wonder what would happen if somebody was impatient to move up in line, and they did something dastardly to get to the top.
That’s when the idea appeared: the highwayman’s uncle had been the heir for so long and didn’t like that he had been displaced, so he decided to kill the young boy and “regain” the title and estates he’d always considered his. The young boy didn’t die, though, and he became a highwayman seeking revenge for the theft of his birthright.
I’m not sure why that idea chose me, but I’m thrilled that it did. I love all the ideas that have entrusted me with telling their stories. Now I just need them to wait patiently while I write each one of them.
That’s the really tricky part.
Bio: I have worked as an attorney, winery tasting room manager, and retail business owner, but nothing beats the thrill of writing humorously-ever-after romances. Currently I reside in New England, although I fantasize about spending the rest of my days in a tropical locale, consuming mojitos for breakfast and wearing flip flops year-round.
A contemporary novella, Back on Track, will be published by Samhain in April, 2013. A romantic comedy, I Do. . .or Die, has just been contracted with Crimson Romance.