One of the questions I get asked more than anything else is: Where do you come up with your ideas? I don't know how many different answers I've given. It all depends on what book or story I'm talking about at the time and where I really DID get the idea! Even the WAY I wrote the book varies depending on when I wrote it. Here are a few of the ways I've answered the question: Where do you come up with your ideas?
Someone Always Loved You-Real Life
Sometimes, my books are based on experiences from real life that I have fictionalized. Take "Someone Always Loved You," for example. This was the first book I ever wrote. It is based around a woman in a coma. The idea I had when I started it was that I wanted to have someone in a coma throughout the book. The reader would get to see what she experienced. She would hear people talking around her at times and she would be in a dream-like state at other times, re-living past experiences and so on. That was the entire basis for the book. It was something I wanted to write for a long time because my grandmother was in a coma on two separate occasions and I always wondered what she experienced when she was in that state. I mulled the idea over for years before the prologue for the book just simply jumped into my mind...and then wouldn't leave. The idea behind the prologue was that an EMT driver would actually hit the woman on her way into the hospital, sending her into a coma. From that point on, I had no idea what would happen. I wrote the prologue and then had to finish the book. But I never knew what would happen day to day as I wrote. A lot of the stories the woman in the coma relives are things that happened to me in real life. Though many of them are figments of my imagination. Many of the characters have pieces of me or someone I know, though they are all most certainly fictional at their core. This book, more than any other, is based on real life experiences.
A friend of mine enjoys the fact that I write and she likes giving me ideas. Some of them I have used and others I have stored away for later. One time, she told me that I should find an event in history and write about it from five different people's perspectives. Her idea is the basis of my novel "Beyond the Bars." Though when I sat down to write it, I knew I didn't want to do anything historical. I'm a fiction writer. I would make something up! As the idea formed, I thought it might be neat to have similar events happening across the country with different people experiencing the blow back. One would even die in the event and would then go on to speak about it from beyond. There's a prisoner, a priest, a mother, and a cop involved and they all have different views on what happened. And it all came about from that one brief idea from a friend. In this book, I experimented in truly writing it a chapter at a time. I did my best not to think beyond that chapter. I engulfed myself in the character I was working with and tried to see things as they saw them. Then, the next day when I moved to another chapter, I would move on. The result became more of a thriller than I expected and I struggled with the title for a long time, but settled on "Beyond the Bars." Read it and you'll understand why.
I was in church one Sunday and the pastor talked about what we would say to God if He showed up in our kitchen. I remember nothing else about the sermon as I'm sure I was entertaining my daughter and attempting to keep her as quiet as possible at the time. but that one sentence became the basis for my novel, "God in the Kitchen." I thought it might be interesting to have a God-like being (more of an angel, really,) appear to a man in his kitchen and help him find his way in life. It became more of a romance/love story, but it had a deeper message of trusting God as well. It was the first and so far only Christian fiction novel I have written. And I got the idea from one phrase.
-Who Knows Where
I attended a writing conference last November. An agent ran several classes and I attended as many as I could. In one class, she taught us to write "hooks" for first sentences. The idea was that people might pick up a book, look at the cover and the title, and then open it and read a bit to see if they wanted it. The first sentence needed to hook them in. She then had us write first sentences and share them with the group. I came up with "Stop the wedding!" Later in the conference, I attended another one of her classes about writing romance novels. I hadn't ever written romance before, though all of my books had romantic elements involved in them. When I got home, I caught up on some things and then I wrote "Wrong Place, Right Time." The first line is: "Stop the wedding!" The novel will come out December 2014 from The Writer's Coffee Shop.
There aren't many shows that I feel like I HAVE to see. One such show is the Bachelor. People who know me think that's funny because it's not really in line with my personality. But I find the show hilarious and highly entertaining. After writing one romance, I wanted to base a novel on the Bachelor. What if there was a local bachelor show without so much glitz? What resulted was "Accept This Dandelion," and the characters can't do anything right. It ended up being a lot funnier than I intended, simply because of the mood I was in when writing it. And probably because of the lack of sleep two little girls provided me with. This novel now awaits an answer from my publisher. I am hoping it will be in the line up to come out sometime after "Wrong Place, Right Time."
So in conclusion, how do I write thee? In a number of ways! Who cares why! I enjoy it and with any luck, readers do as well!