Sunday, August 19, 2012

See It, Hear It, Write It

One of the hardest questions for authors to answer, I think, is the question of where ideas come from. For me, it happens in a different way for every project I get involved in!

I'm working on a fantasy novel now that germinated from a mental image I had nearly ten years ago, of a man walking through a field of tall grass. That was all I had for a long time -- a young man in medieval looking clothing, walking. Where he was going and why took a long time to become clear. (Hopefully someday I'll finish that one!)

Often, my initial idea for a story is a visual scene like that.

If I'm very lucky, it's a scene that comes into my mind of people talking -- like a couple of characters I am overhearing in a restaurant, and then I can fill the lives around and extending out from that conversation.

Some writers start with idea or theme. I can't think of a single time that's happened to me. Usually my ideas or story buds are characters, or visuals. If I'm really lucky, if I'm really in the zone, I can just transcribe the movie playing in my head, and the writing seems effortless.

If I'm not so lucky, I have to listen really hard, use music to set a mood, or return to movies and TV shows and books and paintings for indirect inspiration.

But probably because I love romance best, and romance is a very character-driven genre, I see and hear the characters first -- people, in a certain setting, doing something. That's where my imagination seems to be happiest -- in the visual.

Theme, moral, tone -- all that brings up the rear for me. Even sometimes not coming clear until the third or fourth edit! But I've learned not to fight the process. I simply go with what works.

Where do your ideas take shape?

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