Starting Anew

So I’m sitting here, trying to think what I can blog about, and thinking what I’ve done in the last week, and one of the main things that I’ve done is: I have started a new book.

This makes the third one I’ve started since the end of January, when I turned in the completed manuscript for The Barbed Rose. And I got to thinking about the process of finding new stories, and how I did it.

And they’re all different. Which is good, I suppose. There’s always a tiny, tiny little seed that starts everything off. Sometimes it’s a concept, something really intellectual. Like the Conquest of the Americas–technology overtaking the primitive–but what if the “primitives” had magic rather than technology? And thus was born the One Rose trilogy.

Sometimes, I start with what I don’t want to write. I want to do a paranormal, but I don’t want to do vampires and I don’t want to do werewolves and I don’t think I want to do ghosts. What else is there? So I wrote a hero who’s cursed–only he’s not dark and dramatic looking. He’s blond and lanky. He’s against type. (We shall see if this book finds a home.) I wound up with a ghost in this story, even though I’m not real fond of ghost books, because the ghost kept coming back. Couldn’t get rid off her, so…there she is.

Sometimes, I start with a character. And yes, sometimes, the character starts nagging me after I’ve been to see a movie and seen someone very inspirational on the big screen. However, it’s rarely the lead actor/actress in the movie that inspires. Usually, it’s one of the “bit” players– the guy who drowns in the shipwreck or gets burned up by the evil arsonist. But it’s never the character in the movie whose story I want to tell. It’s somebody else. Somebody who pops up from the swamp in the back edges of my brain and glowers at me. Or nags me. Or starts telling me a story.

I recently made a trip to the college where my son will be going next year so he could try out for the theater department to see whether they would admit him as a performance major. And of course, after driving all day Friday to get there and going to see Kingdom of Heaven, I woke up in the stinkin’ middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep. Stress, I guess. So I’m lying there in the bed, going “Okay brain, here’s this character–big guy, hard, cold, aggressive-warrior type–I want a story to go with him. A contemporary. A romance. Okay? Ready? I’m going to go to sleep now, and you’re going to come up with the story while I sleep. Ready? I’m going to sleep………… Okay, I’m not sleeping. So who else could be in this book?”

I would much rather have turned it over to the brain while I slept, but the sleeping wasn’t happening. Till about 5: 30 a.m. (The son woke up too, but got back to sleep first, after many pushups and situps–oh, and he aced his tryout and got admitted.) But I came home with another story idea (talked it over with my critique partner who lives there).

Of course, once I have the idea, I do a lot of other stuff to get it to the point where it’s ready to start writing, but how much of that I have to do depends on what kind of story it is and how much world building I have to do. Fantasy in a different universe obviously requires a lot more than a contemporary romance set in a city I know. And it’s all good.

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