One question authors are asked over and over again is, “Where do you get your ideas?”
My answer? “Hell if I know.”
When Karin very kindly invited me to blog, I was of course excited and accepted immediately. “What do you want me to talk about?” I asked.
“Whatever you want,” she said, “just give away some books.” (Which I will â€“ 2 posters will receive autographed copies of CAUGHT, the first book in the Gemini Men Series) (who hoo! And I, Karin, am giving away a signed copy of the infamous ITALIAN STALLIONS!)
That’s when the panic set in. I was right back to junior high and the first time we were told to write a 3 paragraph essay on the topic of our choice.
Really? No direction from the teacher? Not even a suggestion to nudge us in the right direction? Nope. Come up with a topic on your own.
Hearing this story, it might surprise you that I became a novelist. Now, when I start a project, I have to come up with an idea that will carry me a lot farther than 3 paragraphs!
But with every book I face that same panic, no matter how many times I’ve done it. So I thought today I’d talk about how I move from that panicked place to an idea to a plot that will carry me through 100,000 words or so.
Here’s a secret: even though I write romantic suspense, I rarely have any idea what the suspense plot is going to be when I start thinking about the book. I am a totally character driven writer. What comes naturally to me are the characters â€“ the hero and heroine, what they’re like, and how they will bounce off each other and create heat and sparks.
And then I have to come up with what I like to call “The Evil.” As in, okay, we’ve got these characters, now who wants to kill them and why, and how do we get them to a point where the hero has to risk his life to save her in some amazingly heroic fashion? This is always a process, aided by my writer friends, who help me come up with a core idea, and then help me build a story around it.
My story for KEPT is a perfect example of this process. From the very beginning, I knew the exact dynamic I wanted to portray between my hero and heroine. Derek would be cool, controlled, nearly unemotional, and very, very serious. Alyssa, on the other hand, is perceived to be a wild and crazy party girl with all the depth of a rain puddle. But she would throw him for a complete loop, and she’d drag him kicking and screaming out of his emotional shell, while he discovered there was a lot more to her than appeared on the surface.
Okay, so that’s fine, but, umm… this is suspense. So someone needs to want my heroine dead. So why? While I was stuck on this, I went out to lunch with my friend and fellow author Veronica Wolff. I explained my dilemma and she said two words: “Blood diamonds.” I thought about it, chewed on it, shied away from it. Then at another lunch, with several other authors, I brought it up again (giving V full credit, of course!). Eyes lit up. Ideas started flying. And by the end of that lunch, I knew the direction my book was taking.
So I guess my point to all of this is that ideas don’t come from any one place, and they don’t even come from any one person :). If you’re stuck on a project, be it a book, an essay, a blog, even a difficult piece of correspondence, talk it over with someone. Even if you’re not chock full of fabulous ideas, chances are your friends are.
Thanks, Jami, and ladies and gents, feel free to ask Jami whatever you want! Hah! She’s an open book! J Just kidding. But ask anyway.