Friday, May 19, 2006

Making a List and Checking it Twice

No, not that list. It’s only May, although I’m certain several of us are well on our way to the “naughty” side of Santa's check sheet.

The Playfriends have a few hardcore list writers in the group – myself among them. I just love a great list and the feeling I get when I check them off. With my writing, it takes a lot longer to “check” off some things – like sell, cash royalty checks, go on autographing tour, interview with Katie Couric, win my RITA, hit NYT best sellers list…stop laughing. Anything is possible.

With my current project in final revisions, I’ve allowed my mind to wander to what’s next. I’ve strictly prohibited such thoughts previously to counteract my bad habit of writing three books at once and finishing none. After PC’s post the other day about a similar quandary, I opened my trusty file called “story ideas” and read over a few of my old ideas. I deleted some I no longer cared for, reorganized them by current lines, then started adding to the list.

First, the sequel to my current story. Researched a couple plot points, brought in some fabulous mythology and got really excited about the premise. Of course, if the first book doesn’t sell, a sequel isn’t going to help much, so I went on to another idea, and another, and another. I’m most interested in a single title book series about paranormal investigators. I have the characters all lined out, named, quirks assigned…pity selling a single title is near impossible at this point. (Not all of us can be as fabulous as Ms. Kelley.)

When I was done, I had a pretty healthy list of ideas for books. I had been in a minor panic a few weeks ago since I had no idea what would be next, but I’m feeling better now. I’ve got plenty of paranormal and romantic suspense in me, so I’m good for now. It only leaves the question of which one do I start next? None - until my current MS is sparkly and the full gets requested.

I’ve heard interviewers asking authors where their ideas come from. This exercise has proven to me that when Katie asks…I don’t have an answer. Out of the air? Out of the infinite realm of possibilities that a devious mind like mine can concoct? Thankfully, I’ve got plenty of time to come up with an answer since our interview is scheduled for...uh…well...lets just say they haven't called to confirm a time and place yet.

But let me play the Katie for all you writers out there… “where do your ideas come from?”


Rhonda said...

SP, mine usually come from an overheard snippet of conversation, a magazine article, a movie I wish had ended differently. That kind of thing. It only takes a little spark of something that has potential and my mind starts filling in the blanks.

Great topic! You'll be ready for Katie. :-)

Linda Winstead Jones said...

Ideas come from a quirky little shop in the mall. You have to ask the salesgirl, because they're usually kept in the back. ;-)

And -- what Rhonda said. Where do they *not* come from?


Maven Linda Howard said...

"They're just there."

How can you explain imagination to people who have none? You can't. They're probably whizzes at math, which I'm not, and I really wish I understood the more complicated math sciences, but there you go. Different people have different strengths.

Kathy said...

I get inspired by history. So much of life has been lived. So many things could have been changed. What if? What if you could change them and give history a different course? These are things that bring me pleasure.

I know I'm an odd ball.

Playground Monitor said...

Bron Jameson is blogging on this topic today at the Desire authors' blog. She quotes JoAnn Ross: "I find ideas everywhere, but my favorite place is Nordstroms, because of their liberal return policies for those ideas that don't work out." That goes right along with LJ's "quirky little shop" comment. *g*

The magazine story ideas came from a story I read online about one couple's trouble with the IRS, something that happened to my daughter-in-law when she was supposed to be Matron of Honor for a friend, and a magazine article about Army bomb squads in Iraq.

I personally like the Nordstroms method better. But could you make it Dillards because we don't have Nordstroms here?

Angel said...

Linda H. said, "How can you explain imagination to people who have none? You can't."

I love this! I'd probably never say it to anyone, but I love it nonetheless.
So many times I just want to say that it comes from my imagination. The prompt might originate in a conversation, something I read or watched, etc. But once the basic premise is there, it is just a matter of imagining what these particular characters would do under these particular circumstances. At least for me.

Now LJ, you must tell us the name of this store and the password!


Problem Child said...

I often think ideas live in the stratosphere, just waiting for folks to pick up on them. Ever notice how people seem to get the same idea at the same time?

Or maybe the little shop runs specials at certain times of the year to clear out stock, and everyone buys the same one without realizing it.

I wish that shop sold conflicts...ideas I have; it's conflict I need.


Carla Swafford said...

Imagination is certainly the key. But you need to feed that imagination constantly, otherwise, it would become sale. I read everything and I mean everything - cereal boxes, small print on bottles, books upon books, such as history books, trivial, suspense, humor, erotica and many others (though I can't make myself read the "literary" stuff).

Then I watch all types of movies and listen to what people younger than I are talking about and interested in. I check out MYSPACE.COM and see what they like to watch and read and the music they enjoy. Stories can come at you from any angle.

Carla Swafford said...

LOL! That's STALE! Becomes stale! Too funny. I kill myself.

Instigator said...

Naughty? Not me. Instigator smiles sweetly and bats eyelashes.

Where do I get my ideas from? I have no idea. Dreams. Music. The shower. Newspaper articles. A couple websites have sparked ideas. It's never the same twice which I suppose is a good thing.