Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Creative Process

The Key to Inspiration

A few days ago, I received an email from a reader via the contact form on my website.  She was reading my very first book, a Silhouette Romance titled RACHEL'S RESCUER.  No way was I not smiling when I read that she liked the book, although she hadn't finished it yet.  I hope the end doesn't disappoint her.  It's one of those endings that made me smile as I wrote it.

It's been almost thirteen years since I sold that first book, even longer since I first idea of it creaped into my mind.  It also doesn't seem like it was that long ago.  Not only has Silhouette Romance been a thing of the past, but I've added a few years to my age.  Even so, writing a book is always a new and exciting process.

After some thought and missing several Mondays and Wednesdays here, I decided that instead of my usual days and topics, I'd change things around a little and share what I've learned about writing in the past 15+ years on Thursdays.  When the mood strikes, I might stop in on a Monday, Wednesday, or maybe a Friday or weekend to share something different, but I'm hoping Thursdays won't find me as Mondays--and Wednesdays--have lately, wondering how I managed to forget what day it was and have allowed the it to pass without blogging. For those who stop by more frequently, I apologize and hope the change will help.

So here we go!

From Idea to Book

The question most asked of writers is, "Where do you get your ideas?"

I haven't discovered a single writer who has been able to answer that question in less than ten words.  Unless the answer is, "Everywhere," that is, and that's an honest answer.  Ideas spring from TV, movies, songs, books, overheard conversations, photos, the evening news, and much, much more.

A lack of ideas isn't usually a problem.  It's what to do with them.  Many a writer has had an inspiring idea for a story, only to discover, once begun, that it lacked something vital and eventually found its way to the bottom desk drawer.  Some ideas work.  Others don't work, no matter how long or hard we work on them or how badly we want them to.

An idea is only the beginning.  That sliver of inspiration goes through a long, arduous process to become a full story.  It involves characters, back stories, settings, goals, dialogue, and conflict, just to name a few.  The process can involve hours spent in front of a blank screen and even more hours, days, months and sometimes years putting letters and words together that become the story on that screen.


RACHEL'S RESCUER was far from the first book I wrote and obviously not my first idea, nor the first book I wrote.  But it was a viable idea and it began as a silent reply to yet another rejection.  That reply was, "They want babies, brides and cowboys?  I'll give them babies, brides and cowboys."

Yes, my inspiration was a rejection.

It didn't take long to create the characters.  The "cowboy" was a rancher in Montana.  The "bride" was a mother, and the "baby" was her six-year-old son.

Then came the questions.

  • What is one thing all mothers fear?  Answer: The loss of a child. After thinking of all the ways a child could be lost, I finally found the answer.  Aha!  Ex-in-laws (mother was a widow) were trying to take the child because...?  They had made an assumption about her and considered her (unfairly) to be a bad mother.  Conflict and Motivation for the mother.  She was on the run from them.
  • What is the rancher/hero's conflict?  Answer: He didn't believe in love and marriage and didn't want a family.  Simple, right?  But why did he feel that way?  What was his Motivation?  He'd been in a bad marriage, and his wife (an absolute opposite of the rancher) had miscarried their baby.  One important thing.  He loved kids, but didn't know or accept it.
  • Where to set the story?  Answer:  Montana.  It was a long way from where the heroine and her in-laws lived.
  • How do the H/H meet? Answer: The heroine arrives at the hero's ranch with a sheriff following.  She thinks her ex-in-laws have found her. (They haven't.) Thinking the drive leading to the ranch is a road, she dead-ends at the ranch...with a flat tire.
  • How to increase the conflict and keep the heroine there?  Answer:  A snowstorm.

That was how the story was born.

The tagline on the back cover reads: A sheriff, a snowstorm and suspicious ex-in-laws were hot on Rachel's heels...  I wish I could say I wrote that, but I didn't. ☺

 Of course more conflict arose, and the H/H could only fall in love.  It is a romance, after all. :)   But that's for another day.
Rachel's Rescuer
working title was
The Rancher and the Runaway Mom

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things. - Steve Jobs

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