This past weekend I attended a class reunion of sorts and as usual I came away with great ideas in addition to great memories of people I had known long ago and still enjoy seeing again and again. Naturally I was asked if I was still writing, while others asked where I got ideas and others asked what I was working on right now. The answers, of course, were that I am always still writing because I can’t imagine not doing it, I am still coming up with ideas, and to me, being at the reunion was part of what I am working on “right now.” Ideas can come from anywhere so to me every minute of the day feeds into my writing. Even as I was sitting at a table listening to others
And of course, that made me think later about my own different story scenarios. Later I begin thinking about a story idea I am working on at the moment – how simple choices can make a difference and change our lives. For instance, what if I had not chosen to leave that little town – some of them still live there – and if I had chosen instead to stay. My life would have been so different. For instance, I am not certain I would have made the decision to become a fiction writer or to find my publisher -- The Wild Rose Press, which now publishes my romantic suspense and mystery novels. I am not certain I would have found Vancouver, BC, where I set my first Romantic Suspense, Deadly Messages, and formulated that story based on a simple walk around the seawall and Stanley Park. I still visit there whenever I return to Vancouver.
But from that simple thought came a new story idea – of how lives change over those simple little choices. And thus, they form even more story ideas. What about those choices we don’t make – when we just keep doing the same old things. Either way, there can be a story there, from wanting something else and getting out to sticking around and seeing what happens. Lives will be different from that one small choice or not making it and that means two different stories that could evolve from one simple thought. The character who makes one choice would not be the same person who makes the other. Again, that can change the story and a plot could go in different directions. The choice is up to the author, just like the choice of the characters is up to the author.
This week my sister was reading Harry Potter and she wondered how J.K. Rowling could keep coming up with story ideas and how she could form her most wonderful worlds. I don’t think I really could give her the reason except to say that as writers we are always formulating ideas in our heads and keeping our characters straight can be as simple as getting to really know them and their world.
When I am writing I am actually living in the world of my characters as though I can see their homes and their lives and feel their pain as much as any friend I have. They come as alive to me as the real places I visit.
When teaching classes I often try to instill to my students how important it is to know their characters and consider what choices they might make, or how they see things. Different characters will make different choices. Years ago I published Dead Man’s Rules about a TV reporter who makes the choice to go in search of a story about an old murder. I am back writing about it again as her crazy cousin goes in search of her father. In both cases, these characters are searching for something. Cere found her story, but she also found love. Now I am working on Freeda’s story of searching for treasure but since my books are romantic suspense, I know she will find love along with her search for gold.
Simple choices and simple thoughts can make complex stories, which is why and how the writing process never ends, even at a class reunion.
Deadly Messages at Amazon.com
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