Thursday, July 4, 2019

No Rest for the Holiday!

Today may be a holiday, but for a writer no day is ever really a day off -- not if you work it right. As writers, we might say we are taking time away from our desks, but to me days like this scream out for RESEARCH! Yes, that might sound like drudge work to some but it doesn't have to be. For me, whether it's a holiday picnic, family gathering or meeting new people at a party, or a holiday getaway, I am always looking for new ideas I can use later in my work. Everything from overheard conversations to studying a new town on a holiday trip can be used later in my writing.


Actually this practice goes back a long way. I began writing my very first fiction story back in high school on a family camping trip. We were staying in a cabin in the mountains and the a story began to form in my head. What if I had spotted my favorite rock star sitting in a car at our last stop for gas and went up to ask for an autograph? What if I then got shoved into the back seat beside him as the car sped off? Okay, I was in high school, but I still use that "what if" premise as I write stories. In my story I ended up at a mountain cabin tied up with the rock in a lonely mountain cabin while his kidnappers bargained for his release. Naturally I got to be a heroine as I helped him escape and being the city-boy rock star that he was, the Colorado girl had to get him through his ordeal in the mountains. Of course, we fell in love!

My next story also started in the mountains -- on another camping trip. This one had to do with an old
company store that still stands. It had to do with a local legend that a man was mysteriously killed in the building and left his bloody hand print on the wall.  His ghost is said to still roam the area.  I first went there in college and immediately had to write a story based on it.  That in fact became my book Dead Man's Rules. The second in the series is being edited now and I am working on the third that answers my question about what really happened to that dead man.

But that is still to come.  Today I am also working on a time travel set in the same area and I will be keeping my family working along side me. I use them as a permanent focus group and as my first critique group. While my brother fires up the grill and my sister fixes snacks and desserts, I will be sitting with my notebook asking questions about my plot, reading passages and asking for opinions.

I also like to read them my conversations between characters to see if they pass muster.  Luckily this group is widely read and in various genres and they are not hesitant about giving their opinions on anything and everything.

So don't feel you need to take time away from your writing during holidays. Use them as another opportunity to get ideas, to bounce ideas off your family or friends or as I say -- RESEARCH your next book.

Happy July Fourth!

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