Yesterday Michaeline was celebrating a good writing week, thanks (maybe) to her psychological priming experiment. My writing could have gone better, but my story week was a revelation. I went for my regular monthly haircut and as my stylist is not only a genius scissorhands but a good, long-standing friend, we always skip the blah-blah about length, layers, etc and dive straight in to the good stuff. It’s invariably interesting, but this week it was story gold.
We started off predictably enough, comparing notes about Christmas and our families, and from there somehow we found ourselves on the Mediterranean island of Madeira, where he lived until he came to England as a teenager. He described it so clearly I felt as though I was there, then something sparked my imagination and I wasn’t consciously listening to him any more. I’d taken a couple of snippets from his childhood memories, transformed them, spun them around a hundred and eighty degrees, and right there was a compelling heroine with one hell of a powerful back-story. When I came back to the real world I had to halt the haircutting while I made some quick notes.
I added more notes on the tube and when I got home I found a new notebook and filled the first half dozen pages without stopping. It’s the heroine’s story, all the way, but I figured out who the hero is and he has a strong back-story too. I know both main characters’ goals, how they meet, how their lives are tied together and why they have to co-operate even though they don’t know or trust one another. I don’t know their names and I only have a sketchy impression of the world (it’s somewhere fantastic and magical, not Madeira, or the UK, or the US). Lives are at stake. There are powerful, important secrets, which is another surprise since Characters With Secrets are usually high on my list of no-nos.
I’m not quite sure what to do with this gift from the gods, since
- I’ve never written anything even vaguely like this except a few fun Friday improvs;
- This is a big story, maybe a quest, could be a trilogy or more;
- It will require a considerable amount of world-building;
- It might require first person POV. Not sure if I’m comfortable with that;
- I’m not quite sure what I’d do with it if I wrote it, and
- I’m supposed to be working on my second contemporary romance. I know that world really well, I like the characters, and have several more books already lined up to write. I want to write them.
I’m an orderly soul and I don’t like the idea of putting a part-developed story on ice to work on something that’s jumped the story queue without so much as a by-your-leave, but this heroine is pushy and she’s not going away. Deep down, I feel as though ignoring her would be a mistake.
I’ve been making notes and vacillating about my next steps since last Tuesday, but I’m tempted to give the idea a couple of weeks of serious attention, see how it shapes up, and then decide.
Have you ever experienced this kind of creative ambush? What did you do about it?