Elizabeth: Story is all Around

Do you ever make up stories about random people you encounter?

I most commonly do so when I’m in traffic. As a driver speeds by me, weaving in and out of traffic, I may imagine him as a secret agent  in a race to diffuse a critical situation, or maybe it’s someone in a rush to get to the hospital to say their final goodbyes to a loved one before it is too late. The stories are both fun and a good way to keep my blood-pressure down.

My favorite movie, Love Actually, states that love is all around; I’d add that story is all around too. This has especially been true for me in recent weeks, where I’ve spent a fair amount of time in airports, on planes, in waiting rooms, and in crowds.

During a recent flight delay, for example, I whiled array the time spinning mental tales about the shaven, beringed, tattooed woman in front of me (grown up on the streets in a rough-and-tumble gang, now running a charitable foundation for at-risk youth); the sulky teenager glued to her cell phone who periodically glared in her parents’ direction (she is being sent off to boarding school number five,after having just been chucked out of number four for running an illegal but very profitable term paper scheme); and the down-on-his luck looking man in an ill-fitting suit with a battered briefcase (a high-powered stock trader who got cocky in his success, bet all on a risk deal, and lost everything; now working as a low-level salesman for a refuse-can company).

Sometimes the people I encounter and the stories they inspire evolve into characters in my writing or at least inspire other ideas, but more often than not they are just an entertaining diversion.

So how about you? Is the world around you populated with people and stories of your own devising, or is it just me?

Elizabeth: A Long and Winding Road

winding_roadWhat do Elizabeth Gilbert, my boss at work, and a fortune cookie all have in common?   They’re all reasons why none of the words I wrote this week were for The Traitor, the book I’m supposed to be finishing.

And I couldn’t be happier.

I should probably explain.

It’s all about the ideas

Part of the Writer Reboot plan that I talked about last month was to include some fun in my writing life. Continue reading

Jilly: Bolt from the Blue

Bolt from the BlueHave you ever had something fire your imagination, completely out of the blue?

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.

Continue reading

Elizabeth: Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

For a number of peopIdea_Faucetle, starting to write (or getting back into writing) on is on their list of things to do this year. When sitting down to write, one of the first stumbling blocks can be figuring out what to write about.

How do you come up with your ideas?” is one of the questions authors are frequently asked, and the answer varies from person to person.

When I was taking graduate writing classes at my local university, the majority of my classmates used their own personal experiences as story ideas, typically writing memoir-type pieces. Our instructors provided a lot of different exercises to help us generate new story ideas from having us write in the style of famous authors to writing group stories (e.g., writer A writes a line, then writer B writes the next, and so on).

Whether you need an idea for a new story Continue reading

Elizabeth: Catching those Creative Thoughts

Writing_Notes2As you probably know by now (and are tired of hearing) I, along with thousands of other writers, am busily writing away as part of November’s annual NaNoWriMo.

So far I’ve been successful at writing every day, even that day last week when I didn’t get home from my day job until 8:30. You can be sure writing was the last thing I wanted to do that evening, but I didn’t want to break my writing streak, even if I didn’t quite reach my word count for the day.

As I mentioned on Michille’s post last week, my efforts have already started to pay off. Not only am I finding it easier to get back into my story each day when I start to write, but I’ve been getting lots of new ideas to incorporate into the story.

I tend to do some of my best creative thinking as Continue reading

Elizabeth: Back to Basics – A New Story

Stories Yet To Be WrittenOkay, I’ll admit it. I’ve been hanging out with new stories.

I know what you’re thinking: “The Traitor is not finished. You’re supposed to be working on the revisions so you can send it out into the world. There are agents waiting!”

You’re right. You’re right. But there are other, new, enticing stories just clamoring for my attention. When I’m in the shower, while I’m driving to work, as I’m cleaning up dead ants – there they are. When I’m in bed, attempting to get to sleep, my brain says “Hey, watch this scene for story xxx. Isn’t it great?” or “Hey, what do you think of this fun bit of dialog?”  Story ideas I had years ago are randomly popping up in Technicolor with surround sound. A little disconcerting, but I’m not complaining.

Working on The Traitor pales by comparison to all of these bright, shiny new ideas, but I know this way madness and an unending string of partially told stories lies.

What’s writer to do? Continue reading

Jilly: Einstein’s Brain and Other Story Starters

18165523_sWhere do you get your best story ideas? Kat wrote a few days ago about being inspired by Mary Colter, architect and independent woman of the early 20th century. My golden nuggets often come from the news, and maybe it’s the advent of Spring, but I feel as though I’m being bombarded with amazing stuff at the moment. None of it’s romance-related, but I’m not complaining. Anything that keeps the imagination firing must be a good thing, right?

Today I was going to write a useful post about creating a series bible, but then I saw this article on the BBC website and knew I had to share it.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to read the full thing, the short version is Continue reading

Jilly: Man-Caves & Brainwaves

Deep Thinking AheadHas anything fired your imagination lately?

Like Justine, I’ve set myself a personal deadline to finish my book, so right now I have my head down. I’ve tackled a thorny issue that I’ve been ignoring for months, and I think it’s going to work out fine, but I’m not ready to share, so I’ll post about that later. I haven’t been reading new books or doing anything else to fill the creative well, but yesterday I gave myself an extra incentive to keep going for it.

I wrote in this post a few months ago that my home county of Derbyshire would make a great setting for a steampunk or fantasy world, and I promised myself that when Rose and Ian finally get their HEA, I’ll take a little time to have fun, play with the idea and see what happens. I’ve just been Up North for a family visit, and I decided to take the opportunity to acquire some background reading.

Yesterday morning I Continue reading

Nancy: An’ Thar Be Dragons

Darko the Dragon followed me home from the Dragon Ball and has taken up residence in my office.

Darko the Dragon followed me home from the Dragon Ball and has taken up residence in my office.

I, like many readers, am always interested in hearing how authors of my favorite stories came up with the ideas. And I rarely have a conversation with a fellow writer about our WIPs or upcoming projects without at least touching on how/when/where we got our inspiration. I have many friends who carry notebooks or tape recorders with almost everywhere so they never miss an errant seed of an idea that might someday grow into a full-fledged story.

When I’m away from my computer, I use the Evernote program, which I usually access from my smart phone, to capture thoughts until I’ve collected enough information to download into a full-fledged story folder. But even when I’m not taking notes, when I’m supposed to be focused on something totally removed from writing, that part of my brain that always wants to be telling a story collects and stores bits of information that might later show up as puzzle pieces of one or another of my plots. Continue reading