People often ask me where I get my ideas from. I think they worry that I’ll write down everything they say and repeat it verbatim in one of my books right alongside their full name and an unflattering physical description. For me, ideas don’t happen like that. I admit to being nosey. I’ve been enthralled by the body language and conversations of complete strangers in restaraunts, it drives my husband mad.
But my process for writing is more sponge or soup-like, depending on which metaphor you prefer. I absorb ideas and information and somewhere deep inside my brain everything gets mixed together into a big primordial stew. Every so often a bubble pops up into my conscious mind and I think “Hmmm…that would make a great idea for a story.”
I don’t outline, I don’t draw up character profiles and construct an iron-clad plot, I just write and follow my characters where they want to go. A lot of wonderful writers plot-I wish I could do it sometimes. I admire anyone who is prepared. My writing is more of a journey of discovery both for me and my readers. I research the history and let the plot grow up around and through my characters as they develop.
Another question which relates to the one above, is whether my characters are real people. Well,, this is a tricky one because they become real to me. But no, they aren’t ever direct representations of people I know or have seen on T.V. etc etc. They are composites. Sometimes they surprise me and won’t keep to the plot I envisioned. That’s a good and a bad thing. Sometimes I feel as if I’m just the typist and ‘they’ are in control.
There are definitely similar themes in what I write. I’ve always been fascinated by family dynamics and body language, so those issues appear in every manuscript. I was inspired to step out of my historical slippers and write a novel set in the near future. (The Mating Myth) by my personal concerns about the internet and privacy. That’s one of the reasons why it’s important to write to your own concerns and strengths and not worry about trends. Readers know when your heart’s not in it.
I’d beter get back to work. I’m busy editing a manuscript I finished two years ago and now realize needs a lot of work. I can’t tell you the number of ‘and, even, still and but’s ” I’ve had to take out.