How One Line Becomes Fifty Thousand Words

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I can’t speak for others, but my ideas come from a variety of places and almost always surprise me. At War with a Broken Heart was no different. It started with a song.

In my typical autistic way, I listened to Be Still by The Fray about a hundred times. I became obsessed. It even lulled me to sleep for months.

And then, from the vibe of the song, came a single line: “You broke me. You lost the right to put me back together.”

I had that line rolling around in my head for days.

It didn’t fit anything I planned to work on, so I jotted it down in an empty A5 Muji notebook (I use them for my book bibles.)

One line became a conversation.

“You broke me. You lost the right to put me back together.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Well, I hope it made you feel better to finally say the words. I still feel like shit.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You sent me to war with a broken heart.”

The characters hadn’t even been named yet. I didn’t know who said which part. Or if this would turn into a second chance romance.

It didn’t.

And then, Fie Morogh Russell came first. Beardy bear of a man who makes pottery. The painful, heart-breaking words were his. His character clung to my muse.

Very distract and annoying since I was working on a different novel.

Some characters make me work for it. I tug their secrets out like a dentist with a wisdom tooth. Fie flooded my brain with more information than I could handle.

I knew he’d gone to war with a broken heart and returned a shattered soul. He’d lost friends—and himself in many ways.

He hid away with his dog, his music, and his pottery.

But those words wouldn’t leave me.

And At War with a Broken Heart finally came to live with Fie, Davet, and Sid.

It’s amazing how one line of dialogue can spawn a fifty-something word novel.

Quoth the Raven

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(I was going to start this out with, these are a few of my favourite things. But now I’ve got that damned song from The Sound of Music stuck in my head.)

I wanted to share a few of the quotes on writing that I go to when I’m floundering.  This first one from Neil Gaiman is actually pinned on the board above my desk.

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“I am not at all in a humour for writing; I must write on till I am.” ~ Jane Austen

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” ~ Terry Pratchett

“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” ~ Octavia E. Butler

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou

“There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.” ~ Doris Lessing

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.” ~ Neil Gaiman

 

The Origins of the Story.

Replacements1Ivy started life as a very fascinating dream that I had two or three years ago.  I’d been playing a lot of Splinter Cell and watching Strike Back.  And I had this amazing dream one night about a young woman being rescued by two incredibly hot special ops men.

It plagued me for a year that it would make a great story.  I finally decided last year to make it my NaNoWriMo novel.  For the first time in a long time, I actually managed to finish NaNo.  A few friends read the story and encouraged me to edit it, intensively and consider dipping my feet into the ocean of indie publishing.

Now, I have no idea how my rather simple dream morphed into a complicated intriguing tale of a widowed photographer who finds herself caught up in a complex web of shifters, terrorists and human traffickers.  But, I’m sure Ivy, the main character, will forgive me, eventually.

For the writers out there, where did your great idea spring from?  And for readers, what’s the oddest dream that you’ve ever had?

The Fabulous Moment of the ‘Aha.’

InspirationIt never strikes at a convenient time, does it?  The muse in charge of new ideas is a fickle creature even on a good day. It never seems to bring inspiration when I really need it.

No, it waits for inconvenient moments when I can’t possible get to a piece of paper and a pen.

I’ve had ideas in the shower or while I’m driving in traffic or when I’m in the middle of cutting up raw chicken for dinner.

Not really moments when I can drop everything to get the elusive nugget of an idea down on paper before it drifts away from me.  I think I should invest in very small notebooks that I can wear around my neck.

Or one of those little voice recorders, that wouldn’t work that well in a shower though.

What’s the strangest place that inspiration has ever struck you?