Finding Inspiration

For the past week, I’ve been in dream-up-a-new-story mode. This one is for the Love Inspired Suspense line. Since people often ask me how I come up with ideas, I thought I’d share some recent examples with you.

Ideas for snippets of scenes come from anywhere and everywhere; from a conversation at the dinner table; an interesting character I see while out and about; an intriguing news article or this gorgeous sight outside my office window this morning:

Sunrise on SnowThis particular image got me thinking that my heroine should see this the morning after a particularly traumatic evening to renew her hope. Then again…

You know what they say about red sky in the morning?

Shepherds heed warning.

That goes double for characters in my books. 😉

The original idea for the story I’m fleshing out right now actually started in 2011, while visiting a critically ill friend when her male nurse paid a visit. He was pretty handsome and so we had fun dreaming up a story featuring him.

His role has changed over the years, as the story ruminated in the recesses of my computer (ur mind). But that was the seed.

Story ideas often spring from what-if questions, too.

In this case, we asked: What if the bad guys go after the wrong woman?

It makes for lots of potential dicey situations, which my editor always loves to see. 😀

And…from the beginning, we planned to include a dog in a key role in the story.

That idea came about during a creative exercise I did for writer’s block, in which you choose three random words then write a few sentence vignette that incorporates them.

I liked the vignette so much, that at this point, it is still part of my opening scene.

Since I had so much fun with Rusty, Zach’s son’s dog in Identity Withheld, I’m looking forward to discovering this new dog’s personality. The inspiration for Rusty came from a newsletter subscriber who told me about the crazy things her childhood dog used to do and from an adorable Golden Doodle I met while out walking.

I haven’t settled on the particulars for my newest dog character. I’m thinking Ranger sounds like a fun name and I’m thinking a Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle dog) might fit the bill.

They’re courageous, watchful, protective of family, distrustful of strangers, high energy. Sounds perfect for a suspense don’t you think.

Of course, my Bella thinks she should be the model for the character:

BellaAwardShe is after all an award-winning actor. Even it was only in my daughter’s film for schdue southool.  😉

I personally think she’s been watching too much Due South and has illusions of grandeur. 😎

Your Turn: Any suggestions?

How to Make Characters Mind without Losing Yours

Last week, I noticed a book in my daughter’s diaper bag titled “How to Make your Children Mind without Losing Yours.” Oh, I remember that book well from the days that very same daughter challenged every request we made.

Now… my characters are acting up!

They simply won’t do anything I ask.

They have minds of their own, utterly oblivious to the fact that I created them!!

And I thought making children mind was a challenge!

But seeing that book in my daughter’s diaper bag reminded me of the key lesson that I never forgot from reading it. That was to let your children experience the consequences of their choices.

“So, dear character,” I said, “if that’s really the road you want to go down, guess what? You can live with the consequences.”

And they will be bad. Very bad. ~hee, hee, hee~

Yes, as oftentimes happens with children, characters need to learn their lessons the hard way. The harder the better for the reader. Wouldn’t you say?

So I threw out my neat little story outline, and put my characters on the therapist’s couch and had a serious heart-to-heart with each and everyone of them. Wow, was I surprised.

In some cases, the emotional baggage that I thought was driving their inner conflict wasn’t it at all! I had one character who wasn’t even who I thought he was!!

Needless to say, the weekend turned out to be quite an adventure as I caught up on all the writing I hadn’t been able to do while I’d been steadfastly trying to fit my characters into the mold I’d hatched them from. Now I understand why writers who write by the seat-of-their-pants enjoy it so much.

Every day is an adventure as you wait to see what happens next.

Of course… I have an eerie feeling that I’ll start losing my mind again during the editing phase, but why worry about tomorrow when today has enough trouble of its own?

Your Turn: What lessons have you learned from having to face the consequences of your actions? Or what lessons have your children learned that way?

P.S. Did you catch the book title on the book my grand daughter is reading in the photo? And Then I Had Kids

P.S.S. For any writers in the group, click the link for more detailed posts featuring writing tips and articles on the craft of writing