I’ve published over forty works from short stories to full-length novels, and I can tell you that dreaming up the next shiny, sparkly story never gets easier. It’s not that I can’t come up with ideas. Ideas come from everywhere. They can start from a snippet of a conversation from my mother, my daughter, the stranger in the booth behind me, a television show that’s playing in the background, or a dream.
For the most part, the snippet inspires a flash of inspiration that starts the question “What if…?” Soon, I’m seeing a scene play in my mind’s eye—usually only the opening of a story. I wake up and turn on the bedside lamp and grab my notebook, or turn down the television and reach for the four-year-old’s Dora coloring book, or raise a finger to stop my companion from speaking for a second and grab the tape recorder in my purse.
I have hundreds of these little teaser scenes in scribbled notes. Most never make it past that light bulb flash because I can’t figure out what comes next. Or the “next” that I see isn’t something anyone’s gonna want to read. But a few do.
Those few get nurtured in my imagination, are given voices that sound off in my head, and don’t stop talking until I finish telling their story.
Most times they lead me by the hand or nag me to death until I reach “The End.” Sometimes, I get to the middle of the book and have a real “WTF?” moment because I’m painted into a corner.
I’m there now with my current work-in-progress. And for the first time since I was a very newbie writer, I’m pulling out the “Writing for Dummies” books to figure out why I’m stuck. I think it’s because I don’t have enough conflict and don’t understand what my character’s real, deep-down goals are. I know I’ll figure it out. I always do—usually when I’m sweating the deadline—but I would love, for once, not to have to depend on adrenaline to feel the plot vibe.
So, be thinking about me today. I’ll be pouring over my plotting spreadsheet (blech!) and filling in the blanks of the things I know and staring at the white space for all things I don’t. Did I mention I hate plotting? That it’s as painful as a root canal to me? My hero and heroine don’t even share the same dimension until a third of the way into the book—do you think that might be the problem? And she’s having a hot affair with a demon for whom I’m feeling more compassion, more horny lust than the hero. *sigh*
If any of you have any great ideas for finding the missing spark in a romance story (keep in mind it’s a dark, erotic paranormal)—I’m ready to try anything short of being tasered. 🙂