Tuesday, September 14, 2010

An Original Idea - Writing Your Novel

An Original Idea – Writing Your Novel

Every author wants to write from the angle of an Original Idea. A new book. Something that hasn’t been done before. In today’s world, with hundreds of thousands of new books coming out each year that is virtually impossible. If you took the time to read every book that had ever been written, you would probably find that someone, somewhere had the same idea as you.

Over time authors settled for a compromise. An original character. An original
setting. Perhaps even an original scene within the novel.

Develop your idea and write it down in one sentence. This is the basis for your novel. Everything else can change, but your original idea needs to be the foundation, and you must remember it as you write. Repeat it to yourself prior to beginning writing each day. The idea will keep you on track.

Still looking for that idea? Ask yourself what if? Ah, see the possibilities? What if you’re sitting on a plane and you notice the man across the aisle has a gun inside his jacket? What if you’re sitting in a restaurant and someone you’ve known all your life comes in but appears not to know who you are? What if you’re in a school room and suddenly a child disappears into thin air? What if you wake up one morning to find yourself in a strange bed, married to someone you don’t remember meeting?

What if opens the door for thoughts and ideas to roll across your imagination. And eventually you will find that one of those ideas is original. It may not be an original thought, and perhaps may have been written from one angle, but your way of seeing it is original, and your way of writing it will be original.

Before beginning you need to research your idea to see if is plausible. Let’s take the guy on the plane with a gun. With today’s security it would be almost impossible for that to happen unless the guy was security on the plane. Notice I said almost impossible. Perhaps one of the crew members placed the gun somewhere for this guy to pick up. Is that possible? Is a complete scan of the plane or search done prior to allowing passengers to board? I’m not sure, because I’ve never researched that particular scenario, but if you’re going to write from that angle you need to know if it’s possible. Once you’ve determined that your idea is plausible, you need to scope out your idea. Examine your thoughts and feelings about the idea. Does it excite you? Do main characters immediately start to develop in your mind? Can you see them? Feel them? Know what happens to them physically, mentally and emotionally? Are your characters someone you care about?

Readers want to care about what they read and especially the characters. Does your idea have a moral or emotional theme? You may not write the theme, but the theme should be present in your mind while you’re writing.

As an example, let’s take a look at my first book, The Gifts. What was my idea? Someone who hates secrets. From there I developed Gavin McAllister, a mystery writer who hates secrets and uses uncovered secrets to write his novels. So why does he hate secrets, and how does he have the authority to uncover these secrets?

From there I developed Jacody Ives, his alter ego and private investigator working with the FBI. Working on what? From there I developed the Mother’s Day killer, and Jacody/Gavin’s dreams of the murders. From the FBI I developed Carl and Rob. From the relationship between Rob and Gavin I developed Corrine, Gavin’s twin sister and her subsequent murder. From there I developed Glades Springs and Sarah McKnight, a small town Sheriff with a huge secret, and psychic abilities much like Jacody’s with dreams.

The remaining characters seemed to spring from a well that I had no thoughts about in my original idea. Gavin McAllister hated secrets. And each character had their own secrets to hide. And each character had their own “gifts” to deal with. This wasn’t a part of my original idea, but developed as I wrote. Realizing that my characters had psychic abilities a portion of my theme changed. I wanted to show that having psychic abilities didn’t necessarily make you a super hero. In fact, in most cases it left you feeling frustrated and confused. Never quite knowing when it’s real. And even if you know it’s real, not knowing how to stop it or change it.

Your idea is not your story. Your story will develop around your idea, one step at a time. And your original story, theme, characters may all change before you reach that final page, but the one thing that should remain constant is your idea. My second book actually came from reader requests related to my first book. They wanted to know Gavin’s secret. What created his alter ego, Jacody Ives. So my idea was already there. The story itself, the theme all developed from that one idea. What secret created Jacody Ives?

Ready to get started? Ask yourself what if?

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