Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Tuesday's Inspiration - Evan Hunter - About Novels
I'm re-reading a book with essays from writers past and present and found one by Evan Hunter and his advice was rather short and easy. "If you haven't got an idea for one, forget it."
The idea is usually the jumping off point for my stories. Something read in the newspaper, on the internet, in a book. Sometimes the idea comes from observing other people and the way they interact. The idea is like a small germ that sits in your thoughts and abrades the process until suddenly the idea sprouts and blooms into a flower you must show to the world.
I remember quite clearly how the idea for Murder and Mint Tea came about. "And so we walk on eggshells." The abrading began and slowly other things began to form. Why were we walking on eggshells? Who was doing the walking? The first germ was a murder and the second became the character of Katherine Miller. She's stayed with me for five books and the possibility of a sixth. Each of the following stories started with the grain that abraded. Characters introduced in the first story joined with characters in the next stories. Some in small ways and some in large ways. But the idea was the thing.
The grain for Code Blue was different. I love medical suspense, but they all seemed to me to follow a pattern. An evil doctor or other medical professional made decisions that resulted in harm for other people. What if a patient, a patient's relative was the one doing in the medical personel. That was the idea that rubbed and rubbed until the characters were born. Then the fun began. The first murder was truly a murder but I wanted others not to seem like then. The first was an impulse kill. The others were planned. As the idea expanded, only then did I begin to write. Most of the exploration was in my head.
So it's been with every story I've written. The idea came, often like a shock, followed by what if. Then I sat back and let the ingredients for. So to repeat. "If you haven't got an idea, forget it."
How about you? Does the idea happen and then nag until a form is born?