My Take on Writing the Novel Part 1: The Idea

Okay.  So after a four-month hiatus thanks to craziness at work, I’m back at the blogging and ready to do a series about writing a novel.  Now, I’m not a writing professor or published novelist yet, but I’ve written my share of novels (about 5 or so and probably 500,000+ words) that I would let see the light of day, so I feel comfortable saying that I’ve learned a thing or two over the years about how to develop a novel.  So, that being said, keep in mind that this is my opinion and mine alone.

The first thing I always do is come up with an idea.  For me, those ideas usually spring from two sources that have to work together.  The character and the conflict.  A lot of times, the character and conflict ideas come from entirely unexpected sources.

So here’s some examples.  In one of my novels that I’ve submitted for publication, the idea came when I saw the movie The Kingdom in 2007.  I thought it was a great movie, especially since the writer and director sought not to villainize Saudi Arabians but to make one of the heroes a Saudi Arabian police officer.  That got me thinking about the cultural differences between Saudi Arabia and the American South, the Low Country around Charleston (yes, I was vacationing near Charleston at the time).  Then I began wondering and asking myself the following: “What would happen if a Saudi Arabian man was yanked out of his native culture and placed in the American South, where he comes face to face with the strong-willed steel magnolia of a southern woman?”  So up sprang the leading man and leading lady of one of my novels.

Most recently, I had another idea come to me.  It happened in April when I was working with my husband and a friend to paint the den and kitchen of our house.  Now keep in mind that this was no small undertaking and required about 16 hours of straight painting.  Which, of course, meant a lot of time listening to the radio.  We had it tuned to a station where (I kid you not), they play anything.  One of the songs that they played was Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill,” which came from the James Bond movie of the same name.  The thought that sprang to my head was a female sniper assassin who has many kills under her belt yet finds herself coming face to face with the lifestyle she’s chosen over the past few years.  And yes, that rapidly formed into a novel that I’ve drafted.

So my point is that ideas can come from many places and can take the form of a character, a conflict, or a plot.  So if searching for ideas, keep your eyes open and observe.

Next up?  Profiling

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