05 September 2011

Answering Questions

After taking part in a few writing courses and practising the craft of writing with short stories for a couple of years, I decided it was time to set out on the journey of writing a novel.  There was just the slight problem of not having an idea for a novel! 
About that time I saw a production of Romeo and Juliet, and accidentally discovered the process that many authors use of ‘What if?’ and asking questions to generate ideas. 
‘What if the young lovers hadn’t killed themselves, but were pushed apart by family?’
‘What might happen if they met up again twenty years later?’
These questions started me along the path that led to Driftwood.  Along with the over-arching questions were others: What happened that initiated the split between Juliet and Luke?  Who is Rose? Is someone trying to hurt Juliet? This later leads onto ‘Who is trying to kill Juliet?’  Some of the questions were there from the beginning.  Others came as the characters developed and moved things along through their actions.
The initial question for Lives Interrupted was; ‘How do different people cope with a traumatic event in their lives?’  From here two of the main characters, Kate and Rosa, stepped onto the page, and in getting to know them and how they would act in various circumstances, the story evolved.
Ideas are everywhere: a brief incident that raises a question, an interesting character you see in the street, or an overheard snatch of conversation that just begs to have a story built around it. 
I've had times when there were very few interesting things happening to write in my notebook, but looking back I realised (not surprisingly), these periods were when I wasn't writing regularly.  
There is something magical about being in that writing zone: waking up with the answer to a scene that has been niggling me, a new plot turn that ties in with something I've already written, or the kernal of an idea that could lead who knows where
I guess experiencing that magic is one of the reasons we write.

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