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Where Do Your Ideas Come From?

I decided to start something new this week. I posted about something that happened several years ago on fb and it seemed to get a lot of attention. Several years ago when I my kids were younger we were at the state fair. We wandered into this house up on the hill next to the antique barn. It was full of old photos. I saw one photo that caught my eye. By the clothes, I am guessing it was from the 1920’s. It was a crowd standing in the grand concourse and in the middle of the crowd was a woman who looked just like me. I got goosebumps. I tried to get a copy of the photo but they refused. I thought at the time there might be a story there but it was before I took myself seriously as a writer. So it has been simmering in the back of my brain for quite a while now. For whatever reason it came forward this week and a story started unfolding.

I have wanted to write stories before but this is the first time I have ever felt like I have to tell this story. My friend Tamara Siler Jones who has three books out knew exactly what I was talking about and she got almost as excited about it as I am.  It is all fiction but it feels like something only I can tell. So I have set some goals. I want to get it developed as fast as I can and pump out a first draft in say 60 days.

This story started with that little seed. I gave it time to germinate into something more and now I think it is ready to tell.

Where do your ideas come from? Do you start with the plot or a character?

Today I met both Tammy Jones and Shirley Damsgaard at a book signing at Beaverdale Books. Shirley has a new Jess McConkey book – The Widows of Braxton County that came out this week. Afterwards we had a late lunch and time to talk about our writing projects. Shirley left a few signed copies at the bookstore so if you want an autographed copy, stop by.

Hope your writing is moving forward.

Virginia

 

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2013 in Writing a Novel

 

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Writing Even When I’m Not

Writers tend to be quiet but that doesn’t mean we aren’t taking mental notes. Everything we experience could be digested for our work.

Saturday was one of those days when I was alone but not lonely. I like to get out on weekends because I feel tied down all week, while at work. This Saturday, I pampered myself with a manicure and a pedicure. Summer and sandals gives me a great excuse to indulge in what I feel is a most relaxing experience. The only thing I can think of that is more relaxing is a massage and I will have to schedule another one of those someday. The women at the salon ranged from teens to more mature women, like me. Didn’t happen to see any men there, either as customers or technicians.  As I said earlier, during the week I am tied to a desk and really don’t have the chance to watch people. On weekends when I am out and about, I make up for it. Not because I am trying to be nosy, but for my writing. I might see someone who reminds me of a character I am developing. You never know, it could happen.

Watching people gives me cues for facial expressions, how they move, and how they interact with others.  Watching is important because as a writer I have to be able to describe everything. I’ve always thought it was like painting but with words. It also allows me to look at the setting. I might have a scene at a nail salon someday.  What do I see, hear, smell, and feel as I am sitting there. Listening to conversations allows me to pick up on current speech patterns and phrases. Just watching lets me see how people dress and what they do. I think I was the only woman who didn’t either use or check my cell phone the whole time I was there. When I first walked in, there was a strong chemical smell. Stronger than the normal smell of polish and whatever they use for those fake nails. I found out that they have a new shellac finish that makes the polish last longer. I opted out, because of the smell. The warm water swirled and bubbled around my feet in the foot bath, the  chair was smooth wood and leather, and the chair itself jiggled everything as it massaged my upper and lower back muscles.

Watching people is not new for me, I have always enjoyed it. Attending the state fair, shopping, walking around the mall, around the lake or wherever, I look for anything that might help me with my fiction. I know that it works because, I was working on a story once with a character who was a female impersonator in Vegas. She was one of three characters I loved in this story. The other two were a couple of older women, Freida and Agnes. They were from Keokuk, Iowa. They liked to play slots. I described them as wearing polyester pants with matching sweatshirts with slot machines embroidered on the front. When they got on a plane with the protagonist, the tickets were mixed up. The protagonist ended up sitting between them. When she offered to switch seats, they told her no, if they crashed it would make it harder to be identified. My female impersonator character’s name was Merci Fontaine. I described her as tall, over six foot, she wore size 12 stilettos, she had a deep voice, a little five o’clock shadow, and her long fingers were tipped with red polish. I don’t remember much more of her description without pulling out the old story but I described the character so well that a member of my writing group came to the next meeting to tell me she’d seen Merci. I took that as a great compliment.

My trip to the nail salon helped me build my description library. I also walked out with prettier fingers and toes.

What do you do to help with descriptions? Do you use your own senses to see, hear, feel, taste and record, or do you rely on a reference book for descriptions?

Finished reading ‘Love Lies Bleeding‘. Currently reading two books. ‘Murder Most Persuasive‘ by Tracy Kiely – It is an advance copy I was lucky enough to win on Librarything. Will have a review for it as well when I have completed it.  Started reading ‘Valley of the Soul‘ by Tamara Siler Jones – another of my critique partners. Valley is the third in her series and she is currently working on the fourth.

Happy Writing

Virginia

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2011 in Writing a Novel

 

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