Saturday, February 9, 2008

Grasping at ... ideas.

A writer of fiction lives in fear. Each new day demands new ideas and he can never be sure whether he is going to come up with them or not. (Roald Dahl)

So where DO writers get their ideas? Great question, and one that is really hard for me to answer. I'm bombarded with ideas every day, but it's not getting the idea that's the problem, it's getting the idea that grabs me. Because once I commit to an idea, it's going to be at least a year or so (actually .. OR SO) of developing it. Imagine knowing that one drink at a bar with a stranger would be at least a two-year relationship? You'd think pretty hard about who you were going to drink with. Ideas are the same.
With FREEZE FRAME, I got the idea from a poetry group. A woman came and said her grandson had asked, "Hey, Grandma, which way is tomorrow?"
I loved that phrase! I loved how he thought of time as a place he could travel. And I began to think about what a teen would ask. "Which way is yesterday?" In fact, FREEZE FRAME was originally titled FINDING YESTERDAY (then THE MEMORY KEEPER, SHATTERED, SUPPOSE, 10:46 .. and a slew of other titles until my editor really nailed the right one .. in my opinion!)
My latest book idea began with a character. That character doesn't exist anymore. In fact, the original concept of the book was peeled away until I met my MC and created her dilemma. My idea and I came to an impasse, though, and I felt really stressed because I wasn't sure which way to take the novel. So I set it aside, and the other night I realized what I needed to bring the novel to a darker place -- a simple change in the first few chapters. I've only been with this idea since October. We've already had our first big tiff. But I'm ready to go back to it, work out the kinks and move forward.
Grasping at straws?
Kind of ..
Just grasping at ideas .. until the right one sticks.

Heidi Ayarbe

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