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And you know how the captain hates the idea of his crew plotting. In fact, it might be considered mutiny and I could end up having to walk the plank. And I haven’t got a thing to wear for the occasion!
Ahoy, Pirates!!! Great to be back here. I always have a great time with you girls. Rum, mayhem, plundering, Captain Jack, swabbing the decks… Uh, maybe not swabbing the decks! I’ll leave that for someone who draws the short straw after the party is over and I’ve stumbled home to the Bandits lair.
I’d like to know how you come up with plots. This topic is endlessly fascinating (well, at least I find it so!). Are you a plotter or a pantser (awful word and I’m about to suggest an alternative, so hang onto your rum toddies!)? How does an idea arrive in the first place?
I’m often asked where I get my ideas. I say, perfectly honestly, EVERYWHERE! It’s true. Finding possible ideas for stories isn’t the problem – something takes your interest and you say, “What if?”
Sometimes the inspiration for a story is something that’s lain dormant in my brain for years and years (sadly, lots of stuff lies dormant in my brain – there’s a whole school of thought that says my brain is completely dormant but those people are just NASTY!). Sometimes it’s something I’ve read while I’ve been researching another story. Definitely elements of Olivia’s character in TEMPT THE DEVIL came together from all the reading I did about Regency courtesans for CLAIMING THE COURTESAN.
As you’d know, not all the ideas you come up with are viable for a book. Or perhaps they’re viable for a book but they’re not viable for a Regency noir, my current dish of choice. But I’ve learnt that the good stuff sits at the back of my head and attracts other good stuff (although it’s not always obvious how the links will be forged, but they WILL be forged).
Eventually (and the timetable on this seems to be completely in the lap of the writing gods, like so much of the writing process, I find), all of this stews away and I’ll have an opening scene, two characters with a problem, sometimes a villain, and a very, VERY vague idea of where the story might lead me.
Then I start to write.
What happens after that is an organic process (which is much nicer than ‘pantser’, don’t you think?). Scenes grow out of the characters and how they interact and also out of the problem deepening and spreading and causing all sorts of mayhem – which is just what you want on a pirate ship.
If my middle sags (the middle of my book, that is. Sadly my REAL middle needs scaffolding to avoid sagging), I go back to that original idea for the problem. Or maybe it’s that I’ve stopped listening to the characters – they almost always know where they want to go next.
A technique I’ve found really useful when I’m stuck in those mid-ocean doldrums is to re-read the whole manuscript. The subconscious is an odd beast. It almost always gives hints in earlier chapters for where the story needs to go.
Needless to say, this is a messy process but I speak from experience when I say you do end up with something you can work with at the end of it.
Anyway, what’s your process? Do you have a single process or does it change with every manuscript? Let’s get together and plot! And one lucky plotter will win a copy of my latest release TEMPT THE DEVIL!
Special note - if you click on Anna's lovely picture up there, it will take you to her website (it's so beautiful!) and if you click on this killer cover right here, it'll take you to Barnes & Noble so you can order the book.