I had an idea on my way to the Central Florida Romance Writers meeting on Saturday, February 2nd for a story in the Always series, and I wanted to try and share a bit of the process of how I come up with ideas. The only problem with this is that I came up with this idea a bit differently than usual. Luckily the past week also yielded a completely new idea, so I can give you two different ways I come up with them. On my way to the CFRW meeting, I realized that over a year has passed since my car accident. That accident was one of the most terrifying incidents of my life and effects the way I drive to this day. Traffic was semi-heavy and there was some rain on the road, not at all the conditions when I had my accident. As I began to reflect on my accident and the surrounding events and remember other bad accidents involving family members and drunk drivers that didn’t end as well (yes, the other driver was drunk at the time), I began shifting my experience around and around in my brain, playing a game of “What if?” with the accidents. What if I hadn’t survived that accident? What if it was a family member of mine that received those frustrating notices of continuance, dragging out the trial of the drunk driver that had killed their loved one? Drunk driving convictions are far too lenient, even in cases of vehicular manslaughter; what if the person responsible for the accident was released and my family member saw them somewhere? What if they asked for forgiveness? As Christians, my family would have to forgive them; but how?
I had the framework for the concept of the story before this trip: a young woman who holds a man responsible for her sister’s death and runs into him. He sees it as divine intervention, as an opportunity to make amends and to ask her forgiveness. But as I was on my way to the meeting, it finally entered my head to use my personal experience, split among a few characters, to convey it this way. I know that car accidents have been used in movies and books frequently, but by using details of my own accident, I can make it both more realistic and more unique.
The brand new idea started out when I was reading about one of my favorite romantic tropes: the marriage of convenience. I love this trope, but it’s been done to death by far better writers than me. I thought about writing one of my own, but I knew if I did, I would have to come up with a fresh take on the idea somehow. So as I sat doing sums at work, I let my mind wonder across all the reasons that a person could be looking to get into a marriage of convenience that I’d ever read about, and my main male character began listing them to my heroine as reasons he thought she was proposing a marriage of convenience to him. My heroine refuted every reason he came up with, exclaiming that he read too many romance novels. “Actually, I watch too many soap operas and Lifetime movies with my mother,” he retorted, nonplussed, and continued to name reasons until she spilled why she wanted a marriage of convenience, illiciting an argument from him that she wasn’t going to be happy with the results if she went forward with her plans. I wrote out the scene and put it away to mull over where I could go with the story. Once I knew what my heroine was after, a slightly different take on the trope began to come together for me. Even though I have never extended anyone a marriage of convenience, my heroine’s motivation for offering one to the hero, and the reason he tries to refute her notions, are both my own sentiments, sentiments I have been wrestling with for some time.
Those are two examples of how I come up with stories. How do you come up with your ideas?
In other writing related news: I joined RWA and the local affiliate chapter, Central Florida Romance Writers, this weekend! I’ve sent in two reviews over at Harlequin Junkie, and I’ll post links when the are up. I’ve also extended one of the three scenes that I identified as needing extensions for Delivering Justice. I am still plugging away and trying to make the manuscript sing. I should know this week if I was selected as an entry into the Blind Speed Dating agents round, and if not, I’ll be submitting DJ around on my birthday. There’s a lot to do either way.
Off to a busy day at the office, but I’m looking forward to sharing more reviews here, as well as more about my writing and writing related news.