Wednesday, December 14, 2005

LC: Ideas---where oh where is a storyline?

People always want to know where I get my story ideas. Fans who have read my Brides of the West, Men of the Saddle, and Morning Shade series know that these books are character driven (with a whole lot of other stuff thrown in). Characters drive my rather linear plots and consequently the storyline evolves from my characters. Those who are writers will readily tell you that when your story reaches a certain point---and that can be anywhere from page 1 to page one hundred-- the characters take over. They run wild. They’re unruly, rude and demand their own way.

My characters often remind me of the Toddlers Creed:

If I want it, it’s mine
If I give it to you and change my mind later, it’s mine.
If I can take it away from you, it’s mine.
If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.
If it’s mine, it will never belong to anyone else, no matter what.
If we are building something together, all the pieces (storyline) are mine.
If it looks just like mine, it is mine

Most writers have more ideas than they can produce in a lifetime; others have to search for the right idea—the idea that most fits their unique voice. Ideas most often come to me visually—I’m a people watcher. I can imagine all sorts of things going on in people’s lives—things I’m certain they’ve never envisioned. Ideas flow through a song, a lyric, but more often the thought expressed.

I’m often accused of writing about people I know, and my answer is that I write about people we all know. A good book always engages the reader and makes them identify with the characters.

Last week an interviewer asked if I wrote about my life. I laughed and said, “No, I write 1800’s fiction!” Mostly. I write other stuff too, but my largest fan base is Old West readers. Personally, I have never shoed a horse, shot an elk during a snow storm, dressed it out and slept in the carcass, drunk from a polluted stream, traveled by covered wagon, or worn homespun clothing. But life’s not over!

Ideas come when you commit to the first serious step in writing; show up. Show up with a computer, a pad and pencil, a chalk board—whatever it takes to get started. Then simply let your imagination take over because in the end, that’s the secret-- it’s your idea that comes to life on the paper, your imagination that will catch the editor’s eye. Let it flow . . .

Lori Copeland ( lives, writes, and people-watches in Missouri.


At 7:53 PM, Blogger C.J. Darlington said...

I like the twist on the old adage "write what you know". It says to "write what you wish you knew." That's when things get fun.


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