Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Where do you get your ideas?

That’s a common question for a reader to ask an author and I’ve been asked it a number of times. I wish I could come up with a good answer.

The truth is, ideas come from everywhere. In my first book, A PERFECT HOMECOMING, I wondered how a woman who’d never experienced true failure would react when her life fell apart. That’s how Ashleigh went from perfect, to her life falling apart, to figuring out how to cope and be happy.

When coming up with an idea for my second book, CATCHING HER RIVAL, my brain went to twin sisters separated at birth. Why twins? Probably because my sister and I, four plus years apart, are often asked if we’re twins. Then I added in the nature and nurture aspect of it and the idea was born. My heroine, Allie, got lost in the middle of her four other adopted siblings and tended to push the limits to get what she wanted. Then there’s her twin sister, Charlotte, the heroine of my third book (January 2016), who was raised an only child by an older, single mother. Charlotte wouldn’t think of doing some of the things Allie does. The twin sisters look exactly alike because of nature, but have different personalities because of nurture. Or would they have developed the same personalities even if they had grown up together? Maybe that question is a story idea I'll pursue at another time.

As I brought my current story idea to life, I wondered what would happen to a strong woman who suffered emotional abuse as a child. After I got it plotted, I realized it was a twist on Cinderella. Instead of going to the ball and meeting the prince who rescues her from her stepmother’s abuse, she left town to make a very successful life for herself. Now she has returned to face her past and she reunites with a prince of a man with wounds of his own to heal.

Story ideas seem to come to me more easily than blog ideas. Do you have a question you’ve always wanted to ask an author? That would really help me come up with more blog posts! Ask your question in the comments below and I’ll pick a lucky commenter on May 15 to win an autographed copy of my May 2015 release, CATCHING HER RIVAL. And come join the conversation in our Harlequin Superromance: Contemporary Romance with More discussion group over on Goodreads.com! We'd love to chat with you!



19 comments:

Mary Preston said...

I always think that the research for any story must be fascinating. I am rather curious about the weird and wonderful that may be unearthed during the process. That is what I would ask about.

Lisa Dyson said...

Good one, Mary! I find I can't keep writing if something needs to be researched, which can really slow down the writing!

Diane Gaston said...

I'm just popping in to say that Lisa's two books, A Perfect Homecoming and Catching Her Rival are terrific!! And I'm not biased because she is my friend and critique partner!

Both are a good example of how a small story idea becomes a satisfying, emotional story.

Laurie Iglesias said...

I liked your post. I'd like to know what your writing process entails. For instance, do you put together an outline from beginning to end and then start writing? Do you write scenes, sometimes even out of sequence, and then bring it all together in the end? Do you find it easier to use fictional locations or real ones, or a combination of both? I hope I didn't ask too much, but I'm curious about those things. ( :

Lisa Dyson said...

Good questions, Laurie! And everyone has their own process, so there are no wrong answers! I need to write in order...my critique partners will attest to that and they write the same way! :-) I start with an idea and work it into a synopsis, about ten pages for a book the length of a Superromance. I know the end and then I need to figure out how to get there. Then I begin writing the first three chapters, which is what I need to sell to my editor. By the time I write three chapters, I know the main characters much better and can make changes in the synopsis if I need to. As for locations, I use a combination of both real and fictional. I try to stay true to the area, but that gives me some leeway to put a building or a road where I need it. :-)

Lisa Dyson said...

Mary, thinking about your question about research, I'm not sure I can come up with something weird or wonderful that I've found. But I will say that I can get pretty distracted. I need an answer for one thing and before I know it, I've learned about something else that doesn't fit into my story. I probably would have done better before I was able to Google anything at will. Going to the library would have made me make a list of things to research all at once. Thank goodness for technology...I think! :-)

Colleen C. said...

I am always curious about an author's fav splurge or down time activity... what helps you relax and refocus?

bn100 said...

How do you feel if you get a cover you don't like? Do you do anything about it?

Lisa Dyson said...

Colleen, my down time is usually time with my family and friends. I also use it to catch up with all the shows I've recorded on my DVR! :-)

Lisa Dyson said...

bn100, I have no say once I get my cover. I've been lucky to get great covers for both of my books, but I'm sure the time will come when I'm not quite so happy. I have several author friends who have had some not-so-good ones. At Harlequin, we fill out the Art Fact Sheet which tells the art department what our book is about, what the characters look like, what are a few scenes that might be good for a cover.

Jen said...

I have a couple of questions!
First, how many words would you say that you write a day? Do you write your stories in sequence, or do you write scenes out of order if the perfect one pops into your mind?

How do you stay motivated to write? I feel like with a full time job out of the house and kids and their schedules and keeping the house from being condemned that I am lucky to crash into bed before the sun comes up. Do you have any pointers?

When did you first know you wanted to be an author? What other jobs did you have? What was your favorite book growing up? Is there a particular author you credit with being your inspiration for wanting to write?

Your books are on my download list for my next paycheck! They sound great!

Tammy Yenalavitch said...

I like blog about an authors interests or hobbies.

Lisa Dyson said...

Jen, let's start with the first of your questions. My comfort level is 1,000 words a day/5 days a week. If I get behind, then I can write from 2,000 to 2,500 words a day/7 days a week. My brain shuts down after that! As I said to Laurie above, I have to write in order. I might have ideas for scenes to come, but I don't feel I know how the characters will react if I don't know what happened right before that scene. I think my motivation to write comes from having stories I want to tell. I wrote and submitted for fifteen years before I sold, so I think I'm motivated! :-) To anyone trying to write with a busy schedule, you just need to get up earlier, use your lunch hour, stay up later at night. Sometimes that small amount of time is more productive because you know you have to get the words to paper quickly. I think most of the rest of your questions and Tammy's question can be answered by reading my bio on my website, www.lisadyson.com. Thanks for the interest in my books, as well as my process! :-)

dstoutholcomb said...

do you ever have to do a lot of research on a subject involving one of your characters?

Denise

Lisa Dyson said...

Denise, I don't usually have to do a whole lot of research unless I'm writing about a career I'm not familiar with. I do a lot of searches for things I'm not sure about, just to make sure I'm right. Like trying to figure out what kind of toys were popular when my hero or heroine were in elementary school or what year a song came out.

Connie said...

If you write a detailed scene and then decide it doesn't work for your plotline, will you remove it and never use it again OR will you save it to perhaps use in another story?
Connie

Lisa Dyson said...

Connie, I do save anything I cut from a manuscript in a separate word file, but I've never gone back to use anything from there. :-) I think it's more psychological, not wanting to throw away anything you worked to put into the story!

Lisa Dyson said...

As promised in my blog post, I'm about to announce the winner of an autographed copy of CATCHING HER RIVAL! And the winner is...Colleen C.!

Congratulations! Colleen C., please email me at lisa@lisadyson.com with your mailing address.

Thanks to all who commented!

Colleen C. said...

E-mail sent! Thank you so much Lisa!!! :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...