Friday, June 02, 2017

Following the Shiny Object

Yesterday I came home to find a package on my doorstep. A small box that turned out to be from friends who moved South. The package contained a souvenir from their new hometown and an invitation to visit. The package contained bubble wrap for Harry and inspiration for me. 

Struck by an idea, I rushed to Google to get more information about the city where my friends now live. I ended up on YouTube watching a video of a Ghost Tour of an old house. Someone on the tour had recorded the video. The lighting was bad, but the story told by the tour guide gave me an idea for a character's backstory.

The unexpected backstory of that character will add another layer to the plot. Because of this character's past, my villain will be faced with a dilemma. He will have to make a choice, and that choice will raise the stakes for him. 

And then I thought, "What if?" What if I followed the shiny object of this new city. The more I thought about it, the more obvious it became that the city was perfect for the last third of my historical thriller. I now have an additional location to deal with -- but I do have that invitation from my friends to visit.

The need to make that research trip will help to keep me on track this summer. I have roughly three months to write full time. This is something I never have during the academic year. First, I need to finish the draft of my non-fiction book. Then while I'm having my various readers go through that manuscript and provide feedback, I will plunge in and work on the historical thriller. It will be a quick and dirty first draft, but I'll have the story on paper. That will allow me to see what I have and get to the part of writing I like best -- revising.

I have my calendar. I know how many pages I need to write each day. I've planned to spend every afternoon at my office standing at my vertical desk. A much safer place to be than at home where I both sit and would be tempted to watch soap operas and old movies on TCM.

This summer, I'm going to stick with my game plan. But first I need to send my friends a huge thank you for the unexpected gift of the perfect shiny object at just the right moment.

When you're writing, do you follow intriguing trails that lead you astray?


Sybil Johnson said...

You never know where you're going to get an idea from, do you? I know I've gotten the perfect solution to a plot problem from unexpected places.

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

I agree, Sybil. Ideas do pop up in the most unexpected forms. That's why I'm always inclined to follow a trail to see where it leads.