On developing a new story idea

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I finished the first draft of my seventh novel (only two published so far) a few months ago now. As usual, I felt flat for a week or two, not quite knowing what to do with myself now that I had no writing to do. Then I felt a little proud that I had actually finished another book length piece of writing – 104,000 words in this one. That’s an achievement in itself, I reckon. After a few weeks, I went back to look at it. I read it through, marked parts that needed a big rewrite, fiddled with other bits, sent it to my beta readers, and waited for feedback. When that came in, I re-read the manuscript with their comments in mind, and decided which ones I agreed with and which I didn’t. Then came another draft, and another, and another. All this time also workshopping it with my Writer’s Group. Lots of feedback, many people wanting to help me make this the best book it can be. That’s the part of writing that I have come to love.

And now I am back to the part of writing that is lonely and isolated; the searching around for a new idea, the research, the note making and scribbling out, the despair that I’ll never have another idea, or if I do, it won’t be any good, or I’ll waste time on doing lots of research only to find that there are twenty seven books like it already, or that it’s not a bad idea but there isn’t a book in it, or at least, not by me because I’m not clever enough or could never do enough research to do the subject justice or, or, or…

I thought I had an idea. I like to take a problem and set up characters to deal with it. So I had decided that Limerence would be the topic. It’s fascinating; not quite the same as unrequited love, obsessive love or erotomania, although it has elements of all three, it is a ‘syndrome’ for want of a better word, in which a person becomes fixated on another to the point that their emotions and behaviour become tied to how this person responds to them.The Limerent will be ecstatic of they get a smile, practically suicidal if they believe they have been shunned. Think Fatal Attraction, or Misery. And that’s the problem – it’s been done before. Not that my plot was anything like either of those, but how many novels on Limerence or Obsessive Love does the world need?

So back to the drawing board. I started wondering what it would be like to wake up and remember nothing of your past. It’s also been done before, of course, but there is huge scope here. What if a man came along claiming to be her husband, and then some weeks later, another husband came out of the woodwork having been away for some months and only just having received news of the accident? The book would have to be set in the 1950’s so that communication was difficult. So then I wondered what the woman would have done during the war, and started researching women in England during the Second World War. I then began looking into the lives of German women in the war to see how similar or different they were, and then wondered if there might be a story about two women, one English, the other German who had both been nurses in the war, and how their experiences shaped them. So what about the amnesia and the husbands? Out of this one,  but perhaps an idea for another book, maybe a comedy, maybe chick-lit, maybe never to be written.

The Limerence idea is plotted out, the Women in War idea is still just an idea, with research continuing apace, but no characters presenting themselves yet. How long do I wait for them? In the meantime, here I am, not writing, enjoying the research but wondering if it’s just indulging my habit to procrastinate. I miss writing though. I want to get my teeth into something.

Hey-ho. One more google search…

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2 responses »

  1. It’s disorienting sometimes, how one idea will merge into another completely different one. But I guess that’s also how ideas come – something is sparked by something else and eventually you find yourself some place you never expected. I find that very often happens to me during a first draft though, which can be tricky! Last year I started writing a thriller about a woman who finds herself unintentionally on a yacht that is smuggling large quantities of cocaine, (which I’d done quite a bit of research for) and the story somehow morphed into a supernatural comedy about a demi-goddess who has been exiled from the divine realm and is just trying to get by. Oops! Maybe I start writing too soon??

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