From Fiction University: Enabling third party cookies on your browser could help if you have trouble leaving a comment.

Tuesday, April 24

Putting the Ink in Imagination

By Patricia Caliskan, @Caliskaniverse_

Part of the How They Do It Series


JH: "Where do you get your ideas?" is the number-one questions authors get, and the answers vary widely. Please help me welcome Patricia Caliskan to the podium today to share some idea-generating thoughts.

Patricia Caliskan began her writing career as an entertainment journalist, before joining Trinity Mirror Newsgroup. She likes a nice, flouncy scarf, a good pair of boots, and laughter. Lots of laughter. Otherwise life feels far too grown-up for her liking.

Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

Take it away Patricia...

The number one question put to any novelist: Where do you get your ideas?

Dipping the nib in the old brainbox, is the truthful, if uninspiring, answer. The myth is that novelists possess some kind of inky alchemy. The truth is, novels start developing either one of two ways, they’re driven by plot, or characterization.

My first inklings tend to come from ‘overhearing’ a strand of imaginary dialogue, and wondering who’s doing the talking. (Actually…maybe that is inky alchemy? Blimey!) That fragmented sentence, or sometimes an entire scene between several characters, gets me thinking about the bigger picture.

I meet the characters behind those voices, become fixated on finding out more, and inclined to write it down. So, I basically start out playing Biographer. Next, I play Detective. Piecing the information together with the help of a few hunches and a little guess-work.

I always have an idea of how the story ends. A final scene in mind. What I don’t necessarily have, is any idea how we’re going to get to where we’re going. That’s where the writing comes in. The plot develops scene-by-scene, with certain ideas arising simply from spending time with the characters.

Plot can arise from personal experience. An overheard conversation. Even a confession, of which you’ll hear many, once people discover you like to immortalize stories onto pages. Whatever the circumstance, a compelling plot originates from a situation, and the pace with which you intend to lead us to the big reveal, becomes a manuscript.

Plot-driven narrative can come from the details of a news report. It can develop by asking yourself that big, exciting question of, what if? Then working from the inside-out to develop a satisfying outcome. How you move from that initial idea to around 100,000 words is the fun part. Did I see you pull a face, just then? Ha, that’s the hook!

Once you light that spark which ignites just the right amount of fun and possibility, you’ll be as eager as your readers to discover the gold of, what happens? That’s the eternal question which keeps people turning pages, and writers churning out chapters.

Once you have an idea you feel excited enough to commit to, working on the narrative becomes dependent on the strength of certain plot devices. Characters require suitable motivation, possibly influenced by the genre. Locations need to fulfill narrative requirements. Research sometimes becomes a factor. Ironing-out plausible solutions to the initial question lying at the heart of your story.

Or, maybe tear up the rule-book? Season that plot with anything but expectation. The endless potential is all yours to do with what you wish. See? I told you this was fun.

My latest book, Girlfriend, Interrupted, developed around the topic of Stepfamilies. The inspiration came from personal experience. As my leading lady, Ella, explains:
‘You try looking up ‘Step-mother’ online. See how long it takes before you find something without the word ‘wicked’ in front of it.’
My hook was to write something Stepparents would appreciate, without resorting to the kind of hero and villain roles traditionally allotted within blended families. It’s helpful to remember, every character within your work, believes the story is about them. Take a look around. Everyone is the star of their own life, moving their personal plotline forward. They have hopes, responsibilities, and choices to make on a daily basis, which will quite plausibly, change their stories so far.

I wanted to represent the immediate family, the children, and the couple, at the heart of this incredibly common, but poorly represented, part of our diverse domestic landscapes. And the story had to be gift-wrapped with enough fun and sensitively, to make it equally enjoyable to readers with or without children in their lives.

I sank my mind into the hopes and concerns of all the major players. I knew I could bring a certain insight into the ‘Step’ part. The over-thinking. The guilt. The overwhelming joy found in the small, emotional victories of co-parenting, and co-loving a child. All this in the midst of what can become a muddle of people-pleasing that defies time, logic and, quite feasibly, gravity.

Fundamentally, all writing is a search to understand ourselves by understanding people around us. We dive into books, whether writing or reading them, to share other perspectives. To unlock some understanding of why their lives, and our own, unfold into unique shapes. We’re given the chance to visit places we’ve never been, explore choices we’d never dare make.

Work on character ideas, and I promise, they’ll start pouring their hearts out with plotlines. Develop that unshakeable plot, and your protagonists will jump into line, eager to travel your terrain.

Whichever way you get drawn in, there’s no right or wrong way to write. There are days when you’ll wish you never started the damn thing. And days when you wish you could rewind the clock, just to spend more time in your new world.

Read articles. Find hints and tips to your heart’s content, but you’ll only find what works for you, by working on it. Not as interesting as the alchemy alternative, but if I had that to share, I promise, there’d be a BUY NOW link at the end of this article.

About Girlfriend, Interrupted

What do you do when the love of your life is already somebody else’s dad…?

Brown-eyed, brunette, 25.

Enjoys walking barefoot across shards of broken home. Likes loaded silences, resentment and insomnia. Dislikes romantic weekends, lie-ins and any chance of future happiness.

Former GSOH. Developing PTSD.

Ella Shawe was undomesticated, unattached and uninhibited.

Until she met Dan.

Sexy, charming and funny, Dan ticked all the right boxes and Ella threw herself head-first into the whirlwind romance.

But now she’s moved into his family home, complete with two demanding children and a hyperactive dog.

Throw in Dan’s impossibly perfect ex-wife, Ella’s interfering sex therapist mother and the snooty and dismissive mother-in-law from Hell, and Ella is almost ready to throw in the towel.

But, ready or not, Ella is part of the family now, and getting it right for Dan’s kids means getting it right for everyone. She just needs to figure out how to include herself in the mix…

Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

No comments:

Post a Comment