Author: How did you think of that?

I was asked recently by someone who read my latest novel: “How can you think of all the relationships and twists and turns?”

I replied, “Can’t anyone do that?”

“No,” came the quick reply. Huh. What do you know about that?

Writing and ideas is such a down-to-earth organic process for me that I just assume that anyone could do it if they wanted to. But I’m starting to realize that there are levels to writing and plot lines and twisted relationships and mind-jarring surprises that makes the readers go, “I didn’t see that coming.”

How do writers put it all together? How to they plot it out and keep track of everything? How do they do so creatively?

I suppose that each writer has his or her own way of trying to accomplish these.

For me, the answer to these questions are all about being patient and diligent in my writing. Let me explain what I mean.

When I start writing, I have a general direction and idea. If I didn’t, I’d be starring at a blank screen. But I don’t have an outline or an outcome. I love to discover what has yet entered my mind.

So I start writing, getting to know my characters, and allowing the plot line to weave along at a nice pace and then BOOM! It hits. Invariably when I get to a certain point, the force of all that I have already written finally gives me the clear direction of what HAS to happen next and what amazing TWISTS that I can add to the story.

In my latest novel, A Love Story for a Nation, it was slightly different because I based it on a short play that I had written. I knew the crux of the story and the general ending, so I had to create the back story that led up to the big events. What I didn’t know, however, is that there were two amazing secrets simmering beneath the surface. I don’t want to give them away because I’m no spoiler. However, as the idea for the first shocker came to my mind, I had to stop, sit back and really think it through. How much will it change the story? Will it make it better? Is it too contrived? I realized that it was too good of an idea to give up, and, in fact, it added an amazing deep layer to the story that I had not previously seen.

So how did I piece it together? Part luck (my brain just happened to think of it) and part diligence (just by continuing to write and allowing the story to peak at a point that would give me that break-through idea).

So if you’re struggling with ideas, the best advice I can give you is to just write. Keep it going and trust that your time and diligence will pay off for you.

It always does for me.

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