Welcome to the blog of author Tricia Goyer!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Why Do I Write...

And where do I get my ideas? This was a recent topic on a writing forum I belong to. I thought I'd share some of responses from some of your favorite authors!

Sharon Dunn:
I get my ideas from all sorts of sources and I usually have dozen or so zinging around my head in different states of development.

For my Ruby Taylor book, the initial idea came when I read a string of Christian novels that had perfect people with perfect lives in them. I couldn't see myself in the characters.

From there, I started playing the what if game.
What if your didn't have perfect Christian parents?
What if they had done time in prison before they became Christians?
What if you had made incredible mistake before coming to Christ?

The other source for me is the struggles in my own life, the spiritual battles. For the Bargain Hunters series, I had gone through a season of God dealing with me concerning my attitudes about money and trusting him. (Okay, I still relapse once in while.)

Even though the character profiles and backgrounds are different from my own, their struggle and discoveries often mirror my own.

Where do I get my ideas?

From any place and every place. Most of my books begin with a character entering my thoughts and I want to know his or her story. Sometimes it is a line of dialogue that “they” speak to me. Sometimes it is a news story that I read in the paper or see on TV. Sometimes something is said in a TV show or a movie. Twice I have dreamed the opening of a novel, awakened, and dashed to my office to write it down. For me getting the idea is the easy part. The hard part is writing a novel from it.

Why do I write what I write?

I began my career writing historical romantic sagas. They were the type of books I loved to read. Then as my walk with the Lord deepened, I felt Him calling me to write Christian fiction so that I could explore the spiritual aspects of humanity as well as the emotional and physical. Whatever lessons the Lord has just taught me or is in the midst of teaching me generally make it into the book I’m writing at the time. I still write some books set in historical time periods but mostly I write contemporary stories. Why? Because those are the stories that come to me and that grip my imagination.

For my first suspense, Eyes of Elisha, the setting for the inciting incident really is true, right down to the restaurant (although I changed its name in the novel.) Mark needed to hire a VP for Datis. He took me along on the dinner interview with this guy he wanted to hire because he knows I can sense things about people. During that dinner, I thought—what if I really did sense something about this guy, something very, very bad. Like—I think he murdered someone? Would Mark even listen to such a crazy thing as that? After looking across the country for the right VP and finally finding him? And if I really believed it, and Mark didn’t …

Idea for Violet Dawn: started with something as simple as going out to our hot tub in California at night. It’s very private back there, and at night it’s very dark. We have one of those covers that we fold back halfway and slip into the tub. So often I thought—you know, it’s really dark in the water under that second half of the cover. Anything could be in there …

For Web of Lies: Okay, Brandilyn, you desperately need the idea for the fourth and final Hidden Faces book.

Right. So … what’s scary?

Hmmm. Hmmm. I know! Spiders are scary. Especially lots of them, poisonous ones, kept in a room by some maniac.

Okay, then. That’s what I’ll write about.

Normals (people who aren’t novelists) often ask me where I get my ideas. “Life,” I tell them. As a novelist I look at the world differently. I notice colors, emotional nuances between people, body language. I think in terms of metaphor. (Wow, look at that fat drop of dew clinging to the spider web, ready to fall any minute. I could use that metaphor to describe someone in dire trouble who thinks they can’t hold on any longer.) As I see the world, watch the news, read the paper, everything becomes Story. There’s a constant “what if” behind events. Not all of these “what ifs” turn into a novel. In fact, most go in my mind and back out. But some stay, sometimes for years—until the time comes to write them.

I'll post some more next Thursday! Check back.


Jen's Journey said...

This is great because many of my ideas just pop into my head from daily experiences or a dream I may have had. Today, two ideas popped into my head. I wrote them down for future use. Gotta finish the first story before beginning on any others. ;) I was able to write a little more last weekend and will be sitting down for more later.
God Bless you as always,

Holly said...

This is fascinating!

I'm doing research right now between 2nd and 3rd draft revisions and I'm amazed how the ideas and details I need are just falling into place as I read. My characters like to just pop into my head and give me a line here or there - we writers really are cosmic vacuum cleaners! Or would that be combines?

Jen's Journey said...

LOL! I think the combine analogy works, though I don't know about being shredded to pieces. Hmmm... Something to think about.

Holly said...

No, not shredded - taking something raw and making something useful - in one broad and messy sweep... :)