INTERVIEW BY RAMBLINGS OF A COFFEE ADDICTED WRITER 4/4/12
People often ask writers, “Where do you get your ideas?” Every novel takes its own tortuous path, some more easily and more successfully than others; but each of my six suspense novels began with a simple, one line concept, which is then expanded until it ends up as a fully developed novel.
My e-novel, The Undertaker, began with, “A guy opens the newspaper one morning and sees his own obituary.” How did that happen? Was it a mistake? All the details are spot on. It is him!
Worse, there is a companion obituary for his wife. The writing process starts when I ask, who would do that, and why? What’s at stake? Next, who is our guy? Who are his friends and enemies? What is going on in his life that this situation will make even worse? I keep expanding those threads until they form a plot, and simultaneously keep growing those stick figures into unique, well-rounded characters. In the end, they are what drives the story and make it logical and inevitable.
Thursday at Noon, coming out next month in e-book format, began with, “A burned out CIA agent in Cairo stumbles home one night and finds a severed head sitting on his door step.” In screenplays, they call these one-liners ‘log lines.’ As with the others, the log line needs to be something incongruous, immediate, and jarring, like, “Snakes on a plane.” That’s one of the very best. Screenwriters and producers use them to sell a story, but it is equally useful to help a writer to keep his story focused. Call it a concept, premise, or log line, but all successful novels are based on a strong one; and no amount of writing or re-writing can make up for a weak one.
Amongst My Enemies, which came out in e-book last month, is a rich action/ adventure story and a period-piece spy novel set in the cold war. A badly damaged former POW knows a secret about the closing days of WW II, a missing U-boat full of gold, and a German war hero that could tear NATO apart.
The novel I am currently working on, Through the Glass Darkly, began with, “A guy is sitting in the window seat of an air liner coming in to land at O’Hare. He looks down, and sees a man strangling a woman on a roof top as it flashes by below.” Who are they? Is this a crime of passion, or money? And who is our guy in the plane? What’s going on in his life that this will only complicate further?
As they say, stir vigorously and put in a 450-degree oven for 12-24 months and hopefully you have a fully baked novel. To see more about my books, see my web site, http://billbrownwritesnovels.wordpress.com/