Dreams. The stork. “The story idea store.” Every author has a different answer to this, but it usually amounts to the same thing: “I dunno. I just get ‘em.” For me it’s a two-part process. One day when I’m not thinking about it something occurs to me and I think, “That oughtta be in a romance novel. That would make for a good story.” And then maybe I remember it or maybe I don’t. If the idea does stick around, I start to flesh it out and see if the story is big enough to sustain a novel–and one that I would want to read and write.
The Rogue and The Rival, my newest novel, was conceived when a sentence popped into my head one day: Time had been good to Phillip Kensington, Marquis Huntley, even though he certainly did not deserve it.
The Phillip in the aforementioned sentence was the villainous twin of my debut novel, The Heir And The Spare. In an early draft of the story he died in the end. But because of that sentence, I wondered what might happen if he lived instead. Just wondered. After all, first lines of novels are hard to come by, so it seemed a shame to throw a good one away without fully considering its possibilities. All I needed was the rest of the story!
But first I needed the perfect heroine for a man like Phillip. He had, according to Lady Palmerston, the negligent chaperone of my series, ruined four girls. Wouldn’t it be a perfect twist of fate and divine poetic justice for him to fall in love with a woman who had been ruined by a different man? A woman who would certainly know better than to dally with the likes of Phillip.
And where might our villain-turned-hero find such a woman? She would probably have been cast out of society for her transgression, so he wouldn’t find her in the ballrooms of London. Perhaps she worked at inn? Or as a seamstress? Or perhaps a little cottage tucked way on the outskirts of town? Or what about an abbey? Aha!
I had the hero (a rake being reformed), the heroine (a woman learning to love again), and the setting (an abbey—the perfect place for reformation, forgiveness, and faith). There was much more work to be done—like figuring out how he ended up in the abbey, inventing her life story, and including re-writing Phillip’s death scene so that he lives.
One burst of inspiration and lots of daydreaming resulted in a novel that was a delight to write. Of course it didn’t happen as neatly I described. It involved a lot of started and abandoned word documents, a lot of scraps of paper with lines or thought scribbled on the, and a lot of day dreaming.
Do you ever come up with story ideas or did you wonder where they came from? Do you write them down?
I’ll be popping in today to answer your comments and I’ll be chatting with the Romance Junkies on November 16th and 9 pm. Stop by and say hello!