Sunday, April 17, 2011

Where Ideas Come From/Coercion Update

I get asked this a lot (as I'm sure a great many writers do): Where do you get those crazy ideas? And for the most part they just come to me.

Many of the ideas that come to me that I end up formulating into books or the occasional short story tend to come out of the ether. The idea will start with something I've seen, heard, read, or just come straight out of that spot where the subconscious works. I'll let the idea fester and grow and I'll start to see possibilities of what is to come and who might be involved and why. Much of this is vague and sort of like a bunch of figures coming out of the fog during a battle.

Ideas come along all the time. Many of them are bad, but they still come all the same. Some are good, but not good enough for me to throw down everything that I'm working on to start work on that. I try to resist the temptation for a couple of days and wait to see if the idea in my head formulates into something cogent and tangible before moving forward. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.

Coercion, which started in July of 2010 as a different kind of story altogether, was originally a first-person narrative. I started with a nameless, faceless cop investigating a murder that he himself committed and sort of working damage control. The idea was there, but it felt incomplete and awkward and then I found the answer, which was in the dead body itself. For some reason, the victim seemed interesting on his own even though I only had a few sketchy details about him. So I took the basic genesis of my idea, which by mid-August was around 120 pages, threw out the old pages, and started over with a structure and a formula in mind. The basic building blocks of the story: The chapters, the themes, the narrative arc, and the characters were all in place and fused together faster than normal. It took nine weeks of writing and another two or so of editing (final post-production edits are in the process right now, but it's mostly minor detail work at this point) to complete the manuscript, which is what I plan to release.

As for Coercion, I planned to release the book on April 25 via smashwords, but my determination to get a decent cover has me thinking the first week of May might be more reasonable. So I'm going to wait and get the basic details correct before moving forward.

Coming up with ideas happens for a lot of people, I think. Most of them don't know what to do with them or they just dismiss them as ridiculous flights of fancy. Maybe they are, but for writers they tend to fascinate and compel us to move forward. It's hard, grueling work, but the real writers already know that when they decided to play the game in the first place.

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