Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Brainstorming Bag Lady

My book ideas sometimes start with a single scene. For my upcoming book, A Bump in the Road, it started with an image of a hungover couple flying home from Vegas and being tortured a toddler. A scene many people can relate to, in one fashion or another. The humor potential was endless, but I started to think, "What if this is the ironic setup for a life change for these two poor souls?" And thus, a fictional unplanned pregnancy was created.

But really, there’s no "one way" my ideas come to me. Sometimes, it’s from a funny story one of my coworkers tells me. Or maybe it’s a story in the newspaper. See, I usually start my books with only a vague idea of what they’ll be about. Most times, I just start writing. So little snippets of news events, anecdotes from friends, and even bickering between my husband and I can lead to entire plot twists.

One thing I have really noticed since I started seriously pursuing a writing career is that my brainstorming antenna is always set to "on" now. Before, I’d hear interesting conversations or observe quirky people and they’d fly out of my head two seconds after they entered. But now, everything becomes fair game. Thus, the reason why I’m usually digging frantically through my purse for a piece of paper and a pen to write down my "genius" idea. This is also why lots of my notes are written on the back of McDonald’s receipts (or other trash littering my purse) in eyeliner pencil.

If you can’t tell, it’s a somewhat chaotic way to write a book. Truth be told, I wish I could be one of those people who has a roadmap from the very beginning, someone whose brainstorming is one complete step before beginning a novel instead of some weird hybrid of writing and plotting all at once. But I’ve tried, and it just doesn’t feel right.

So, if you ever see a red-haired woman crazily scribbling on the side of her Dunkin’ Donuts coffee with a teeny-tiny golf pencil while waiting at a stoplight, it’s probably me.


Jillian Cantor said...

Funny! But you are more prepared then I am. Usually when inspiration strikes, I can't even find a golf pencil or a receipt, so I have to rely on my increasingly poor memory skills!

lisapatton said...

You are so much like me. I carry my pad around with me PLUS I have redhair!