Developing Story Ideas

One of the first questions I receive from someone who is interested in my writing is “How do you come up with the ideas for your stories?”

Well, the old saying, “write what you know” works hand-in-hand with many of my ideas. For my first book, One Minute at a Time, I took bits and pieces of events that happened to me in the past and weaved a story around them. I had a story inside of me, and it was threatening to burst out. The whole process also ended up being really cathartic; once I had written my story, I felt free and more at peace about what occurred. I didn’t want the whole book to mirror my life though, I wanted to have some creative liberty and to keep people guessing, so I included some details that were completely fiction. In addition, if any of my characters were based on a real person, I changed them up enough so that the character wasn’t exactly like their real-life counterpart.

Many times, I form an idea for a book when I’m right smack dab in the middle of reading a book or writing another story. The current book I’m writing is young adult (YA) fiction. I used to only write YA, but I decided to give women’s literature a try because the story I wanted to write for One Minute at a Time was too mature to be considered YA fiction. I began to realize after being turned down by a myriad of agents and having various beta readers that my writing style works better for YA. So since then I have reverted back to the genre. The hardest part for me about writing YA fiction is I haven’t been in high school since 2004, and a lot has changed. I didn’t even own a cellphone or a laptop in those days. I’ve heard that some schools even have cellphone charging stations!

To prepare myself for this challenge I began reading a ton of YA fiction. I was turning the page in one of those books when an idea formed in my head. I quickly opened the notes page on my iPad and began to sketch an outline of my thoughts. I worked on my idea for a month or so, but then I got stuck. My main character seemed stale, and I wasn’t sure where to go next. While I was sitting there, I let my brain roam and began to think about a book that I would have wanted to read in high school, and a completely different idea began to take shape. I opened a new page in notes and began typing furiously, and now seven months and 69,000 words later, the first draft of my YA fiction book is finished!

I have no clue what the topic of my third book will be, but I’m sure it will hit me when I least expect it. There are always stories to tell inside yourself, you just have to make sure you are fully invested in the idea, and if not, don’t be scared to let the idea go and try something new.

Hopefully in the near future you will see one of my books, One Minute at a Time or Does Love Always Win? in a bookstore near you. But, even if you don’t, I’ll keep plugging away at my next project, at least having been able to do something I love.

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