Monday, October 7, 2013


I once read that your most creative ideas come to you while you are in the BATH, BED, or BUS. Of course the "BUS" does not literally mean the bus, but anytime you are driving. The reason these three places offer a rendezvous with the muse is simple due to the fact that it is in these three places (and others like them) your creative brain (right brain) is free to wander. Most of a writer's best work comes from somewhere deep inside that cannot be tapped simply through forced thought. Matter of fact, shutting off your left brain (logical side)--or distracting it--is the best way to prepare for writing the first draft.

While driving from Alabama to Austin, TX this weekend with my son, the THEME for The Local hit me. I can't share it now, as it might spoil the story, but it was very clear. I'm sure with time it will be expanded, but as for now, my discovery of the theme has given me a greater purpose for the story. I love it when I latch onto the theme(s). The themes anchor me and give me a reason for writing the story. They inspire me as I begin to wrap the drama around the message, so to speak. Some writers don't work on themes until the story is complete, and some never worry about the themes at all. However, there are often many themes in a story that even the author is not aware of and that the reader might never fully appreciate. If you were to take a literature course, the professor would probably teach that the story is about its theme(s). As important as the themes are to me, I also love the dramatic adventure of the story. So to get the story ready to write, I must now map out the STORY GOAL. The Story Goal is about what the protagonist (David Mitchell) wants to achieve or the problem he wants to avoid.

There are many kinds of goals: External goals, such as doing something, discovering something, resolving a situation, bringing about a desired future, or getting something to change direction. Internal goals, such as changing an attitude or opinion, resolving an aspect of one’s nature, getting someone to change, becoming a different person, or taking on a new role. Since I already know what David Mitchell wants to achieve, I am beginning the process of deciding how the Story Goal for David Mitchell affects or involves the other characters that are slowing being created. Searching for supporting characters is a fun part of the development of the story. I tend to find people from all walks of life interesting--we are all unique and different, yet so much alike.

The Story Goal will involve many characters besides David Mitchell. In fact, almost every character in The Local will have a stake in whether the story Goal is achieved. I will soon see how the Goal will be important to the other characters in the story. Are the people in David's world all struggling with the same kind of issue for which they must either find or fail to find their own solution? Or are their hopes pinned on the success or failure of David Mitchell? Or are their lives examples that drive David Mitchell to want to achieve his objective or cause him to not want to achieve it?

In an upcoming blog I will write about the PLOT OUTLINE and how I use my story boards to keep focused and visualize the story. During this part of the development I often take field trips to actual locations to do research. I want to eat in restaurants where the characters eat, visit actual locations where the characters frequent, drive down streets that actually exist, and be able to give my readers a real sense for the reality of the story. I recently had a reader tell me that she loved the fact that I used the actual names of streets in my novels.

In Flight to Paradise, I visited Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Cabrillo National Monument and the Old Point Loma Lighthouse on numerous occasions. I actually wrote the first draft for one of the chapters in the visitor's center. I spent many hours at the Del Coronado Hotel and wrote several of the original drafts for scenes while I was there. I ate at the Cannery where Keri and Rex had there first date.

When I was writing Flight into Darkness, I spend several days in San Francisco studying the Golden Gate Bridge and surrounding locations that were used in the story. I also visited the Hotel Sausalito in Marin County where my villain stayed.

In Flight to Freedom I visited Atlanta's Oakland Cemetery were one of the scenes took place. I also visited the Margaret Mitchell Museum and her grave site. Margaret Mitchell (coincidentally the same last name as the main characters in the novel) was the author of Gone with the Wind which was a part of the storyline in the novel. I ate at Atlanta Fish Market Restaurant where Ryan and John Dross had several meals. I also explored Buckhead to refresh my memory of Keri's hometown and the new locations used in FTF, Habersham Road where her family home was located, Pace Academy where she and Ryan first met, the Starbucks where Ryan first met Angel, and the condo where Ryan and Keri lived for a short time.

Research trips are always an exciting part of discovering the story. I'll be sure to share my upcoming trips on the blog with photos.

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