1

So, I’ve Been Thinking . . .

Thinking is dangerous. Thinking causes other bad things, like ideas.

“But how is an idea a bad thing?” you’re no doubt asking right now. And to everyone’s utter lack of surprise, I’m going to explain. (That’s how my blog works. I imagine your questions and answer them. It’s my schtick.) But first, there is background. (Also my schtick.)

A writer friend sold me her Kindle DX (the magazine-sized one) because she got an iPad and hasn’t used the DX in months. Her loss is my gain. Before I purchased it from her, I borrowed it for a few weeks to get the feel of it. and I was able to read some of her books.

Several of those books were on writing by Holly Lisle. In them, she talks about methods she uses to “trick” her subconscious (she called it her “muse”) to help her come up with story ideas. A couple of these involve boring, repetitive tasks — thus forcing the muse to come out to play — and asking oblique, open questions. Not, “What does my antagonist want, exactly?” but more like, “What does my antagonist like to do? What are his passions?” The answer to the first question is going to be a metaphorical shrug and an “I don’t know. You tell me. You’re the ‘writer.'”1 But the answer to the second one might be a veritable stream of useful goodness.

Because ideas can pop up at any time, not just when it’s convenient to write them down, I always surround myself with either note-taking material or something else, just in case. In the car, I have a digital voice recorder. I use it to take down thoughts and ideas as I’m driving. Every few days I transcribe the notes into Evernote and label them so I’ll know which stories they relate to, etc.

I’ve also been struggling trying to figure out what my urban fantasy novel has that makes it different than all the other urban fantasy novels out there. What about my universe would entice people to read it instead of one of the others. It’s been weighing heavily on my mind. The fact that magic is “out”? The ensemble cast (at least three POV characters). The magic itself? (For those keeping score, the question put to my ‘muse’ was “What’s special about my world?”)

August 13th was a Tuesday. As I do almost every Tuesday night, I left work and drove (a boring, repetitive task) to the Barnes & Noble at The Forum in Norcross, wherein meets The Forum Writers, a critique group that’s been around as a coherent entity for nearly eleven years. I’ve been going for just a bit over five of those years.

On the way, at 5:32 PM, I recorded this2 on my DVR.

It seems like most urban fantasy involves some other realm. The Gray [Kat Richardson‘s Greywalker series]. The Nevernever [Jim butcher‘s The Dresden Files series]. Alternate, parallel dimensions [Katharine Kerr‘s Nola O’Grady series]. Etc. In my Dummies book, I wrote a little thing about astral projection and kind of picked up on Kerr’s [Deverry Series concept of the] silver thread that connects the body to the consciousness. Well, that could be my ‘other world.’ An alternate Atlanta inside the mental space, but existing externally, created communally by all the minds inhabiting it.

Four minutes later:

What if this alternate Atlanta exists alongside and on top of the real Atlanta, and it’s similar to but not exactly like the real one? And maybe people who have the ability to do magic stand out in some way. Ooh, and every crime the MCU investigates would then have to be investigated both in the real Atlanta and over in that other Atlanta?

Fourteen minutes after that:

Maybe one of the characteristics of the stasis spell [on the crime scenes in the novel] — the thing that makes them really stand out — is that the stasis also extends into the other place as well as the real Atlanta.

Then I made it to the book store and we did our critique thing, and then I had dinner. And then, on the way home at 11:08:

And now we come full circle. What if this alternate place is the source of magic? I was trying to stay more ‘scientific,’ but I’m not sure I can.

A minute later:

So this other place is built from the subconscious or unconscious of all the people who have magic. It therefore only exists as long as there are people who can perform magic. For a while, it was almost gone3, but now it’s back, because of breeding. But if that’s the case, then I can foresee a future book where gifted people are dying — being killed — and it’s weakening the other place. But why do some people get more power and others less? Why is it disproportionate?

And I think maybe — just maybe — my subconscious might have — out of sheer boredom — provided me with something that will give me a little more oomph to play with. Maybe these notes are my first steps into a rediscovery of my world and a re-invigoration of my desire to write in it.

Oh, and I’ve since tentatively decided to call that other place “the Flux.” I hope it hasn’t been used other than the one place (Jack Chalker‘s Soul Rider series) I absolutely know it has, which is kind of where the idea came from.

GBE2

Group Blogging Exchange 2

Today’s post is inspired by GBE2 (Group Blogging Experience)’s Week 116 prompt: First Steps


  1. I wonder exactly what it says about me that my subconscious and any alter-egos I personify are always assholes? Hmm.
  2. These aren’t direct transcriptions. I left out all the repetitions, cursing, hedging, speech disfluencies (uh, um, er, ah . . .) and edited it to make it look like I wish I talked to myself instead of like a crazy person, which is how it actually sounds.
  3. A small bit of world-building I’m not sure I’ll ever use, but it’s there if I need it. There was a time in the past during which science and religion nearly killed magic, but thanks to a brave few people, it survived.

8

The Writing Brain

brain by TZA, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  TZA 

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading a book by Holly Lisle on my Kindle. She was talking about how she would occasionally have to delete many, many words from her novels because she went down a wrong path while writing. As much as 60,000 words, I believe she said.

Wow. That’s a lot of words to scrap.

Manuscript. Scrap.

Manuscrap.

Welcome to my psyche, ladies and gentlemen! Don’t mind the occasional flashes or thunderous explosions. It’s not a thunderstorm — those are ideas going off. And those cobwebs over in that corner . . . well, I wouldn’t get too close to that. Just in case.

  • Calendar

    August 2013
    M T W T F S S
    « Jul   Sep »
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    262728293031