Friday, August 26, 2011

Sparkfest Part 3 of 3

Today is the last day of Sparkfest, and there's only one question left.

“What book or author inspired your current WIP?”

That question sort of has me on the fence as to its actual meaning. If by inspired the question means “I read a book and when I finished I knew I had to write it”? or does it mean any book that helped me get one more page on paper? Today, I’ll answer both.

“Is there a book or auther that helps you write just one more page?”

Yes. Most definitely. When I’m really in the pits about writing in general (WIP included) there are a number of my favorite writers I turn to, but only one author whose work I go back to for inspiration. It’s the story of a secret society of assassins and true love, and the words flow across the page like water through the rounded cobbles in a stream.

Lean Hearn’s Tales of the Otori just plucks the heart strings, and makes me fall all over myself with her choice of words. It’s poetry that tells a deep and complex story. I can’t say enough good things about those books. Seriously, as inspiring as you could want in a book. If you haven’t read the first three books, they are a must read. Absolutely wondrously told stories.

As for the book that made me decide to write my current WIP, well, that’s quite a bit different.

And here’s where I blush.

If you’ve been a long time follower, well, you might remember when I posted about the inspiration for my WIP. I removed that post because, well, I guess if you want to get technical, it wasn’t—ah, how shall I put this?—politic. Yeah, that sounds bad, but it’s the truth.

See, I’m a lightning strikes kind of idea person. I imagine that the kernel for my novels gets started in my subconscious but then those ideas simmer and float to the surface with nearly every detail of the novel marked out, as though I were taking notes from someone else (a cleverer someone with a better working vocabulary).

But my current WIP? Not so much. See, I felt like I needed to prove to myself that I could nurture a little kernel from seed to full blown cornstalks. But the idea always comes from somewhere, and here’s where things take a turn to the murky waters of maybe not actually appropriate for the blog.

When I started querying my first project (first to get queried, not first to be written, I didn’t query for Buzzy—I threw him away when I was ten) I didn’t know a lot about the process. Sure I’d researched it, but it’s like doing geology from space. Sure you get some great pictures, and the infrared data is pretty decent, but unless you hold that rock in your hand, you just don’t know what you’ve really got, no matter how hi the resolution of your pictures. Querying is like that.

On another blog that I keep for my family (strangely they can’t manage to come over to blogger), I was trying to explain the process to them. At this point, I’d already met with crushing rejections, and worse: Silence. I compared the query process to trying to pick people up at a bar. In my analogy, the rejected writer was left wonder why the agent had left. "Was it something I said? Was it my breath? Was it my use of inactive verbs?"

But that wasn’t enough, see, I needed to explain the whole process to my family, and so I went on to talk about how writers don’t always say what they mean in their query letters. I wanted to prove this (and the moment any of you say that you really do mean what you say in your query letter, just remember lines like “I’m hopeful you’ll find my manuscript to be a good fit” when what wereally want to say is “Pretty please read my manuscript, I promise I’m not crazy, and I’ll be a good client, just offer me representation, I know other people will love my book.”). To show common examples of lies we put in our query letters, I made one up for an imaginary novel called the Better Half. I made it the most clich├ęd query letter on the planet. Actually, it was more of a pitch.

But then, after my what writer’s say versus the truth bit, I realized that the actual idea behind the fake novel wasn’t that bad. Sure it needed some fleshing out, but really, not bad. Then I started thinking, well, how would it work? Who would be involved? How would that MC react to things?

And then I had the dreaded first line. Once I know the first line, even if it doesn’t stay the first line, the first draft follows shortly after. Once I know how a story starts, that’s the critical mass to start writing.

So, again, my inspiration for a novel was a book that didn’t exist. I’m starting to notice a trend…


  1. Hi, Rena! I like where you got your inspiration! Only a true writer meant for this life could find inspiration from a book that doesn't exist. :)

    Have a great weekend!

  2. Hahaha! A similar thing happened to me with Bim Bam the Jammy Bammy. It was a blog post on, yup, writing queries. And instead of putting up details to my real story? Made one up. I'm not currently writing it, but it's been pressing its nose against the window pane. I keep chasing it off, but it comes back blowing big-cheeked raspberries at me through the glass...


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