Once I Have A Story Idea: Then What?

Ah- transitioning an idea into a an actual book. Funny topic! It’s funny, because people who plan to write a book “someday” often think that once you have an idea it automatically blossoms into full-length novel. Ha!

I use a variety of tools to turn an idea into a story. Sometimes I go to Holly Lisle’s website and walk through her create-a-plot or create-a-character posts. I jaunt over to Jessa Slade’s Plotting Guide to remind myself of the details involved with goal, motivation, and conflict. I pull out my notes from Sascha Illyvich’s male point of view class and work through my characters some more. And most recently I’ve dragged up summaries of The Hero’s Journey online and use the monomyth format to plan my scenes.

One of the most useful tools I’ve found for turning an idea of a character into a breathing entity came from Jessa Slade. She advocates creating a motto or a handle for her characters. In moment when I’m not sure how my hero or heroine will react, or I’m trying to figure out what challenge to throw at him or her next, I often fall back on their motto.

In my new release, Mercury Rising, the God Mercury’s motto is, “I can make everyone love me.” His lover Dillon’s motto is, “I’m surrounded by idiots.”

Right off the bat, without knowing anything else about these characters, you get the sense of how they’re conflict is going to play out. One hero will struggle with the need to maintain those around him’s favor, and the other character will wonder why he bothers.

And since I’m talking about Mercury…

You should check out my books when it releases through Ravenous Romance Thursday!

Here’s the blurb:

A born charmer, Mercury the Messenger finds his legendary abilities to win people over challenged by the quarreling attendees of the Deities International Conference and Kibbitz. But his skills at diplomacy are stretched to the breaking point when he discovers his chance tryst is with none other than his assistant – just as his arranged fiancée arrives at the scene.

Dillon Rodriguez, Mercury’s executive aide and a soon-to-be MBA student, refuses to be the closeted god’s side-dish. But when an accident at the conference strands the god in the human world, Dillon agrees to act as his guide.

Traveling from San Diego down the Mexican coast to Cabo San Lucas with Dillon at his side, Mercury experiences a side of life he never imagined. However, if he wants to earn the love of the one man who matters, he must finally stop trying to please every one else.

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8 Responses to Once I Have A Story Idea: Then What?

  1. danicaavet says:

    I’ve taken Jessa Slade’s workshop and you’re so right, having a motto for your characters can help you figure out what they would do in any given situation. And yay for release day! *bounce* You should stop by my blog next month for some pimping!


  2. Daisy Harris says:

    You were the one who turned me on to Jessa Slade! And yes- I should totally come on your blog!


  3. jeff7salter says:

    I love the idea of nailing down the ‘motto’ of the protagonists. I’ll try that on my next ms.
    From reading this column, Daisy, I’d conclude you’re a “plotter” … but somehow I’d previously formed the impression that you wee a “pants-ter”. Which?
    Or … both?


    • Daisy Harris says:

      I guess you could say that I plot, then pants, then plot my revisions, then pants again. I don’t plot to the level Jessa Slade does, that’s for sure! But I definitely nail down my characters, their goal-motivation-conflict, and major plot points like end of first act and black moment.

      I don’t go so far as to know whose POV a scene will be in before I write it. And there are some things I play by ear. For example, my Shark Bait gay subplot literally just showed up. I’d thought about doing it, then dismissed the idea, but found myself writing it nevertheless.

      How about you? Plotter, panster, or both?


      • jeff7salter says:

        I guess I’m an odd hybrid, with no particular predictability. Most of the major concepts of a given manuscript’s ‘story’ will usually be ‘pants-ster’ stuff. But sometimes I have to ‘plot’ to fill in the gaps.
        I find that I write notes — sometimes even questions — to myself ‘inside’ the ms. when I’m too busy writing the pants-ster stuff to stop. Then I’ll go back and do the ‘fixing’ as needed … and that nearly always involves the ‘plot-ster’ side of my brain.


  4. COOL idea. Never thought of that motto thing.

    I keep saying I’m gonna write a story based in Cabo. It’s so unbelieveably hot there I could call it hell. Pretty, but miserable! LOL! And do they EVER get a breeze or even a cloud to block the sun? I think not. The best place is Cabo Wabo – Sammy Hagar’s bar- cool off with an “Can’t Drive 55” drink- it’ll knock your skull off!


  5. Oh yea, congrats on the release- and speaking of Mercury- it finally came out of retrograde and things will be better for me. I’m very “Mercury affected” LOL!


  6. Lynn Rush says:

    Hey, those are great links. NICE!! 🙂


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