Ok, So I Have An Idea-What’s Next?

Our theme here on the old Foxes and Hound blog this week is to discuss what we do when we get a story idea.  I’m very much a pantser. I usually get the hero in my head first, starting with his name.  Then the heroine comes to me. I get a general idea of the conflict and the beginning of the story- sometimes the first sentence, sometimes a setting, sometimes just a characteristic.

Once I have this much, I start to make a playlist of songs that either fit my theme, a characteristic or the setting. Sometimes this works out well and sometimes not. I make the playlist on the Ipod and also burn a cd. I listen as I work and drive and immerse myself in the songs. This helps me come up with scene ideas.

There are three examples I’ll share with you. My book out on submission right now called Code Name: Galahad’s Daughter, takes place partially in NYC and the hero is an Interpol agent. There’s a  real band called Interpol. They have a song called New York. I downloaded it to the cd.  That was the only reason I downloaded it. I hadn’t really memorized the lyrics. When I started the story, I thought it was going in one direction and in Chapter Two, it took a WILD turn. One of the lyrics in this song must have been working on my subconscious. The lyric is “I have seven faces, thought I knew which one to wear.” Without giving away the plot, this is spot on with the story and I had no idea about it when I got the initial idea for the story.

The second example is from my July release from Desert Breeze Publishing, Redemption for the Devil. My heroine in that story is a lounge singer in 1920. I downloaded Stardust as I wanted her to sing it. Well, dang, when I did my intense research, Hoagy Carmichael didn’t pen it until much later in the 1920s. So, not so good that time around.

My book that’s already out from BookStrand Publishers, Surfer Bride, has a neat segue with a song called Sylvia’s Mother. I love this song by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show. I had the idea for a surfer heroine as my son is a surfer and I enjoy all that goes along with that lifestyle. I also had the idea of the misunderstanding/lover’s triangle in the book based on something that happened in my own life. The first chapter of the story is about the heroine moving away to marry another guy and the hero calls and her friend won’t let him talk to her on the phone.

Sometimes I don’t have time to do a soundtrack and immerse myself in it and that’s all right, too but I find the music helps the words flow better.  AND when I listen to the soundtracks of the books that are already done, I’m right back in my story. That’s fun!


About Author

The author of these blog posts is a lawyer by day and fiction writer by night.
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15 Responses to Ok, So I Have An Idea-What’s Next?

  1. danicaavet says:

    Music is a perfect mood setter for a story. I don’t consciously pick songs to listen to. I let my MP3 player battle it out and next thing I know, the story flows along to whatever I’m listening to. What I really love is when a fast paced, heavy metal song comes on right when I’m writing a fight scene. Or, when I was writing Succubus-in-Waiting (which contains a werewolf hero), I kept coming across wolf songs “Hungry Like A Wolf”, “Wolves at the Door”, etc. It was so awesome, LOL


    • Danica- how cool is that? I love it when things work like that.

      A funny thing happened to me this weekend. I was watching a movie (that I’d seen before) and decided to turn it off and go to bed. The next day, I didn’t turn on the tv until about 3:30 in the afternoon. Guess what? Same movie- same spot where I turned it off the night before. #2 son said- that’s what happens when you pause the dvd, mom. I said- dude, it’s not the dvd, it’s satellite tv! How wild was that? LOL!


  2. jeff7salter says:

    I have not used music in any way in the writing of my six novel manuscripts because I need total quiet in order to concentrate.
    However, in my second ms. — contemporary, but dealing with a Civil War era mystery — I did a lot of research on CW songs and used one of those in my story.
    Other than that, I’ve utilized only one song … to reveal some insight into my female protagonist.
    Now to the other matter: I’m fascinated that you write the hero first. You can probably guess that I write the HEROINE first. To me the book revolves around HER. Very interesting.


    • It’s funny how we all have a different process. I think, because I wrote when my kids were little and talking to me, playing in the room with me and also had either tv, radio or videos on (not to mention a spouse that thinks if he is awake, the television must be on), that I learned to either tune it out or work around it. Silence is great and I do love it but I seem to write better in a cacophony!

      Interesting as well that you write the heroine first. I’ve had quite a few stories be hero-centric but I also have done some the other way around- be all about the herione’s journey – but I always get the hero in my head first. Funny!


  3. Daisy Harris says:

    It’s interesting how people differ. I’ve never been able to write or study while listening to anything with lyrics. I start mentally “singing along” and cant think of other words. I did get into the habit a while ago of listening to Indian sitar music while working. I could also see listening to yoga music. I like the sitars though because the beat is more driving.

    I know a lot of authors create playlists though. I wonder if novels written to playlists and music differ from those not. Like, do authors who listen to music write more atmospheric stories? Huh, it’s interesting…

    (If I didn’t plot at all, my stories would never top 37,000 words. 🙂


    • Daisy- that is a great question- more atmospheric due to music? Something to mull over. I tend to think they may be similar as we all need somehing to get us in the “zone” Silence, music, quiet, etc. Different strokes as it were.

      As to sitar music, I like it but I can see myself wanting to nod along to it and that would be a disaster- yoga music would be too tame for me, I think. I don’t really sing along when I write- I have it so low, it’s just a bit of background and I can tune it out of my conscious mind. It’s hard to explain! LOL!


  4. Lavada Dee says:

    There are a lot similarities in how we write. I’m a pantser too and start just about how you do. However I’ve never written to music. Maybe it’s time to give it a try.


    • Lavada- if you can write with noise, I recommend it. I find it really helps me.

      As you know from our January challenge, sometimes I start with only one sentence and the hero and then take off. That’s one story I never did a play list on as I signed up to play along too late- but I got the first draft done in Feb. Gotta get to edits on it.


  5. Laurie Ryan says:

    I just shuddered when you said the word “pantser”. I tried that with JaNo. Nope. Not my style. Wrote myself into a corner and didn’t find a huge thread I needed to have until I started editing. I’ll be going back to plotting my stories from here on out. I do envy you pantsers, though. You have the excitement of not always knowing what’s around the corner. Me, I get satisfaction from seeing them surmount what my outline throws at them. lol

    As for music, I have music for moods, but don’t do a playlist for each book.
    Great post, Jillian. I enjoyed the other’s comments, too.


    • Thanks, Laurie. I have tried plotting a whole book and it sucked all the joy out of the process for me. I DO plot some scenes- sort of. I travel once a month to Tallahassee for court and it’s a 3 hr drive each way. I play those cds and think of scenes. One time, I came back with 7 scenes in my head. I jotted notes on them and it took me about week to get them all into the story as full scenes. Now, I call this plotting as I knew what the scene was going to add to the book but I didn’t know exactly how it would all play out. LOL!

      As to the excitement of what’s coming, sometimes that’s not so fun. In fact, last week, on my WIP I had one character say, “We’ll have to think of something else” and the other guy said, “Yes, we will.” AND that was exactly where I stopped for the day ’cause I was out of ideas for what came next!!! LOL! I slept on it and found the answer.


    • You’ll have to show me how you outline so I can see if I’d like to try it!


  6. Lynn Rush says:

    Hey, I like the idea of doing a song play list. I usually just have whatever song is my favorite playing on repeat. At the end of the book, I usually try and list the songs that I had playing while writing, but actually setting a play list… That’d be WAY cool. I could make a playlist the same title as my book. That’d be fun! 🙂


  7. YAY! Glad to have inspired you, Lynn. Let me know how it goes!


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