I’ve recently completed my author page on Goodreads and one of the things that I can do is answer writing related questions that are posed by other readers. That forced me to think about the processes that I have gone through when I wrote Bacchus and Sanderson (Deceased) or indeed any piece of significant fiction.
The starting point of any work of fiction is the germ of an idea that sparks passion. By passion I mean the desire to invest the time in exploring an idea and deciding if it merits your time and in what format. Is the idea strong enough to be a short story? Flash fiction? Or is it a idea that can be developed into a novel length piece of work.
Take the time to look carefully at your ideas and analyse in which format they would work in and deciding if you are passionate enough about the ideas to move them forward. The majority of ideas that flash into your head as you sit at your desk or commute to work, you will decide are not good enough. The key is spotting the ones in which you can get excited.
The advice in years gone by was; ‘write what you know.’ This intimates that if you are a keen knitter and a housewife, the only fiction you can write with any hope of believability is the adventures of a knitting housewife. Rubbish, rubbish and more rubbish. In a digital age the majority of us have access to a world of information through the internet. We can write as spies, killers, aliens from a distant universe or should we chose, as knitting housewives. Our options are limitless.
Ideas for our writing are all around us and come from some unexpected places. I am planning and plotting my next novel at the moment and the idea for it came from a flash fiction prompt from WordPress. The point is that ideas are all around us and your spark will be very different to mine.
When I need a starting point I look to my interests. What do you do with your life? Are you a gardener, climber, chef, art lover or bibliophile. Can any of those areas be incorporated into your next piece of work? What genre of books to like reading or listening to? What films do you enjoy and are willing to pay money to watch? These are the important questions that will help unblock your psyche and give you a idea that could be the basis of your next work.