Tag Archives: What Lies Beneath

One of my more active plotbunnies. It is most likely a dark fantasy involving shapeshifters, quantum magic, and drowning. Stay tuned.

A tale of 3 stories.

I’ve just waged war with my muse on 3 (count them, 3!) stories.

But let me start at the beginning.

Chapter 2 of Pirouette the Third nearly killed me.  I couldn’t seem to want to write.  I was scared that I was going to fuck it up.  Even though this is draft 3, of possibly many more, and that I  wanted to make good progress on it before Nanowrimo.  So…..I’d decided to take a week break off of it to clear my head.  That week ends Tuesday.

So that’s story #1.  I’m still getting ideas and I’m still thinking about it, but I’m trying not to bludgeon myself to death over it.  It’s a draft.  Just like the first two.  I’m still learning.  And I’m committed to making this the best it can be and start querying agents with it.  So….whatever needs to happen to make that possible, I’m all for it.

One week.

Then, I get hit, yet again, with the idea for the novella I Wake Up Alone.  Yeah, I’d filed it away under To Be Done Sometime in the Next Decade, made its folder, jotted down a few notes, and called it good.

Then the idea of time travel hit me, and as these things often do, it melded into something far more interesting.  And quite possibly more tragic.  Then I realized that I couldn’t do another Time Traveler’s Wife.  But before that lovely epiphany, I was knee-deep in a war with my muse.  She wants me to write this damn thing, like right NOW, before Nano, and submit it.  Okaaaaaaaay.  Never mind that it’s just half-formed in my head and hello, it’s too similar to Time Traveler’s Wife.  I decided a few nights ago to stop obcessing and come up with something more unique, or a unique form of time travel, or something.

So far, we’re doing okay on that front.  I think about it, but I’m not obcessing.  And I really like the time travel element. 

Story #3: Soulfire.  More nebulousness in my head.  Knew the basics, but not the plot.  Did some navel-gazing and brainstorming and have arrived at a rough outline.  Today, whilst in the shower, Liana started talking to me in the form of journal entries.  So I raced to the puter to type up the notes.  My next thing is to write out some of these journal entries in her voice.  It’s pre-work, so it works for Nano.  And with what I got today, I CAN’T wait to write this book.

But for about a week, I was cycling between these 3, trying to figure out what would get me the most bang for my buck, so to speak, and what to put on the back burner, and what the hell to do with Pirouette the Third.  I’ll tell you, it’s these times that make being a writer tough.  Decisions, so many decisions!  And this is just new stuff.  None of the old stuff that’s been patiently waiting like Darkweaver, Surrender, or What Lies Beneath.  All totally shiny in their own ways, but languishing.  Hopefully next year I can work on at least one of them.

So that’s the deal.  I came in with 3 stories and landed up with 1.  Well, 2 if you count Pirouette the Third.  And my eye is firmly set on publication, so I’m still heading in that direction.  Fun stuff.

Plotbunnies, Inc.

My writing partner and I were brainstorming a new book idea, and I thought I would talk about my brainstorming process in the hopes that maybe someone out there would find it useful in some manner.

There are a few things I regularly use for plot ideas:

1) Conversations.  Any and all.  Often, it will be a nondescript, non-writerly type of convo, but something said will spark an idea.  For instance, recently a friend of the beloved’s parents was talking about live TB germs still hanging around someplace.  Scary huh?  So then I wondered what would happen if someone came into contact with them, and then others came in contact with him, and so on.   It’s still fermenting, but the wick has been lit.  😀 

2) News.  Not usually the local news, either, although occasionally I’ll find something intriguing.  Nope, I’m talking about world news and the Peculiar Postings on MSN.  A plot element from What Lies Beneath came from a story about a boy who’d drowned.  Sometimes health or science news also gets the gears going, too.

3) Science.  On Thursday I discovered Discover Magazine.  Found some very interesting information on the sleep cycle (which is always interesting, after having almost been diagnosed with narcolepsy), minimally-conscious states (not a vegatative and not a coma –a cross between the two), and some intriguing news on memories (another passion of mine — memory in some way or another always creeps into my books).  Just from persuing the headlines and reading articles that looked interesting.  I should have been a scientist, I swear.

4) Dreams.  I have very vivid, very unusual dreams that I can usually remember in graphic detail.  It could be that I’ve trained myself to ponder things unconsciously, or maybe it’s my meds (a certain medication is known for inducing vivid dreams and nightmares).  I have at least 3 plotbunnies connected to dreams, and other plot elements that came from a dream.  If you find you can’t remember your dreams, tell yourself as you’re drifting off that you will remember.  Be prepared to jot down anything upon wakening.  Dreams tend to dissolve the more awake you become.  I try to latch on to something and more or less “memorize” it before it vanishes.  Those few minutes upon waking are the most critical.

Another thing I do is ponder any issues I’m having with a novel as I’m drifting off, which insures that I will dream about it.  Recently, a tiny part of a dream spawned the sequel idea for Pirouette.

5) Juxaposing two or more very different ideas.  I purposely look for strange or contradictory ideas to combine for novels.  I take what I mine from other sources and work it out in my mind, asking myself “what if?” questions.  The entire concept of Requiem in Blue was built this way: combining cyborgs, underwater, and mind control.  Same with What Lies Beneath — empathy, insanity, and dolphins.

6) Other books.  Books inspire me.  I don’t ever copy; rather, I twist and bend the core idea (sometimes juxaposing stuff as above) to come up with my own spin on it.  This I disocvered from Holly Lisle’s workshop: How to Steal Ideas Ethically (or some such.  Can’t remember the exact title).  Requiem in Blue was originally one of these.  I read Starfish by Peter Watts and fell in love.  What I liked the best was the underwater millieu and how the people were modified to live in deep sea.  I took that, and ran with it.  If you hadn’t known this ahead of time, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell: the plot, combined with the mind control, is completely and entirely different, as are the circumstances as to why these people are living deep in the sea.  The only resemblance to Starfish now is the core idea that sparked it. 

Same thing with Holly Lisle’s Talyn.  If you haven’t read it, go read it NOW.  It is awesome, thrilling, terrifying, and beautiful all at once.  Well, the idea of enemies joining together (and a few other things too — don’t want to spoil it) intrigued me.   What Lies Beneath has elements similar to that, in the romance end of it.  But the similarity ends right there.

7) Song lyrics.  Now, I have what I call “movie images” appear in my head as I’m listening to music, pretty much without any conscious control.  I’ve always done this, even as a kid, and it helps me brainstorm and get new ideas.  But some lyrics will actually inspire plots as well as the imagery.  Queensryche’s “Suite Sister Mary” became the template upon which I plotted (ok, semi-plotted) Requiem in Blue.  “Silent Lucidity,” also by Queensryche,  inspired a VR plotbunny very recently.  A song by the band Creed inspired an alternate reality romance plotbunny I’ve had for gosh, years.  Queensyche’s “The Hands” inspired parts of Requiem in Blue (it’s also the protagonist’s theme song).  It’s really amazing what cool things happen with music.

I also use music to help me write.  Oftentimes if I’m stuck, I’ll just close my eyes and let it do its work.  Usually, it’s enough to get me moving again, and that’s what counts.

8) Real-life events.  There are a few novels that started out purely as semi-autobiographical, as a way to make sense of something that had happened to me.  Usually, they grow beyond that, and take another form, but that’s how some of them start.  One such novel, “Transparent Eyes,” started out as a way to get back at someone (fictionally)  who’d hurt me.  TE grew beyond that, and is now Footsteps of Ghosts.  The original elements are completely gone, and it’s a story in its own right.

Take caution when plucking things from your own life — there’s always the chance of lawsuits.  Granted, the law can be a bit ambigious, but it’s always good to hide any real-life stuff behind a good fictional situation. 

Another old plotbunny is a multi-generational family story that I’ve been meaning to write, to help cope with some of my own personal issues.  It’ll be fantasy or sci-fi, most likely.

And, Dagmar, another plotbunny, came from my grandparents’ love story.  War romance, Irish heritage.  The rest is completely different, but that was the inspiration.

Once I get the kernel of the idea, I let it perculate.  I have a good memory so that’s not hard, even with multiple ideas (although I have been writing them down as of late).  I always ask myself “what if?” questions, and try to tighten the screws on the poor characters.  Torture, that’s the name of the game.  I’m evil, LOL.

Sometimes I use Tarot cards, using them to answer those “what if?” questions.  I’ve come up with some awesome ideas that way.

So now you know my process.  It works very well for me.  And it’s basically just being aware of things, and always looking at different perspectives.  The belief that anything can result in a story idea helps.  😉  And perhaps that’s why I have so many…..because I see them everywhere.  I don’t think I will ever run out of ideas.

Hopefully this helped you in some way!

What Lies Beneath has a plot!

Thanks to a sweet writer friend of mine, who asked some very insightful and interesting questions, WLB has a plot.  A beginning, middle and end.  It has a culture.  It has a couple of villains.  There’s a few betrayals in there, and dead goddess resurrected.  And possibly quantum magic, if I can work it into the magic system.

The whole thing started like this: quantum magic –> shapeshifters –> dolphin ‘shifters (to be different) –> a world without sanity –> the price of sanity –> water –> drowning –> drowning as a magical ritual –> empathy (psychic) –> warring races.

This book started as simply two races pitted against each other for control of the world, and a man and a woman –enemies — falling in love.  And it just grew from there, as I took bits and pieces and fit them together like an intricate puzzle.  Inspirations? The MSN’s peculiar postings page (drowning), various books already written (bits and pieces), psychic abilities, insanity. 

Sometimes, I don’t know how it all comes together, but when it does, it’s magic.

So this one is going on next year’s schedule for sure.

Requiem is *gasp* plotted. And, more ideas.

Ok, maybe not plotted exactly, but I had a cool new idea for the beginning that made more sense to me.  I started out with the characters in their natural environment.  Which is fine.  But at that time I had really no real direction.  I just started writing, and kept writing, up until now.

Today I did a little bit of a rethink on it.  Who were the real villains?  What’s the true nature of their situation?  Could they be totally mind-controlled to the point where they have no memory whatsoever of their experiences as Sentinels?  Who are they outside of the Globe?

And so on.

So, now I have a clearer direction, and some answers to those questions.  I wrote out as much as I could, in broad strokes — I’m saving the details for my muse.  It’s pretty much the same as before, with a few slight changes.  Nothing that requires any real rewriting.  I will, however, attempt to write that crucial first scene tonight.

It feels right, you know?  Like perhaps my muse has been keeping this from me, but has been throwing me hints all along.  And I finally got it, but it feels as if I knew this all along.  Pretty cool, this muse stuff.

So that’s the lowdown on Requiem.  Very excited.

I also want to drop off a few miscellaneous thoughts on What Lies Beneath, one of my more active plot bunnies.    While perusing the MSN Peculiar Postings today (I regularly mine them for story ideas), I found one article about someone who’d drowned trying to retrieve something from the river –I can’t really remember the deets.  But, naturally, this took my mind in some dangerously twisted directions.  Drowning.  Pominently figured.  Maybe even as the main conflict.  Drowning someone, or someones.  Yeah, I like that.

Second — a man who’d dug his own “underground bunker” in which he’s been living in for 6 years.  So, we have an underground living area, a small one, and we’ll just say for excitement sake, underwater.  Hmmmm.  I can hear the wheels turning….

Here’s where I am applying what I read in Holly Lisle’s Create a Plot Clinic.  There’s a section in there about taking stuff that strikes you — photographs, newspaper articles, etc, and using them in your plots.  I was going to do this with my Cosmo magazines, but I was derailed by the peculiar postings.  I’ve found alot of cool stuff in there.  Anyhoo, these two ideas are nebulous, but I’ll put the muse to work on them.  Maybe they will turn out to be really cool.