Friday, July 13, 2012

Writing Jumpstarter: Concentrate on Visuals

One day last year while I was in the midst of writing The Rancher's Unexpected Family, part of the Larkville Legacy series, my editor asked me to submit artwork info for a Christmas novella I was scheduled to write. And there was a ticking clock.

I, of course, agreed. There was only one problem. The novella wasn't due to be written until after I was through with the Larkville book and I hadn't yet decided what it would be about...or what the characters would be like...or what their conflict was...or even what their names were. (I knew that it was about Christmas and that there would be a puppy in the mix. That was all).

(Note: This isn't the puppy from the novella, but she certainly could have been. The point is that I can totally see looking at this photo and finding myself beginning a story. Images can be powerful story starters).

 So, I started looking at images. Puppy images, hero images, heroine images, house images, anything that I found remotely interesting. And that was when the magic began to happen. Now I had characters and a setting. I could give them names. I could explore their issues. And since this was for art purposes, I could come up with a few visually interesting scene possibilities.

With that as my starting point, I sat down and wrote a rough outline of the book. It was enough for the artist to work from. But the wonderful thing was that when I finished The Rancher's Unexpected Family I had a good starting place for what would end up being The Soldier, the Puppy and Me. Sure, some things changed. The book evolved as I was writing it, but then...books always do that (at least mine do). A story is fluid until the day I stop editing it and it finally "feels" finished.

But being forced to search for images before I was ready to even begin plotting was a novel experience for me. It's not the way I usually work. I like to at least have the basics nailed down before I go on an image hunt, but I certainly could see trying this again someday. In this case, having images to get the party started was just what I needed.

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