By Karen M. Davis
This is a question I've been asked a lot since my first book was published in 2013: where did you start?
If you ask ten authors how they start a manuscript you'll probably get ten different answers. As we all know, sometimes ideas pop into our head when we least expect it. For me this is usually in the form of a memory that comes out of nowhere in the middle of the night (which is why I now keep a notepad and pen next to my bed so I can jot it down before I forget it). I started Sinister Intent , which took four years to write, with two characters and no story. I had a young policewoman and a bikie who was going to be her "unlikely alliance" - which was the first title of the book.
My story ideas mostly come from an incident or situation I have experienced during my police career and it builds from there. Many scenes in my books are very close to the truth. I like to turn reality into fiction because in my experience real life is stranger than fiction, and I feel more confident writing about something that I know actually did happen, so if someone said, ''That's a bit far-fetched; that wouldn't happen'', I can assure them that it can and did. I start with a real criminal incident, change the facts, the location, the characters, and start typing.... I don't start making notes until the story starts to develop. That is when I start plotting chapters.
My friend Anna Romer (author of Thornwood House and Lyrebird Hill) is much more creative. She starts a manuscript with a new notebook she fills with articles, timelines and maps. She creates detailed dossiers of her characters and builds histories around them. The bones of her stories come from her favourite themes - forbidden love, obsession, scandal and family secrets. She also takes a fairy tale and weaves it through the plot. When she is finished brainstorming, she has told me that her pile of notes is bigger than a telephone directory. Amazing and exhausting...
My mother (the late Lynne Wilding, author of thirteen best sellers) used to have a file where she kept newspaper clippings and magazine articles that caught her interest. She would use them for ideas and was always looking ahead to her next story. I remember her telling me the plot for her next book while she was still working on her present manuscript. I wish I was that organised. I don't start thinking of the next book until the one I'm working on is finished.
I love to love Meerkats, they are so cute.
I love to learn how other authors do things.