It All Starts With a Spark

One of the things I love about author interviews is hearing what sparked the birth of their stories. It’s always something; I mean, a book idea doesn’t normally drop into our cerebral hard drives without some sort of igniter. There’s some tiny piece of dry tinder that, given the right amount of oxygen and friction, will create a flame.

The other week I drove up to my hometown to have a final goodbye lunchie with some very dear friends. We laughed and snorted about our various old boyfriends, wondering what became of them. On my drive home, I got to thinking about my old flame, knowing he’d become a pharmacist. That thought made me think about what a hoot it would be to accidentally walk into his pharmacy with a scrip. He’d either fill it with cyanide or take the easier route and shoot me. And that got me to thinking of a story outline.

That one spark had my brain buzzing all the way home to the OC.

It’s such an important element, yet it’s sometimes the first thing writers forget when they begin writing their stories. The spark is where passion resides and sustains you through the long months of character development, plot, organization, pacing, flow, blah, blah, blah. It took me a year to write my novel. Through the long LONG hours of medical research, sometimes that spark was the only thing keeping me from tossing my bad self under a bus.

Just like lighting a fire, the spark is either big enough to light your literary flame, or it’s going to fizzle out. I see lots of submissions that focus on the technique of writing, but the spark – the passion – is AWOL. The works are technically sound, and I may think it’ll sell fairly well, but I can’t get whoopdedoo over it because I don’t feel the author’s devotion. It should come oozing out from every pore. It’s the stuff that grabs a reader and holds them hostage to the bitter end. It’s one of the things I love about the books we publish…there is no mistaking the authors’ passion.

How ’bout you? Do you feel that spark is still very much burning the creative fires of your story, or are you finding the need to constantly tweak the flame-to-oxygen ratio in order to continue burning?

2 Responses to It All Starts With a Spark

  1. authorguy says:

    Lately what’s been sparking my creativity is fanfiction. I hold myself hostage, by requiring that I write a thousand words in my manuscript before I can write another chapter in my fanfiction story. It’s been very helpful. The fanfiction naturally has its own motivation, but the writing in one story will stimulate my creativity in the other as well. Plus it’s good practice.

  2. My novels usually start with a single picture. It’s fun to go back and think about that compares to the finished product and see how much the story has developed. Do you get most of your sparks from daily life? I get a lot from dreams, or just random musings.

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