Where do you get ideas?

Like most authors, I get my ideas from paying attention to the world around me. But that’s not a very satisfying answer, so let me take you step-by-step through how I wrote The Box.

1)   Started with an idea or an image. In this case, the picture of a girl wearing a lipstick container as a necklace and a miniature boy inside came to me. (This idea didn’t just pop into my head while I was sleeping or traveling. I was actively trying to come up with my next idea for a book. I thought about all of the things I loved as a kid and what I enjoy now. Eventually I thought about miniature items which I’ve always loved, and the image popped into my mind.)

2)   Figure out what her story is. “The guy literally fell into your lap and now you’re trying to get him home, huh? Interesting.” (Yes, I have conversations with my characters. How else am I going to know how the character talks and thinks and reacts to things?)

3)   How’s this book going to end? (This usually changes for me as I write. The Box had a completely different ending in my mind, but when I started writing, things sort of happened.)

4)   Write. (I usually have two or three scenes in my mind before I start, and my goal is to get from the beginning to those scenes in a way that makes sense. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t and those scenes end up being cut.)

5)   Rewrite. (I wrote about 20,000 words of The Box where Lou was much snarkier and Sin didn’t exist. After getting some beta reader’s comments, I realised Lou sounded too similar to Tabetha from my first published novel, Magic High. The sequence of events were similar as well. I knew I could do better, so I scrapped everything I’d written and started again. The only thing that stayed the same was my original idea of a girl wearing a lipstick container with a miniature guy within.

6)   Rewrite some more. (It took me one month to write the first draft of The Box. It took me two years to edit it to the state it’s in now. Very little remains of the original writing, though most of the ideas are the same.)

My process hasn’t changed much since I wrote The Box. I’ve tried outlining and other techniques with little success. What seems to work best for me right now is to get an idea for a scene, and make it grow.

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