Story Sparks, A Writer’s Journey

By Melinda VanLone | Photos

Mar 23

In my current work in progress the main character's home is just to the right of this shot on a forbidden Hawaiian island.

They say every journey begins with a single step. Whoever they are, they obviously weren’t a writer. My journey begins by putting my butt in a chair, and a story spark.

What I call the story spark can come from anywhere, at any moment. Sometimes the tiniest thing will spawn an entire soap opera in my mind. That kid whining to his mother in the line at Target? Later in the day I’m pretty sure he gets kidnapped by a tribe of pigmy monkeys.

The rose bush on the corner hides an entire troop of fairies. And if you look the right way at the lake in the distance, you can see a boat on it which will take you to an alternate universe. For a price.

The spark for my current work in progress, Dance With Demons (working title), happened so long ago I don’t remember it anymore. I was reminded of it while thumbing through an old notebook. I found a scene buried between two recipes for chocolate pie which pulled me in and didn’t let go. I suspect, like a lot of my ideas, it was part of a dream I had that I wrote down before it escaped.

It was a simple scene, really. A girl with black hair was sitting at a table in an outdoor cafe, spying on a guy across the street. She smiled to herself, full of self confidence and attitude. She was about to arrest him, and he had no idea. The guy, on the other hand, smiled to himself as his ego told him there was no way anyone would ever be able to catch him. He had magic, after all. The girl laughed as she realized he didn’t know that she had magic, too.

And so it begins.

That initial scene that sparked my imagination isn’t in the current novel. Oh the girl is there, complete with attitude. The guy is there too. He’s black haired and Irish and delicious. But she’s not after him. At least, not in that way.

Dance With Demons is in the millionth revision. I won’t call it final, but I’m hopeful that after this round it will at last be good enough to share with more than my fearless beta readers. Chapter one is making me smile every time I read it now, which I’ll take as a good sign.

 

So what about you? Did your journey begin with a single step, or a chair?

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