The Kernel Idea
Can you tell us where you got the idea for you last book?
How many times have you heard this or some variation on it?
And why can’t the answer be “No, I’m sorry, I really have absolutely no idea where that idea came from”? Sometimes I’ve actually given a lame variation on that saying that it was simply so long ago that I came up with the idea that I don’t remember.
But ideas do have to come from somewhere.
I’ve always told my writing students that they should write down what Bob Mayer calls the Kernel Idea (in The Novel Writer’s Toolkit). That’s the idea that started the entire writing process for your book. It’s the spark. It’s why you forced yourself to sit in a chair for hours on end until you wanted to pound your head against your keyboard. And it’ll be the answer when someone inevitably asks you where your idea for the book came from after you finally publish the thing.
I didn’t write down my Kernel Idea when I started writing My Lord Ghost. Honestly, it was that long ago.
I wrote a version of the book in 2012 for Nanowrimo. It had a different heroine and the hero’s story was different, but it was essentially the same book.
I vaguely remember that I had wanted to write a gothic romance, but in the first person and set in the Regency. I had a heroine with a really strong voice who just told it like it is. (Her name was Jane and she claimed to be a plain as they come, and was proud of it too. She had no interest in society or finding a husband and she wasn’t going to put up with any nonsense from a ghost.)
Unfortunately, the younger sister of Rose Grace (from A Dandy in Disguise) nudged her way into that story saying that she could do a much better job of it than Jane and besides I’d promised her a story. So, I caved and gave her that one.
It’s okay. It worked out well in the end. I think she did an admirable job being the heroine of that book and now she’s happily settled and I only have to worry about the youngest of the three sisters, Thalia, now. (She’s going to be a bit of a problem because she’s actually a bit more like good, old Jane.) I’ll figure something out for Thalia—and when I do, I will have to write down that spark. I will have to figure out exactly what it was that made me write that story in that way at that time.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go make something up about My Lord Ghost because I’ve got a blogger who wants to know, and I never turn down offers of a guest blog spot, not when I’ve got a book coming out!
And don’t forget to pick up your copy of My Lord Ghost – it comes out on Tuesday!