My dark fantasies delve into a variety of historical backgrounds: current and past. The distant past intrigues me, yet pinpointing a particular time that provides a proper setting is important.
What will the primary characters do there? How will they fit in? What challenges will they encounter? What is so important for them to be there? These questions do not readily occur to me until I have several partial chapters drafted.
My ideas just pop into my head at any given moment of the day. I jot them down on a pad I carry specifically for this purpose. Later I look at them individually or in a group to see if anything further develops. Sometimes it does; other times no. If not, I put the ideas aside for another day.
As I work on describing a particular scene another idea that fits with the story will come unbidden. My editor in the States, when going over my first manuscript, was amazed at all the things I had come up with. He was curious where they came from. I told him "they just come".
There have been times when I ponder over a particular scene or a proposed conflict. I have found when using a technique from my meditation exercises, i.e. by focusing on intention one receives what they are asking for. I have an inner feeling to go to a certain location. Usually, either the library or the discount bin at Indigo. By going to the area where the topic is most likely to be found, the book is often there. Just waiting for me to come and pick it up. The Biblical saying: "Ask and ye shall receive," works for me. Well, where my writing is concerned it does.
I had a conflict idea for the third manuscript about certain characters becoming lost on unchartered seas. This idea has been hanging around for several years now, and I considered what I knew about sailing from the past ... not much, except for the historical and swash buckling sagas or the "Master & Commander" stories.
Several weeks ago I went to Indigo to pick up a book by Ann Daum, "The Prairie In Her Eyes", and while doing so, wondered what I might do about my unchartered sea idea. A perusal of the discount bins in the non-fiction history section revealed it: the book that explains the reason why my main character goes out onto unchartered seas. A perfect reason with intriguing historical speculation.
Photo Credit: Gord McKenna CC=nc-nd-flickr - Active Pass south of Victoria, B.C. with Olympic Mountains in the background.