Ideas come and go. I’ve learned over the years the initial spark is just that, a spark, not a roaring fire that will burn long enough to write an entire book.
Let me give an example. When I started writing what is Lost In NashVegas, I came up with a story of country girl who owned a fishing shack in central Florida. There was something about her wanting to buy or maintain an old house she loved. I can’t remember all of the details, but that should give you a clue. No details.
My agent said, “Nope!”
After brainstorming with her for a few minutes, we came up with the idea of having the Heroine be a songwriter. Okay, I can do that. I know nothing about it, but I can do it! I’m naive and eternally hopeful that way.
Scratching the surface of songwriting research, I put together another synopsis and three chapters.
My agent said, “Nope.”
My heroine wasn’t sympathetic. I wove in several major plot points but never really managed any of them. I had a stolen song, an unwed pregnancy, all kinds of stuff. Literally, a country song itself!
Also, I used a very cliche theme but I didn’t know it. Roller coasters. So, I opened with my character waiting to sing at the Bluebird Cafe (which I had all wrong) and feeling like she was on a roller coaster.
Disappointed I wasn’t hitting my agent’s hot button after two tries, I forwarded it to Susie Warren. She called. “The roller coaster is a cliche.”
“And you need something like . . . the three things she’s thinking of or wants or something.”
“Oh, good idea.” (I dedicated the “three things” in the book to Suz.)
That and more songwriting research got me a proposal my agent loved. And so did Ami and Thomas Nelson. The name was Country Princess.
During the ACFW 2005 Nashville conference, I toured the city, and learned enough to feel good about writing the book. But when Nelson asked for a more Nashville centric book, I had to go back to the city.
I was flawed in my approached to the book by avoiding the real heart and setting of the book. Nashville. I felt intimidated by Music City and my ability to get inside Music Row and find out how things worked.
When I went back, Nelson gave me a two key connections, and I’d managed one on my own, so I was able to really learn about songwriting.
What I learned from this process is the power and necessity of knowing the details of a profession, of a city, of a “how things work.”
It made the story more authentic, more powerful and frankly, easier to write.
One of the mistake I see of new writers is skimming across the surface. The dialog is surface, the setting, the very feel. I see moments where the story could be deeper and the dialog more true.
So, do that research. Whatever you need. Over time, it becomes second nature.
Sign up now for our monthly, Book Therapy blog feed and get:
5 Secrets to a Best-Selling Novel
Frustrated? Confused? …Dreaming of the day when an editor calls and says, âI MUST publish your book?â Donât laugh â it could happen! It does happen – all the time – and you could be next! Whatâs holding you back? Flat characters? A Saggy plot? Lackluster writing? Let the Book Therapists help. We believe that deep inside every troubled story lies a deep-seated problem. But itâs not beyond hope… Your book simply needs therapy. Stop by MY BOOK THERAPY and…get published!