Authors: How Do You Know What to Write?

I get asked all the time what inspires me as an author, and where I get my ideas from.  My standard response is that ideas and inspiration is everywhere.  The hard part is coming up with time to implement them.  The other hard part is coming to grips with the fact that not all ideas are good ones.  I don’t really like to say that some ideas are bad—they’re just not as good as other ideas.

Since I published Beside the Music, I’ve come up with two ideas for novels that I’ve wanted to write.  The first one was about a couple who won the Powerball lottery—which is an ongoing fantasy of mine.  But really only a fantasy because I rarely buy a ticket.  I originally imagined how winning hundreds of millions of dollars would affect these people and their relationships with the people around them.  And then I got onto the idea that the money they won would get embezzled from their bank, and I took off on that track.

And then I found myself not writing it.  When I was writing Beside the Music, I wrote at my lunch hour every single day.  I carried a journal in my purse and wrote the first draft out long hand.  All I wanted to do was to write that story.  That all-encompassing feeling didn’t happen with this new book.  So I figured I’d leave it for the moment and come back to it later.

Then I started something else.  A story about a woman who learns her husband is messing around.  So she goes home to Connecticut for the summer.  She gets caught up with the party crowd from her high school days who still live in town, and I envisioned it as Hope Floats meets Old School.  But then the same thing happened.  Right now I am not waking up in the middle of the night thinking about this story.  I am not going to bed crazy early so I can get up at 5 AM and write, like I did with Beside the Music.

Are these bad ideas?  No, they’re fine ideas.  But right now I am not set afire with these stories.  The idea I keep coming back to is a prequel to Beside the Music. 

When I wrote Beside the Music I originally envisioned it as a multi person perspective.  I wanted to show how the band, Hydra, fell from great fame and burned through all their money.  I had those scenes all written out too.  But then the multi person perspective faded out when the band ended up moving in to Brenda and Tim’s house.  So it was awkward.  If you’re going to write from several perspectives, you can’t really abandon that model half way through the book.  It’s like, doesn’t the band’s perception of these situations important anymore?  So I decided to write the whole thing from Brenda’s point of view.

All these months I’ve been forcing myself to write about lottery winners and jilted women, when I’ve really had my next book right under my nose all this time.  And I have so many scenes written already.  Really, it’s a no-brainer, right?

Last night I started sketching out a plot outline and thinking of where I want this story to go. And I cannot wait to write it!  Stay tuned for sneak previews of Before the Music.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.

added on 01.30.17

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