Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Saturday, April 16, 2011

An Idea is Born

I don't know how other writers begin a WIP. Well... clearly they begin with an idea. The plotters sit down and plot it out. The pantsers begin writing. As you know, I'm a pantser, but I think even for a pantser... I'm pantsy. No. Really. Not only do I not plan things ahead, I throw things in without even knowing what they mean.

This morning, I woke up with an idea... Last night, I was rereading a romance set in regency times... (sue me... I'm a girl... I read these things...) and they were listing off how many servants worked at this Duke's mansion and I realized that you rarely read the stories about these hundreds of other people in the story. His primary residence had a hundred servants in this story. When you couple that with the fact that I've recently realized how few dukes there really were during that time... Why do the dukes get the stories? It's not fair. What about the scullery maids? How about the grooms in the stables? Did they not have interesting stories? Crap, there were all these invisible people with lives that just didn't matter because they weren't one of the few dukes around.

An idea is born.

My ideas walk in fully-fleshed with even strange little details that I have no clue what they mean and that's how they start. I type them out of my head and, if I'm lucky, they'll leave me alone and I can go back to working on whatever I'm working on... or... not. Or the next scene drops into my head.

Since I'm probably doing a lousy job explaining it, why don't I just show you. Here is this morning's idea in rough draft form and it would be like a "prologue" to a four part anthology of novellas. (Yes, oy... exactly.) This is how my ideas are born... screaming and ready to keep me up at night. (BTW... I have no idea what the ogre or the whispering ring have to do with anything... therein lies a tale apparently. I'll know when I get there.)

I believe the title of this is "Off the Page" but I'm not sure. Anyway, here it is--and it's rough:

Of Note:

In the world of fairy tales the word “only” is thrown around cavalierly. She was an only child. The only entrance was through the tower’s window. The only way to break the spell was true love’s kiss. He was the king’s only son and heir to the kingdom. Only. Only. Only. Only.

Only… that’s not true.

There were other stories. There were stories that were, how shall we say it… off the page.

Dear reader, what would you think if I told you that Cinderella was not truly an only child even before her horrid stepsisters came to stay? People were not as cold-blooded as when they lay flat on the page for your perusal. Before Cinderella was even a thought, there was a baby boy born to her mother. The midwife said the child did not live the night. The midwife lied.

What would you think if I related the tale of the other way into the tower and told you that Rapunzel was not the only one who’d been held captive there? Why do you think the tower was originally built? Surely you didn’t imagine that the witch just happened to have a tower laying around that would work perfectly. Besides, hadn’t you reasoned out that it must have taken quite a while for Rapunzel’s hair to grow long enough to use for a rope? The window was not the only way.

Thankfully, true love’s kiss was not the only way to break the spell. Magic is far more flexible than that! If you waited around for that, you’d either be stuck with a load of dwarves or in a castle sleeping for a hundred years. What a misery! How unimaginative! Also a love that shallow wouldn’t last much beyond that kiss. No, it was not the only way. Anyone who knows a shred about either magic or love must realize that.

While I won’t deny that princes weren’t littering the ground, it should strike you as slightly perverse that there seems to be only one of them per royal family. Well… only one of them whom they talk about.

Dear reader, imagine the possibilities if you knew the stories off the page. Imagine if there were no onlys. Entire worlds would open up. You’d find out about the ogre and the whispering ring. You’d know that Cinderella’s brother sent the fairy godmother in the first place. You’d realize that you’ve been as trapped in a tower as a certain long-haired princess when, in reality, if you only knew where to look… you could rescue yourself.

There are no onlys and once you know that… you’re ready to journey off the page.


  1. Good stuff! I think being someone who writes non-fiction and humor my ideas come from really warped places. Generally I find if I don't get an idea out an on "paper" within just a few seconds, it's out of my mind. A lot of times you'll see me post something really, really goofy on Twitter. Those are generally the things I come up with that I know generally aren't going to amount to a full essay, but I've got to spit the crap out. My Evernote is loaded with little one liners and outlines as to what I can do with it. It's always interesting to me to see where creative types find their inspiration.

  2. Marvelous! Only now what are you going to do with all the ideas you've unleashed? Yowzers!

  3. I love this. Brilliant idea.

  4. Great idea. I've written about where ideas come from in my blog, but great ideas should never be abandoned or neglected.

  5. My experience is very similar to yours. It usually starts with a "what if" and the moment I meet the character (while typing) I'm in. It doesn't always work out. Sometimes i end up with an abandoned manuscript on my hard drive that I may or may not ever go back to. But when it does work, it's such a great feeling!

  6. Your prologue as got me all excited and now I want to read the stories!

  7. Mind blowing idea i would say! Happy Easter!

  8. I love this. Such a fun idea-- a new angle on fairy tales!! GREAT opening! <3

  9. Luckily, I was able to put this idea on paper and walk away and I've been back to working on Promises of Light and Dark.

    J, we talked about this on Twitter, but thanks for your comments here.

    Katie, thank you!

    Orlando, it's interesting, isn't it? I'm curious about other people's methods too.

    Lisa, EXACTLY! That's just how it always starts with me. What if? And then it breathes into life and becomes a monster... in a good way.

    Bethany, awwwww thank you.

    EH, I hope you had a happy Easter too.

    Di, thanks. *super big hugs*