Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Happy Accidents Writing Method

I've been asked how I come up with writing ideas. The real truth is I often don't know where they come from, but I learned a long time ago to take an initial idea and write with an open mind.

What does that mean?

Every manuscript begins with a simple plot idea. For example, my first western-romance began life as a joke. One of my good friends likes traditional westerns, so I figured I'd throw him a curve. I would write a classic western that would end in a gunfight between the fastest female gun fighter in the country and a young male upstart nicknamed the Maker of Angels. Figured my buddy would never see that coming.

Here's what happened...

The story got away from me. As I crafted a plot device to precipitate that male-female showdown, the story grew. It exploded into a tale of forbidden love between a white cowboy, Colton, and an outcast Indian woman, Kaga Ishta, in a world where hatred between races was the rule.

What started as a subplot morphed into conflict between two tough women for the love of Cole. Along the way, he grows from a na├»ve young journalist into the Maker of Angels, a deadly gunfighter with blinding speed. In the end, he faces Tess Winslow, the lady gunfighter, with the captive Indian as the prize. But, before he meets her in the climactic event, his quick-draw mentor warns him, "She's faster'n you, Cole."

Does my writing method have a name?

Kind of. I call it the Happy Accident Writing Method. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that my stories don't come from countless hours of tedious plotting, detailed character outlines and predetermined plot. That just does not work for me. The energy and action in my books comes from freedom to "follow the story" as it unfolds. I love dead ends and plot walls. I thrive when my characters are trapped or in hopeless trouble. That is where creativity gets a workout . . . solving problems. In essence, my stories begin with a concept. From there, open-minded exploration leads me along the general plot. My only rule of thumb is to wander as much as I want, so long as I end up back on the plot.

Does this mean I have no fixed ideas when I start writing?

Oh, heck no. Every writer has a signature style. For example, all three of my most recent stories share certain similarities. I respect women readers so my stories provide complex plots with intricate storylines. Female main characters are not weak little ladies hoping a man will make them whole. Quite the contrary. Most are tough as nails while my male MCs are equally strong, often knocking heads with their women counterparts. Another signature of my writing is action. I get bored easily, so my stories carry as much pace as I can support without burning out readers.

I hope readers trust that they can always count on my stories to keep those promises. Whether a fan reads one of my western-romances, a thriller or sci-fi, the overall theme will always keep the promise of strong characters, intricate plots, challenging pace and unexpected turns. And, a lot of it comes from "happy accidents."


  1. Hi Dean, and great post.

    If someone asked me to describe your writing style in a single word, it would be ADDICTIVE!

    I remember when you told me about this story while you were writing it, and I groaned and moaned about how much I dislike Western/Romance.

    It seemed like every W/R I picked up was the same. The cowboy loved his gun and horse more than his woman. The female character lacked strength, depth and sometimes … brains. The conflict was often the same as well. Some other woman batted her eyes or her breasts oozed out of her corset a little more than the female whose heart was devoted to said cowboy. Oh, and the ending was always the predictable Happily Ever After.

    It got to the point that I would hope (if not pray) for an ending that wowed me. Just once, I wanted an ending that shocked and awed me. One that had the female make the cowboy jump through hoops, turn his horse against him, set him up for a shootout, and when he pulled the trigger … instead of a bullet, a flag pops out with the words BANG! YOU’RE DEAD! Then she rides off into the sunset with a box of chocolates and smile.

    All right, I admit the chocolates are for me, but you get the point. :)

    When I read Maker of Angels, my initial reaction was, “Damn you, Dean Sault, now I love Western/Romance.”

    As an avid reader, I long for strong characters, a realistic premise, and depth … real depth. There is nothing better than falling into an adventure and losing grasp of reality.

    Your story provided everything I could ever want, and more!

    You, Dean Sault, ran my heart through a wringer. Not only did I get lost in the adventure, I fell in love with Western/Romance.

    As a friend and fan, I would like to express my deepest thanks for the newfound love of a genre I never liked.

    1. Hi Sass,

      It's hard for me to reply to your comments (blushing as I read this.) My approach to writing is simple. I bring strong women into conflict with strong men in complex situations. I "keep it real" with fiction that reflects historical/technical accuracy and characters who grow throughout the story.

      I hope others enjoy my writing style as much as you did, and I deeply appreciate your support and enthusiasm. Thank you so much...Dean.

  2. Thanks for sharing your method, Dean. I look forward to reading your novels. Where are they available? Maker of Angels sounds like a lot of fun. Have an fantastic Wednesday,


    1. Hi Carole,

      A film production company is currently shooting a video trailer for Maker of Angels. I revealed the MoA cover art for the first time in this blog, and the book will be released as an e-book initially as soon as the video is available. I expect that to be toward the end of June or early July.

      In the meantime, the first book in my Sweetwater Canyon Series of western/romance/paranormal stories will be released in about three weeks as an e-book.

      Paperback versions of both stories will be released after each e-book sells 10,000 copies. When that trigger is achieved, author-signed books will be available privately for a month before the books are released through traditional outlets like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

      Thank you so much for your comment and support...Dean.

  3. Dean,
    Taking what works for you and applying it is what allows you to enjoy what you write and to write efficiently and effectively. Looking forward to reading Maker of Angels.

  4. Hi Terry,

    I agree completely. Every author must find a comfortable writing style that meets his or her needs. The purpose of this blog was to answer some folks who asked me specifically how I do it. I don't advocate for this method; it simply works for me.

    Thank you for your thoughts...Dean.


I would love to hear your thoughts about my blog.