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...
What started as a subplot morphed into conflict between two tough women for the love of Cole. Along the way, he grows from a naïve 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."