A booktuber I watch discussed some ways he gets ideas, which made me decide to write about what I do.
And yeah, I know, I know, I rarely post, but hardly anyone reads, making this more like a journal. Maybe is should be that, a journal or something to my future self about what i do today.
When it comes to ideas, I think about the kind of stories I want to read, and what’s already being done in the genre, and where the shortfalls are. Let’s take romance. Not the Bigfoot kind, but the human kind. Protagonists are almost always so perfect that their “flaw” is being clumsy. (Bella Swan, Ana Steele, etc.) They’re always supposed to be mediocre in looks with nothing special about them, no real special talent. (No, Bella’s “private mind” isn’t a fucking power.) Yet this guy who is always super hot and rich is interested at first sight. I like those super hot rich guys ’cause let’s face it, most of us, if we could custom design a partner from scratch, would give these things. But there’s never a reason for the interest, never a period of getting to know the plain girl and connecting with her personality. Well, if she has one. cough*BellaandAna*cough Worse, the guy’s an asshole as we’re supposed to feel bad because ~*~tragic backstory~*~ And his only problem is life is that ~*~tragic backstory~*~ that defines him along with his abusive tendencies. Go check out After, or Bad Boy QB and Me (I’m not making that title up). It’s still the big thing, and I hate it.
So, just to use my current WsIP (series), one of the three protags (each two books centers around a different couple, with the three guys being brothers–a trilogy of duologies) is insecure to an actual fault. Not the cute giggle way, but the kind where she should probably be in therapy. She kowtows to her parents who ditched her and, though raised with her best friend, always feels on the outside due to her parents. The guy she ends up with (the best-friend’s half-brother through their dad) has a tragic backstory that involves finding his mother dead, being sent to live with the dad he’d never met who was married he hooked up with his mom, and the dad pushed him overly hard to the point he turned to drugs and an OD that resulted in long-term rehab. Does that get to excuse his behavior? Nope. It’s stuff he struggles with, and he was an ass when first sent to his dad, but he has to work through it, and no, not with the woman he ends up with.
But other stuff going on around characters is often boring. What else was there in Fifty Shades, Twilight, etc, other than the thinnest of threads? There was nothing. And the characters weren’t likable. I like stories where, even if you remove the romance and sparks and have the two be friends, there’s still a full story left, not just some thin threads of a B-plot.
So I decided to toss in the best friend’s wedding, manipulation and coercion from the father, an attempted forced marriage on the main guy, attempted murder, a brother dealing with the recent loss of his wife and now being a single dad, etc. And I’m sure the FBI would be interested in my search history.
And then I look at what kind of situations do we rarely see in books that I might be able to handle, and wouldn’t get screamed at for writing. Straight white girl probably shouldn’t write from the POV of a gay black man. But how about that single dad? As a parent myself, how I’d handle losing my husband is something that’s gone through my head since it could happen one day (though I hope not for 80 years). So. Hmm. Well, I don’t want to introduce a new character now. Boring. And everyone sees that coming from a mile away. So who could be in the first duology that you wouldn’t think he even could end up with, and what reason could someone have for thinking he couldn’t get together with someone in the first duology? This is why I’m writing all six of the books at once. I can go back and change things early on so make things cohesive. I’m not locked in. All the romantic interests are in the books from the first book.
And then what kind of personality and situation isn’t covered by those two? I used that to create the last brother. I’m still fleshing out those books. Right now, I’m halfway through #4, so have maybe another month.
And then (lots of and-thens) what else do we usually not see? JK Rowling kinda did the good-guy-who-ends-up-messed-up with Dumbledore, and though Snape was supposed to be the bad guy who ended up being on the good side, we still likes Snape. But Umbridge…fuck that bitch. But she doesn’t end up good. So. Hm. How to make an antagonist you can hate as much as Umbridge, or almost as much as, but then have some huge twist that, in the span of a single chapter, can have you going from wishing the antagonist would fall off the earth to having a complete change of heart? And what are some other things we’re supposed to be against someone for doing that we don’t see done? How about something like someone in a relationship with someone else? We’re supposed to be against that couple, but what if we aren’t? Can that be done? YES. Can two people with a power differential (think boss and employee or something, or leader of a country and an intern, which Love Actually already did) believably get together without the power needing to be questioned? YES. CHALLENGES. I LIKE.
So that’s how I get my ideas. What’s not usually done, what things are supposed to immediately make us against someone, etc. If I’m going to spend my time writing, it’s going to be what I want to read and it’s going to have a reason to be written.