From blank page to complete first draft in 19 days!

Writers are often asked where their ideas come from, and any writer will tell you that inspiration for stories can be found anywhere and everywhere. Writers have to learn how to recognise and harness these ideas, gradually developing and molding them into a tale that can sustain a reader’s interest for 300-odd pages. But truth be told, I have no definitive answer for where the idea came from for my work-in-progress, By Any Other Name—a contemporary small-town romance novel. What I can tell you is how I developed it, taking the seed of an idea from a blank page to a complete first draft in only nineteen days.

The muse hits

My best ideas always come to me when I’m trying to fall asleep or only just waking up. Early in 2019, I lay in bed one evening on the cusp of sweet slumber, when the idea for a character popped into my head. Half-asleep, I fleshed out her story and decided to set it in Broome, Western Australia. Now a little more alert, I decided to choose other small towns across Australia to set different stories in.

I wanted to set one of the stories in Queensland, so I chose Airlie Beach as we plan to travel there this September (research trip!). It’s also known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. Sounds like paradise, right? The perfect setting for a romance novel!

work-in-progress setting
Airlie Beach, Queensland—the setting for my work-in-progress

From there, I let my muse guide me. Characters popped into my head—a female mechanic (let’s break stereotypes!) and an Italian hottie, possibly a businessman. I also came up with an idea for the meet-cute. Clearly, I have a thing for Italian hotties as my FREE downloadable short story, Breaking Free, which I originally wrote in 2015, features a hero of Italian heritage.

Now fully awake, I jotted some notes into my phone so I wouldn’t forget anything during the night on the off-chance I was ever going to fall asleep.

I had to get the story idea out of my head, so I typed it into my phone. Only then would my muse let me sleep!

The words begin to flow

I did finally fall asleep and, as soon as I woke up in the morning, I jumped out of bed and sat straight down at the computer. This story and its setting were begging to be written. Within a few hours, I had worked out the characters’ goals and motivations, who the cast of supporting characters would be, and had plotted out all the major points of conflict, noting where in the manuscript they would occur based on my final target word count.

By that afternoon, I was ready to put words on the page. I started and they flowed freely, much easier than they ever had before. Within two-and-a-half days, I had 10,000 words, and I was riding a creative high. I kept writing, kept waiting for my momentum to slow, for words to fail me, for my muse to abandon me. It didn’t.

Nineteen days after first waking and eagerly sitting down at the computer, my word count was just over 63,000 and I was able to type ‘THE END’. In the six years since I began writing, nothing has ever been more satisfying—not even seeing my words in print for the first time. Prior to writing this story, I had struggled with the two full-length manuscripts I had attempted, so I didn’t know I had it in me to achieve this feat!

The next step …

Celebrations ensued, and I am now working on the second draft of this manuscript. The manic speed at which the story first flowed from my fingertips has not transferred to this draft—editing and rewriting both require a different headspace to the pure creative flow of a fresh story—but I’m working on it whenever I’m not editing for other authors as part of my freelance editing business.

I am so psyched about Vee and Matteo’s story, and I’m proud to share with you the details of how it all started. If you’d like to know more about the story, you can read the blurb here, or subscribe to my newsletter (if you haven’t already) for quarterly updates about the writing process and my journey to publication. As a thank you, I’ll gift you with two FREE downloadable ebooks!

If you have any questions about my writing process or how I developed the story idea, feel free to drop a comment below.

As always, thanks for reading!

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