Friday, December 12, 2008


I write paranormal and fantasy stories. Why? Because I like the idea of magic and dragons flying in the sky. Right now the world seems too real, as if hope is missing in everyone’s lives. Growing up, I loved the idea of exploring space. I looked forward to shuttle launches and the next episode of whatever popular sci-fi show was on TV. Yet December 1972 was the last time man walked on the moon and the future of space exploration is questionable. So writing about fantastic worlds is about as exciting as it gets for me. So how to start? For me the hard part is going from head to paper. I’m a pantster—I like taking an idea and writing the story from start to finish. I don’t like to plot and I don’t skip scenes. These things work for other authors, just not me.

So let’s start with the idea. I currently have more ideas than time to write, so not a problem. I get them from dreams, lines in songs, poems, and every day events. Let’s say we wanted to have a story that involved mistletoe. Hey it’s Christmas work with me.

Our first step is to do a little research into mistletoe. What cultures and myths can we work with? As it turns out, mistletoe can be very adaptable. It can be associated with fertility or death and has Greek, Norse, and Celtic ties. So you know you can set the story as either a contemporary or historical. I’m not feeling the historical so let’s go contemporary.

Now the next step, do you want your main characters to meet by kissing under the mistletoe or do something different? Nothing wrong with the standby—the heroine could be shy and she caught the more popular hero or it could be old lover’s meeting again and forced by mutual friends to kiss under the mistletoe. But I’m feeling a bit different today….Let’s move this party outside.

Mistletoe is a parasite and if left unchecked can kill the host plant. (There are good points like it can be used for bird nests and brings more birds to the host plant for pollination.) So our heroine has a few oak trees (could also use juniper or apple trees) in her backyard with some overgrown mistletoe. A man walks under one of the trees and a large branch falls on his head. What happens next?

Well lots of things – Our hero could be the man and they fall madly in love.

Or the man could sue the heroine and the cop investigating the accident or the lawyer the heroine finds to defend her becomes the hero.

Or the man could develop amnesia and the heroine takes him in. The man’s brother sees them together on the street and follows them home. He confronts the heroine and takes his brother home and sues the heroine. The heroine fights back and investigates the brother and they have several dinners together. Eventually they work things out and manage to create a relationship.

Okay the last part is a bit weak but my characters usually take me places as I write. Trying to plan it out ahead of time doesn’t work for me. But you get the idea. That’s how I start a story. I generally get a scene or even some item that needs to be associated with a story and off I go.

Check out my stories on my website.


Skhye said...

Oh, great development of an idea. The end never really goes as predicted, does it? ;)

Clover Autrey said...

Hmmmm, nope. Too busy to start another story with mistletoe. But what a fun and seasonal way to take us through the process of an idea.

Beth Caudill said...

Skhye - Nope, the end is never what you think. But that's the fun of writing.

Clover - Yeah, I'm not planning on that story either but it was a fun exercise.

M.Flagg said...

As far as parasites go, mistletoe sounds just right for the paranormal world as well as the active imagination. What fun!
I enjoyed your post.

Beth Caudill said...

Thanks Mickey. Yeah mistletoe seems to have a varied history to it. I like to research different never know when some nugget of info might prove useful.