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It was a dark and stormy night


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This is a famous (or infamous) opening line, which I am always tempted to use.  But I am curious as to where you get your opening lines, or do you start your writing?  On those dark and story nights when you all alone with just you and your computer, how do you get started?  Like how did Shamrock come up with the idea to do an Amish story?  Or how did Nicola come up with a science fiction/ fantasy?  Or how did Zee come up with her idea for her Sevia series?  Or Carolina with her horse series?  Or how did Jeff come up with his fantasy series?  Or Rene's alternate history?  I could go on, but I'm really curious.  What was the starting point for your novels?  What made you think of them?

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This is a famous (or infamous) opening line, which I am always tempted to use.  But I am curious as to where you get your opening lines, or do you start your writing?  On those dark and story nights w

Here's something else I've noticed.  I've been a member of a Presbyterian Church for over 50 years.  When we say the Lord's Prayer we use the words, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors".

As of right now, I see that there are 95 replies to this topic, "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night".  This topic was started on Saturday evening, and the discussions are going off in all directions.  If

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Leoshine started with a dream. A man rode his horse down a gully and back up and he was deliriously happy. I set about explaining why he was happy. Go figure.

The John Murphys started with the song, "I want to know what love is, and I want you to show me." 

The Algae Writers started with the little stream by my house. Fairies live there. There are trails in the scum in the ponds above the stream. How are the two connected?

@suspensewriterYou have so many interesting ideas. Are you going to give us a few of your starting thoughts?

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My husband and I married and fell in love (in that order) in a real-world place very much like the fictional country of Sevia. The early years of our marriage were spent walking a fine line between love and disaster, hence that recurring theme.

 

I am naturally a private person, and don’t enjoy writing or talking about myself, but I do love telling stories seeded from real-life experiences. My husband made me promise I would never write anything that could be construed as negative or damaging to the place we used to live...but he doesn’t care if I write about Sevia!

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As far as first lines go, @suspensewriter‘s “It was raining like forty days and forty nights,” is a great one. Very close to the classic Dark and Stormy Night, but so much more creative and clever!

 

And @Nicola, how in the world did a dream about a man riding in a ditch become Leoshine? Amazing how the human brain works...

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6 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

Or how did Jeff come up with his fantasy series?

 

Some time in the last 1990s, I wrote a Fantasy love story...that was horrible.  After a while, it got deleted.

 

Then, in the early 2000s, I hit upon the idea of the current series while I was driving home from work.  I formulated a rough story, and over the course of 6 months, pounded it out on my word processor.  I gave it to my wife to read, which she did.  Here response was, "It's nice," meaning, "It's horrible."  But that didn't stop me, and I shopped it around to agents.  After 80 rejections, I shelved it.

 

The story was horrible, and read like a cheap, unoriginal copy of Lord of the Rings.  It also incorporated some of the elements of my original love story - the one I deleted because it was so wretched.

 

But the seed of the story never really died.  I loved the main character, and I loved the original concept I envisioned.  And the portion of the love story that I started in the book kept at me.  I even wrote a short story to sort of bring that to completion.

 

Then the short story nagged at me.  I didn't like the way things came to a resolution.  The happy ending came too quickly and too easily.  It rolled around in my head for years, and then in December 2017, I started re-writing that short story.  I finished in early February.  In roughly 2 months, I pounded out an entire 110,000+ word book that was close to a conclusion to my series as I had gotten.  So, technically speaking, I wrote the ending of the series before I wrote the beginning.

 

Then in 2019, I started the rewrite of my original manuscript.  And now, here I am trying to pitch it to agents.

 

What I have now is well over a decade in development.  Portions of the original script (the one rejected by 80-or-so agents) were preserved, though most of it was a top-to-bottom rewrite of my story.

 

Part of the reason I shelved the story was also an internal struggle.  I debated for a long time whether to include my religious beliefs in the narrative, or exclude them altogether.  The main part of the plot is derived from a passage in Revelations.  I had a hard time justifying NOT including Biblical elements.  So the rewrite ended up being steeped in Scriptural concepts.  In the end, that decision gave me the depth that I was lacking in my previous manuscript.

 

In the interim, I started - and abandoned - multiple projects based in the same world as my current works.  From these failed attempts, I started to build a lore.  This process continued to this day.  I have so much abandoned material, it isn't even funny.  But, it provides the basis for much of the lore hinted at in my books.

 

So there you are, from inception to current day.

 

The overall theme is Prophecy.  But, the story is of a loser who sort of forced into being a hero.  It is a dissertation on the strength of the human heart.  The main character has many flaws, and many limitations.  But it's what is in his heart that matters most, and what drives him. 

 

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17 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

Carolina with her horse series? 

I have written numerous horse stories, some built around horses I have owned, sort of their stories. Escape began as a Creative Writing assignment, a short story of 17 pages. I have written lots of short stories, but none 17 pages long. I included lots of backstory memories to make the 17 pages. When we finished our stories, we shared them with others in the class. Someone told me it would make the beginning of a novel. I let that sit for several years before giving it a try. Thanks to some beta readers of the first draft, the second round is better, I think/hope.

 

I keep saying that it's not the beginning of a series, but ...

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I have to say Zee I wondered if there was a real life background to your novels. They have that realism to them that I think would be hard for anyone who has not experienced such an environment to write about. I certainly couldn't and I usually got out of my comfort zone with my work.

 

Why did I write a novel about Amish people?  

 

One of the things that got me back to writing was a notion about exploring different christian traditions. What their theology and norms are. With the Sphinx series, there is quite a strong RC thread because Jude and Cora are both Catholics. ( I was brought up RC)

 

When I had finished that, I needed to find another spiritual home' for my next story. I remembered reading about Rumspringa - the time Amish young people experiment with life outside their community. From there the story developed. Some of Hannah is based upon true events (though not entirely). That is where it came from. Not sure which tradition I will try out next. Maybe LDS? That could be fun.

 

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This is such a cool topic! I love hearing about the backstory of the story...so many interesting experiences and thoughts involved.

 

@Shamrock, the “different Christian faiths” idea is a cool one, too.

 

If you do an LDS one, that would be really interesting! Be sure to have a scene with cute guys riding bicycles...

 

@carolinamtne, I think you could totally do a series with Escape, especially since Cherry’s new love story had barely begun by the end. There’s a whole lot more to tell there...

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13 minutes ago, Zee said:

If you do an LDS one, that would be really interesting! Be sure to have a scene with cute guys riding bicycles...

 

Why riding bikes? (the motor or cycle type?)

13 minutes ago, Zee said:

@carolinamtne, I think you could totally do a series with Escape, especially since Cherry’s new love story had barely begun by the end. There’s a lot more to tell there...

 Awh!  I am just about to beta read it!

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I think most people outside a tradition will find parts of it hard to understand.  

 

 

When I did my research for Hannah I found some  theology of the Amish hard to get my head around. I suspect it would be the same if I did a story with characters who are LDS or Baptist (Which I do find hard to understand).

 

 

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I was such a fan of THE AUTOMATIC DETECTIVE by A. Lee Martinez, a Sci-Fi / Noir about a robot detective, that I wanted to try my hand at a Fantasy / Noir about a golem detective. (I wrote to Lee Martinez and asked his opinion about playing in his sandbox. He said it was fine.) 

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3 hours ago, Shamrock said:

 

Why riding bikes? (the motor or cycle type?)

 Awh!  I am just about to beta read it!

 

Just regular cycles. Around here, you’ll sometimes see them riding with their dress pants and button shirts and ties.

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@Shamrock Hey there, just curious, what does LDS stand for?  I would probably know it if someone told me, I'm just not familiar with the abbreviation.  By the way, I consider myself fundamental Baptist.  What is it about us you find hard to understand?  It's only a matter of curiosity, I promise.  Not looking for a fight, just a peaceful and informative conversation in which we could perhaps learn more about each other.  😉

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On 3/20/2021 at 8:06 PM, suspensewriter said:

This is a famous (or infamous) opening line, which I am always tempted to use. 

@suspensewriter It's so funny you made this thread!  I was just contemplating beginning a story with the line, "It was not a dark and stormy night." 

 

Thoughts on that?  Has it already been done?

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