Two things to address before I go into this. One, I don’t mind you playing with this idea below, just don’t offer for me to use anything. You can ask my help for you to develop it to write yourself, but I won’t take your idea and write it. I’m happy to help you pursue your own though. 🙂
Two, this isn’t going to be a story that I write (if I do) anytime soon. This is just me thinking to myself, ya know plenty want to see the behind the scenes action in play. So this is going to be the chance for you to see it. I may even go so far as to make a cover and come up with a title just for you to see that too. But in the act of being so public and open with it, my muse may end up becoming bored and tell me, I don’t wanna write it, I’ve already done it. So not only will this process take time and blogs to do. (I have no schedule for these blogs I write – can’t do that at this time.) But overall by the end, my muse may not wanna write it. Also why I don’t mind helping you play with it to write if you need the help. I won’t give you ideas, but I’ll try and steer you with helping. If you get stuck on something, ask away. 🙂
I often have dreams that end up becoming story ideas. The other night I had one and thought I’d write it up here, and include the questions that I ask myself, and overall just show how I turn something like that into a story idea.
Often writers are asked about how we come up with ideas, how we find inspiration for stories, etc. I thought this would be interesting to actually show the process as live as I could. If I play with this more later on, I will try to link to this, and continue that, then at the bottom I will include a list of all that go with this. For now, this will be the process I’ve done so far, and play with it some more in front of you.
Please note too that this is how I do this process. Not all writers use dreams for inspiration. Some do, I am one. I find some of my best story plot starts and scene ideas come from dreams I’ve had. My dreams are very vivid and I remember plenty of dreams I’ve had. It’s not a hard process for everyone. Some just need to train themselves to remember and it takes just an, I remember my dreams affirmation. Plenty of dreams I discard, but those like this one touch a different place inside and I’ve learned to differentiate between “awesome dream!” and I could probably use this for a story idea. Not too hard as some are just too much like life, or the details aren’t there. Say, I dream of a girl on a boat. Technically I could play with it and make it something, but at the end of the day I get more than enough ideas that a simplistic thought such as that one? Just not worth the time and energy to develop. Not when I get plenty of other ideas.
Then again I also have plenty of ideas that get thrown out in the end because as much as they may have seemed to be a great idea at that time? They end up being ideas that may push readers too far. I like them, but they wouldn’t translate well to a page. Or, I’d rather put them out beneath a name that isn’t linked to me. So far I haven’t had to do that. I’m sure one day I might. At least there is always that potential.
Also, as an aside – I do also have more than enough ideas that come to me from regular ol’ thoughts of, “what if,” and nothing more than a sentence. Don’t Go Far came about from me just wanting to write a book with a werewolf and witch, as I’ve mentioned. That was a middle ground too of “what if” thought, or “I want to write a book with ___” and a dream I had, to be factual.
I develop a lot of ideas through the courses I’ve taken, and just come up with random thoughts here and there which turn into story ideas too. So that is also another reason why I don’t always waste my time developing ideas from dreams that have nice thoughts and ideas, but are so blase. Writers frankly never lack for ideas. People who aren’t writers think they should give us ideas, or that they’re benefitting us by doing so, but trust me. I don’t know an author or writer, who lacks ideas. The problem is generally the opposite. Too many and too little time to do all of them.
Also if you have an idea inside of you that you want to see turned into a story? Write the story yourself. Oh, you’ll argue that you aren’t a writer, and you could never tackle something like that. Or you’re just not able to. Don’t have the time, etc. I see plenty offering ideas, plenty who are griping that some of their favorites (George R. R. Martin anyone?) take forever. Well, write it yourself. Writers aren’t magical. They’re like any athlete or artist. They practice, practice, practice. That’s it. This? If practice. Developing the idea? Is practice. Writing a blog, is practice. Writing a short, is practice. That’s the only difference. Rather than say how this is a great idea in my head, or to others, then moving on, I am writing it down, then developing it, and one day may write it, or may not. No magic. Just work. I’m not watching a movie. I’m writing this. I’m not throwing a party. I’m writing this.
I’m going to guess that the reason I had this particular dream was from a post that I commented on from Holly Lisle. She’d posed a question about dreams and characters in writing in her writing forum. Well, it obviously lodged in my mind because then when I went to bed that night, I had this dream.
Since I’m editing Savage Lands, I’m sure that it also converged in my mind to then stir up a nice character based on the alpha in the story. Or, in that story, I deem him The Alpha because it’s not just a regular ol’ sort of well, alpha. In the story he’s not only a big deal, but being one is. It’s based off the traditional “Alpha,” status of a pack. There are plenty who don’t believe in the hierarchy of wolves and the whole alpha, beta, omega system. There are plenty who do.
The story world in which this plot takes place, the structure is a label, which encapsulates the character and who they are. The attitudes they hold. The natural positions they’ll hold. One is born a real Alpha. Alpha with capital because they are born with different capabilities of one who rises in the pack and takes a leadership position as an alpha.
In this story land, someone born pure Alpha holds an ability to heal in their bite. It’s a special saliva in the bite. So they are hunted and near eradicated for such a thing because it also heals a disease. So I base the term Alpha in that book/story world, and capitalize it to indicate a difference, on the traditional term to mean essentially the leader of the pack, but that it means something to what they’re capable of.
What has that to do with the dream? Well, in the dream that character says hello and comes in. The character to the point of him being an alpha (leader and important) and the inspiration I used for said character. He too I think came from a dream I had. Stephen Dorff was the inspiration and it went from there. He isn’t as tall as the character ended up being in my story so of course that is why people like that are “inspiration,” and they go from there. Males in my writing tend to be at least 6 foot on average – nothing against shorter males, I’m just used to that in my life so it translates.
A human female was pregnant with a Lycan/werewolf’s child. She was pregnant by the alpha, but didn’t know he was aware that it was his. Scent and all. So she was scared of the fact that he discovered not only was she pregnant (werewolf – not exactly a teddy bear in any of my worlds/characters), but he seemed to take interest. I think at that time, she didn’t realize he knew, or that he didn’t know at that time, but realized it from being around her.
The others didn’t like that he took interest – ew, human – in her, and that she wasn’t outright killed for being pregnant with one of their own. Also, since he was him (alpha) and plenty had issue with him, that she was carrying his baby also put her at risk for that reason.
At the end of the dream, he was leading her to a cave at the top of a mountain, where she had to go over wooden bridges and the like, and unbeknownst to her, he’d been dumping them because then she’d be trapped and stuck there. Until he fixed the bridges, she’d have to stay. I believe he did it because then when he told her he knew that was his baby, there was no chance she’d run. Or rather, that if she did run, she’d be having no place to go. Fun times, yeah?
How does that turn into a story?
Well, everything I wrote up there, essentially gives way more than enough for an entire novel, or even a series if one was really inclined. Typically I don’t plan a series out. If I write a book and find that I am interested in more, or there is more there and I can’t logically make it one novel, then it becomes a series. Because I break it into more than one book. Hence – series.
When a writer (moi) comes up with a story plot, sometimes we (gonna use we since it sounds better, instead of IIIII) have way less to go on than the above. Sometimes nothing at all.
Let’s make it a story plot.
Disclaimer – if this inspires you and you want to play with the idea more, then feel free. I would encourage it, but also would always love for people to mention where it was inspired from. I try to always credit and link back to sources myself if I’m able to because it benefits us both. Word of mouth is highly important to any writer.
So when I am thinking about that dream, I start at the most basic part. I’m wondering how she got pregnant. I’m wondering why it is that she’s human, and by a werewolf essentially.
Then I begin to ask myself open questions. These don’t have to necessarily be answered right now, or have a full explanation.
Was she implanted by scientists? Yes, a lot of my ideas involve being implanted, or scientists. Couldn’t tell you why. Just happens. Many writers tend toward some “default,” trends. Like words we overuse, we default to something. I default to werewolves and science a lot. Used to be vampires there for a time, but I’ve always loved werewolves so my mind favors them in general. Science, magic, werewolves, horses, dragons. Some of the ones that my mind is always going back to. Also, ghosts, and demons.
Note the Dark Moon Dynasty Universe world has many of those.
I ask myself more questions when that one spurs thoughts, or I ask questions from other parts of that dream. I allow my brain free reign to simply throw things at me. I don’t put a leash on it, and I never tell it that’s a bad or dumb idea. Do that? My mind will shut down and refuse to play the “oo what about this?!” game. Sure fire way for your brain to completely stop giving you inspiration is to slap it back or spank it and tell it something is inappropriate. We don’t have to use the ideas, they don’t have to go anywhere, but calling ourselves dumb? Shut. Down. No playing. No passing go. No getting $200. No more books.
Beneficial questions (learned from Holly Lisle’s writing courses and over time) are always who, what, where, when, why, how, what if, what about.
Here are some of my free flow thoughts that I had written down to myself last night in Word.
The women are volunteers, or forced, to carry the babies of these werewolves? Is it the only way the werewolves can have more? Implanting female humans? Or they purposely do it to get more of their kind? If so, then why couldn’t they have their own children?
Or, are the female subjects from some sort of experiments being done in general? They wanted to create an alpha baby so had females implanted and she was the only one who survived? They wanted to see if the baby of a werewolf could be implanted in a human and she was the only one who survived then?
In the dream she was unique for a reason. That she was carrying the child of a werewolf was unique. That it was the alpha’s child was unique for a reason. It wasn’t normal, she’d been trying to sort of hide from the alpha so there was a reason that was important. Or she was trying to hide that the baby was his. Again, for what reason?
Now, if I go along the idea that she was implanted with a werewolf baby, then I want to ask myself more to develop that angle (should I use it). This is where you simply just free flow your mind. Don’t hold it back, don’t wrangle it in. For now the point is to just come up with a lot of ideas, questions, thoughts. Let it percolate in the mind, see which one tickles that whisper inside that makes you want to follow the path. Some writers may want to focus on specific genres because they are strictly a science fiction writer, or romance, but I am a multi-genre writer for a purpose. I tell stories to entertain. I don’t focus on genre, I don’t focus on following genre norms (what you’ll always find in a specific genre). I just write a story that I hope will be entertaining, and one I hope you will find interesting. Maybe even spur your own ideas, questions, thoughts, your own interest in reading more, or becoming a writer even. I mean it’s how I started. I read a book I liked and said, hey I can do that!
So that means I will ask more questions to develop just that sentence, and where to go with it. So . . . was she a volunteer (as I was thinking above) or was she forced into it? If she was forced into the implantation we’ll call it, why? Why would she be forced into it? Is it something that women are kidnapped for? Well that just opens up a lot of ideas too. If women are forced into having babies for werewolves, why? Can they – the werewolves – not have them on their own? Is it something the government is doing to make “soldiers,” or for their own nefarious reasons?
Is the woman, or girl, forced into it because she needs the money so therefore she doesn’t have a choice in that way? Or are the people who are forcing her into it the werewolves themselves, who are in those positions? Government, science, and the like? They’ve infiltrated those positions to make more of their kind. Also note the words I keep using. “Make more of their kind,” “infiltrate,” “implant,” “force.” This may go a lil’ out there, but right there, it goes toward a military theme, or alien theme. So then my brain says, “who says aliens are tall gray things?” “What if they are animals?” “Werewolves are aliens?”
See? Free reign, no holding the mind back. Release it completely. Don’t try to say, that’s ridiculous. Ideas come out. Someone out there would love to read just that idea. I promise. So to me, that’s not really a theme I want to pursue, so I’ll redirect my thoughts, but it is still pretty interesting so I never know. Maybe if it keeps playing around in my mind, I would pursue that line.
Aside – listening to certain music can steer your mind too. So if you want to help your mind steer in a certain direction, don’t hesitate to play with it by playing different music.
We’ll take another path now. This blog will deal with the questions and free flow before the rest of what I do. Okay so the alpha is aware that she is pregnant with his child. We’ll play with that. Is that something he is happy about? Happy not just that he has a child, but that she is carrying it? A human? How does he feel about a human having his child? In the dream, I didn’t get the idea that there was anything different really for him in a human having his child. The others, eh. Sort of. Him? I felt like he was almost a little extra happy at the idea of having a woman give him a baby. Any woman, any baby. As if not only did he not have a mate, but I had the impression it was such a big deal that perhaps he’d struggled with being able to have children. So what if he’d been having struggles getting anyone pregnant? That leads me to the thought of – maybe this is a “paid” thing. Maybe humans volunteer to give birth to werewolf children. What if certain Lycan struggle to have children so they create their own “agency,” if you will. Then that too holds the question – is it forced, or is it not?
I also didn’t get the impression it would be anything but human who could turn into a werewolf on its own. No magic “thing” had to happen to make it become a werewolf. It was just a werewolf. The baby would be born human looking, but it would be werewolf. Mine never really have the rules of shifting only on a full moon. I have always liked the idea of a werewolf being able to transform as they like. So that’s along the lines of what this would be too. A baby born human looking. When it was older, it could transform. Or, it could shift into the wolf whenever? More questions and answers to ask. How does it work for them? The shifting, the “werewolf,” aspects.
Because of that last part of the dream – him trying to keep her at a cave, and not allow her to run – then I wonder if he’s doing it because he’s protecting her, or is it a form of kidnapping? Motive, changes his character. If he’s doing it to keep her safe and protect her? Well, then that implies his personality. Keep in mind, I’m not using this from the character who inspired the dream. All that? Thrown out.
So as I’m asking these questions, I don’t know him. I’m also developing him and her, as much as the story. I don’t know if he’s a good guy, if he’s all animal. I don’t know who she is. Is she essentially a prisoner to them, as much as will be to him if the story goes that way? Or is she a willing participant? Because those answers also say who she is, and give story plot. If she’s willing, that’s one character attribute. If she’s not, that’s another character attribute. Both of those shift the story plot.
Back to the idea about him keeping her in the cave. Is he protecting her by doing so? Is all that because he’s a good man, and animal? A decent version of a werewolf? Or is he keeping her there for selfish reasons? Answers to these questions form the story, and where it goes, as much as where the character does.
So as you can see by all those things that are coming to mind, I’m not just developing character and story depending on choices, and answers that I head toward, but there is also more to all that above. I’m not limiting myself, I’m not throwing out ideas.
Everything above is something that I have had pop in mind. I am not attempting to corral anything. Nothing is a bad idea. Some thoughts and paths can’t be followed. Either it won’t fully develop a story, or for me as a writer, it may touch a subject I don’t want to pursue. The paths I follow, the answers that come, will also determine genre. They will tell me if the story is going toward some occult ritual path. As in, he waits until the baby comes, then sacrifices her – totally different path and type of werewolf. Maybe it’s not him though. Maybe the scientists are the occult and are setting him up. Maybe she has a tracker and the scientists are hoping by letting her loose (if she got loose considering she was roaming in the dream) that she’ll lead them (scientists) to where he lives. And that has some sort of occult-ish reason. Or, romance vibe if it brings them together and in the end she wants to help him have the child and protect the child, instead of keeping it from him.
What else can I play with?
All of the questions and ideas I’m thinking up are giving millions of different paths and story ideas to pursue. I am not pursuing one path with any of them. Each one I’ve been following and throwing out is a new path. I could technically combine everything I’ve written above, and use it all, but I just want you to be aware that I’m wiping my mind each time I ask questions. That way you’re not thinking it’s following one path or another. It’s completely new each time.
Okay, I went back to the dream and read it again. So another idea that I could play with is her. What is going to happen to her? What if she isn’t human? In the dream I got the idea she was. But, what if she isn’t even human? Or what if she’s a bit more than human? There is no indication she has to be 100% human. For all we know she comes across as human, but is something else entirely. So then we can pursue that. What is she?
What will happen to the baby once it is born? Will it be born? What if it isn’t? What if he struggled to conceive all this time, and create a child of his own, but realizes that even if the baby doesn’t survive, he has found someone who can have his child?
What about her? I mentioned that her becoming pregnant and having that baby inside of her was unique. So what about her? What is going to happen to her carrying his child? Will she be hunted? Who will hunt her? Who will want to harm her if she’s pregnant by him? The alphhhaaaaa.
Can he keep her in that cave? What happens if he can’t? Will she try to find a way to escape? What if she does find a way to escape? What if she isn’t single, and the person she is with comes looking for her? What if one of the other Lycan help her to escape?
Okay so I will leave it there. This is getting pretty long as it is. I don’t want to kill you with more and more questions, lol. But as you can see, every single sentence has a question that can be asked. Every aspect of it, every character involved. There are reasons, there are questions, there are lines to pursue. If you would like to pursue this and go along with this set of blogs I’ll work on to come up with your own story, feel free.
Or, you can come up with a faux story like I may do with this. Faux meaning that I may never write the actual book. There is a chance I could. If I develop this idea, even make a cover for it, and show my entire process this way, one day I may end up coming back to it (I’ll put it in my “developing ideas,” notebook) and say to self – wow, I need to pursue this! I just anticipate that with writing this all down, my muse won’t be in any rush in the next few years to pursue it. Also because I have a ton of other ideas I’m always playing with so there’s that.
If you’re a writer who wants to follow and show that another mind can pursue a completely different path/approach, feel free. I’d love you to participate in the comments and show others how my mind pursues one path (or multiple as noted above), but someone else with a different life, different set of circumstances, and different thought process can come up with totally different questions.
If you want to do that, or just leave a comment below, I absolutely welcome it, just don’t be rude or I’ll delete the comment. This is meant to help, to inspire, to be fun. To show the process. My process, sure. But then again if you’re a writer and want to show your own, then it’s not just my process. I’m sure people would enjoy seeing that. Up to you.
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