“I’ve written a book, now what do I do?”
“Where do you get your ideas?”
These are the two most common questions asked when I’m at a book fair. We’ve talked and written endlessly about what to do after you’ve written a book, mostly referring the budding authors to professional editors, critique groups, and on-line courses.
As for ideas, that is probably different for every writer. This week as I was searching for a particular file, I came across four books I had either written fully or only partially. I stopped in the middle when I ran out of juice, losing interest probably because I had no outline or clear goal. Now that I’ve resurrected them, I can see the fatal flaws and find they all have potential. When I first wrote them I had little understanding of character arcs or the importance of conflict.
These are the stories. See if you agree that they can work.
Barbara Monaghan. She is an accidental serial killer. Her mother became bored with her and gave her away to a pair of itinerant actors when she was two. The couple exploited her cuteness but then abandoned her with a cult in the state of Washington when she was seven. She became apprenticed to a potter and eventually developed a line of tableware that became popular and sold internationally. When it came time to marry, however, she parted ways with their lifestyle and did accidentally kill her mentor when he made unwanted advances. By the time we meet her at the beginning of the book, she has murdered at least five people, including the actors. She invites her mother to Paris and dinner at the elegant Jules Verne Restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. She has plans for her mother…
The Shadow House is an adventure which begins in a farmhouse in upstate New York and takes our protagonist on a trip to the Amazon and The Shadow House. I don’t even remember what the point of the story was. I believe our heroine was out to rescue her sister.
Casino Girl has a young girl in Florida meeting an alcoholic aunt from New York on a casino boat. I had read much of this story to a critique group several years ago and people still comment on a humorous scene between an alligator and a dog. The story involves drugs coming ashore at the aunt’s seaside home, where her husband (fourth one) keeps her happily inebriated so she is oblivious to the activities outside. Our girl saves the day. And she has her own long sad story.
Untitled was originally called House Divided about two people inheriting the same house in upstate New York. Meant to be a romance, the two are at odds and one of them must go. This one stopped halfway through because I didn’t have a clearly outlined plot, neither on paper nor in my head.
So as I wind down in the writing of Midnight in Mongolia and Talk to the Knife I am contemplating my next book. Could it be one of those?
Veronica Helen Hart is the author of seven published novels as well as several short stories that appear in The Florida Writers Association annual anthology. In the hope that the two books she is currently working on will be accepted and published, she is now contemplating her next writing project.