Developing Your Story Idea

Developing Your Story Idea

This week I’d like to share with you the convoluted and not always easy process of developing your story idea — the one that’s been rattling around in your head, waiting to be written. Ideas are pretty easy to come up with, but organizing the storyline, the characters, the conflict, and the action take a lot more doing! Your brilliant idea must now evolve to create situations to introduce your characters. Where is this great story idea going?

It’s not as easy as just letting your imagination flow and letting it go where it takes you. From the introduction, to the drama, to the conflicts, and their final resolutions, a finished product must follow a set of rules for your story to be the great success you’d like it to be. I’ve talked about those rules in previous blogs, so today I’d like to tell you how my “brilliant idea” became the finished book I hope you will all read someday!

I like to write adventure stories with a touch of magic. Myths that are part of our world’s culture and legends have always intrigued me, so that is what I choose to write about. It’s important for you to write about what interests you, whether it’s science fiction, romance, or a thinly disguised autobiography. If your story idea intrigues you, write about that. Be yourself, because that is what will shine through. It’s not a good idea to write something just because you think it might sell. That story won’t have your full involvement, and it will show.

I’m just starting research on the fourth book in my Alex Cort Adventures series. I have a title, and an idea of where the story is going, but I don’t have all the characters “imagined” yet that I will need to tell my story. This is another step for you to think about in developing your story. Who is going to “tell” the story? I use that word with caution, because it is very important to show what happens in a scene while the action is commencing, not just tell about what happened after the fact.

Secrets of the Crystal Skulls, my third story in the series, takes place just after Atlantis is destroyed by a sorcerer. I have an ensemble of characters I like to include in every story, so I already know that adventurer Alex Cort, archaeologist Andrew Seaton, and a young woman named Angel, who calls herself a witch, are going to be involved. My stories wrap around these characters, and each of them contribute to the action of the story with their own points of view. If you only have one book planned, even if you plan a series, it is important to create “character arcs” that show how your character(s) evolve and grow. How will they be different, better, wiser, than they were in the beginning of your story? Conflict and Character Arcs are two subjects your editors will mention to you often. Be sure to include both!

The other characters you will need are those who bring conflict: How do they connect to your main character? How to best introduce a romantic partner? It’s hard not to give too much away in the beginning. It’s important to sprinkle “backstory” bits of information about your characters throughout, not just dump in a paragraph or two at the beginning. Weave this personal information you created for your characters into the storyline. It isn’t always simple, but it is important to lead your readers into becoming involved with, and care about, your characters.

When writing is a joy, you’ll never have writer’s block!

Video: Alex Cort Adventures, Book 3: Secrets of the Crystal Skulls

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Magical adventure author Joan K. Lacy combines research and imagination to create the Alex Cort Adventures series, a series of metaphysical, fantasy adventure books, including A Shadow Away, All Under Heaven, and more forthcoming stories. You can also find her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, and Google+.
Character Development Tips for Your Novel

Character Development Tips for Your Novel

Readers often ask me how I come up with my characters. So, here are some character development tips based on how I do it. It’s pretty interesting how it happens!

My story, like A Shadow Away, starts with a myth or legend that interests me. That legend determines what country (real or imagined) the story will take place in. I’m also interested in archaeology, science, magic and metaphysics, so I weave those elements into my stories as well. Those decisions lead me to outline events, actions, mysteries, problems — and the people who will be needed to experience the “drama.”

Character Development Examples

My characters evolve from the story I want to tell. My three favorite characters appear in each story of my “Alex Cort Adventures” series, starting with A Shadow Away.

First is Alex. He loves adventure, has a curiosity about this world, and isn’t afraid of danger. Magic is a mystery to him (not to me), and he finds himself attracted to a woman who mystifies and unsettles him. It’s up to Alex to get Andrew out of trouble when he gets over-enthusiastic.

Dr. Andrew Seaton is an eccentric British archaeologist who’s always getting himself into trouble. He gives me the chance to take us all on expeditions and searches for long-lost treasures. With him, I can share what I’ve learned over the years with my long-time interest in archaeology. Andrew’s approach is scientific, but he loves legends and superstitions, so he adjusts to magic pretty easily. With him I can write about everything from science to superstition.

Last, but certainly not least, is Angel. She calls herself a witch and has her own kind of magic. With Angel I can write about magic, fantasy, and the supernatural.

As for how they got their names, they named themselves. And each has their own point of view to add to the scenes of the story. When I have to come up with answers to a glitch in the plot, the most amazing thing happens when I am stumped for a solution. Time and again, it’s one of the characters who comes up with the answer. I can’t give them all the credit, though! Another solution for a glitch in the plot is to reverse the scene, or characters, or give the problem to a different character. Seeing it from a different perspective sometimes provides the clue I need for a solution to keep the story moving.

Creating a Villain

The villains vary, depending on the location and plot of the individual stories. In A Shadow Away, Andrew’s corrupt colleague and a black-market art thief want the jeweled statue linked with the lost city of El Dorado for themselves. The second book, All Under Heaven, for another example, has a sorcerer, a magician, mythical elemental dragons, and a ghost. They are all fun to write about, and I hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as I did writing them!

I hope you have a happy summer. Whether you travel, or stay home with some time for yourself — take A Shadow Away with you for an adventure in your imagination!

Video: How Do You Go About Writing a Book?

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Magical adventure author Joan K. Lacy combines research and imagination to create the Alex Cort Adventures series, a series of metaphysical, fantasy adventure books, including A Shadow Away, All Under Heaven, and more forthcoming stories. You can also find her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, and Google+.
Myths and Legends That Intrigue Me

Myths and Legends That Intrigue Me

This week I’d like to share with you some of the many myths and legends that have captured my imagination over the years and inspired me to write A Shadow Away, then the magical adventure series “Alex Cort Adventures.”

The first legend I wanted to write about is El Dorado. People still wonder about the Lost City of Gold, and just like Atlantis, nobody knows where it actually might be. In a jungle, certainly, but which one?

I chose to place my El Dorado somewhere in the vast expanse of Brazil. I love Brazil. I love the music and their joy for living, so naturally I was drawn to that location. Languages have always fascinated me, too, so I set about learning the words and phrases I would need to tell my story.

That’s part of what makes writing fun. I like learning about people, their culture, their language. It makes the story more interesting to me and I think to you who enjoy reading about the escapades of my favorite characters. Three main characters tell the stories: Alex, ex-cop detective and art theft recovery expert, is curious and brings a sense of adventure. Eccentric Andrew, the archaeologist, loves the dichotomy of science and superstition. Angel brings magic, fantasy, and the supernatural to my stories. With her, I can weave time travel, teleportation, mythical creatures and paranormal beings into my stories.

I love to write about magic, adventure, and lost treasures, so one book turned into a six-book series when I thought of so many other legends that color our world.

In my second book, All Under Heaven, I write about ancient China and the First Emperor, Qin (pronounced Chin) Shi Huang. The word “China” came from his name. Qin searched for the mythical Ninth Cauldron to legitimize his reign. Alex must find the cauldron to save Andrew and rescue a doomed ghost. Will he succeed? Magicians and sorcerers want him to fail.

Atlantis is the mythical theme of my third book, Secrets of the Crystal Skulls. Who doesn’t still wonder where Atlantis is and what happened to it after all these centuries?

I put my own twist on the fate of Atlantis with a sorcerer who tries to control its destiny with a giant crystal obelisk. Alex, Andrew, and Angel will have to time-travel, enter the Underworld, and try to defeat the sorcerer who still has his own agenda.

Irish Legends of woodland faeries, elves, and leprechauns—who doesn’t love them! My fourth book will be called The Black Horseman. Mermaids, trooper faeries, beings and creatures who live in the Otherworld, perhaps even a mis-placed Excalibur, will feature in this adventure.

Book five, a prequel, tells the tale of when Alex first joins Andrew. A treasure recently unearthed at a dig outside Saqqara suddenly disappears but who, or what, stole it and why? So many myths! So many legends! It will be fun to weave a story from these threads.

The sixth book in the “Alex Cort Adventures” begins outside Mexico City at the ruined Temple of the Sun at Teotihuacan. Ancient Aztec rituals, the feathered serpent Quetzalcoatl, and ghosts from the past all figure in a chase that leads Alex and his friends in a pursuit from Mexico through the capitals of Europe.

That all sounds exciting even to me! Can’t wait to write the rest of these stories, and I hope you enjoy reading them. See you next week!

Video: What made you start with the El Dorado story?

If you enjoyed this post, please remember to “like” and share it with your friends! And use the sign up form below to be added to Joan’s email list so you never miss a post or update!

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Magical adventure author Joan K. Lacy combines research and imagination to create the Alex Cort Adventures series, a series of metaphysical, fantasy adventure books, including A Shadow Away, All Under Heaven, and more forthcoming stories. You can also find her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, and Google+.

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