Tip of the Day: Writers will love reading Donald Westlake's novel The Hook. It's a great book, and being able to appreciate the publishing references and novel-writing angst makes it even better.
It's good to know the market. It's also good to write the story that cries out inside your brain, begging to be released. Sometimes the stories in my head seem like they might make it to a reader interested in the premise. Other times ... where does my brain come up with this stuff?
Examples? For years and years, I've wanted to write a novel about a girl in Dark Ages England from an eeler family. That's right, catching eels. Because teen girls love dead eels, don'tcha think? But I know so many characters in this story! It won't go away, even though I suspect nobody in their right minds would read it.
I also have an idea about a historical novel set in the Outerbanks of North Carolina, about a small community who scavenge whales. It starts (in my imagination) with my main characters, a teen girl and her sister, on the beach surrounded by whale guts, harvesting the, uh, parts and stuff. Are you sensing a theme here? It really makes me wonder what I did in a past life. There will be Spanish shipwreck treasure involved too. I'm not sure exactly how, but I figure the book needs some sort of plot other than kids throwing blubber at each other.
The problem is that I find too many things interesting, which is probably a side effect (or cause) of being a writer. I torture my family with it. I'm always reading them obscure information.
Me: "Here's something interesting ... whitework is white thread embroidered on white cloth. It got started with German nuns who couldn't afford thread so they picked apart linen, but now it's an art form."
Darling preteen child: "Mom, that's the opposite of interesting. What's the word I want? Oh yeah. BORING."
Me: "Boring people are bored and interesting people are interested."
I'm not sure what that means but I say it a lot. "Bored" is unfamilar territory to me because I can always start making up stories in my head. It's just that they're not always great stories. And I suspect that I don't have only one story in my heart that begs to be released to the world. I have lots of stories. I just have to concentrate on the stories that are interesting to people other than me.
What stories occupy a piece of real estate in your brain, even though you doubt they'll ever see the light of day?
-- Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer