1 + 1 + 1 = Story
By Pat Cunningham
By Pat Cunningham
I can’t remember the book or the author now – it was either Damon Knight or Ben Bova, I was writing SF then – but one of the many how-to-write texts I studied in my early writing years offered this advice: for a good story, you need more than one idea. A single idea is a sketch, a scene, a vignette. A story needs at least two ideas to play off each other. Not too many or the story gets muddled – I’m looking at you, Pirates of the Caribbean 2 – but enough to provide weight and depth, and give the characters, and the readers, something to sink their teeth into.
I got to test this theory recently when I was inspired by a TV show and started fiddling with plots. I found several ideas that fit together and gave me plenty of grist to put my characters through all kinds of angsty hell. Isn’t that’s why we write in the first place?
Idea #1 – a couple months back I guest-blogged on the bizarre ideas my mind keeps throwing at me, like where a shapeshifter’s clothes go when they change and would a vampire’s fangs be considered concealed weapons by the police. One question dealt with a vampire’s sex drive; can the undead get it up? This led to the theory fresh blood in a vampire’s veins makes them horny, and sooner or later some enterprising brothel owner would catch on. Originally I’d planned to write about a prostitute and the vampire she falls in love with, but … well, you’ll see in a minute.
Idea #2 – I try to write every day. When I don’t work on a WIP, I jot a few lines in a notebook. Sometimes it’s flash, sometimes it’s a scene or a character sketch or a dialogue exchange. Recently what came out of my pen was a bit about a human who’d been raised by vampires. That’s not a story by itself, but if added to something else …
Idea #3 – okay, this one’s embarrassing. It stems from that TV show, and the fan fiction that’s grown up around it. I’m familiar with fanfic – I’m a Trekkie from way back – as well as the interesting phenomenon known as slash. So I went poking around on a fanfic site, and – well, as the pistol-packin’ preacher said, Holy shoot. I don’t remember Trek slash being quite that graphic. There was stuff on there that would make Ellora’s Cave editors blush. And so MUCH of it! You wonder where these guys find time to actually fight evil. Inspired, as it were, by this, I decided to try my hand at a M/M story. I couldn’t use the TV characters, of course, but there’s nothing to stop me from “casting” the actors in the roles. I find it’s easy writing dialogue when you can hear a particular voice. (I put Stone Cold Steve Austin in a novel once and his dialogue just flowed. Not bad for a wrestler.)
Adding the three ideas together, I had my plot and characters: a young human man, raised by a nest of vampires, who becomes a prostitute in a bat brothel and the object of affection of one of his male vampire clients. Both come with hefty baggage, especially the vamp (idea #4, which I can’t divulge because it’s a plot twist) which they have to wade through to reach their HEA.
None of these ideas could really sustain a full story, let alone a novel, on their own. Put ‘em together, though, and I just might have something. I’m still working on the draft. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
By the way, I’m not going to say which TV show it is. Bad enough I start laughing whenever the one actor comes on screen because I can’t help thinking, “Hey, it’s the man ho.” I don’t need any defamation lawsuits. Writing as a profession is risky enough.
It's that time of the month -- the full moon -- when Willy Alvarez's moods go wonky and her dreams fill up with wolves. A time for hungers she doesn't dare fulfill because they lead to violence. She's resigned herself to a manless life, then Cody Gray arrives.
Cody is cute, funny, charming, and a werecoyote. His nose knows what Willy doesn't: she's half werewolf. He's convinced this repressed half-human she-wolf is his perfect mate. Now he just has to convince her. And quick, because her long-lost pack has learned about her existence, and they've come to town to claim her...
COYOTE MOON by Pat Cunningham at ~ http://bookstrand.com/product-coyotemoon-14959-330.html ~
Pat Cunningham’s next release is BEST OF BREED ~ coming soon from BookStrand Publishing.