How I come up with ideas

I’m beginning work on a novel that will be published in the summer of 2014. That means I’m brainstorming ideas. It might look like I’m sitting on the sofa watching Homeland, but you all know better. Ahem.

During this period, dozens of ideas pop up, run through my head, and are either rejected, mulled, embraced, or booted out the window. And today I thought I’d perform a bit of reader research. Which of the following ideas do you (a) love, (b) hate, (c) yawn at, (d) have no idea what I’m talking about?

  • Werezombies
  • Post-apocalyptic Amish romance
  • Cozy mystery where the crime is solved by a lovable hamster
  • Thriller in which a brilliant but unstable CIA analyst plays cat and mouse espionage game with hero-or-maybe-terrorist U.S. Marine.
  • Elizabethan intrigue — in which the Court of the Virgin Queen is infiltrated by extraterrestrials. (“The Boleyn Girl from Another Planet.”)

Okay, I’m just messing with you. To my editor, if you’re reading this: please stop hyperventilating.

Except for the Elizabethan Extraterrestrial saga. I think the aliens would look amazing in corsets and bodkins and jerkins and all that.

Back to work.

17 responses to “How I come up with ideas

  1. Make the lovable hamster more hard-boiled (but still lovable) and name him Hammy Spade.

    “Hammy Spade’s jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth. His nostrils curved back to make another, smaller, v. His yellow-grey eyes were horizontal.”

    That is pure hamster gold.

  2. Hmmm, I seem to remember Evan Delaney is into writing about extraterrestrials and the like. Or am I hallucinating?

  3. Rex notwithstanding, I believe hamsters have a pretty short lifespan.

  4. -d
    -c (too many cop shows on these days. I know this isn’t a show, but still)
    -somewhere between a and d

    Hope this helps! I never thought about the effect the apocalypse would have on the Amish before, but I guess they’d be much better equipped to survive. Intriguing…

  5. Werezombies would be better suited to comic books, so right away you would have a much larger fan base.
    Post apocalyptic Amish romance would not really be odd inasmuch as the Amish wouldn’t know the world ended by their lifestyle. And the love scenes would take forever in simply trying to remove all those clothes held up by by buttons.
    We already have Homeland and a really great show it is. You would have to mix up the characters somewhat. Make the CIA agent suffering with multiple personality disorder and the terrorist/hero should probably be penguin with identity issues.
    As a title, The Boleyn Girl From Another Planet is my favorite title but the concept…well, I wouldn’t lose my head over it.
    That leaves the hamster plot as my idea of most viable.
    However, I would also suggest a little research when you return to Floirida. And very little is probably more than enough. Ask Dave Barry. He made a career in writing without a single bit of research. Right now you could take advantage of the Great Python Hunt in the Everglades. Set it among the deep, dark background of arms smugglers who rob strip clubs to finance their deals. Just for fun, feature US Senator Bill Nelson as a python hunter. (this last part is, oddly enough, though not at all odd for Florida, absolutely true. State motto: Where the weird come to unwind.

  6. Sir Walter Raleigh becomes a werezombie after being bitten by John Dee, whom Sir Walter was spying upon for Queen Elizabeth. John Dee creates a wormhole, casts Raleigh into it, and then proceeds with his plan to summon the aliens from Independence Day to attack the Earth 400 years *before* Bill Pullman and Will Smith can stop them. Sir Walter – who looks strikingly like Damian Lewis – wakes up in the aftermath of a battle in Afghanistan and assumes the identity of Don Draper ;), a dead American soldier, and adopts a pitch perfect American accent – don’t ask how he came by it. He becomes a war hero, but secretly wants to return to his own time (and timeline) to stop the alien invasion led by John Dee after realizing he (Sir Walter) carries a holographic message from Queen Elizabeth: “Help me, oh my Walter Raleigh, you are my only hope.” Unfortunately he is suspected of werezombiehood by a brilliant but unstable CIA analyst hamster and must run for his unlife, but he meets up with Fringe division in the nick of time to be de-werezombiefied and to find a way back into his own timeline shortly before he was bitten, where (and when) he kills John Dee before he can call Roland Emmerich. At which point, Roland Emmerich says, “Oh well, maybe I could do a post-apocalyptic Amish romance, starring James Franco and Kristen Stewart . . .” And the CIA analyst hamster drowns herself . . . in the kitchen sink. 😉

  7. B, C (would their lives be that much different?), A, A , and new designation E – no idea, but it’s Meg writing so I’m interested to see what she turns out.

  8. I’m going to re-read “The Stand” and try to picture the main characters as if they were all Amish. Thanks for puttting that in my head, Meg…

  9. That’s odd. I see my first post is now published. I thought I messed up in submitting it. Sorry for the unnecessary duplication.

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