How I come up with my ideas
"How do you come up with your ideas?" people sometimes ask. It's a question I have trouble answering. Ideas sleet all around me, all the time, and I run around with my hat held out in both hands trying to catch the ones that shine the brightest.
Often, I'm not sure what to do with them when I've got them, so I squirrel them away until three, or five, or ten of them collide together in the recesses of my mind and emerge into a story. Then, when I start writing, I dig into the store whenever I hit a speed bump. If nothing there helps me around the block, I've learned to trust I'll get the answer from something in my research or some serendipitous piece of information that passes my way.
Let me illustrate.
Seven of the forty or so historical fiction plots I'd worked out in my head before I began writing the actual books belong to The Golden Redepenning series. The one that's now on prerelease, A Raging Madness, is book two in the series but actually came first in my imagination.
As usual, I started with a character type, in this case a beleaguered widow, escaping from her in-laws by climbing out the window, and having to leave behind her beloved colt, the only thing in the world that she owned.
Which, of course, raised all kinds of questions. What was she escaping, and why? Where was she running to? Who was her husband, and how did he come to leave her dependent on her in-laws? What sort of person was she?
And what of her hero? I knew he was one of a group of cousins (the Redepennings), and fairly early on I made him a military man, largely because her husband had been military, and so she had a prejudice against soldiers for my hero to overcome when wooing her.
That must have been all of four years ago. As always, I told myself the bare bones of the story as I walked from the railway station to the office or soaped myself in the shower.
Then I wrote it into my notebook and moved on to another one. Here's what I wrote.
Alex comes to the funeral of Lady Melville's mother-in-law, as the widowed Lady Melville was wife of a friend and fellow officer. Realises that she needs help. Tries to visit her but is turned away. Ella hears her brother-in-law and his wife talking and realises that they mean harm. Runs to inn where Alex is staying. Alex agrees to take her with him. Takes her to his sister Susan, where he and she investigate to find out why in-laws are so determined to keep her. Attempt on her life; find out that brother-in-law has kept secret her inheritance. (Thought her only inheritance was her horse).
Once I had all seven stories, I sorted them by date, so Farewell to Kindness came first, since it starts some eight months before A Raging Madness. I needed a confidante for my Farewell hero, Rede, and had planned to make it a school friend. But Alex's book came next, so Alex got shoe-horned into the Farewell spot. I needed him wounded for the plot, but how and where? He was a soldier, but what battles might he have been involved in to have him in London and still very much an invalid in late April of 1807? I found battles galore, but only one close enough for him to get back to England in time. And the English were not combatants.
The decision to put Alex there anyway, as escort to an unnamed VIP, was one of those fortunate chances I spoke of earlier. In A Raging Madness, a grateful King gives Alex first a cash reward and then a title and an estate, all of which have consequences for his relationship with Ella.
Explore the characters and explore them some more
Of course, the plot capsule above was just the bare-bones start of the story. I knew a little more, but mostly I knew the characters.
Alex was still an invalid, which fired off a couple of plot threads.
Keep researching and researching
I needed to find out the medical treatment for shrapnel wounds, and likely complications. I thought it would be good if Ella treated him, which meant I needed her to have medical training. I made her father a doctor with the regiment in which both Alex and Ella's husband served. But my research showed that the treatment for shrapnel is to leave it alone until it causes problems. Aha! What sort of problems?
Alex and Ella are running away, but the roads in 1807 were diabolical. How could an invalid escape over them? I love the idea of canal boats, and would adore to travel on them. How about if Alex and Ella escaped on a canal boat? No one would think to look for them there, and it would give Alex a chance to have abcessing shrapnel removed, and to recover.
And I'd somewhere come up with the idea that Ella was being drugged by her in-laws. What drug? Laudanum was the obvious answer, and I was lucky enough to find a personal account by a Victorian laudanum addict. How would this affect her escape, and what might Alex think when she arrived in his hotel room?
So that's where I started. With the bare bones plot ideas, several characters I was beginning to know quite well, and some ideas about directions. I began writing, researching as I went, and found out what happened as it poured out on to the pages.
So I started writing, researching as I went, and found out what happened as it poured out on to the pages.
And that's how I come up with my ideas.
Genre: Regency romance, historical romance, historical suspense,
Regency noir, gothic µ Heat rating: PG-13 µ ISBN: 9780473393670
Page count: 382 pages on Kindle µ Publication date: 9 May 2017
Their marriage is a fiction. Their enemies are all too real.
Ella survived an abusive and philandering husband, in-laws who hate her, and public scorn. But she’s not sure she will survive love. It is too late to guard her heart from the man forced to pretend he has married such a disreputable widow, but at least she will not burden him with feelings he can never return.
Alex understands his supposed wife never wishes to remarry. And if she had chosen to wed, it would not have been to him. He should have wooed her when he was whole, when he could have had her love, not her pity. But it is too late now. She looks at him and sees a broken man. Perhaps she will learn to bear him.
In their masquerade of a marriage, Ella and Alex soon discover they are more well-matched than they expected. But then the couple’s blossoming trust is ripped apart by a malicious enemy. Two lost souls must together face the demons of their past to save their lives and give their love a future.
Jude Knight’s writing goal is to transport readers to another time, another place, where they can enjoy adventure and romance, thrill to trials and challenges, uncover secrets and solve mysteries, delight in a happy ending, and return from their virtual holiday refreshed and ready for anything.
She writes historical novels, novellas, and short stories, mostly set in the early 19th Century. She writes strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, villains you’ll love to loathe, and all with a leavening of humour.