Where Do Ideas Come From?
Once you commit to writing a novel and begin to think of yourself as an author, you start to see the world differently. Ideas are everywhere. The world around you is an endless supply of story concepts, characters and settings. You just have to get out there and drink it all in. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you’ll walk out your front door and stumble across your next book—plot, characters and setting—all wrapped up with a pretty little bow. It’s more subtle than that.
I’m currently writing the fourth book in my Dream Waters series. With each book I write, my characters become more familiar to me. I find myself picturing them wherever I happen to be. When I’m on vacation, I’ll picture my characters walking the same city streets or soaking up the sun on the same beach. There are plenty of times when that’s as far as the creative exercise goes. It’s just a way for me to keep my characters fresh in my mind and maybe get to know them a little better—how they’d be dressed if they were there with me, how they’d spend their time if they were vacationing in the same spot, that sort of thing.
At other times, elements of my surroundings find their way into a story. Hikes with my family have inspired several of the settings in my books. Taughannock Falls in upstate New York inspired the setting for the second chapter in Book Two of my series. It wasn’t a new spot. I’d hiked there plenty of times but on that particular day, the muse whispered in my ear and the scenery morphed into something more. I imagined myself walking through the trees in the Dream World on a starless night and emerging from the forest at the foot of the majestic waterfall at the end of the trail. I pictured my character sitting on the rocks beside the pool at the waterfall’s base looking up at the cliffs high above as he waited for a visitor to arrive. Just this past summer, I spent a week in the Adirondacks with my family. Our long hikes through the woods inspired the perilous journey through the Dark forest that one of my characters takes in my third book. But you don’t need to take a hike to collect material for a story. At a cousin’s wedding reception a few years back, I sat at our table and pictured my characters seated at another table in the room. That became the inspiration for a racy flashback in my first novel.
When it comes to characters, the world is full of those. I don’t base any of my characters’ personalities on actual people, but I’m constantly absorbing the actions, speech and physical traits of the people I encounter. Sprinkling bits and pieces of the various traits I’ve observed into my characters makes them feel more believable. The physical appearances of my characters are actually based on actors and actresses. When I create a character, I almost always picture a particular actor playing the role. Then I’ll watch YouTube clips of their performances and study their mannerisms until I can conjure them mentally and capture my character on paper.
Once you commit to the writer’s life, the world around you is nothing but characters, settings and plot ideas. All you have to do is absorb it and twist it into your own unique fictional world.
ABOUT THE SERIES
(Book One of The Dream Waters Series)
by Erin A. Jensen
GENRE: Contemporary Fantasy
Book One of The Dream Waters Series
All his life, Charlie Oliver has watched the people around him morph into creatures that no one else sees. Unlike the rest of the world, Charlie remembers the Waters that transport him to the Dream World each night. And he sees glimpses of people’s Dream forms in the waking world. Condemned to spend his waking hours in a psychiatric facility because of his Dream Sight, Charlie doesn’t expect anything to change. But everything starts changing the day Emma Talbot walks through the door in the middle of a group therapy session.
Haunted by memories of the events that led to her admission, Emma plans to end her life the first chance she gets. But something about Charlie stops her. From the moment they shake hands, his friendship feels safe and familiar. As Emma begins to let down her guard, Charlie catches a glimpse of the fiery-eyed dragon that lurks behind her Dream form. Each night, as Emma dreams of the man who’s been banned from visiting, Charlie searches the Dream World for the monster that shadows her. But when Emma’s suppressed memories begin to surface, Charlie finds more monsters than he bargained for.
The first book is on sale for $0.99
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“Where were you afraid I’d land when I fell in and why did you say finding the dragon wouldn’t be easy?”
She started drawing waves in the sand with her finger and I got the distinct impression she was doing it to avoid looking at me. “Honestly Charlie, I wasn’t sure where you’d land. It’s unpredictable when you don’t jump on purpose. You could end up anywhere the people you’ve met have been. You’re a mental patient. Can you imagine the sections of Dream some patients might inhabit?” Her finger stopped drawing mid-wave. “Trust me boy. There are Dark places in the Dream World, places you should never go. Venture too far into them and you risk losing a part of yourself to the Darkness.”
I was really getting tired of the cryptic shit. “Great. Thanks for the vague ominous warning. I was afraid you might give me an actual answer for a second there.”
“I’ve already said too much.” Even at a whisper there was a waver to her voice. “Just thank me for keeping you safe and jump back into the Water.”
“I don’t know which world I find you more annoying in.” It wasn’t the nicest thing to say to the one person who understood me but I said it out of frustration and maybe a little out of fear.
Nellie was about to snarl something back, but the leaves of some bushes just off the beach started rustling and I hopped to my feet to get a better look. “Something’s over there.”
Nellie stood up with a weary sigh and as she turned toward the bushes I saw the scars. Large deep identical scars marring the flesh on both of her shoulder blades.
I took a step closer to her. “What happened to your back?”
She turned and gave me a hard shove toward the Water’s edge. “It’s time for you to go now Charlie.” It caught me by surprise and knocked me off balance, back into the surf and the icy Water pulled me back in.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Erin Jensen is a part-time pharmacist and a fulltime creator of imaginary worlds. She lives in upstate NY with her incredibly supportive husband, two sons (who are both taller than her) and a Yorkshire terrier who thinks he’s the family bodyguard. In the early days of her writing career, Erin vowed to get a dragon tattoo—once her books received a milestone number of reviews—but she won’t disclose that number any longer, for fear of actually reaching her goal and having to go through with it.
Dream World: Book Two of The Dream Waters Series
by Erin A. Jensen
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