I have found story ideas in lots of places over the years; my favourite comes from overhearing snippets of conversations and letting my imagination fill in the gaps, but I have also taken inspiration from a note I once found folded up and tucked in a gate, from quotes and sayings, other books I have read, and even on walks with the dog; but inspiration for the When the Mask Falls came from a warm up exercise I had once used to get me past a stall on another piece of work!
I had chosen the exercise specifically because it helps me get out of the habit of trying to edit as I write, a very bad habit many of us writers suffer from, so I sat down with the intention to just write something, anything at all, but most importantly to not stop!
I have a terrible habit of expecting only perfection to spill from my fingers which can mean that sometimes hardly anything gets written at all, or if it does, it quickly gets deleted, re-written, deleted again, and so on until I eventually give up, decide I am the worst writer in the world and make some tea! So this is a good exercise for me to do and I try to make myself do this as often as I can, even when I am writing updates on my Instagram!
Usually I find this exercise hard but today I got a thousand words down surprisingly quickly, so before I got too carried away I sat back to review the nonsense, which is usually what I produce when I do these things, only this time I really fell in love with the character I had written about; she had a very dry sense of humour, she was unsatisfied with her boring, routine life and wanted more, not all that dissimilar to me at the time.
It had taken around and hour to write those first thousand words, which have since formed the basis for chapter two of the book, but they didn’t leave me, the character haunted me and I couldn’t wait to find out more about her, and me I suppose, and really push her to her limits so I asked her a big question!
“What would happen if…?”
With that in mind, I set her off in pursuit of a more exciting life and we find out the answer to that very important question in all its glorious, and often grisly, detail.
As an aside, despite trying a few times, the other book is really no further on than when I took that break, but I do intend to go back to it at some point, maybe I will be half way through another piece, seeking a moment of brilliance, when I find myself re-inspired and finally get it finished!