The idea: A 4-week blog series in which eight (8) writers give their views on eight (8) different writing process guides. For more details, visit here.

This week’s topic: Where Stories Come From: From the time you get the idea for a novel to the day you first put your fingers to the keyboard, how does the story come to you? (ie. an also explore prepping to write your novel)

The contest: Join in the fun by blogging about the week’s topic on your own site. Be sure to post the link in this thread for a chance to win a free book! More details here.

The writers and their guides: Click on any of the writer’s names below to view their blog.

Cory Jackson: Robert Olen Butler’s From Where You Dream

Kate Hart: Stephen King’s On Writing

Jamie Blair: Thomas Monteleone’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Writing A Novel

Laura McMeeking: Natalie Naimark-Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

Debra Driza: James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure

Leila Austin: Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird

Sarah Harian: Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey

Jennifer Wood: Sol Stein’s Stein on Writing


In From Where You Dream Robert Olen Butler offered some tips I found very useful for getting into that space where the ideas will come to you.  His greatest tip for keeping the ideas flowing? Write every day because when you take a day off there will be hell to pay. He describes that space between novels when he’s yet to write anything new.

I feel that I am utterly wasting my life. I do trivial, ghastly, quotidian stuff; I hate myself; I complain about myself to my wife, and that hatred daily increases. Finally she says to me, “Honey, it’s OK, you’ve reached total self-loathing; you’re about to start writing.” She’s always right.  Soon thereafter, the door opens up to my unconscious, to my new work, and I leap in. And then I write every day and I am scared every day and I am happy every day.

If you’re not a writer, this sounds a lot like schizophrenia. If you are a writer, it sounds achingly familiar. In fact, in the margins of my copy of his book, I wrote “Christmas 2009” next to the above quote. The backbone of any novel is a gnarled web of the author’s self-doubt, fear, and love of stories. Before you have a novel, though, you must have an idea. Butler recommends dreamstorming.

You’re going to go into your writing space, you’re going to go into your dreamspace, you’re going to float around, and you’re going to dreamstorm potential scenes in such a novel as this with such characters as these, with such yearnings as these.

Funny enough, it all boils down to finding that character with that massive yearning. Then put that character in a position to have their yearning thwarted by the universe. This sounds so simple stated like this, but as many of you know, the difficulty comes in taking a character with a universal yearning and finding a unique way to thwart them or an entirely new way for that character to overcome the obstacles in their way.

You know what? I think I may be ready to write. Because all of that sounds like a hell of a lot of fun.