Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Stories That Write Themselves...

"Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn't wait to get to work in the morning: I wanted to know what I was going to say." ~Sharon O'Brien

Stories that write themselves. Sounds a bit spooky. Perfect for this month of October with its ghouls, witches and bats. Is it a new form of ghost-writing? Or is it something else?

Ever have one of those stories? Ever just not want to stop writing because you couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next? We have, and let us tell you what a joy and pleasure it is to have one of those stories. The characters not only speak to you, they speak loudly and frequently and if you try to veer away from where they want you to go, the sudden silence is more than just deafening, it’s terrifying!

"Writing is flying in dreams. When you remember. When you can. When it works. It's that easy.” ― Neil Gaiman

Then, if you start paying attention to them again, the words flow – no, they gush – and the story takes flight again. Neil is so right. When it works, it really works. We want to share how one particular whirlwind story flew for us so easily we both had to pinch ourselves.

Here’s the scoop …one of the authors on our publisher’s author loop got a bill in the mail from Old Dominion Power company. The phone number made her laugh, because it was 888-Dom-Help. She, being an erotica writer, thought it funny that a Dom would need help…then she tossed that out on the author loop and several of us jumped on it with both feet.

We changed the phone number slightly (1-800-DOM-help) so as not to cause problems for the power company, developed a “bible” for the series, agreed on the number of authors to be involved/invited to write for the series, and pitched it to TPTB (the powers that be).

Waiting for approval was excruciating, but neither of us is particularly blessed with patience. When the word came down that we were good to go, the whole group turned quiet as everyone began working on their story. Of course, we had to tweak the bible just a bit to fit the developing stories.

With the series approved and the bible in place, we started tossing ideas around trying to hit on the perfect one to write about. We had several “thoughts” on the matter, some discussion, and then decided to combine two ideas into one story and BOOM – we started writing.

Cai started the story telling Arwen she’d send it to her when she got stuck. Nearly 5000 words later, Arwen got the first installment. The entire story, from beginning to end, took us three weeks to finish. Twenty-one days and we had it polished and ready to send to our editor. She loved it, made minor revisions, and Needing Harte became the first published work in the 1-800-DOM-help series.

By the way, if you're looking for the rest of that series featuring authors Desiree Holt, Francesca Hawley, Michelle Polaris, Delilah Devlin, Christine D'Abo, Samantha Cayto, Delphine Dryden, Kathy Kulig and Allie Standifer, look for the white business card with 1-800-DOM-help on all of the covers.

From a 'germ’ of an idea to an eager group of authors, we dove into that process of discovery. It flowed. We flew. To date, that is one of our best-sellers. That story made writing fun. We were both a bit sad to say good-bye to Harte and Ramey, but it made us eager to see what might come next.

What about you? What has been your experience with stories that write themselves?


Sheila Tenold said...

I've experienced a couple short stories that wrote themselves, and, yes, it's a thrill.
So far, my full-length works have been a labor of love with multiple bumps in the road, slowing me down.

Your 1-800-DOM-help is a great idea! What fun. Good luck.

Jill James said...

I don't think I've had a whole story write itself, but I've had large chunks do it. I call it 'in the zone'. It is when I'm writing and the house could be on fire and I wouldn't know it. The story is flowing like my fingers are possessed and I finally look up and hours have passed and 20+ pages are on my computer and I don't know where they came from.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Marilu, you make me pine for a collaborative experience like the DOM-help writing adventure you had with your friends. I learned as an educator, that the best teaching lessons we could ever write came as a result of team efforts. Love the idea of stories written that way! As for stories writing's what I live for. Like a runner on an adrenaline rush, I love to watch my characters take on lives of their own. Does it happen all the time...I wish...but when it does-magic!

Josie said...

I only wish my 80,000 word manuscripts would write themselves. The beginning and endings are fine, but the sluggish middle is another matter entirely.