Where does a story start?
by Barbara Bickmore
All but two of my stories have begun with place. I don’t like cold grey climates, where I’ve lived all but 12 years of my life. I love the subtropics, where I’ve only lived 7 years of my life (all 7 were the happiest ones I’ve known). In warm sunny climates I am not only happy but most creative. I wrote 5 books in 7 years when I lived in a small Mexican mountain town. I’ve never neared that back in the continental U.S.
When planning to write, I choose a warm, sunny place and then decide what to write about. Two exceptions: Stairway to the Stars takes place in England, where it is disgustingly grey and rainy and chilly throughout the year. The Moon Below about Australia was an idea given to me by one of my daughters.
Once I have decided on a place, I do research and almost always stumble on an historical woman or two on whom to base my story. Then I let my imagination soar. Then I think of a person I would like to be, men I would like to love, goals I would like to achieve, friends I would like to share my life with. I think of ways to add tension, ways to screw up love, ways to think one is in love but it’s the wrong person. I want my heroines to achieve success on their own, battle the elements on their own, not have to rely on a man to do that for her. My heroines are always adventurous and intelligent. They love, not just a man (or men) but friends, children, land, ideals, ideas. They are always compassionate, resourceful, and hard working. There, that’s the definition of a Bickmore heroine. They are all like that, come to think of it.
My character development actually takes place as I write. Most of my secondary characters come to me from the story I’m writing. They appear often seemingly out of nowhere, not alive a second before they appear on my computer screen. I am surprised and excited to meet them and wonder where they’re going to lead me. I write chronologically so that I live the events as they happen and form the personalities as I go along. I don’t know how I make a story grow once it is planted. Those close to me, who have watched me write, tell me I go into a trance very often when writing and my characters and the storyline come from within that trance, that land of the imagination where I live more than I live in the “real” world. Something in there propels my fingers on the keyboard and I actually do not see my story unfold on my computer monitor. I do not see that or know just what I’ve written until I come out of that so-called trance and re-read it
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The Author in all of us
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