Young Writers Society

How Did Your Novels Start Off?

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Sun Mar 27, 2016 12:05 pm
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EscaSkye says...

I'm just curious, but how did you guys get the ideas for your novels? Was it through a song, a show you watched or...?

The one I'm really interested on working on started off as a series of drabbles I wrote sometime during my third year of high school. My main heroine had a different name back then and most of the characters I'm working with now weren't even made nor thought of that time. The main "theme song" of sorts too was Tarzan's "Two Worlds, One Family" which inspired the project title it had, lol.

So yeah. How'd your novels start off guys?
Not anymore.

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StellaThomas says...

The very first inspiration for Unruly was when I was in boarding school sharing a room with five other girls and I wrote a story about six princesses running away from their boarding school to find adventure and coming across a dragon. The main character was an outsider called Setter.

Skip forward to 2011 when I'm trying to write a NaNo space opera and get bored and I revisit old ideas and remember this story. Except now instead of there being six princesses in a boarding school there's one princess and five noble ladies, one of whom is still called Setter and is fixated by dragons. But by now I was interested not only in writing about a group of girls, but writing about girls fighting dragons to save other girls. So instead of Setter being my MC, Astrid Race rose to the fore, a best friend who goes above and beyond to try and save the princess. The story has grown since then - there's still a dragon but the dragon isn't the Big Bad, there's still balls and boarding schools but the story grew and changed over time from a short about six princesses looking for adventure.

Silk has a much clearer start point - Boy got me Beauty & the Beast as an anniversary present and I was watching it and I thought a) why is the man the beast and the woman is always beautiful no matter what and b) why is the Beast not scary? So I turned the tale on its head - a female, beastly beast (a giant spider) and turned other things on their heads too - no longer is he protagonist as good and pure as they once were, and what happens to a village when its patron gets turned into a monster? It all came together very quickly in comparison.

Most of my inspiration comes from fairytales which I've always quoted as a big source in my writing and it's true. Silk is the obvious one but Unruly also borrows strongly from several themes - girls in a tower (Rapunzel, Twelve Dancing Princesses), dragons, rose gardens, knights in white armour, missing princesses...

Basically, all my stories are thanks to the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault.
"Stella. You were in my dream the other night. And everyone called you Princess." -Lauren2010

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Vervain says...

Oh goodness novel ideas. I will always, always say that mine come out of nowhere and bite me on the nose so hard they leave scars.

Some of them are a little more exact than that, though, I guess.

With my project Dissonance, I got started by thinking about all the great generic fantasy novels involving dragons and magic and stuff I read growing up ("growing up" being everything I've experienced up until this point because I swear I'm still a kid). Like, in hindsight, it's not the best-written stuff, but it's the kind of self-affirming images you see of "yeah, this is a normal book and that's totally normal".

And then I stopped and thought a minute, like... I've never really seen a disabled person in kid-accessible generic fantasy. I mean, sure, there might be one or two on the sidelines, but they're never the protagonist. The protagonist is usually able-bodied, let alone neurotypical, in every conceivable way except for maybe a couple of chapters in which they're dramatically wounded and must receive treatment for this debilitating wound. (Bonus points if it's just one chapter because the author didn't want to write that.)

So I shrugged it off and said "well, I'll write one, then". (And one turned into two. And two turned into three. And three turned into deargodsaveme with my future plans for this project.) But Dissonance is about a happy, healthy hard of hearing girl who has her world flipped upside-down and must learn to not only cope but thrive in situations she would much rather not be in, thank you very much.

Why? Because disability is normal. So why not?

For slightly less dramatic reasons:

Beneath the Shallow Water - because I like caimans. Crocodilians are some of my favorite animals on the planet and out of those caimans are undeniably the best. So I wanted to write something with caimans in it.

Clementine's Monster - I saw this convertible one day that was a cobbled-together mess of about ten different cars with a huge American flag draping off the back and scraping against the asphalt. I couldn't help but wonder "who would drive a car like that?!" And then Clem happened.

Matricide - it's mathemagical! (Mathemagics is about the one solid concept in this world as of yet, haha.)

I can be silly about my reasons, too :P
stay off the faerie paths

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Tuesday says...

My novel ideas come, like everyone else's, out of the blue. In a form of a dream or simply just staring at a tree. And sometimes these ideas never leave and cling onto your brain for dear life.

The Story of Billi Wack was just that. You see, I had this book awhile back called The Mysteries of California and inside were different stories of hidden legends, weird and confusing tales of screaming trees, and a horse faced lady that cried for her drown children. As I continued to read the book, I stumbled across something out-of-blue and weird, not knowing it'll be a novel. Billi Wack, as some of you may know, is a goat mixed with the features of a human baby and loves to drink milk. Anyway. He, to me, seemed fake and unrealistic (which is how most 'legend' type things are to me) when I first say the story about him. So, I put it off for a while.

Then, as I said before, the thought of Billi Wack sparked something inside my head. I would think of possibly beginnings for The Story of Billi Wack but I got nothing. In early October, in third hour math, I started writing Billi. The first real thing was called Billi Wack and the Story of Mystery and had a good feeling to my ten year old self. Anyhow. As I went around and showed it to my friends, the feeling of good disappeared.
One day, my friend suggested writing a scene for my up and going novel. So, at the time, I said yes but now that I think back to it, I truly wished I hadn't. I don't even remember the scene, I just remember ripping it up and crying.

The beginning novel was written on ten sheets of paper with pencil, mind you. Soon after that, I've given up writing. A dark stage in my life where I just sat around and did nothing. I wrote a few short stories here and there but they were meaningless. They didn't have the real feeling Billi gave me. However, another novel idea came from the same book ( The Mysteries of California) and it was about the lost city of lizards under L.A. This idea would possibly be the flat ground of making me want to restart Billi Wack. Then as I continued writing City of Lizards (a creative title, I know lol) my motivation for writing feel flat and writer's block was welcomed into my life.

Skip ahead to early March 2014, and you have me sitting at my desk researching Billi Wack. Beforehand, my mom had noticed me acting sad and was worried it was about school or something. I talked to her and within the next few months, she helped me get motivated to write The Story of Billi Wack and even suggested on how to kill him in the last chapter. So, that's the novel I've been trying to finish for the past idk how many months.

If I had to chose another novel idea, it would most likely be Heather which came from an old Writer's Tournament thing. Then there was Marvin a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Fanfiction (which I didn't know it was lol).

But yes, my ideas are like butterflies. They float on the wind and land on my finger, flying away if startled.
Hope can find a way.

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Holysocks says...

I got the idea for Glass & Ashes when I saw an abandoned shoe in town. It made me start to think how someone could lose a shoe, and then I thought it would be fun to do a Cinderella re telling- but then I kinda ditched the Cinderella bit, we'll see.

For Fiends of Heaven I just wanted to write about a ghost- and I actually originally just used one of my old characters from a novel that flopped (he's one of my favourite characters though) but he's slowly morphing into a new character which I like- even if he is the same. We're not sure. They're funny creatures.
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jumpingsheep says...

Lone Voice Radio actually started about five years ago, when I wrote my first story in eighth grade about a group of kids surviving an alien takeover. In ninth grade, the story grew and matured, although I abandoned it in tenth grade when I started another dystopian story. However, I wrote myself into a hole with that one, and then realized how similar it was to the alien story I abandoned. So, I combined the stories into six books (and then actually added a third trilogy) and this ended up forming a massive nine-book series plan. I worked on this for about a year, plot being added on as I experienced different things in high school (soccer tryouts became a dystopian boot camp, for example)

Flash forward to my junior year. I started another project which was about a group of kids starting an underground radio station. It was originally intended to be a podcast, but it sort of grew out of the podcast format as I realized there was so much story that I wanted to tell.

At this point, the nine-book series had also been put on hold. Again, as I got older, I realized that the plot (while it had it's good points) was mediocre and the characters (with the exception of two or three) were rather lackluster. A friend of mine heard my dilemma and suggested that I scrap the nine books and use its characters as secondary characters in Lone Voice Radio and save the good plot bunnies.

Thus began the version of Lone Voice Radio that I posted on here. Since I started that project last summer, the story has evolved into something much more complex and much darker than I intended, and I actually had some fun writing an episode as as a television screenplay, which I think would be a really neat format. I also started a prequel book, which takes place ten years before the events of Lone Voice Radio, which I intended to (hopefully) get published before someday getting Lone Voice Radio as a telecast, although that's a super long-term goal.

So that's how I got there.

The Chaos Game actually started with a character that I liked (and I used in my first storybook!) and I started writing out lists of cool space adventures that I imagined her in. Sometime this January, I got serious about writing a book for this character and I've been working on it for two months now (I'm up to 36,000 words!). Over time, other characters have joined her, a few more teens, a couple kids, and someone's hardcore space grandma. The Chaos Game is one project that I have yet to grow tired of working on, mostly because it's so much fun, although it contains some darker space secrets.

So... yeah. That's how I got the ideas to my two major projects.
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Lavvie says...

The Guild of Trees, which is a pretty lame name but I'm loathe to change it because it's been that way since day one, has been my project for nearly 11 years. GoT (the original GoT, I might add) has never seen the light of day on YWS for a multitude of reasons, one of them being that I'm never satisfied with it. It's come a long way from when I first wrote it at age nine, but I've since woven in many more things, making it rather complex. I've probably written about 9 entire revisions since I finished the original.

I got the idea during the summer. I was headed with my best friend to her family's lake property for the weekend. Where I'm from, there are lots (and I mean LOTS) of trees so there's naturally lots of logging. On our way to the property, we passed through what had been an expansive forest but was now nothing more than a clear cut that when on for kilometres. The strange thing was that despite the fact that hectares of forest had been chopped down, there were about fifty full grown, albeit spindly, pine trees and they were all in a perfect circle. The centre of the circle was also logged. Nine year old Lavvie asked herself why and that is how GoT started.

I have a few other novels, completed or half done, but GoT is ultimately the one that I love most. It was the most spontaneous and so most naturally written. I think I wrote all 375 pages in about three and a half weeks.

EDIT: I might as well discuss my current project which isn't really a novel, but more of an anthology of short stories. It's called Saturn, after the planet that alchemists centuries ago believed to be the planet of misery and sadness. It sounds a bit doom and gloom, but the point of my anthology is that sadness shouldn't necessarily always be a bad thing. All of short stories are inspired by my dreams, hopes, wishes, and experiences. I am a very nostalgic person and I needed an outlet. Ultimately, I was inspired by my own homesickness of this year, something I've never actually experienced before.

What is to give light must endure burning. – Viktor Frankl

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Carlito says...

I write contemporary romance so most of my idea sparks come from things I see or wonder about in every day life.

The original spark for Captive came in May of 2012 when I was getting ready for my first major international traveling experience. I was going to Brazil for a week with a group of strangers. I love the show "Locked Up Abroad". If you're not familiar, it's about people that get locked up in foreign countries (usually for drug related reasons, but sometimes it's because of kidnapping). A few weeks before leaving on my trip, I watched an episode about Callie and Monique Strydom who were kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf (a terrorist organization based in the Southern Philippines that is affiliated with Al Qaeda) while on vacation in Malaysia and were held in the Philippines for three months.

I started thinking about what it would be like to have that happen to you - to be held for ransom by a group of militant terrorists for months. I also started thinking about what it would be like to be a friend or family member of a victim and have to sit at home and wonder if your loved one is okay and if you're ever going to see them again.

My trip to Brazil was fine and amazing, but I kept thinking about those questions and Molly, Noah, and Becca were born.

The novel has evolved a lot over the last several years as I've honed in on exactly what story I'm trying to tell here, and I've decided it needs to be a love story first and foremost because love stories are my jam :p But it's one of my favorite idea sparks and probably my favorite cast because it's all so complicated and painful and I love that sort of thing.

The other novel I'm working on is Liz + Zac. The way this one came together was a bit different. I had all of these little fragments of ideas and I didn't know what I was going to do with any of them because there were so many and I didn't think any could support their own novel. Some of these these fragments were: I wanted to write a story about a male survivor of sexual assault because they are grossly under-represented, I wanted to do something with slut-shaming and the stigma against having sex if you're a teenage girl, I wanted to have a heterosexual male figure skater because I love figure skating and I don't like that people assume all men that do artistic things like figure skating must be gay, I wanted to have multicultural characters because we need more diversity in literature.

These were all totally separate little idea sparks and they were floating around up in my head without any story to go with them. Then I went to Colorado for two weeks with my college for a service trip at the end of my senior year. Colorado is a really magical place for me and big things always seem to happen when I'm there. These little fragments came together in a cohesive way and Liz popped into my head and then Zac did and their stories started to evolve and the novel was born.

I know I said the Captive cast is my favorite, but Liz and Zac are my favorites too. :D
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Evander says...

Silver, which was originally Silence is Silver, is actually kinda of a long story. So, on January 27th 2014, I stayed up late and started a story. I actually don't know where the inspiration actually came from, but I don't think I want to know at this point. Anyway, I had a main character named Karan and she was nonverbal and basically the worst protagonist ever. I think that I dropped her idea somewhere along the line, just because.

Then, along came The Last Man Standing. Uh, I was in chat and convinced to join. I didn't really have an idea. So I pulled up my Google Docs, looked at everything, and chose Silence is Silver for the title name. Then I took everything and turned it on its head, totally forgetting that what I had written previously existed. I killed off the dad, turned the mom evil, and then had lots and lots of plot holes. I've taken the completed draft off of YWS, since I can't even look at chapter one without cringing.

Then I tried to rewrite it after I dropped out of LMS in 2015. I let it sit on the backburner, focused on other things, then managed to write three chapters of the second draft before it eventually fizzled away. Even though I had ideas, they just didn't connect together all that well and they weren't executed well. Yeah, I had introduced Fate, Life, and Death but I didn't know what to do with them really. There wasn't a clear plot with a clear ending. I was still just floundering around.

Then NaNoWriMo of '15 came around. I actually had a solid ending in mind, a good idea for what was going to happen, and a good grasp on who my main character was. I actually had research, a bunch of resources, and now I'm in the midst of editing and getting a better idea of the world that I've created.

No Romance, formally It's A Story About a Spy In A Shop And I Don't Know What to Name It, is my current baby. Uh, I got the idea for it after reading Also Known As and seeing calls for more diversity in YA. So I decided to, well, make fun of common tropes in novels that I had read by writing a self aware main character who was trapped in a book. A romance book. She's aro/ace.

Yeah, that went well.

My main character was trapped inside of a bookstore, a spy on her next mission to assassinate someone. Who? I barely have a clue. There might be some notes on my laptop, but they're buried beneath others. I didn't have a good grasp on her character and I still don't. I keep on throwing in plot twists and things that don't make sense.

I can't wait for the second draft to clean it up.
Want to talk about your project? Head on over to the Writers Corner! If you have a question about writing, then head on over to Research! Is your question not big enough to warrant its own thread? Ask away in Little Details!

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micamouth says...

The August Province originally started off as a title. I had no ideas for it at that time - it was actually going to be somehow incorporated into another story I have yet to write about faeries and the like, called Thorns of the Gate.

The one thing that got me where I am today with TAP is staring out of the Physics class windows in winter. I noticed that though all the trees were bare, there were some that looked like they had been stripped of their bark completely - I nicknamed these 'bone-trees'. Although there aren't many bone-trees in a desert, the idea inspired a post-apocalyptic, 'sci-fi meets old magic' kind of thing.

I'm really unsure about how it evolved from there, but I think I began with a vague idea of what the Province looked like, and a faint image of Jorah. This is usually how things go - I start with dream-like ideas for people, places and events.
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EmmVeePi says...

Well it is actually I series of novels I am referring to of which I've only completed the first but here goes:

I have had since I can remember an infatuation with Norse Mythology. While it is a great mythology it is quite disjointed, so many stories that are barely tied together.

I have set out to write a single story(over multiple books) that brings together many of these ancient epics and weaves them together in the way I feel they deserve.

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TinkerTwaggy says...

Uh... Welp, it's me talkin' here, so this is probably gonna sound unusual. Not that I'm the only one in that case, but you've been warned!

So for GemsWorld Quest - which is in a huge hiatus right now, but it's eventually going to be the first novel I intend to "reboot" and publish - I was uh... kinda making my first custom stage in Super Smash Bros Brawl, and since I wasn't sure what I wanted, I took several platforms and traps here and there and assembled them in a space-like background and put Mario Kart Double Dash's Rainbow Road theme in it - y'know, to get a space feel to the whole construction. I was around 12 when doin' that.

Point is, I named the stage GemWorld, and since then I felt like it was an important way for me to remember who I am and how I work: AKA I assemble many different references or things that I liked, no matter how obscure these are to people, and stock them somewhere before makin' somethin' out of it. That's what GemWorld was, originally. And since I do in fact get most of my ideas from the video games I play, books I read, cartoons, animes and movies I watch, musical pieces I listen to, places I travel to or just random quotes I remember (not to mention my dreams), I realized that I needed a character - Dyrow - to represent myself during my explorations. Or to... make people understand how it felt to do it. I'm not just playing games or watching movies - I'm exploring brand new worlds, and these fictional characters aren't "just cartoony people", they're actual inhabitants of said worlds, and I can take stuff from them to build my own self.

But Dyrow - AKA a dream-like, exaggerated representation of my already exaggerated self - was with me ever since I could remember, really. Originally, he was a magician dressed in a golden yellow suit, with a staff, a squared top hat and shiny red boots goin' on adventures based on the cartoons I watched at the time and various games I played. He had a giant, supersonic green caterpillar as a Familiar - based on Wiggler - and could explore all sorts of places with it. Then, as I grew up as a person, he started to gain more... substance. From Shaman King Master of Spirits 2, I found a weapon that would suit him because most heroes don't use it - a staff-sized mace renamed "Cypher", for example. From reading about Balzac's Human Comedy project came Dyrow's ability to travel in various places and appear here and there, not necessarily as the main character - just a recurring one. And now, I essentially want him to be the beginning of an entire timeline of stories, with GemsWorld Quest as the start of a series of stories that, all together, make something much bigger.

So... yeah. That's how I got my idea for GemsWorld Quest. Usually, I just write story plans of everything I come across - called Master Schemes, I have dozens of these currently - and fumble through my various folders to link anything with everything. Then boom! Story. Scenario. Characters. Plot. not necessarily good, but always usable for somethin' else. Oh, and there's always going to be an excited freak in my stories. Always. Either that or a sadistic villain. Personal taste, is all.
"Is there a limit to how much living I can live with my life? How will I know if I've gone too far?
And why did I spend my life savings on sunglasses for a whale?
I shall find the answers... to these questions."

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Mon Apr 25, 2016 1:18 am
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Mageheart says...

I have a lot of novels, so please bear with me.

I'll start with my first story. It was called A Little Bit of Me. It has never been on YWS and never will be - I always edited it and I've reused characters from it in other stories. But I'll get back to those characters in a bit. The inspiration was more of a desperate attempt by a lonely me to stop feeling so alone. I was young. I hadn't even gotten into fanfiction, so the term "self-insert" was one that I had yet to encounter. But that story was basically a self-insert story. I used characters I had created when I was younger, so going on an adventure with them was a dream come true.

Next was The Case of the Necromancer-For-Hire, the first book of The Schadel Files. I was lonely, and upset at some people I knew for excluding me. The Waiting Game, a short story, had been created under similar circumstances. That story was realistic - it was about video games - so I decided to make the new short story be set in a video game style universe. The main character, Chi, was walking by a tree, and I just knew that someone had to be in there. I'm still not sure where Schadel being a grim reaper came from. The series now takes place in a ghost-town in America, in modern times, but the characters and their personalities have essentially stayed the same.

Phew. I knew this was going to be on the long side. Alright, back to my novels. The next project I embarked on, The Giving Curse, originally titled Nex after one of the main characters, was about an assassin and a human-turned-dragon-being. The assassin, Ruma Glider, was strangely enough born from me going on a pretend adventure with my younger cousins. I thought Ruma needed his own story, so I took the idea of him rescuing a prince from a dragon and changed it up. Then I later became inspired by a retelling of Beauty and the Beast called Beauty and the Chad, and upon knowing that, the magically enchanted bookcases suddenly make a lot of sense. Also, Aska, who was turned into an empty suit of armor via magic, was mainly inspired by Alphonse Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist - his soul is bound to a suit of armor. I just always thought it was cool watching characters freak out when the helmet comes off and they see nothing inside.

The next novel that never really kicked off is Delete and Restart. It was inspired by The Waiting Game and fanfictions I've written for video games. Remember how I said I reused characters from my first novel? DemonKingAkane is one of them. Originally, he was the Demon King (hence the username), but he also loved video games. I created a story where he gets trapped inside one as a way of making it up to him for deserting his book, I guess. He was always one of my favorite characters in A Little Bit of Me.

My latest project, The Automaton's Heart, was inspired by a roleplay over in Character Chit-Chat. The characters in that roleplay are also reused ones from my first book. Zogin Arwitch and Soul Error Arwitch were created after I watched Fullmetal Alchemist. I was young at the time of their creation, so I didn't remember the main character's last name. (It's Elric, by the way). So their last name is supposed to be a nod to the Elric brothers. Zogin is essentially Ed - originally she could use alchemy and was really short. I can't say too much more on this novel - I've only posted up to Chapter 2 on here. But I will eventually put my inspiration for other ideas I have.

And that's where everything I've written has come from! :D

[ she/her, but it's a loose relationship at best ]

roleplaying is my platonic love language.

queer and here.

Magebird --> Mageheart

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Charm says...

Most of my novels start off as daydreams I have when listening to music or when I watch something that gets me hyped like Game of Thrones or a good anime. I add on to it in my mind and then it slowly evolves until it's nothing like the original and is entirely new. Most of my novels are a combination of a bunch of spin offs I've made in my daydreams. For example most of my novels have been thoughts/stories in my mind for years but I'm just now finally putting them to paper.

I wonder if I'm the only person who does this? I've been doing it for as long as I can remember. When I was little I would get inspired by music and create a story only to later act it out with my dolls or with my friends.


Usually how I spin off a story is I take the characters I like and I add myself into their world but I give them an entire new plot. This plot changes the characters and changes everything until it's become something new. I guess sort of like fanfiction at first xD

There are times though (and this is most of the time lately) where I just start writing and it becomes something. That's how I created Death's Reign.

"She doesn't even go here!"
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