My guest today is author Natalie Normann who has come to chat on Patricia’s Pen about how she gets ideas. Without further ado, it’s over to Natalie.
Why are ideas such a pain in the …?
I’m always asked how I get ideas. I’m never what to say because that’s one of those questions with no simple answer. Honestly, I don’t know where ideas come from. I have written 64 novels in 26 years – that is, it’s been 26 years since my first book was published. Before that I was a writer in training, with loads of abandoned stories and ideas that disappeared before they ever made it out of my head.
I started writing when I was a teenager, when there were no books on writing available in Norwegian. I learned by copying stories I loved, except I didn’t know that was what I was doing. I would watch a movie, and then rewrite it as I remembered it. I also wrote sequels if I disliked the ending. Meaning nothing of what I wrote was remotely original, and most of it was terrible.
Even so, I kept writing, and at some point it finally dawned on me that the only thing I could bring to the table, was how I wrote my stories. And when that happened, I stopped worrying so much about being original, if that makes sense.
Now I love the idea stage because whatever idea I get, it always feels like the best idea I’ve ever had. I get a nice notebook, and write down the idea, such as it is. Then I keep coming back to it, playing with it, looking for new developments and just collecting snippets that I feel is a part of it. Maybe finding names I like, do some research, play around with the options. Developing an idea is so much about choices, and I play different scenarious out in my head all the time. It’s part of the fun of writing.
I might start writing years later, or right away, depending on how I feel. And there’s always more than one idea floating around, and of course, because I’m writing, I can’t just drop what I’m working on and start something new.
When I finally start, even if I have done all the preperations and the research, and have the lovely notebook, whatever I write usually falls apart after a few chapters. After that, it’s like holding on to a slippery jellyfish that sprouts tentacles all over the place.
This is because ideas are always better in my head than out of it. That’s just a fact of writing life. If your first instinct is to chuck the thing in the bin, you’re like me. But don’t do it too soon. Keep writing and at some point it will get better. I always get the first draft down without much consideration to storyline or character arcs or any of the things that builds a story. I don’t spend much time on the first three chapters either, because I know it’s a waste of time. The story will change, and then I have to rewrite those chapters anyway.
And then there’s always edits.
About Natalie Normann
Natalie Normann is a Norwegian writer and writes historical romance series in her native language. Her writing journey started with short stories in women’s magazines until her first book was published in 1995. Writing in English has been a lifelong dream, and with Summer Island and Christmas Island that dream has come through thanks to One More Chapter.
She grew up in a shipping town on the west-coast of Norway, and always wanted to be a writer. Actually, she wanted to smoke cigars and drink whisky like Hemingway, but prefer chocolate truffles and the occasional glass of Baileys.
To buy Natalie’s books and find out more – pop over to her LinkTree