04 April 2013

Generating Ideas: What the Heck Does Big Valley Have to Do With Steampunk?


I watched the Big Valley growing up, mostly on lazy Saturday afternoons. I started watching again a couple of years ago when the Inspiration Channel began running it twice daily. Soon my DVR was full of Big Valley episodes. I even blogged about what you can learn from watching the show. Hint: do not mess with Barbara Stanwyck. It never ends well.

Watching it made me want to write a Western. But then I realized that while the setting attracted me, what really hooked me on the show were the characters. Three brothers, all different personalities, all with different strengths and weaknesses. Hmmm...three brothers, different templates, different types of heroes..aha...

It so happens I need to add some brothers for the hero of my steampunk romantic mystery. The hero of those stories is based on Sherlock Holmes but I twisted his origin a bit. My consulting detective is the youngest son of an English Duke by his much younger second wife. The wife also happened to be Indian, so while my hero isn't illegitimate, he's definitely considered a half-breed.

Without realizing, I'd created a youngest son, a half-brother from a lower class who resents that he was not completely accepted as a member of the family. In other words, someone very like Heath Barkley, the youngest son on Big Valley.

The next book in the series (as yet unpublished but hopefully that will change) will send my detective to his family. And now I have a good idea what his older brothers and his mother will be like.

The lesson? Ideas are all over. And they can germinate for literally years before making their way into a book, as my love of Big Valley did. They can come from completely unrelated subjects. Learning about plant biology gave me an idea of how the magic works in my steampunk story. A vacation to Maine years ago made its way into Phoenix Rising in the form of the cabin where the heroine takes the hero to get away from it all.

It's the writer's mind. It's when I've sliced my knee open and I'm about to faint and I wish I had a notebook handy so I could write down what it feels like just before a person faints.

So where do I get my ideas? As Sherlock Holmes once said, people see but they do not observe. I try to observe and absorb as much as possible. :)

Corrina Lawson is a writer, mom, geek and superhero. You can find her at www.corrina-lawson.com


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