I’m excited to have bestselling author Lauraine Snelling with us today. How does a story present itself to an author? Where do the ideas come from?
You may Lauraine Snelling for her historical fiction, in particular, her Norwegian immigrant series. Here, Lauraine shares the story building process for her new contemporary novel, Heaven Sent Rain. And she’s giving away a copy!
Every book I write seems to come about in some different way and Heaven Sent Rain was no different. I have no idea where the picture came from in my mind, but one day I saw the image of a little boy in a blue jacket and baseball cap, with a motley, mutly dog sitting beside him. They sat on a city street, backs up against a concrete building, his head down, arms crossed over his knees. In the rain.
My first questions were: who, what, when, why and where, the five W’s I learned when I first started writing. In this case, I had no idea.
I have learned through the years that if the picture is a story starter, write a description and see what happens. The image did not go away. Contract time rolled around and my editor asked if I had any ideas for more books. I described this scene to her and she asked the same W questions. How do you shrug over the phone? But I agreed to write a brief summary of this idea and several others and send them in.
Time to give this some real time and thought. Did the boy live on the streets? No, too clean. And he had a school backpack.
Through the years I have learned to relax and watch a scene unfold on the movie screen of my mind. So, I did just that. A woman walked up, carrying an umbrella and stylishly dressed all in white, including white leather boots, and both a leather brief case and hobo style bag. She talked to the boy. The dog pricked her ears. The boy stood, and together the woman and the boy approached a food place of some kind. She invited him in, but he couldn’t follow her inside because of the dog. She brought him back a bag of food. He took the sandwich out of the bag and he and the dog walked off while she entered the building.
That’s when I opened my notebook and started a page for each character. Boy: Jonah. Dog: Downdamit. I changed to the nickname of Mutt since that first name would not fly in my market. Woman: an executive of her own company with offices in that building. Her name: now there was a challenge. I finally settled on Dinah. Names are really important to me before I can continue. Dinah fit for this story. The Biblical character of Dinah was quite a fighter, this Dinah would be too.
Another question to always ask your characters is: What do you want? Dinah wanted to find food products to help diabetics. Why did she want it? Her little brother died years earlier of a diabetic coma.
Once I know who my characters are and what they want, it’s my job as a writer to create things that can stand in their way. The hero in this story walked on stage the night Mutt had been attacked by dogs and Jonah called Dinah for assistance because his mother was too sick to help. Garret is the veterinarian they find in an urgent care clinic that night. He draws caricatures of his young clients and their pets and has them posted all over the clinic walls.
The story grew into the novel Heaven Sent Rain. I love the title, and the characters in this story took up special places in my heart. I guess I would be in trouble if they didn’t, since we spent many hours together while I pieced together their stories and braided them into a novel fit to be sent out to bless my readers.
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Congratulations to Jackie McNutt, who won the signed copy of HEAVEN SENT RAIN!