Saturday, March 3, 2012

HOW IT ALL BEGAN by Allison Knight

Heartsong, probably one of my favorite novels, had the strangest beginnings of all my books. Usually when an idea pops into my head, it’s the beginning, the hook, so I have a place to start. Then I try and figure out what’s going to happen to my poor characters and what has gone before to make them the way they are. As the story grows, I often see the scenes in my head as I try to go to sleep. In fact a couple of those scenes have been so vivid I had to get out of bed and rush to the computer. I seldom have the end of the book in mind when I begin but not so with Heartsong!

I was on my way to teach an evening class on writing at a community college. It was fall, the weather was crisp, the leaves starting to turn and I had a forty-five minutes drive ahead of me. I tuned the car radio to my favorite classical station and let my thoughts drift to the plans for the evening’s class. Something, I’ll probably never know what, made me register the chorus coming through my car speakers. It was the end of the opera Faust, and the melody is a haunting thing.

Suddenly, I had a vision of a woman in medieval grab standing before a knight. She was crying and wanted her baby back. I was so stunned, I pulled into a service plaza and sat there for several minutes waiting for the picture to fade.

I don’t remember what my plans for class were for that night, but even as I was teaching I knew I had to pursue that scene and figure out what was wrong with that woman. As I lectured, in back of my mind, ideas fought for clarity. During our coffee break I wrote down as many of those ideas as I could.

For the first time in writing a book, I had to start at the end because what I saw while listening to the radio was the black moment of the story, the point toward which the whole book was leading. As I put plot points on paper, the story fell into place. By the time I got home, I had a book. Of course, I had an awful lot of research to do and there were still many details that needed to be flushed out but when I crawled into bed that night, I even had the name of the book. ‘Heartsong’ had been born. The name has never changed.

What's amazing is other authors since then have told me similar stories about what inspires a story. A book’s idea may not start at the beginning of the story, but someplace in the middle or even at the end. A nationally recognized author of best selling mysteries told me he always starts at the end. If he doesn’t know who did it, he can’t put the right clues into the beginning of the book. So when an idea occurs, be it the end of a book, or someplace in the middle, you may have the next best seller. Don’t discount a possible story because you envision the final chapter instead of the start. I learned that lesson with "Heartsong"!

Allison Knight
Heart-warming Romance with A Sensual Touch
'A Matter of Passion' A short story from Champagne Books

1 comment:

  1. That is absolutely fascinating, Allison! I love the fact the story came to you in a 'scene' like that.