Where do Authors Get Their Ideas?💡

Hi all—

So where do authors get their ideas? The short answer—everywhere! I've had stories come to me while I was standing watch on the deck of a warship, driving a car across the US to visit my dad and even halfway down a deserted backcountry road while cycling.

For me, a story usually arrives in the form of a question, or an interesting fact or observation that makes me want to explore more. From there, I open an empty "mind map" in my diagraming software. I add in characters & flesh out their connections as I research the question or fact burning in my brain. I keep adding characters & editing connections until I have a plot. Usually, it's an embarrassingly long plot. But, hey, I write long, so it evens out. 

Case in point: AIMPOINT was conceived as a svelte 20,000-word novella to introduce readers to Regan Chase. I ended up giving you a 44,000-word novel. And, yep, I'm still psyched that—since I'm now Indie & I choose & pay for my editor—I can do that. 😃 I confess, AIMPOINT was an odd plot to craft. In BLIND EDGE, I'd created a tumultuous backstory for Regan and the Special Forces major who thwarts her at every turn. Because that book was already finished, there were plot & character marks I needed to hit in AIMPOINT for BLIND EDGE to play out the way it does.

I began where I usually do—with a mind map. But I soon realized that while AIMPOINT did take place in Hohenfels, Germany, and Regan was undercover at the time, the case was all wrong. The US reversal of support for Syria amid Turkey's “Operation Peace Spring” push into the north of Syria was in the news, and it hit me: that's the real backdrop for how Regan & John met. A bit of intensive research later, and the plot for AIMPOINT was born.

I couldn't be more excited by the reception. There's something so cool about discovering that the story you labored over for months on end has resonated with readers. It makes all those 2 a.m. struggles worthwhile...not to mention the edits that I was forced to make to BLIND EDGE, anyway, to incorporate AIMPOINT's revised "facts on the ground.”

If you're curious to see the original mind map for AIMPOINT—complete with names & relationships that changed, along with missing characters who weren't created until I was actually writing (think Brooks & Jelly)—check out the image below. Heads up, though. If you haven't had a chance to finish reading AIMPOINT, back out of this blog post until you do. The map contains major plot spoilers. The mind map for BLIND EDGE is much scarier. Since BLIND EDGE is 114,000 words—nearly 3 times the final length of AIMPOINT!—there are 3 times the bubbles! 🤭

AIMPOINT MindMap by Candace Irving
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