These are some of the questions I’m asked about writing a novel:
Where do you get your ideas?
For my last novel, THE HAT, I started with the idea of setting the story in the era of Prohibition with its bootleggers’ and speakeasy’s, jazz and glittering gowns— terrific particulars of a dramatic period of American history.
Then, once I start writing, I get ideas while walking my dog, or being in the shower, or in some other mindless activity. That’s because when the conscious mind is quieted from its usual clutter, good ideas can emerge from the unconscious. And that’s where the gold is.
Do you use an outline?
Some writers do, but I don’t. Instead of working from the top down with an outline, I try to write organically. In other words, if my characters come alive on the page, they will tell me what they do and say. And when I sit down to write, if my last scene is vivid enough, I know what the next one will be.
Where do you get your facts?
From basically four sources:
Google. For a quick response to questions.
Memory. As I write, I’m always surprised when facts comes to mind that I didn’t know I knew, as if my characters bring back what I had “forgotten.” Meanwhile, I’ve learned that we all retain in memory more than we think we do.
Outreach. For a courtroom scene in the novel I’m working on now, THE SCARF, I will hire a trial lawyer to review it for accuracy.
References. There are many books about Prohibition and the Great Depression providing me with ample sources of information.
What is your novel-writing process?