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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thursday Spotlight: Jennifer Shirk

Inspiration all Around

When I wrote The Role of a Lifetime, I started with one simple scene in my head. It came to me when I was at the playground with my daughter. There were kids going down this big tube slide and one of the mothers was having trouble showing her two year old how to slide down and not to be frightened. So she put her legs in (trying to demonstrate), then quickly turned to me and said, “Watch me get stuck.”

Well, I laughed, and then I thought it’d be even funnier if a father got stuck in the slide. Even funnier if he was single father, trying to “show off” to a woman. Even funnier if he wasn’t a father but a single man, with a large ego, trying to “show off” and got stuck in a slide. Even funnier if—uh, well, you get the idea.

Anyway, that simple encounter stuck with me—no pun intended. So I decided to work with it. I got out my handy GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict) book and began to play “what if” and then finally came up with Ben Capshaw, my hero. And the rest wrote itself. (Sort of)

With my book Georgie on His Mind (that will be out October 2010), it started with a scene as well. I was inspired by a funny story told to me by a friend that reminded me of that movie Never Been Kissed. So when I went home that night, I immediately wrote a scene where the hero finds out his best friend’s sister had never been kissed before and she wanted him to enlighten her on the experience. I loved that scene so much and always looked at it for motivation with my characters. But I made Georgie a little less innocent in the end, and unfortunately that funny scene never made it into the first draft. Boo-hoo.

Do you write? What comes first for you? Character, scene, or something else entirely?


Chicki Brown said...

For me it's character first. I get images and impressions of who they are and hints at what their issues will be. As I fill out a character profile for each member of the cast, I get more detailed information about them.

Linda Kage said...

I think I envision a situational scene first and then my character emerges from there and takes over the rest of the story.

Joanne said...

A pivotal scene occurs for me first, with the characters involved reacting, and their actions and decisions being the inspiration for the rest of the story.

PatriciaW said...

Sometimes it's a character. More often it's a situation, kind of like what you described. Then, I start thinking about the characters who would be in that scenario.

Maria Zannini said...

There's usually an event that triggers a story idea for me. And sometimes it's as mundane as watching a leaf fall or a child reach for a cup.

For me the character emerges from the event. It molds them into the people they will become in the story.

Patti Lacy said...

For me it's the story...a gut-wrenching conflict that is captured in a scene...first it's that dilemma...

A young girl's first memory of being given away by her mother

Segregation and a chain link fence separating two best friends

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Jennifer, I loved hearing how you got your ideas for your stories.

I usually get a vague plot first, accompanied by or followed swiftly with the characters. These ideas come from many places, like conversations or books and movies. Sometimes dreams.

Stephanie said...

scenes, definitely. Sometimes I dream my books, too. Funny how all of us are so different!

Jennifer Shirk said...

I love hearing everybody's thoughts on this.
Stephanie: Yes, it is funny how we're all different, but a story emerges out of each of us. :)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

I have different ways for different stories (not all are written, but I have gotten the ideas in different ways) Like you, I've had a scene come to mind that makes my imagination go wild. Then sometimes I have a vague plot idea and it grows from there. It's so interesting to hear how other people's ideas spring forth.

And your new book sounds YUMMY!!! Can't wait to read it...loved your first book!!!