Our guest today is Kathryn Craft, the author of two novels from Sourcebooks: The Art of Falling and The Far End of Happy. Her work as a freelance developmental editor at Writing-Partner.com follows a nineteen-year career as a dance critic. Long a leader in the southeastern Pennsylvania writing scene, she hosts lakeside writing retreats for women in northern New York State, leads writing workshops, and is a member of the Tall Poppy Writers.
After publishing two novels in two years, it may look like novel ideas spring forth like mint in my garden. They don’t. For one thing, both of those novels were the result of many years of thought and development. Secondly, my homeowner’s association doesn’t even approve of rapidly spreading plants. As I fumbled through seed packets looking for a way to grow my next novel, I wrote this post to remind myself of what worked for me in the past.”
Increase Creativity with Random Elements
A car mechanic, a midwife, and a 13-year-old Girl Scout walk into a bar…
No, really. What are they doing there? Did they arrive together, and if so, why? If they met in the bar, why did they interact? What if they all spoke different languages? What if, while wrapped in their own concerns, each of them had been powerfully drawn to this place—what might each of them say or reveal?[pullquote]Three unrelated elements created the alchemy that spawned both of my published novels.[/pullquote]
Such jokes always include a setting, a situation, and three disparate people whose reactions allow for just enough repetition to set up the final punch line. But tossing together similar random ingredients can also create fertile soil from which to grow a novel.
Three unrelated elements created the alchemy that spawned both of my published novels.
The Art of Falling was inspired by two situations and a trend:
- A news article I read of a woman who walked away from a 14-story fall with only a broken arm
- An anecdote I heard about a man with a never-say-die spirit whose body was failing from heart disease, and whose hospital roommate was a young man with a flagging spirit whose body would not succumb when he put his head in the oven, blinding him instead
- Our society’s obsession with the body beautiful.
The Far End of Happy took shape from a memory, a novel structure, and a complicated relationship:
- The true-life bones of my first husband’s suicide standoff
- An idea to write a novel in a 12-hour structure
- Thinking about how hard it would be for lifelong friends to protect their relationship when their children were divorcing each other.