Æther Feature — A Peek Inside the Secret Mind of an Author

Every Thursday, the Archives will feature artists, musicians, and makers of all variety, entered for your approval here in the Archives. With so many talented individuals to choose from, we know it is a challenge to feature every clever creative worthy of note, but perhaps we might endeavour to introduce to you a new name in our community of steam and cog, or perhaps remind you of one artisan’s successful efforts to bring the past that never was to the here and now.
This week’s Æther Feature from Steven DeWinter for January 10th, 2013, submitted for your pleasure:

Writer's brainI love secrets.

I also love sharing what I know.

As an author, I lead a life of constant contradictions.

In keeping with my tradition of being contradictory as a rule, I am going to share with you a secret.

Now, before I divulge my secret, let me tell you the motivation for this secret. Readers who ask questions motivate me. They motivate me to be a better author. They motivate me to think about my chosen craft.

One of the most often asked question I get is “Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?”

The short answer, and most common answer after the author has given you a confused look, is that inspiration is everywhere. Nevertheless, here is the secret. Authors have trained themselves to think in the “what if” mode nearly all the time. We do not accept the world around us as is. We take it further than what we can see. We constantly hypothesis the “what ifs” around the future, the past and make unanticipated connections between seemingly random things, because we work hard at it until it becomes second nature.

I can hear you now. “Great,” you say. “I can see how you get the spark of an idea by using the ‘what if’ method for everything around you. Nevertheless, writing a book is more than just that spark of an idea. Where do you come up with enough things to write a whole novel based on that one idea?”

That great question brings me to another secret I can share with you. Movies and television are a big influence for this one. When I am stuck on how to proceed with a suspenseful scene, a high-octane action sequence, or even a quiet reflection period for my characters, I pop some soundtrack style music (i.e. no words, just music) into my iPhone and take a walk around the neighborhood. The scene or sequence just writes itself in my mind’s eye to match the tone and tempo of the music I chose.

The Wizard of OzI have shared a couple of secrets that help writers write, but there is one more secret to give you that trumps them all.

Be prepared.

No, I was never a Boy Scout and I know that is their motto.

What I mean is, always be ready to jot down that spark of an idea or that flow of a scene that just played out in your mind’s eye. Nobody can be expected to remember everything and writers by trade have trained themselves to keep that tiny notebook (replaced nowadays with a Smartphone) handy and are always ready to write down the idea as it strikes. This is the biggest reason you will hear most writers say they have something like 80 books they absolutely must write. They jotted down every idea as it happened and have a constantly growing collection of story ideas.

I hope this little dive into the secret mind of the writer has brought you some insight into why we are the way we are. As long as there are stories to tell, writers will be there to tell them.

Steve DeWinter

Steve DeWinter is an American born adventure/thriller author whose evil twin writes science fiction under the pseudonym S.D. Stuart. His latest novel The Wizard of OZ: A Steampunk Adventure is available now in Kindle and Trade Paperback. More information can be found at www.stevedw.com

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