Writer’s Craft #67 – Idea Casserole
Karina Fabian‘s quirky twists and crazy characters have won awards, including the INDIE book award for best fantasy (Magic, Mensa and Mayhem), an EPPIE award for best sci-fi (Infinite Space, Infinite God) and a Mensa Owl for best fiction (World Gathering), and top placer in the Preditor and Editor polls. Mrs. Fabian is former President of the Catholic Writer’s Guild and also teaches writing and book marketing seminars online. Her latest book, Live and Let Fly, comes out in April from MuseItUp.
By Karina Fabian
I like making casseroles. I love working without a recipe but instead taking a basic list of requirements–rice or potatoes, meat, veggies, cheese-and-cream sauce–and tossing in new ingredients. Most of the time, what I get turns out pretty good; sometimes fabulous; and always different.
I feel like writing is the same. You start with your basics: the character who has to learn something; the situation that is going to lead to catastrophe unless he does learn it; the folks who help him (intentionally or not); and the resolution that makes the reader sigh with satisfaction. The real fun, of course, is when you choose your “ingredients” to match.
Terry Pratchett is a master at this. Each of his Discworld novels has some basic elements: a world of crazy magic; a bustling city full of grime and crime and cynicism; witches who use common sense as much as enchantment; enchanters with no common sense at all. Of course, a very liberal dose of dry humor. Then, he throws in the most unexpected things—a postal service in trouble; little blue troublemakers; golems who want equal rights. Every book is different; every adventure new.
Some of my favorite staples are a cynical dragon detective, a universe where magic and technology mix dangerously, a nun with magic powers, and the need to learn compassion or face the dark side of one’s own soul–my DragonEye, PI universe. By adding “spices”—an ancient relic, a pixie war, an enchanted song—I have been able to craft dozens of stories and two novels and have ideas for more.
What about you? What are your favorite ingredients, and how do you spice them up? Let’s dish on our recipes!