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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkEntertainment | Books | April 2009 

Novel Ideas: Where Do They Come From?
email this pageprint this pageemail usDavid Lyons - PVNN

R.D. Lyons has written 3 novels, which can be purchased in Puerto Vallarta bookstores and at
You're here and settled in. Puerto Vallarta is all you had hoped it would be and more. You're ready to write, but what? If there is a moment of terror in the mainly passive exercise of creative writing, it's staring at that first blank page or computer screen.

The question of what to write is not as much a problem for writers of non-fiction. The subject matter - history, memoir, how-to book, etc. - pretty much defines content. The writer of fiction has no such guidance. When I finished my first novel, my agent asked me, what's the subject of your next book? I didn't have a clue.

A general suggestion for anyone who writes fiction - first select your genre. Fiction is divided into many categories; thriller, mystery, historical fiction, and so forth.

Pick a topic of which you have some knowledge or one that inspires you to learn more. The old saying 'write what you know' has less application today when the internet provides all the research material you need on virtually any subject you can imagine.

Of course some things require not knowledge per se, but a 'feel' for the subject. Had a few romantic interludes in your life? Perhaps you have a romance novelist in you waiting to get out. Your professional background as a doctor or lawyer might offer a wealth of material, just ask yourself if you want to relive those years through your writing. Some do, some don't.

I have found core ideas in unexpected places. I remember reading the work of a most respected historian, a compilation of biographies of Mexican presidents. I came across a few lines about President Carranza taking the entire treasury in gold with him when he was forced to flee Mexico City in 1920. It became the premise of my novel "Mexico's Hidden Gold." It shows you, be open to possibilities at all times.

If you plan on spending time here, observe your surroundings. We have colorful people in these parts, and some colorful rituals. A couple of visits to Yelapa years ago furnished background for one of my novels, and a cast of intriguing characters. Watch, listen, maybe unobtrusively take a few notes. That crowd toasting the sunset with their margaritas might set just the right mood to introduce your main character.

If I would encourage you to do anything, it would be to write... anything. If an idea doesn't come to you, write anyway. Many writers have said their creativity only comes when they have a pencil in their hand. Don't spend too much time thinking about what you are going to write; it doesn't get the job done.

If you're stuck, a good exercise might be to try to put into words your impressions of life in Mexico. If nothing else, it gets you into the process. Your description of a beach vendor and his sales methods, that incident in the local market, the adventure when you got on the wrong bus; all these are worthwhile subjects, and you may find ways to include them when your novel really starts cooking.

The first bit of advice I was given when I started writing was to never throw anything away, from vignettes like I just described, to stories abandoned in mid-stream for whatever reason, to completed manuscripts set aside and locked up in a cabinet. We don't have to worry about storing reams of paper anymore, and most computers can hold a lifetime of writing. So those musings that occupy you while you're waiting for the ideas to come - don't lose them.

Some of you may aspire to becoming a published author. If you're fortunate in this regard, even your earliest efforts may have commercial value at some point in your writing career.

When you have your genre, characters and setting, you can get into the flow of your novel and begin the disciplined daily process. If these elude you, write about what you did yesterday. If you're still stuck, give it a break and enjoy today to the fullest, then write it up tomorrow, knowing that elusive idea will be there. Here in Puerto Vallarta, there is one thing for sure, this little piece of paradise is inspirational.

A long-time resident of Puerto Vallarta, R.D. (David) Lyons is an accomplished author who has published 3 novels and contributes educational and entertaining articles to several local publications. When not writing, he can be found singing jazz standards to his own guitar accompaniment at several of the town's most popular venues.

Click HERE for more articles by David Lyons.

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