What an honor to be a part of Bustles and Spurs! The title reminds me of a song—or what should be a song. As I contemplated what to write about in my first blog entry, a hundred subjects raced across my mind. And then I thought about beginnings, great historical beginnings.
Where do the ideas come from for a historical novel that rivals Scarlett and Rhett in Gone with the Wind? The writer longs for characters who stand boots and petticoats above the others. But unless the writer has a gem of an idea, the characters have no problems or story to tell.
For example, when was the last time you attended a family reunion and listened to the senior citizens repeat the stories their parents and grandparents had passed down to them? Old Bibles note family history and often have notes that spark ideas for beautiful tales. Do you treasure old photographs and wonder about the lives of those people? Do you seize the opportunity to walk into an antique shop and peruse the old books, pictures, clothing and jewelry, and items once used in everyday life? Take a moment to study the clothing – and the sizes. These people were smaller and yet strong to endure the challenges of the times. Do you envision a setting on a farm? Examine the old tools. Close your eyes and imagine living in an era where these items are your life. Just listen to the stories they have to tell.
Historical museums are fabulous resources for ideas—and research. Don’t discount any of this vital information.
Contact state publishing houses for historical magazines. I love these! The articles, photographs, and little jewels of information are all generous helps in forming your story. Oh, I nearly forgot the importance of the point of view these people had about their community, state, nation, and world.
Libraries often have archived copies of old newspapers. Don’t forget to take a look at the obituary sections and small articles with local happenings. Advertisements, the latest fashions for young and old, and remedies guaranteed to cure every ailment are great resources to ignite your creativity.
Are you a graveyard enthusiast? Do you wander among the tombstones and mentally calculate how long a person lived? Do you wonder about the sweet epitaphs or the quirky ones? What nudges you when you see only a crude cross signifying a grave? Again these are the nuggets of story ideas that will send you back to your computer and brainstorming a new novel.
Tune into the history channel for documentaries and interviews by professionals. The Internet is a history buff’s friend, but make sure the site is reputable. Those ending in suffixes gov and edu are the most reliable.
I like unique and dynamic characters, those a heroine or a hero would follow to the tallest
I hope you have your agenda planned for your journey to find the perfect novel idea for you. Expect an Adventure!