My journey toward writing a novel began with building imaginary gadgets and worlds in my mind that started from a simple idea. The story around those came later.
I’m a builder. As a kid, my two sisters and I, along with our three cousins, would build forts in the barns or the trees at my uncle’s farm. We’d scavenge for any scraps of wood we could find, then spend hours planning the “what if,” sawing, and hammering. Our parents still remind us how many hammers and saws we lost.
We didn’t have nearly as much fun playing in those forts as we did building them. As soon as we finished a fort, I was already dreaming up the next one. What if we made it taller, or bigger, or built it in a different place? We could discuss ideas for hours.
The ideas for my novels started the same way:
What if… someone had a device that could help control Karma? How would it work? What would it look like? What powers would it have?
What if… that device could be concealed on a wrist cuff, or necklace, or at the top of a cane, and the world thought they were ordinary objects?
What if… the people who had these devices created a secret headquarters? What would it look like? Where would it be hidden? How would it be hidden? What kind of technology would they have? What would their communication system be like? How would the world be powered?
And on and on. I made drawings of objects and filled pages with maps and blueprints of the world. Then the story began to emerge. What if the members of the secret society had to keep the powerful devices out of evil hands?
Just like the forts I built as a kid, I love creating the worlds for my novels. Much to the chagrin of my editors, I still spend most of my time thinking what if…
Start with something common and simple, and don’t stop asking what if… until it becomes something uncommon and extraordinary.