Guest post by Stephania Thompson
The Write Timing
Timing, traffic, and a little luck
Last week in my blog post, The Write Inspiration, I discussed how writing had been a neglected passion of mine. How, oddly enough, my son’s broken arm became a catalyst of change that awoke long suppressed creative desires, ultimately resulting in the completion of my first full-length novel, Woven (June 28, 2022 Orange Blossom Publishing).
If you can relate, if your creativity has been stifled by the busyness of life, or if you’ve suppressed your own creative desires far too long, you might want to check out last week’s blog for a little inspiration and encouragement.
This week, I’m going to recount the details of how Woven came to be, and what specifically inspired the story.
Woven is not your traditional romantic suspense. It’s a complicated love story about three childhood friends, David, Josh, and Kate, who take on a Baltimore City row home renovation as a means of healing from a dark, shared past. Only, they quickly discover the past is closer than imagined, and relationships are not as they seem, and sometimes the line separating love and friendship gets blurred.
How then, you might ask, did my son’s broken arm and the sterile, albeit cozy, surroundings of Children’s Hospital in D.C. inspire such a tale?
It had everything to do with timing. And traffic. And maybe, a little luck.
Children’s Hospital is a pretty significant distance from our home. My son and I passed through miles of city streets on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis to get there. Think row home upon row home. Most blended together, but there was one that really stuck out. Ancient and narrow with crumbly brick, yellow shutters and matching trim. It was well loved, but in need of repair, and it appeared to be going through a renovation.
We’d recently gone through our own rather painful home reno project, so I was instantly drawn to this particular home. I even looked forward to passing it. One unusually congested morning we found ourselves stuck in traffic right in front of the yellow house, as I’d come to call it (original, right?)
As we sat there, three people emerged, two guys and a girl. Young and attractive, early twenties, dressed for work—a paramedic, a nurse in scrubs, and a professional looking office type, best I could tell. After a moment’s discussion, the three kissed and hugged each other warmly, then the girl got into a car alone, and the guys climbed into a Jeep, and they drove off.
I was already curious about their house, and this only fueled my intrigue. Who were they? Friends, roommates…something more? What brought them together, and why that house? I pondered those questions as we drove, my mind conjuring all sorts of tales.
As luck would have it, our appointments seemed to align with their schedules because they were often out on the little porch, or working in the yard, cleaning a car, lugging in groceries. Mundane, everyday activities that inspired endless speculation on my part.
At one point during those voyeuristic drive-bys, I began to wonder if perhaps I wasn’t the only one watching. It was a busy street, after all, surely other people noticed. Worse yet, what if these three were actually being watched? Like, in real life, by someone with malice rather than curiosity. What if they shared a terrible secret, and someone knew? Maybe they were more than friends. What if they were lovers with a dark, complicated past? What if nothing about them was as it seemed?
These thoughts rattled around and festered until a story emerged and characters came to life. Instead of D.C., they lived in Baltimore. The girl, Kate, shed her nursing scrubs for a massage table, and David, the young professional, traded his briefcase for a chalkboard. I saw him as a teacher. And Josh? He was always a paramedic.
Only, I was still lacking their backstory. What led them to the little yellow house? What devastating event shaped their past? What might they be hiding? I started writing with these questions in mind, hoping perhaps the characters would fill me in. And if you’re a writer, you know what I’m talking about—sometimes they take on a life of their own.
And sometimes an idea just falls into your lap.
One day, several weeks later, my son randomly mentioned he’d been watching a show about catching people who targeted children online. I’d seen the show in question and knew its premise. We watched an episode together, and as we watched; an idea began to form.
Later that night I did a little online searching and found not only episodes and highlight compilations from the show, but amateur videos shot vigilante style by wannabe cops and the like. Videos with no connection to the actual show, but of rogue citizens taking “justice” into their own hands.
It got me thinking, what if the host or producers of a show meant to expose predators took their knowledge to the street, extorting men for personal gain rather than bringing them to justice? What if their families, their children, got caught up in the lies? What might it lead them to do?
And quite unexpectedly, I had the missing piece in David, Josh, and Kate’s backstory. Now, obviously a lot more went into researching and writing Woven, but these two seemingly unrelated elements—the yellow house trio and a few vigilante videos on YouTube—provided the framework.
So, what’s the takeaway here?
Timing, traffic…luck…it doesn’t really matter how you arrive at the idea, so long as you grab hold when presented with it. Don’t wait for the fully formed story—take an idea and run with it. Write, write, and write some more.
When is the right time to write? Right now!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little glimpse into my thought/writing process, and I hope you’re encouraged and motivated to pick up your pen or keyboard and record that idea rattling around in your own head. And if you're curious about David, Josh, and Kate’s story, I hope you’ll get yourself a copy of Woven.
Woven is available now for preorder and comes out on June 28, 2022.
Best wishes for all your creative efforts,