Friday, November 21, 2008

Seeds of a Story

Ideas for stories come from lots of different places. Quite often for me (Emily Bryan), it's something visual. This is a picture my husband snapped last week while we were in the Caribbean. (Oh, yes, we had a wonderful time and tried very hard not to think about the stock market.) I haven't figured out what the story is in this picture yet, but that sea cave has tickled my imagination. I can hear the boom and hiss of the rising tide, smell the briny, kelp-laden water.

Of course, I've already used a hidden sea cave in Pleasuring the Pirate as a place to hide a treasure. So this one has to be for something else.

If I were a paranormal author, maybe it would be a doorway to another world. Maybe an as yet undiscovered life form lives in the cave. Maybe a race of hunky mermen or shape-shifting selkies . . .

Maybe the heroine is shipwrecked and drags herself up on this island. Who's the hero? A naval officer who sees her distress fire? A sun-kissed native in a double-hull canoe? Does she hide in the cave to escape the bad guys?

Or is the cave itself a place of evil? What if there is something in the cave that changes a person who enters it? A soul-switch that leaves the person physically the same, but spiritually someone quite different.

Or is the cave a portal of great power? Suppose a wish made at high tide with your nose pressed against the rock for a last gasp of air will change a person's life forever? Is the cave a conduit to an alternate reality?

Who knows? Part of a writer's job is asking the question--the one that starts with "What if . . . " The best answer to the "What if" is usually the 20th idea (or even later) that floats to the surface.

Now it's your turn to play. What story do you see in the sea cave?


Cindy Holby November 21, 2008 at 6:48 AM  

Oh, I love to play. My head is spinning there is so much to see. In the back of my head is a story about being shipwreaked on an island with a hunky smuggler and having to take refuge in a cave from a hurricaine.

We've been to Labadee several times and there's the ruins of an old tavern used by pirates. I want to use that in my story too. If I ever get a chance to write it.

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner November 21, 2008 at 9:58 AM  

I'm brainstorming two novels and two novellas at the moment, so I don't have any brain cells left to play, but it reminds me....

I snapped a picture of a sea cave on vacation in California, then sent it to my editor when she was asking me to describe the setting for The Pirate Hunter.

I got the cover flat--and there was my picture! (Modified and prettied up, of course). Yep, the sea cave on the cover of The Pirate Hunter is my vacation snapshot. :-)

So who knows? Maybe your sea cave will decorate your novel!

EmilyBryan November 21, 2008 at 9:59 AM  

There are plenty of pirate stories on the Outer Banks for inspiration, aren't there?

You know they always say on an island, "if you don't bring it with you, it's not gonna be there," but I have a feeling this cave has something (or someone!) in it. I'm just not sure what.

Thanks for playing, Cindy!

EmilyBryan November 21, 2008 at 10:03 AM  

How cool, Jenn. I guess it's not the first time an author's pic was used for a cover. Seems to me the cover for MM Kaye's Far Pavillions was adapted from a painting by the author.

Wow! 2 novels and 2 novellas! Good luck with the "real" play you've got ahead of you. Which reminds me . . . mine isn't going to write itself either.

Wendy November 21, 2008 at 3:35 PM  

Lovely photo.
I think you've covered most ideas. The cave opening as a portal to the inner self is what I see. Whatever the character finds inside the cave on the external level symbolizes the internal issues in his/her life. It's the way he/she reacts and copes with these things that allow the character to grow and change.

Wendy November 21, 2008 at 3:50 PM  

Had a thought. You'll have plenty of material now with the media reports of the pirates from Somalia taking the huge oil tanker. Very topical and modern as opposed to historical. That would make a good story and I don't think modern pirates have been done yet. I heard of modern pirates taking over a cruise ship in the Mediterranean not that long ago and there's always cargo ships taken in the China sea. Very scary. Perhaps they could hide the stolen ship inside your cave until they can disguise it.

Gerri Russell November 21, 2008 at 4:27 PM  

I looked at that picture and thought it would be a wonderful place to go visit . . . no phones, no traffic, no relatives coming in from out of town for the holidays . . . maybe that's my new home! Well, at least until January. :-)

EmilyBryan November 22, 2008 at 7:17 AM  

A portal to the inner self . . . what a lovely, ethereal idea, Wendy. Re: modern day pirates, I don't think I could make a hero of them. Even my historical pirate was trying very hard to reform himself.

The island does look like a great escape, doesn't it, Gerri? We sailed past a beautiful, remote island named Saba that is home to only 1000 souls. Heavy sigh.

Bonnie Vanak November 23, 2008 at 4:58 AM  

Cindy, did you know (you probably did) that Labadee is actually in Haiti? I know some cruise ships used to say it was just "the Caribbean."

I've been there before, for the day job. It's a beautiful place.

EmilyBryan November 23, 2008 at 5:51 AM  

Haiti has some serious problems, doesn't it, Bonnie? Our church supports a school there and Port au Prince is sometimes a dangerous place.

I hope you are careful when you visit. Haven't relief workers been targeted sometimes? Or am I thinking of someplace else?

Cindy Holby

Gerri Russell

Joy Nash

Bonnie Vanak

Emily Bryan

C.L. Wilson

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