Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Most Requested Writing Article by Cheryl Wyatt

Born Valentine’s Day on a naval base, Cheryl Wyatt writes military and rescue romance. Her Steeple Hill debuts earned RT Top Picks plus #1 and #4 on eHarlequin's Top 10 Most-Blogged-About-Books, lists including NYT Bestsellers. She is a Reviewers Choice Award Nominee.

The Most Requested Writing Article in History

Well, not mine, but I hope that subject line gripped your attention. Pondering what to write about today, I researched the most requested writing article. Wanna know what it was?

Coming up with fresh content.

Interestingly, this was true for non-fiction writing as well as fiction writing and just about any type of writing you can think of. People want fresh content and new ideas or at least old ideas stated in a fresh, new way. The most commonly searched topic for writers perusing information sites was how to come up with fresh content and new ideas.

There were too few articles on the subject to meet the request demand so I’ll share how I come up with fresh content. I hope other authors will chime in too.

Fortunately I glimpse stories in almost everything I see or hear. I’m a habitual watcher and stealthy eavesdropper. My friends watch what they say because it could end up in a book. LOL! I crafted a shirt years ago that says, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in the craft of fiction.”
I saw a bulky, macho police officer with a cart full of pink and purple stuffed bunnies and ducks in a store last Easter. The sight stopped me because the image was so surreal and the contrast between that officer of authority and the soft, fluffy pastel toys was so stark that I couldn’t help but wonder where he was taking the toys. School children? Orphanage? Immediately a story idea began to form.

Another day I saw a handsome young cowboy escorting an elderly woman to a gorgeous white car. They were laughing expressively. His arm wound around hers as he assisted her over a parking bumper. I wondered where they were going and if they were related…grandmother and grandson perhaps. A story formed from that sweet image of the young man assisting the woman with southern manners and chivalry, a black Stetson, denim, cowboy boots and her in heels, an eggshell linen suit and feather hat. It was really sweet to see them laughing. A scene formed.

A few days ago I saw a macho looking man in a military uniform rushing from a cell phone store. He ran because it is very cold and windy here. He was cradling a newborn baby as close to his chest as he could. The baby was wrapped in a snow white knit cap whose bunny-tail ball bounced as he jogged. The wind peeled the corner of her thick pink blanket away and I saw her eyeing him, unblinking, with full trust and free adoration. He smiled down at her then tucked the blanket around her. To see that powerful man tenderly holding that baby and protecting her from the winter storm brought tears to my eyes. So endearing. Another idea formed.

I hear three words and a plot forms. I am not sure how to stop it and I’m so thankful that stories stalk me in droves wherever I go. Be open. Be watchful. See life around you and special moments. If something makes you stop and stare, there’s likely a story there. If something makes you laugh out loud or tear up, there’s likely a story there. If it touched you in that moment, it will touch your readers in a book. If you go through something hard, journal your heart.

Readers are most profoundly touched by stories I wrote through adversity. Don’t be afraid to write your heart because it will breathe a soul into your story and your characters will be that real to readers.

Thanks for stopping by. I’d love to know what in life inspires you most. Sign up for my newsletter here. And don't forget to visit my blog, Seekerville.

My January book, A Soldier’s Devotion-Steeple Hill, is in stores now. It was inspired by a beloved family member who went behind bars and found freedom.

Leave a comment and your e-mail address by Midnight Jan 18th to be entered for a chance to win a signed copy of A Soldier’s Devotion-Steeple Hill-on sale now. Residents of the USA only, please.

U.S. Air Force pararescue jumper Vince Reardon was headed to a lifesaving mission. Until a too-pretty lawyer crashed her fancy car into his motorcycle—sidelining him for two weeks. Vince can barely accept Valentina Russo's heartfelt apologies. Ever since his brother was wrongly convicted—and killed in prison—Vince has lost respect for lawyers. But wait—is that Val volunteering at his refuge for underprivileged kids? If Vince isn't careful, this lady of the law might just earn his respect and his heart.


Nicole said...

Love the military. Love novels about them.

I get the story-stalking thing. Good for you.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

LOL, Nicole. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

Thanks for stopping by.


Anonymous said...

Great how you write what you grew up around. Thank you!
smrogi at att dot net

PatriciaW said...

I think I'm like you, Cheryl. Story ideas pop up -- from observation, newspaper articles, TV stories, something funny one of my kids says or does... They seem to abound. My fear is not that I'll run out of story ideas but that I won't be able to tell the stories.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

What inspires me most is life.

I agree with Patricia. BTW Michael's has these great recipe files for ONE DOLLAR. They are huge. Mary Englebreit stuff. Anyhow they are great for tossing in all those bits of paper you wrote ideas on.

Myra Johnson said...

I so relate, Cheryl. It's those oddly touching moments, those glimpses into someone else's life, that spark the most intriguing "what if" scenarios. In most cases it's probably good that we don't know the real story, or some of the charm might fade.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Cheryl, I love those moments, those hints of inspiration that become tomorrow's story.

Little vignettes of other people's lives, caught unsuspecting in our books!

And HEY! Loving the heroine's name. SWEET!


Audra Harders said...

Our families and close friends are used to our attention wandering during conversations, our eyes drifting to drink in ordinary moments featuring ordinary people.

It's the not-so-close friends and new acquintances we need to reassure that we are normal--pretty much--we just see the world through what-could-have-been glasses : )

Don't you just love those moments??

Julie Lessman said...

Gosh, Cheryl, I SO envy you!! I tend to get all my plots from own life (pretty scary, isn't it???), but how I wish I could see them like you do in the everyday situations all around us. One of these days I'm going to run out of dysfunction and drama from my own life and be stuck in front of a computer with NOTHING to say!!


Pam Hillman said...

Cheryl, all I saw was that you saw:

1 Macho guy
1 hunky guy
1 cute guy



Seriously, I'm the same way. A word, a look, a glimpse of something, and my imagination is off and running.

Missy Tippens said...

Great post, Cheryl. I loved your examples! The book I'm working on now was inspired by watching a dad on an airplane with his young dauther. He was trying to fix her hair (and not having much luck). It was really poignant for me and made me wonder if he's single. And then I knew I just had to write a story about a single dad with a young dauther--maybe one about to hit the teenage years. :)

Patti Shene said...

Great article, Cheryl! I'm so proud of your writing success. Haven't had a chance to read one of your stories for a while, so would love to win this one.


Jennifer Lyn King said...

Thank you, Cheryl, for jotting down for the rest of us how your writing world works. And it's wonderful to see that I'm not alone in the story threading either. :)

Coming up with fresh content is certainly a struggle for most, but I think going out away from the computer, away from the comfy writer isolation, and living life with open eyes is the cure. Life. So much to see, so many things to notice. Living.

Happy 2010, Jennifer King

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Marissa, glad you stopped by! Thanks so much, Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hey Patricia! Great to "see" you here. I have a pretty good inkling that you'd have no trouble whatsoever telling those stories. :-)

Thanks for coming by,


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Tina, fellow Seeker and SOON TO BE PUBBED LI AUTHOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WAHOOO! I wish we had a Michaels here. I have been using a small index card box but they fill up fast. LOL. I guess I need to type the idea snippets into a Word doc or something. But that's a great idea to put them in a recipe file. Lord knows I'd never use one for cooking. LOL.

Hugs and SUPER CONGRATS over your recent sale to Steeple Hill.

BTW, in reading my article, it seems like I was saying that Seekerville is MY blog. But actually it's a blog I participate in. LOL!

Cheers all!

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Myra, that's a good point. Plus it's more fun to make up their story than to hear the real one sometimes. LOL!

Thanks for coming by,

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Ruth, great thoughts and thanks for coming by. I also love the heroine's name...but I love the REAL person I borrowed the name from most of all. :-)



Cheryl Wyatt said...

Audra, I LOVE the "what-could-have-been glasses" concept. So true and I'm glad our families understand us and our sometimes strange behavior. LOL!

Thanks for coming by! I am praying we get to celebrate your first sale soon too!



Cheryl Wyatt said...

Julie, I for one enjoy your family drama. LOL! You are an outstanding writer, prayer warrior and I'm glad to be able to call you friend.


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Pam, he-he-he. You and I have that in common. LOL. But yummy is what most romance novels are made of. LOL.

I would love to be a bug in your brain sometime...just to see the cogs turning when an idea sparks. Your heroes are always SO yummy and I cannot wait for the rest of the world to know it too. I'm praying for a SWIFT sale in 2010. Your readers will love your characters and they will appreciate the solid grasp that you have on certain time periods and how you make that come to life.


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Missy, I love the image of the little child and the daddy on the plane. There's something so endearing about little girls and single fathers that twinges the heart. You do a fabulous job of turning those inspirational sparks into an enjoyable story.

Thanks for coming by!


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hi, Patti! Patti used to be my personal caboose-kicker whenever I'd slack. I SO need a kick right now! I've been caught up in decluttering my home and simplifying my life rather than writing. But hopefully that'll have my space clutter free for when I am back under contract.

Hope your writing's going well. Let me know if I need to send a boot your bottom's way too. People need to get to meet all those cute cowboy dudes in your books, Patti.

Hugs and thanks for coming by!


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hi Jennifer! Glad you stopped by. I really like what you said about writers getting out of their isolated space and out into the world where more ideas come.

Soooo true!

God's best in your writing endeavors and thanks for sharing your thoughts.