Look at the fun, active saloon scene above. Can’t you just imagine the people moving, drinking and talking? Doesn’t that scene get your creative juices flowing? What’s going on with that pretty woman and why is that heavy-set man grabbing her? Will she wallop him over the head with a whiskey bottle and be on the run once again from the uncle who wants her inheritance? Or did she swindle him and he has caught on? How about the gent in the forefront? Will he intercede on her behalf? And if he does, will she accept his help or give him a walloping of his own, which he manages to thwart? Or?

An idea for a story can come from many places. The idea can spark from an image, or a newspaper article, or an incident that happens to you or to a family member or friend. Or an eccentric personality of somebody you know and love can evolve into the protagonist for your book. Sometimes a dream generates an idea. I love to read other author’s books. Many times I’ll read a book and then think, but what if such-and-such had happened? Or what if something like that had happened in another country? Or time in history? Ideas abound!

After an idea does occur, you must test to see if the premise has longevity. Think about each character’s goal. What is it? Then you ask yourself why? What’s keeping the character(s) from achieving their goal. It’s important to think of both inner motivation and conflict as well as the external motivation and conflict. And the conflict should be between the hero and heroine, if you’re writing a romance. That’s particularly where the internal conflicts come in.

Right now I’m reading an older book of Amanda Quick’s called Mischief. I just love how she weaves a story. One of her secrets is how she gives the hero and heroines flaws. This is where backstory comes in. The hero’s mother trapped his father into marriage by getting pregnant. His father neglected him because he couldn’t stand to be with his wife. She cried a lot and the hero felt helpless because nothing he did eased her sorrows over her husband’s abandonment.

The mom committed suicide and the father said thank God he was free, which turned the hero completely against his father and subsequent new wife. Dad doted on the new wife like he never did with the hero’s mom. And he loved and spent time with his new daughter the way he never did with his son the hero. The hero swore to himself to never get married.

Of course, the hero’s dad and second wife are killed in a carriage accident. His half-sister is sent to a cruel uncle and his sleazy son who makes innuendos and scares her. She pleads her brother for help. That’s one thing he promised his father, that he would take care of his sister if anything happened to the parents. Now the sister is on his doorstep and he has no idea what to do. In comes the heroine to help him. But do you see how the backstory affects the current story and his inability to commit?

What’s especially important to me is the inciting incident, the hook. I want to start with an exciting scene. Sometimes I know exactly where to start. Other times I have to revise several times before the beginning feels right. Many times it’s close to when the hero and heroine meet.