I can't stop the ideas. I can be in the shower, sitting outside, heck, even watching a cartoon with my kids and slam! an idea or a character will drop into my head and stick. This is excitement and anticipation, like meeting a prospective lover for the first time. What do I do? Quite simply, I play. What do the characters look like, what are their names, what is going on in their lives? What is the problem and why? What is the solution? Why would that person/problem need a particular solution anyway?
The list of questions can go on and on and most often these questions never get answered directly in the story, but the Q&A works to develop the individuals and the plot.
Earlier tonight (rather, late last night), I met with my good buddy Marie Harte and among many other discussions, we chatted about a story I'm working on. The heroine played basketball at one time and guess what? My knowledge of basketball stems from tidbits I remember from middle school. (I'll be honest, I am not nor have I ever been into sports as a personal goal or enjoyment. I actually found a way to exempt my PE requirements in college!) Well tonight, I felt like a complete ditz asking Marie to explain, exactly, what constitutes a free throw, what exactly is a rebound, asking her if she knew of a "Dummies" book for basketball.... Let's just say we had several good laughs - all at my expense. In all sincerity by the way, thanks Marie!
My point, when the story is all said and done, will it have tons of detail about basketball? No. But in order for me to depict realistic characters, I have to know about them. And, as this one person is a basketball gun-ho type of chick, I need to be up this knowledge or she'll flop.
Even though I am not a sports person, I am enjoying learning about this sport now. Am I going to go out and play it? Ha! Not likely. Will I ever use this information again? Perhaps, depends on future characters and storylines. Am I having fun learning and writing about this basketball chick? Yes. Will I enjoy putting this new found knowledge into legible and understandable script? Most definitely!
Luckily, I haven't lost this love of writing. I'm saying this because I've heard stories of people in creative professions who become wrapped up in the ins-and-outs of the technical or even the economic aspect of their career that their creative edge becomes a chore. I am also writing this to remind myself that should that day come for me, I'll need to look back and remember why I write in the first place. It's a love. A pure love.