Where do writers get their ideas? Sometimes manna falls out of the blue. When that event happens, one should thank the writing gods. More often than not, however, it is a case of sheer hard work. That is why creative writers are so famously compulsive. They need to be, otherwise nothing gets done. Here is a true example:
When I wrote Evil Blessing, there was a problem from the get-go. How was I to introduce Jim and Jennifer Lasker, my young heroes, as a happily married couple? Originally, I thought a romantic restaurant—candles, music and such—would do the trick. Before I quit smoking, I used to get my best ideas while making a cloud. Cigarettes calm you down and wake you up. Wonderful. Too bad they kill you. While feeding my addiction, I realized the restaurant idea was simply too weak. Plus it had been used often by others. That was when Las Vegas popped into my mind. By the time I snubbed out my smoke, I had the couple’s opening chapter down clean.
Why not tell what it is really like to gamble? All of it. The highs, the lows, the tension of not quite knowing what is going to happen next? For those who don’t know, for kicks there are few things as fun as gambling. It’s true. And in the middle of this why not have our young couple who are very much in love, plus talkative and outgoing?
The beautiful part of using normal gambling for the foundation of the story is that as the game progress, the fictional players react as in real life to the highs and lows of the game. When things go bad, everyone grumbles. When the table turns hot, it’s like going to the blast of a party where everyone is slightly (or not so slightly) smashed. And so by living within the world of Jim and Jennifer, we learn what they are actually like.
That is how to write a chapter.