Brainstorming ideas to create a novel – Jennifer Joyce

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By Jennifer Joyce

The idea for The Little Bed & Breakfast by the Sea started off, funnily enough, with the bed and breakfast itself. ♥

I didn’t know the B&B would be little at the very beginning, or where it would be located, but I did know that I wanted three very different women to meet there over the course of the summer. Each woman would have their own personal struggle, something that was holding them back and preventing them from squeezing every bit of joy from life. Meeting at the bed and breakfast was to be the catalyst that changed everything and allowed the women to reach for their dreams.

Using a spider diagram, I started to brainstorm ideas. The theme of the book was ‘hopes and dreams’, so I started to jot down ideas for the three women. What were their hopes and dreams – and what was stopping them from achieving them? The characters of Mae, Melody and Willow began to emerge, along with the stories they wanted to tell.

Other headings I used to help me brainstorm initial ideas were ‘friendship’, ‘seaside’ and ‘romance’. All three were as important as the hopes and dreams theme. I wanted a strong bond between the women and I also wanted a fun, atmospheric setting. I made a note of the things I love about the seaside; building sandcastles on the beach, having fun at the arcade and funfair, eating fish and chips, candyfloss and ice cream. There are the sounds you can’t miss too; the waves, the music from the pier, the seagulls crying out. I wanted to incorporate it all and create a vivid scene.

Drawing inspiration from Blackpool for the fun factor, and Robin Hood’s Bay for the more relaxed, fishing village feel, I created Clifton-on-Sea, a small seaside town on the Lancashire coast.

With the setting, main characters and theme taken care of, I needed one more element that makes up every romantic comedy: the heroes. Who could chip away at the protective wall Mae had built up and make her heart race? Who could convince Melody to start seeing life through her eyes rather than a camera lens? And who could soothe Willow through her struggles?

Creating heroes is fun. You get to don your Cupid hat and generate the perfect partner for your characters. They may not actually be perfect (who is?) but they’re the perfect fit for your character. You can make your hero quirky or sexy or roll-around-on-the-floor funny (or all three) – it’s completely in your hands (at least at this stage. Sometimes characters turn out to be a bit pesky and start stamping their own authority once you start that first draft). And, most important of all, creating your hero gives you the ideal excuse for googling images of your latest celeb crush – it’s all in the name of research!

Jennifer Joyce is a writer of romantic comedies. She’s been scribbling down bits of stories for as long as she can remember, graduating from a pen to a typewriter and then an electronic typewriter. She now writes her books on a laptop (which has a proper delete button and everything). Jennifer lives in Oldham, Greater Manchester with her husband Chris and their two daughters, Rianne and Isobel. The Little Bed & Breakfast by the Sea is out now.



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