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Writing: How To Find Inspiration From Readers

Writing: How to Find Inspiration from Readers

As an indie author, where do you get your ideas for your self-published books? They don't all have to come from inside your own head. British sci-fi author Richard Dee describes how by being alert to his readers' reactions to his early books, he's gleaned inspiration for many sequels and series.

Head and shoulders photo of RichardDee

Richard Dee, self-published author of sci-fi and steampunk

As a science-fiction novelist, and a proudly self-published one, I’m fortunate in having plenty of ideas for new projects. Plots present in observation of life, often I will remember a dream and that will set me going. If it doesn’t work out as a book, it could always make a short story. I jot down a few notes and I can come back to it anytime.

However as my work becomes more widely read I have noticed a trend, and that is being given plot ideas to extend my already published titles with sequels and prequels and spin-offs. And the ideas come from reviews and reader comments.

First Steps in Writing

cover of Richard Dee's debut novel

Richard Dee's debut novel

My first book, Freefall, had a few things in it that I considered in my naiveté to be no more than attention-grabbing, enigmatic statements. Of course, now I know better, all that happened was that they worked in a way that I hadn’t considered. People actually wanted to know more about them.

And so the prequel Myra was born and is currently being edited. I have made a full novel out of a throwaway remark, a paragraph on page 12:

No matter how many times I hear the voice – it’s Myra by the way – it reminds me of the happy times. When she had put her voice print on the computer she said it was so she could order me around. It must be fifteen years ago, but I sometimes look over my shoulder expecting to see her in the hatchway. You can still see the faint dent in the panel if you look closely, I try not to. The paint was worn there; I rubbed it every time I passed.

See what I mean? I’ve just spent 75,000 words explaining that dent! Myra will be published in early 2017. The artwork is in development, in fact, the artist came up with a suggestion that made such perfect sense that I just had to include it in my second draft.

And it leads me logically into what will be the third part of the Dave Travise Trilogy as I’m now (rather grandly) calling it.

Unintended Consequences

Cover of The Rocks of Aserol

Steampunk spawning an unexpected sequel

And it hasn’t stopped there. My editor read the first draft of The Rocks of Aserol and said:

Presumably there’s a sequel? If not, why not?

Well now there is, or at least there will be.

A reviewer suggested a spin-off from Ribbonworld. (I had already worked out a sequel for myself) Then another person who had bought the book suggested yet another plot line that could be explored. So that will be four books in that series if I can get around to writing them.

Satisfied Readers

It’s very nice to think that I’ve got people’s attention. Sometimes I can’t believe that a reader is that engrossed in the contents of my imagination that they want to know more. That I’ve managed to interest them enough that they can imagine how my worlds could develop. And that they want to know more about my characters pasts (or futures) from what I have written.

At first, I wondered if it meant that I hadn’t done enough; then I realised that it really meant that I hadn’t done too much.

Incidentally, the current list of my Works in Progress stands at eight. That’s probably five or six years of work. And only two of them have been my own ideas. The good part about having so many projects is that, when I get fed up with writing one book, or the flow stops, I can swap over to another. I find that it keeps me from getting bored.

So if you don’t want me to get bored, keep reading my books and keep the ideas coming in. With your input, who knows where we might end up?

OVER TO YOU If you've ever written sequels or prequels in response to reader demand, we'd love to hear about them! Join our conversation via the comments!

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Author: Richard Dee

Retired Pilot, Author and Creator of Worlds.

www. richarddeescifi.co.uk


This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. Thanks, Richard.

    I have a text file full of ideas from readers. If I could live to the ripe age of 500, I might be able to put them all into words.

    Hmm. There might be a story in that remark. An author who is able to dictate stories from beyond the grave?

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