Planning a Novel

If you’re a writer, how do you start thinking about a novel? A lot of people get an idea for a character and plot a story around him or her. That is rarely my approach. I almost always start with a cool idea.

What if a man was framed for a murder in the small town where he lived? What if he had plastic surgery to change his appearance, came back to town, and tried to identify the real killer? That’s the idea behind my Scene of the Crime.

Or what if a princess was imprisoned in a cell that was supposed to be haunted, only the other occupant of the cell turned out to be an enchanted prince instead of a ghost (the plot of my Killian Unbound)?

My latest release, Life Force, also started with an idea that called out to me. What if a man had lived for more than five hundred years? What if a dying billionaire was desperate to discover the secret of his longevity?


Once I get the idea, I need to go into some detail about the character. Who is Matthew Carter? Where does he come from? Why has he lived so long?

I decided he was born in a medieval English village where everyone else died of the Black Death. When a group of monks found him, they brought him back to their monastery where he got an education far above most men of that era. He was on track to become the abbot when some of the brothers started wondering why he had never aged past his thirties. In a move worthy of the Julius Cesar conspirators, they surrounded him and stabbed him–they thought to death. But he managed to crawl away. To his shock, he woke up the next morning with his injuries almost healed. Cut off from everything he knew, he had to figure out how to make his way. But his education stood him in good stead and he prospered.

Life Force starts in the 21st century when Matthew has survived an accident in an experimental submarine where everyone else perished. This brings him to the attention of a dying billionaire desperate to discover the secret of his longevity.

Matthew has learned to be wary of relationships because he knows he will outlive any lover. But at a medical convention, he meets a researcher named Olivia Stapler who attracts him. She’s injured in an attempt to capture him. In a spur-of-the-moment decision, he marries her and brings her home to his Santa Barbara ranch to nurse her back to health.

Their relationship heats up, but the billionaire decides that the way to capture Matthew is to abduct his new wife and threaten her life.

Now it’s a cat-and-mouse game where Matthew is trying to save Olivia. But what happens when she finds out he’s been lying to her about his real background?

As I developed the twisted plot, I also developed the characters. I never totally know them at the beginning of a book, but I always go back and fill in more about their background as I discover it.

Be sure to check out Unforgettable Protectors, a wonderful collection of nice romantic suspense stories of different sub-genres. From psychiatrists to psychics, liars, lawyers, Vampires, Wiccans and ghosts, human trafficking, drug rings, and haunted homes, this set is packed with adventure and trills of all heat levels. A fabulous value at only 99c. And it includes my own Night Moves.


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About Rebecca York

NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.  She also writes the Unbound series for Changeling Press.  View website

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