Everything Is Usable

My dentist has a German accent. With his blinding lights and pointy tools, I like to pretend he is a super villain trying to get me to reveal the location of James Bond.

I know that is far fetched, but it definitely makes the fluoride rinse more exciting.

Remember that visual…I will return to it momentarily.

I recently attended an event at a local bookstore featuring author JA Jance. In talking about her writing process, Jance explained that her brain is like a blender – things go in one way, they spin around for awhile, and then they come out in a slightly different version.

Because of this blender-like brain, she has learned a very important lesson: everything is usable.

Jance tries to capture even the slightest details because she has found that almost anything she’s experienced has the potential to make an appearance in one of her books.

For example, one time her sister needed to move a cow around a farm. All alone and without a rope, the sister removed her bra and used it to pull the animal back to the barn.

Fast forward to a recent book where Jance’s main character is cornered without a weapon. How did Jance allow her character to escape? She had the heroine take off her bra and use it as a slingshot.

A rope-bra blended into a rope-slingshot.

Jance was in town promoting her new book, Clawback, which revolves around the main character Ali Reynolds as she tried to solve the murder of a man whose Ponzi scheme bankrupted hundreds of people.

Guess where Jance got the idea?

She and her husband were victims of a Ponzi scheme. They lost $500,000 in one of the biggest fraud schemes in the state of Washington. Before the first chapter in Clawback, Jance dedicates the book to the people who gave her 500,000 reasons to write a book.

Everything is usable.

That is great advice for all of us authors out there. We never know what events we can draw from that will add to, or shape, our stories.

Maybe we have a crazy uncle who would make a great character. Or perhaps we have an old car that would serve as the perfect getaway ride. Or maybe we have a German dentist who is a perfect super villain.

Nothing is too far fetching. Everything is usable.

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