Well, not wrong, exactly. It works perfectly well for most authors: "I walked into the Dreams Convention, and…" Write one to two thousand words. Go.
Now I happen to be one of those odd ducks who refuses to write anything that does not fit her brand; I do not wish to waste either the words, or the effort. But I write historical novels, not contemporary. And I have never written anything in first person, except the novella of one character's journal.
And yet, I co-run the Dreams Convention, and was in on the planning for this opportunity. I cannot pass up the chance to be involved. It will be great promo for my books!
What's an author to do?
Stretch, apparently. With that idea in mind, I launched into my first contemporary paranormal story. Ever. I've read a couple—well, more than a couple if Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" novels count. And while I couldn't get into the books, I did watch the "Twilight" movies. And "Young Frankenstein."
I know enough about the genre to realize that world-building is key. Whatever the rules for the fantastical element, they must be logical and consistent throughout the manuscript. Because, yeah, a manuscript is what this is turning into. Two, actually. I think it might even be a trilogy.
If you know me, then you know that I write the Hansen Series with Norwegian heroes. And the only way I figured I could be true to that brand, was by making the hero a Viking ghost from the year 1069.
"I walked into the Dreams Convention, and saw him across the foyer, leaning casually against the wall. His eyes flicked back and forth, examining the crowd with unexpected seriousness. He must be one of the cover models, dressed as he was in costume—though leather was an unfortunate choice on this roasting summer evening in
And just like that, Sveyn Hansen manifested himself into my life. And into the life of Hollis McKenna, curator for the brand new Natural History wing (which does not exist) at the Arizona Historical Society Museum (which does) in
. Boom. Tempe, Arizona
Sveyn was far too compelling to be quiet. He kept explaining what happened to him, and how he really is not a ghost, because he never actually died. And then I realized why he has been drawn to Hollis: to finally get his Happily Ever After.
I have bounced my premise and its resolution off several paranormal-reading friends, and every one of them bought into it. And when I explained the major shift in the middle of their relationship, they got goose bumps. Goose bumps.
The moral of all this is simple: embrace challenges, and use them as opportunities to be creative, especially within preset parameters.
Sure, I could have tossed off a quick contemporary story. Just written the two thousand words and been done with it. If I had, however, I would not have met Sveyn. And meeting him opens up a whole range of possibilities which I never considered before.
So. What will you do when the prompt is wrong?