Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tuesday Tumbling Term ~ Kernel

Today's term is kernel.
ker·nel
noun
1. the softer, usually edible part contained in the shell of a nut or the stone of a fruit.
2. the body of a seed within its husk or integuments.
3. a whole seed grain, as of wheat or corn.
4. South Atlantic States. the pit or seed of a peach, cherry, plum, etc.
5. the central or most important part of anything; essence; gist; core: His leadership is the kernel of the organization.


Most writers know what a kernel is as it pertains to writing. The definition is #5. The central or most part of writing- the base idea or premise. It's that light bulb lighting up in your head for a story. And it seems to be a stumbling block for quite a few authors. It really hasn't been a problem for me. To readers, it is the most asked question to an author...where do you get the idea for a story.

For me it is everywhere. It's something I see on television. Some bum on the street. Something I read on the internet. Sometimes it's a song or news report on the radio. It provokes questions in my mind. The almighty...WHAT IF?

A case in point. On television I saw an ad for a new show on AMC for The Walking Dead. I was really a wimp. I'd seen more blood and gore in real life than another person would see in a lifetime so I usually stayed away from shows like that, unless it's a medical show like E.R. (my all time favorite). In a way I justified that television watching to Michael Crichton because I was a huge fans of his books.

I was never really into zombie flicks because they were always "B" movies with stupid actors and plots. They were more horror and gore than art to me. I mean really most them had a buxom beauty, scantily clad, opening a door where the killer might be or running away from the killer, looking back, tripping and falling before being killed. I couldn't suspend my disbelief long enough to watch them without yelling, "Oh, you stupid idiot!" If it was me, I'd be running so fast the killer would eat my dust. Looking back? I'd assume he was still back there and keep running. "B" movies were no-brainers.

I'd never write horror, I told myself. As a writer, I'm above such nonsense. My momma always told me that there was no such thing as never. As soon as you say it, you will and such is the case with me.

But I'm getting away from my point of the kernel. What's this all leading to? My kernel for Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption.

I was watching the Fox News one night and heard something that jerked into full alertness. The CDC (Center of Disease Control) had issued a Zombie Preparedness Alert. Nah, this couldn't be real, I thought and went to the CDC website and sure enough there it was. Of course it was the same as hurricane preparedness. They just wanted to get everyone's attention.

Later that evening, my husband was talking to me about converted missile silos and FEMA camps over dinner. He is an amateur conspiracy buff. Whatever floats his boat, I thought, only half listening, or so I thought.

Later before bed, the What-ifs started rolling around in my head while I was watching the movie 2012. Nah, I thought, it's horror. I don't write horror just horrific scenes in my novels to make the reader's heart beat quicken. But the idea would not leave me alone. The What-ifs fueled my dreams into a raging bonfire that night.

By morning, I had an outline and raced to my computer to jot it down. Not that I intended on writing about zombies but maybe I could include some of the details in a future suspense novel. Not all kernels are enough to sustain a full length novel. I've hundreds of these that won't and can't be full novels. I don't write horror!

By afternoon I started typing the character study, research was complete, and a more detailed outline of the kernel, What-if the zombie apocalypse was real? How would the CDC handle it? What would it take not to be infected?

By early evening, I started typing the story off the outline. It flowed smoother than any story that I had ever written. You gotta love when that happens as a writer.Within two weeks, I had over a 50K-word novel. But you don't write horror my brain feebly  protested. Apparently I did have it in me to write horror. Without the zombies, it could have been a medical suspense novel, I placated my brain.

But would there be a market? This is one of the first time I've written a whole book not researching the market first. I went into GoodReads and did a search for zombie books. This was a market I never thought I would search for. Boy, was there a market! Then I researched zombie websites. It was amazing. There were thousands of them I could promote my book on or get book reviews on. On top of this Max Brook's novel, World War Z, was being made into a film. Not a "B" movie either but starring Brad Pitt and a star studded cast. I could ride the wave. There was a market.

I edited the book and sent it off to two of my beta readers. Neither of them were horror fans, but they loved it.

Although only published in October 2012, Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption has out sold all of my fiction and nonfiction.

So do all your kernels have to become stories no matter what?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.


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