One of my favorite authors, Tobias Buckell, wrote a series of articles about being a new professional writer that were later turned into an audio podcast. Joe Blo NeoPro can be streamed here. The third episode touches on the idea that all great writers draw from some other source for their ideas. Go and listen to that episode for further details.
The Original Source for my novella, Corvette, stems from the research I’ve done into two primary areas. Currently best selling Indie Military SF and historical novels and movies about the Corvette’s of WWII. I’ll start with the current best sellers.
Current Best Sellers
In order to understand what is selling in the market you are writing to you must actually read what is popular now. That means going out and getting a few ebooks in that genre and studying them to see what makes them popular. If you have read Chris Fox’s book Writing to Market, he lays out what books he’s read to research his own Military SF novel, Destroyer. I’m reading the very same books he read to study how they are satisfying the current market. Bye the way, you can listen to Chris talk about this for free on episode #137 of the Rocking Self Publishing Podcast.
Some of the books I’ve read that are hot on Amazon Kindle now are: Constitution by Nick Webb, Warship by Joshua Dalzelle and Battle Cruiser by B. V. Larson. Reading these books one after the other the plots all seem to blend into one, which I guess is Chris Fox’s point above. Familiar, yet each one slightly different.
I could have gone back even further to sailing ships, but decided to stick to WWII for now. It was an area of modern military history that I knew very little. So I Googled around for popular fiction that involved WWII corvette class ships and destroyers. Turns out there is a seminal novel and movie of the same name called The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat. I first listened to the BBC radio adaptation of the novel and it was riveting. Next I’ll be reading the novel and then watching the movie. But that is just one example for me to draw inspiration from.
I’ve also started watching every WWII naval movie I could find. There are some real gems out there like The Cain Mutiny with Humphrey Bogart. The movies made during and after the war always have this annoying subplot of someone’s love interest so they can feature the popular actress of the day. But they all have great shots of the ships or at least models of the ships.
Something that I always wind up doing that most writers don’t do is build a model of a ship that’s featured in my novels. Below is the unfinished model I will be using for the cover of my novel Corvette. It’s a 1/350 scale version of my corvette starship. So before I even start writing my novel I have this totally detailed model to play around with and dream about what it looks like inside.
When I was writing Starforgers I was building a slightly larger battleship version of this model and it led to me actually figuring out a key action scene by playing around with the model. So who knows what I might dream up while waving this model around?