FROM SPARK TO SAGA: The Art of Harnessing a Raw Idea for Your Novel

FROM SPARK TO SAGA: The Art of Harnessing a Raw Idea for Your Novel 1024 576 Reader Views

By D.J. Williams

The Relentless Pursuit of Storytelling

Storytellers are obsessive about hunting for the next epic saga, comedic blockbuster, emotionally packed family drama, or shocking twists that leave audiences and readers stunned, screaming, or cheering at the top of their lungs. Whether it be gaining inspiration from the latest streaming series, flipping through the pages of your favorite author, or watching the world around us at a local coffee shop, we are constantly searching for a unique spark and characters who we fall in love with as cornerstones.

The Origin of Ideas: From First Spark to Fundamental Concepts

A journey from a spark of an idea to a novel or series is transformative and challenging. In my own author journey, I’ve experienced this firsthand in writing both of my series, Beacon Hill and Chase Hardeman. One series is geared toward the YA audience through a supernatural fantasy adventure, and the other is rooted in the world of espionage and high stakes thrillers. But what these two series have in common is a spark of an idea that started it all—an opening line, a first chapter, and characters who refused to let go of my imagination.

Every novelist embarks on a voyage fueled by inspiration and driven by a desire to share stories that resonate with readers marked by creativity and a spark that grabs their interest. Let’s explore a bit deeper the intricate process of nurturing a story idea, cultivating a cohesive narrative, and ultimately crafting a novel that captivates hearts and minds.

Cultivating the Seed: The Evolution of Beacon Hill

Over a decade ago, a spark of an idea struck for Beacon Hill. As an expat who grew up in Hong Kong until I was in my mid-teens, I’d always wanted to write a supernatural YA fantasy rooted in Asia. At the time, the spark remained rooted in my imagination but didn’t go any further as I worked on other television projects and began writing The Auctioneer, the first book in the Chase Hardeman series. Fast forward a decade later and an opportunity to publish the Beacon Hill series became a reality. Imagine, the spark after a decade exploding in book one, Hunt for Eden’s Star, and the world of Beacon Hill was alive.

Embracing Inspiration: How Ideas Transform into Stories

A spark of an idea often begins with a whisper, a moment where you hear the voice of your main character speak in such a way that it stops you in your tracks. Ideas can come from a conversation you overhear, a vivid dream that wakes you from a dead sleep, a fragment from history that’s remained lost, or the headlines of today. As storytellers, we must remain receptive to those nudges in our imagination. We allow sparks of inspiration to simmer until those stories and characters kindle into flames of creativity.

The Writer’s Approach: Outlining vs. Binge Writing

What I’ve experienced in writing both of my series is that once an idea takes hold, I have to chase after it until I reach the final page. We’ve heard how authors are outliners or pantsers, but what I’ve realized about myself is that I’m a binge writer. Once the spark of an idea hits, then the hunt is on to nurture and cultivate that seed of inspiration. Brainstorming, research, first drafts, and creating characters gives shape to the initial spark, transforming it from a nebulous concept into a fully rounded story world rich with possibilities.

Crafting the Three Pillars: Characters, Plot, and Setting

With the seed of an idea firmly planted, storytellers, writers, and authors cultivate a spark into a thriving narrative through flushing out characters, plot, and setting—three pillars for a compelling story. And when writing a series, you have the opportunity to expand this world in each of your novels. I’ve recently finished writing the second book in the Chase Hardeman series, King of the Night, and I’ve experienced this firsthand as the world has gone beyond the first page of the series in ways that I never expected. That’s the exciting part of being a storyteller, chasing beyond where you thought the story could go and hanging on as your characters take you there.

When we think of the three pillars—characters, plot, and setting—we see how a spark of an idea beats in the hearts of characters. Readers experience the world within your pages through the lens of these characters, whether it be rich backstories, complex motivations, or distinctive voices. Maybe they’re heroes, villains, or somewhere in between. Each character is a living, breathing messenger that takes your spark of an idea and makes it real to readers who are consumed with turning the pages of your story.

While characters are the beating heart, the plot serves as the backbone providing structure and momentum to the story. Major events, turning points, shocking revelations, and heart-touching moments drive the narrative forward through pacing, tension, and the characters we either love or hate. Allowing room for the unexpected while leading readers toward the ultimate destination will not only resonate with readers but will also keep you energized to press through those days when writing what is in your imagination might be challenging.

Finally, the setting acts as the backdrop against which your story unfolds, setting the tone and atmosphere for the narrative. When I look at Beacon Hill, and my dream to root this world in Asia, a gripping YA fantasy saga kept me writing from one chapter to the next as the characters found themselves traveling through gateways to other countries and realms. And in King of the Night, an espionage thriller jet sets readers around the world offering an immersive and evocative view of the darker sides of society.

Whether it’s a sprawling fantasy realm, a bustling metropolis, a third world barrio, or a sleepy seaside town, the setting draws readers into the world you’ve created through vivid visuals, sensory details, and descriptive language that allows readers to imagine themselves alongside your characters as the plot and series unfolds.

The Infinite Rewards of Storytelling

The journey from a spark of an idea to a series saga is a deeply personal and transformative experience. It requires dedication, perseverance, and above all, a willingness to embrace the unknown. But for those who dare to embark on this odyssey, the rewards are boundless—the satisfaction of seeing your story come to life, the joy of connecting with readers, and the exhilaration of turning the pages of a world you created. Today, let your sparks of imagination explode and be swept away by the stories and sagas only you can write.


With the DNA of a world traveler, D.J. Williams was born and raised in Hong Kong, igniting an adventurous spirit as he ventured into the jungles of the Amazon, the bush of Africa, and the slums of the Far East. His global travels have submerged him in a myriad of cultures, providing a unique perspective that fuels his creativity.

As a fresh voice in mystery, suspense, and YA fantasy, his novels have climbed the charts ranking as high as #1 on Amazon Hot New Releases. His books The Auctioneer and Hunt For Eden’s Star have received stellar reviews from Kirkus Reviews, the most trusted voice in book discovery. Williams has also been featured in Publishers Weekly and Writer’s Digest.

With the launch of his latest YA series, Beacon Hill, the trailers and documentary featuring the first book, Hunt For Eden’s Star, and the second book, Secrets of the Highlands, have reached over 1.8 million+ views. The second book in the Chase Hardeman series, King of the Night, is set to release on September 9, 2024.

Williams has also been an executive producer and director on over 500 episodes of broadcast television.



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