Steven James ~ The Three Princes of Serendip

by Yvonne Lehman

Steven
James is the bestselling author of nine novels that have received wide critical
acclaim from Publishers Weekly, New York Journal of Books, RT Book Reviews,
Booklist, Library Journal and many others. He has won three Christy Awards for
best suspense and was a finalist for an International Thriller Award for best
original paperback. His psychological thriller The Bishop was named
Suspense Magazine’s book of the year. Publishers Weekly calls James “[A]
master storyteller at the peak of his game.” He is an active member of
International Thriller Writers, the Authors Guild, Mystery Writers of America,
and International Association of Crime Writers. He is also a contributing
editor for Writer’s Digest. He has a master’s degree in storytelling and has
taught writing and creative communication around the world. When he’s not
writing or speaking, you’ll find him trail running, rock climbing, or drinking
a dark roast coffee near his home in eastern Tennessee.
The
Three Princes of Serendip
Over
the last seventeen years as a professional writer I’ve thought a lot about creativity. Here are two things I try to
keep in mind that help me generate new ideas. 
1.
Change Your Perspective
A few
years ago while visiting a hotel in Denver, I noticed “EXIT” signs not only
above the exit doors, but also at their base. “How odd!” I thought. “Only
someone crawling on the floor would need a sign down there!”
Aha.
Whoever
placed those signs down low had looked at the doors through the eyes of someone
crawling for safety during a fire. 
Creativity
isn’t “seeing what no one else sees;” it’s “seeing what anyone else would see—if
only they were looking.” New ideas are born when we view life from a fresh
perspective or peer at the world through another set of eyes.
Keep
ideas alive by working backwards and sideways, by peering over your shoulder
rather than always staring straight ahead. Remember, you don’t dance in a
straight line.
Step
into the shoes of your main character and write a journal entry, a complaint
letter, or a love note. Switch your point of view. Write a few paragraphs in
first person or third person. Think of how you would respond if you were in the
story. Walk through the action, stand on your desk, crawl on the floor. And
keep your eyes open for the doors no one else has noticed.
2.
Let Serendipity Happen
In
Horace Walpole’s 18th century Persian fairy tale The Three
Princes of Serendip
, the heroes discover new things again and again
while looking for something else. From this we get the word “serendipity” which
Walpole defined as “the facility of making happy chance discoveries.”
Fiction
pivots upon the hinge of serendipitous discoveries—the detective recalls the
victim’s clogged drain while combing her hair, the lawyer realizes the
significance of the cell phone when he knocks his off his desk, the spy
remembers the secret gadget hidden in his wristwatch. At the time, they weren’t
searching for a solution, but they found one. After they’ve tried everything
they can think of, the answer comes riding in on the wings of serendipity.
If
you’re stalled out, sapped of fresh ideas, you just might be trying too hard.
You can’t make happy chance discoveries until you step away, take a break,
experience life, and stop worrying about your writing. Relax. Worrying about problems
is like looking at bacteria through a microscope—it doesn’t help them go away,
it only makes them look bigger. And the longer you stare, the more imposing
they appear. 
So
work smarter, not harder. Break your routine. Go to a movie. Sip a cup of sweet
tea on the porch. Abstain from octopus. Try working in a different place or at
a different time. Change the furniture around in your office. Lift weights.
Vary your schedule. Get up in the middle of the night. Place yourself in
situations where you’re not at ease—risking and responding to new challenges
forces you to think creatively and opens the door for serendipity.
Do
something completely different and let those parts of your brain you’re not
even aware of chew on the problem for awhile. 
Let serendipity
work for you.
Singularity
When his friend is murdered, illusionist Jevin Banks is
determined to find out what really happened. Drawn into a web of conspiracy and
top-secret research on human consciousness, Jevin won’t stop digging until the
truth is revealed. Soon he uncovers a dark secret–one that could change the
very fabric of human life on the planet.

Bristling with mystery, suspense, and intrigue, Singularity
is the second riveting book in The Jevin Banks Experience. Readers will devour
this scientific thriller, flipping pages late into the night until the final
shocking page.