Plain of Jars

Photo is the orchid tree located at the Denver Botantic Gardens in the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory

I’m working on a project at the moment that’s been in my head for a long time. The world is more than familiar to me. I know the characters, know (for the most part) the plot of the book, and know the landscape. Which isn’t to say there haven’t been some surprises. *laughs* I tore out a major plot piece early on and that has lead to a lot more new scenes and surprises than I’d anticipated.

It’s still fun and I’m looking forward to a long run in this particular world. There’s so many cultures and so much to be seen that I’m dying at times – it’s hell being trapped at my day job when I’d really rather be spending 10 hours a day writing in this world.

Oddly enough, that’s not the point of this post. *grins* While I’m working on rewrite I tend to be hiding down in the basement on my Netbook rather than up in my office. The reason for this is that my Internet access is somewhat limited so there’s less temptation to “sneak away” from work. Instead the distraction is the background noise of whatever is in the Netflix queue.

Today it happens to be Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” which is one of my favorite shows. While I was doing laundry, making dinner, and writing (yay multi-tasking!), I had an episode where he visited Laos playing on the TV.

There’s a reminder in this episode about the tens of millions of unexploded ordinances left over in Laos from the Vietnam War era, but that’s a topic for another blog post.

And there was also a piece about Tony visiting something called the Plain of Jars. It was one of those things where I heard the words and despite my immersion in my current project/world, my brain immediately spun off onto one of the tangents it is so famous for.

“Oooo!” My brain says. “That would make a fantastic title. I have no idea what the story will be about, but it will be a fantastic title.”

Protesting does little good at these points and usually I just ride the wave. Sometimes the idea fizzles and is forgotten as fast as it arrives, lost to yet another idea or the more mundane task of not ruining dinner. But occasionally it sticks. If I’m in the middle of something else, I’ll scribble out a few pages, notes, etc and then return to whatever I happen to be working on. If I’m in between projects it’s full steam ahead, baby!

Ironically, this is exactly how my current project started. A few years ago I was lying on my couch one afternoon in December staring at my Christmas tree and my eyes locked on a tatted star.

Like a hammer to my forehead the story idea nailed me. First, the image of a man with a star tattoo on his cheek. Of course I wonder who he is, what he’s doing. But before I can even ask the question I’m nailed again. This time it’s the image of a woman going toe-to-toe with the starred man. I scramble to my laptop and scribble out the opening scenes to what is now Behind The Throne, the first novel in my Machiavellian sci-fi series.

This is how most of my books start. Only time will tell if the Plain of Jars incident will actually develop into a story I can write or if it was useful for nothing more than inspiring me to write this blog post.

Though that could have been the cake vodka I was drinking also. *grins*



14 responses to “Plain of Jars

  1. Ah! The opening scene. I can’t tell you how many opening scenes I have on my laptop, all of them waiting for a story. Most will never again see the light of day, but those that have are now completed works or nearly completed works. That’s how the book I’m currently working on began, and I must say, I think it’s my best one yet.

    I like both of your titles: Behind the Throne and Plain of Jars.

  2. Augh. Cake vodka. *shudders* I can’t even get past the idea of that one.

    I remember when you got gobsmacked with BTT. *grins* Don’t you love it when that happens?

    • Cake vodka is made of win. πŸ˜›

      *laughs* I love it when it hits me between projects. Something tells me I’ll like it less when my time is otherwise devoted.

  3. Like a Hammer to my forehead! I love it when that happens! It most always leads to a story–make that a great story. It keeps things interesting.

    I, like Raymond, think your two titles are good–they generate a lot of images.


    • It does keep things interesting, Wally! πŸ˜€

      I’m decent with titles, probably because it used to be I had a hard time even writing a story until I had what I felt was a proper title. *laughs* Thankfully I’ve gotten over that for the most part. Behind The Throne was called “the PIA story idea” for about two months before I came up with that title.

  4. Behind the Throne is great. Can you explain Plain of Jars ? I’m dense and not getting it.

    • The Plain of Jars is located in Laos. The megalithic jars found on the plain occur in clusters, indicating prehistoric burial practices:

      According to Wikipedia, “The Plain of Jars is dated to the Iron Age (500 BCE to 500 CE) and is one of the most fascinating and important sites for studying Southeast Asian prehistory.”

      Also, there is a website, , “dedicated to promoting the Plain of Jars and a new novel that brings into focus the terrible consequences of a secret war that still affects the people living there today. The novel also provides a glimpse of the lives of those who were caught in a deadly rain of bombs for nearly nine years.”

    • *laughs* Not sure there is an explanation, Eden! (or anything to really get for that matter so don’t beat yourself up)

      There’s just this big plain (or several actually) in Laos where there are all these massive stone jars. I guess one of the follk stories about them is they’re the drinking cups for the giants that used to roam the land.

  5. I’m totally with you, K.B. – I often think of an idea when I don’t have pen or paper. It’s always a single line so I walk down the street repeating it to myself until I have it memorized. I must look like a crazy person.


    • I have learned to at the very least always have a pen on me. *laughs* I’ve been known to write ideas down on my arm if I didn’t have access to a piece of paper.

      Thankfully the advent of the smartphone has relieved me of that quirk. I almost always have that with me, so I can scribble down a note or two and email it to myself.

      I talk to myself a lot though, so I’m sure I look like a crazy person. πŸ˜€

  6. I love those “ah-ha” moments. I had one recently about the setting for my new work. I struggled, and then realized the small town I lived in when I got my first job would be perfect. It has all the right elements. Of course I’ll rename it. But isn’t it amazing how our brains can be flitting around and suddenly we get a jolt of inspiration.

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