I started developing the very loose idea of an SF prequel about the adventures of Daedalus Dalrymple (I found the name almost irresistible), and his disappearance, which would have to be light enough, somehow, to not serve as a total buzzkill for the humorous events that follow.
Another entirely different thread in my potential-story notes from that period was something playing with the ravishment-by-monsters trope in pornographic fiction. Characteristically, I hoped to have my cake and eat it, mining the hotness of the meme, while dodging or subverting the cliches. At some point the tradition (which goes back at least as far as classical Greece) of drawing bird-penis hybrids* and that remarkable edible bivalve known as the geoduck had come together in my mind into one grotesque fantasy creature--or rather, three. Originally, this was going to be a 21st century mad science story with genetic engineering, eco-sabotage, Wikipedia, and 'ducks named Heo, Deo, and Leo. I think I may even have a few pages of Leo's rather florid memoirs floating around my hard drive somewhere, if anybody is inclined to wade through it.
It wasn't until Circlet issued the CFS for Like a Wisp of Steam, their first steampunk book, that the pieces started coming together. I found that my characters worked better if my inventor and Eleanor's husband-to-be were separate people, leaving the first name Daedalus with one, and the last name Dalrymple with the other. I started writing with a pretty good sense of the characters, but not much knowledge of the story, other than that I was working towards a climactic geoduck orgy. The first draft featured a couple long scenes of Daedalus and Victor sitting around talking that were, on re-read, begging to be cut. The scene with Professor and Mrs. Hargreaves that I excerpted here took up only a paragraph--I expanded it because I wanted more smuttiness, earlier in the story, to counterbalance the massive sex scene of the last quarter.
Worst of all, the major event at the ending (which i shan't spoil here) was absent, producing an ending that fizzled where it should have popped. So to speak. When the solution finally struck me, it did so with such a sense of rightness and inevitability that I have to wonder how long my subconscious was struggling to get the idiot in the driver's seat to pay attention.
Yet somehow, all of this flailing and tweaking and re-tweaking ended up producing what remains perhaps the best thing I've written yet. Writing is weird
* Hello, Rule 34.