Dancing Day started out as a challenge over at fantasy-writers.org - and moreover, it was a holiday challenge. To be specific, the challenge was to take five elements associated with Christmas and use them ... however the writer might see fit.
The elements were:
- An annual festival
- A normally earthbound form of transport that flies
- An unorthodox way of entering a house
- A tree that isn't fulfilling its usual function
- A special type of song
(I do realize, in hindsight, that I cheated: my "earthbound" form of transport is more properly a waterbound form of transport.)
I knew as soon as I saw the challenge that I wanted to incorporate mouth music, a traditional Scottish music style that was invented when musical instruments were banned. This historical backdrop heavily influenced the story I ended up telling. There's also a bit of a bratty call-out to this in the story: the term for this mouth music is "puirt a beul," while the setting is the (port) city of Abeul. (The original title was Mouth Music, in fact.)
The unusual method of entering a house followed next - teleportation and the Hoppers. I quickly decided I wanted them to youngsters who lost their powers as they aged, and I knew this element would be important to the story somehow.
From there, I built the rest of the story. Some of the elements and details developed while I was writing, especially the other Hoppers, who almost created themselves as I wrote. And I certainly wasn't entirely sure what was in store for Taris and how it would affect the ending until I approached that final scene - but it all came together.