One question I get asked frequently is where my ideas come from. I’m not alone in being asked this question, either. So, let’s chat today about inspiration for stories in general.
Ideas spring up all around me, every day. But not every idea is created equal. In fact, a lot of individual ideas are too weak to sustain a novel-length story. Sometimes they need to be combined with others in unique ways to make a strong enough hook to hang a book upon.
For example, perhaps a news story about a devastating house fire caused by a gas explosion prompts thoughts of what the family would do to recover and start over. Then I’d play with the “what if” scenarios. What if there was something in the house vital to one of the son’s career? Or future in general? What might it be? While I pondered that, I’d start looking for what that “something” could be that would resonate with the characters and with readers. A family heirloom? Or the design for a new medical breakthrough that the son tinkered with in his spare time and finally gotten a patent for?
Ideas can also be sparked by people I meet, or even just see in a crowd or along the road for that matter. Case in point was the man I saw while I was driving through a Virginia neighborhood recently. He was medium height, sporting a full, white beard, and wearing a tan floppy hat and coveralls as he walked down the sidewalk to get his mail from the rural mailbox. He struck me as a model for a secondary character in a story I’m mulling around.
Another idea generator is reading history books. Really! I read about situations and solutions from the past and imagine how it came about. What were the people involved thinking, feeling, hoping? How can I bring their story to life for a modern day reader, to make it meaningful and interesting? Not every intriguing “scene” from the past will pass the test of being of interest or relevance to today’s readers, but some most definitely do.
I’ll talk later about the specific inspiration for some of my books because they stem from different kinds of sources you all may find interesting.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!
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