Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Just where do we get our ideas for books? That question is one of the most asked questions of authors by readers.

While trying to start a new book the other night, I was amazed at some of the thoughts going through my head. "He could do this" and "She might do that", along with "But what will happen after that?" were moving through my mind at lightning speed, which surprised me. Usually those thoughts are barely crawling, if moving at all.

But first, I realized, came the idea. That spark that set off those thoughts.

From talking with other writers and from my own experience, ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes an idea comes from an event so obscure that we don't even recognize it. An author friend recently told me she once had a story idea that came from hearing a Paul Harvey commentary. It wasn't what he was talking about, but one small, unrelated thing he said that sparked an idea that later became a book.

Ideas come from the life experiences of ourselves and others. They come from a conversation we overhear while waiting in line at the grocery store. They come from movies and TV shows we watch and books we read. Yes, tiny ideas from those can become stories that, in the end product, are totally unrelated to what we saw or read. We might pick up on the way a character reacts to certain situations or interacts with others or a mannerism. It might be a conflict between two people, either the hero and heroine or others.

Music, too, can inspire not only a scene, but an entire theme for a book. A song might also provide the one thing we're missing about a character, such as the character's motivation/backstory, that will make him or her real.

A story in the news, whether print media or television can often spark an idea which, when finished as a book, doesn't resemble the original piece at all.

It takes only one small spark to set a writer on the course of a new story. What happens after that spark is up to each author and the process he/she goes through until the final book is finished. That process is different for each writer, and it's often amazing.

So where do we get our ideas for books? Everywhere! That really is the answer.


Susan said...

Oh Rox!

I was just talking about this this weekend with a few friends. I'm doing a story, theme and idea workshop next month online. Each of us had different ways we found ideas, but all of us had an idea or two that had fallen into our laps.

I've done a book based on a country song, a book based on seeing things happen, a line of someone's conversation will jar a story...and sometimes even a line of dialogue I give to a character IN a story will produce a story!

Ideas are great. I love the way they sneak up on us!

susan meier

Jaxine Daniels said...

It's a delight to hear how story ideas were born. I know one of my books titles comes directly from something Dr. Phil said.

It's amazing how a bit can jump out at you and take up living in your brain.

Happy Wednesday everyone,


Estella said...

I enjoy hearing where you get ideas for stories.

Kathy said...

I'm a tad late posting I just got in from work and read your post about your blog on Cata's loop. I agree a story can pop out of anything even if you aren't looking for it. I was thinking about something else I wrote here while back something that I dropped because I didn't find a way for it to continue and I was like now how could this go and came up with another idea on a different story. Anyone out there ever get ideas in the shower? LOL I had this recent idea in the shower and tonight at work while staring out the window I was getting glimmer so fhow to make my current wip flow.