Where Ideas Come FromYes, I'm riffing off Esri's post from last week...I had way too much to add for a comment!
On Friday I was reading a story to my class about a schoolhouse that traveled from town to town along the railroad back in the old days. The teacher lived on the train and would stay in a town, usually filled with miners or lumberjacks, for six weeks before moving onto the next town.
By the time I’d gotten to the second page of a three page story, the teacher was a woman who wanted adventure and this was the only way she could get it. The women of the towns looked down on her for her vagabond life. The men of the towns looked upon her with interest, especially this widowed lumberjack…
And I don’t even write historicals.
So reading is one way I get ideas.
Watching TV and movies is another. Usually reality shows, something on the Discovery Channel or National Geographic, will spark something for me. A few years ago I saw a special about a cruise to Antarctica and I’ve been dying to do something with that ever since. But my WIP is kind of Gilmore Girls meets Virgin River.
The news helps, too. The 2000 Colorado fires inspired Hot Shot, my April 2008 release from Samhain.
I know one of my buddies didn’t like the way a movie was written, so her book is the way SHE thought that movie should be written. My vampire story is a modern day Moulin Rouge (with a happier ending).
My critique partners get these amazing ideas for connected books. That’s where my ghost hunter book came from (well, that and a dream.) The series fell apart, but I still have my ghost hunter book. Now we’re working on books for The Wild Rose Press’s Wayback Rodeo series. I’ve never written a cowboy book in my life, but this is fun. We’re even thinking of going to the San Antonio Rodeo for further inspiration.
What if is another source for me. My first book, Where There’s Smoke, due out in March from The Wild Rose Press, is a what-if story. Okay, it’s kind of a fun story. I’m a teacher, right, and the firefighter band Backdraft came to play at our school for a Just Say No rally. The guitar player was really cute, all the teachers were crushing, and I realized I knew him. Well, not KNEW him, but my uncle and his dad are best friends. My cousin Jennifer used to tell me stories about him all the time. So my what-if story was, what if Jennifer and Oscar the Incredibly Handsome Firefighter had grown up together as the children of best friends, and finally turned to one another and say, heyyyy…
Conversations can be inspiring. Two years ago, my grade level was eating lunch and one of the teachers was telling about one of her cop husband’s cases, about a ten year old whose mother had used him for a drug mule, he’d never been to school, never been socialized, and then his mother was killed. I had to wonder what kind of man he’d become. I had to hope he’d find his way to be a good man. So I made him the foster child of a Ranger, and he wanted to make this man proud so he grew up and became a Ranger too, fighting a drug war in Central America. That’s the Emily finalist, Breaking Daylight.
My biggest source of inspiration is dreams. Just last week I had this dream about Alex Karev from Grey’s Anatomy. All I remember is this one line, but it is a great line and would be terrific motivation.
Earlier in the month I had another neat dream about a woman being threatened because she was the daughter of someone important. I know, it’s been done, but when I wrote the dream down, it hung together. Someday I’ll have time to write it. It would make a great Silhouette Romantic Suspense.
Sometimes the dreams don’t hold together when I write them down, but I keep snippets. My first book was a dream about divorced cops who were kidnapped and had to be rescued by their kids. I kept the divorced cops part. My 2007 Golden Heart finalist was a dream about archaeologists in South America taken hostage by a gang of rebels. I thought it was a good idea, my dh didn’t think my heroine would survive, so I made it about divorced archaeologists in Central America, and left off the rebels.
What do I do with all these ideas? I clearly don’t have time to write them all. I have notebooks and I have idea folders. My potential SRS about the daughter of someone important already has its own Jack Sparrow notebook. (Just so you know - that's a level of commitment that I plan to write this story!)
The dreams I write down in another spiral.
I even have an email folder for story ideas I’ve gotten reading email.
I have an idea document on my desktop. I just checked – it’s not as full as I thought – only about 5 ideas, and one of them is this paranormal…
Now if I could only write FASTER and revise BETTER!
Where do your ideas come from?