Where Do Writers Get Their Ideas? [Roundup]

Where Do Writers Get Their Ideas? [Roundup]

Writers get so many interesting ideas for stories/ Where do those ideas come from?

Where Do you Get Your Ideas?

Here are their unedited responses.

Click on a photo to go directly to the author’s Facebook page.

Richard Lowe

Richard Lowe DisneylandWalk with me for a moment. Look through my eyes and experience my other senses. It’s a bright, sunny morning, a little warm at 87°, and forecast to be over 95°. I leave my house and begin my daily morning journey.

I look around, and see one of my neighbors, who looks a little sad. Since it’s Veterans Day, perhaps she’s remembering a relative – probably her grandfather – who fought in World War II. My mind spins a tale of the man as he stormed Omaha Beach in Normandy, and the experiences he had while doing so. I think I could make a romance out of it by having him fall in love with a local French peasant girl. The thought changes, no, not a romance. More of an action war story where the man storms a bunker on D-Day, and then fights his way across France with the rest of his squadron until the Battle of the Bulge where he is taken prisoner and spends the rest of the war in a POW camp.

The Writing Prompt Bundle: Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery & HistoricalI continue my walk, and see a frog hopping across the ground. I wonder what causes a frog to be out in the sunlight like that – heat is not good for frogs. Perhaps the frog had to flee an alligator in the local pond, deciding that it was better to take the risk of hopping a crossed about 100 yards of grass and sidewalks instead of being eaten in a pond by a hungry, vicious alligator.

A neighbor on the second story deck of their place sees me and goes inside their home. Perhaps, I think they might have something to hide. A tale of murder and suspense comes to mind, where I, the detective, am walking up the lane to question that person about a missing factory worker. Did she go indoors to hide some evidence? Did she hope I would think she was at home?

Continuing my walk, I look up, briefly, at the bright sun. What would happen if there was a large solar flare? Would people panic? Would all of the electronics in the world stop working? How would people in this area react?Maybe there would be looting and several neighbors would have to get together to protect themselves. Or, in a different twist to the story, perhaps zombies come out during times of solar flares and start hunting for brains and whatever else zombies hunt for.

That’s what I do to get ideas for stories. I just go out look, around and let my imagination run wild. The stories flow, and from that, I wind up writing something. I usually take an idea and create a very short piece of flash fiction, somewhere between 200 and a thousand words. The best of those will expand into longer stories, short eBooks, or even full novels. Most will sit on my hard drive, waiting for me to become interested in weaving them into a bigger story.


Debbie Young

Debbie YoungI’m an inveterate eavesdropper and observer of others wherever I go, and my ideas for plots are usually sparked by a throwaway remark overheard, feeding my writer’s natural hunger to put a back-story to it.

The ideas for settings for my stories come from my own environment, places I’ve either lived or worked, although the characters and story lines are fictitious.

My Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries are inspired by my having lived for nearly thirty years in a little village in the English Cotswolds region, and my work-in-progress series, Staffroom at St Bride’s, draws on thirteen years working at a girls’ boarding school nearby. My third series (as yet unnamed) will be set in the offices of a corrupt charity – although I hasten to add that the charity I worked for was completely ethical!

Mind you, in all three places, there have been real-life events that if I put them in a novel, no-one would ever believe!

Author website: www.authordebbieyoung.com
Twitter: @DebbieYoungBN


Wendy Jones

Wendy Jones

I’m a crime writer so many people ask me where I get my ideas. The answer is they all come straight out of my head. My head is a worrying place to be as my DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries are about serial killers. In order to let the reader inside the head of the killer, I have to go inside his or her head to find out that makes them tick. That’s not a good place to be for long. I think about things all the time and ideas come to me at the strangest times and places. For example, I look for body dumps everywhere I go. If I am driving down a country road and see a plastic bag blowing past I’ll think that maybe it has come loose form a hastily dumped body part. Seriously, that’s how my mind works.

For my Cass Claymore Mysteries I have to think like a ballet dancer whose career has been cut short. As these are humorous books I spend a lot of time thinking about the most bizarre situations imaginable and let theme play out in my mind. I think about how my characters would react and then how I can take this even further to make it even more humorous. Take our plastic bag. Maybe there’s a message inside from someone whose been kidnapped. They are trying to get a message to someone to rescue them. However, they’ve written it in an ancient Aramaic code so their kidnappers can’t read it. Problem is, neither can anyone else. My mind is weird.

Fergus and Flora are teenagers so I have to think like a teenager. Then I think about what Teenagers would like to do that is no longer possible for reasons of safety. Then wee Bertie the Buffalo, I just thought about what a young buffalo would be doing whilst it wandered around the country. It’s a great life.


Bjørn Larssen

Bjørn LarssenThe big idea for my debut novel was a combination of two dreams and a gestation period of 2-3 years when I kept trying to forget the dreams and they kept returning, armed with extra scenes and bits. But once I started really writing the extra ideas began to come in droves. Mostly when I was 1) at a meeting, 2) in bed trying to fall asleep, 3) in the shower, etc. I have a waterproof phone with Evernote on it now, so that when an idea strikes while I’m showering I can jump out, quickly type it in, then use later.

Mind you, last time I wrote down an idea for a little plot twist at 2am I woke up to see a note saying “She inherits everything, then he”. The first part is kind of understandable, but even my apparently very smart brain has no idea what it meant by “then he”. Maybe I need to set the alarm for 2am and look at it then…

www.bjornlarssen.com
www.twitter.com/bjornlarssen
www.facebook.com/bjornlarssenwriter

 


Robin Donovan

Robin DonovanMy Mom always said “the truth is stranger than fiction.” She was right. Although my books are works of fiction, they are based on the truth of the people I observe, no matter how strange. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts my early role models were Cornelia Otis Skinner and James Thurber, so comedy – and the absurd – has always played a key role in shaping my outlook. In fact, my own life has been a series of occurrences resembling Thurber’s “The Night The Bed Fell.”

As a result, my ideas stem from the philosophy that “life is bizarre and you can’t take yourself too seriously” and my writing is a reflection of that sentiment.

I tend to focus on the ludicrous in every aspect of my life, and it’s there, in every aspect. That enables me to zero in on the truly preposterous things that people do every day. And then I write about it. I write about the woman who turns over an assignment to you because it is NOT her responsibility and should never have been given to her, who then berates you for not inviting her to all the team meetings on that project – she’s become one of my favorite characters – Clovis Cordoba Seville. I write about the goofy business partner who never gets it right, but always remembers himself as the victor – not my best partner, but an awesome character.

As I build my treasure trove of caricatures they start to do things, and I let them. Some of them are pretty zany, but they never step out of character. One of the editors of my first novel commented that my murder victim and Clovis were “completely unbelievable characters.” I guess she hasn’t spent 30-years in the ad business. Honey, they were as real as you are! Other industries have the crazy – but their corporate culture teaches them to hide it better. We put ours right out there on display. I’ve actually had some people get mad at me for my portrayal of the murder victim in my first novel because they recognized her as a friend. I’d say that makes her pretty damn believable, but I’d have to concur that her behavior was quite often inconceivable.

Website
Donna Leigh Mysteries
Facebook


Paty Jager

Paty JagerI get my ideas from songs, news, bits and pieces I read or see on the television. At times I’ll be researching for one book and I’ll come across something that intrigues me and it becomes a premise or scene in another book. My mystery series started with my brother, a bronze artist, telling me about how a person could get away with murder because of how a statue/ sculpture could be taken apart and put back together. After thinking about that for a few years, I came up with an amateur sleuth who is a potter and used that premise in my first mystery book. I wrote a contemporary western romance based on something I heard on a talk show about a man an woman trying to figure out why boxes were being delivered to their hoe and discovering their child was using their credit card to order it all. I had a twelve-year-old girl order a nanny by internet. Because of a song I heard while driving tractor, I came up with a premise for a contemporary western romance novella. The lyrics were the title: Catch the Rain. It has to do with a woman with dyslexia.

Website
Blog
Facebook Page
Amazon
Pinterest
Twitter
Goodreads


Jo-Anne Blanco

Jo-Anne BlancoI am very much inspired by folk tales, legends, and mythology from all over the world – be they Greek, Roman, Celtic, Norse, Persian, Indonesian etc. However, many of my ideas also come from my imagination and my own experiences, as a child, teenager, adult and so on. With these first novels in the Fata Morgana series, in which Morgan is a young child, I draw a lot on my own experiences as a child, my interest as an amateur child psychologist, and my research into childhood throughout history. Historical research is another essential well of inspiration. Although my novels contain many magical and fantasy elements, I do try, as far as possible, to maintain a sense of historical accuracy as well.

One of the things I found fascinating while doing research for my books is how our idea of childhood today is largely a Victorian/Edwardian concept. Prior to this, particularly from what we know of the medieval period, children were sent out to work early and had to grow up fast. Children did have toys and games they would play, but the children of nobility were taught Latin and statecraft from the age of around four or five, while the children of peasants were apprenticed to a trade or sent out to work in the fields at an equally young age. I wrestled with whether or not to go for historical authenticity in my books, or to portray children and their childhoods in a more modern, recognisable way. Eventually, I chose the former. I know it can be jarring for contemporary readers, but I felt I had to go with historical realism as a way of grounding the more fantastical aspects, and with the knowledge that originally inspired me.

Mythology, legend, folklore, history, psychology, religion, philosophy, personal experience – all of these fire my imagination, and provide me with never-ending sources of inspiration and ideas. Writing for me is as much an educational experience it is a creative one.

Facebook
My website: https://jo-anneblanco.com/
My author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JoAnneBlancoBooks/


Robin Donovan

Robin DonovanMy Mom always said “the truth is stranger than fiction.” She was right. Although my books are works of fiction, they are based on the truth of the people I observe, no matter how strange. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts my early role models were Cornelia Otis Skinner and James Thurber, so comedy – and the absurd – has always played a key role in shaping my outlook. In fact, my own life has been a series of occurrences resembling Thurber’s “The Night The Bed Fell.”

As a result, my ideas stem from the philosophy that “life is bizarre and you can’t take yourself too seriously” and my writing is a reflection of that sentiment.

I tend to focus on the ludicrous in every aspect of my life, and it’s there, in every aspect. That enables me to zero in on the truly preposterous things that people do every day. And then I write about it. I write about the woman who turns over an assignment to you because it is NOT her responsibility and should never have been given to her, who then berates you for not inviting her to all the team meetings on that project – she’s become one of my favorite characters – Clovis Cordoba Seville. I write about the goofy business partner who never gets it right, but always remembers himself as the victor – not my best partner, but an awesome character.

As I build my treasure trove of caricatures they start to do things, and I let them. Some of them are pretty zany, but they never step out of character. One of the editors of my first novel commented that my murder victim and Clovis were “completely unbelievable characters.” I guess she hasn’t spent 30-years in the ad business. Honey, they were as real as you are! Other industries have the crazy – but their corporate culture teaches them to hide it better. We put ours right out there on display. I’ve actually had some people get mad at me for my portrayal of the murder victim in my first novel because they recognized her as a friend. I’d say that makes her pretty damn believable, but I’d have to concur that her behavior was quite often inconceivable.

Website
Donna Leigh Mysteries
Facebook


Bonnie Dillabough

Bonnie DillaboughIdeas come from so many sources…

A snatch of a song, a chance remark by a stranger on a bus, the sight of a loved one’s face, a headline or even a stranger in an airport.

The key for ideas is to keep track and to be able to put them into context. There are kajillions of ideas in the ether, and they happen frequently throughout any given day. Most of them are as permanent as a soap bubble.

I try to keep a notepad handy to jot down ideas as they come. Most of them I never use for anything, but once in awhile one comes and chooses to nag at me until I pay attention. These are usually the ones that create stories, characters and worlds worth reading about.


Kyle Waller

Kyle WallerThe world, my own experiences, Humanity. I write what I see, and I aim to write the unrepentant truth, no matter how offensive people may find it. My ideas also come from within – but I also believe in greater powers beyond our understanding. I believe a good portion of my works, the visions I see in my head and the things I want to convey in my works, do come from God. I’m not saying he whispers in my ear or anything like that- because that would be true insanity- but I am a believer. And since I’ve become one, I’ve found that the quality of my work has overall improved. The world has things it wants us to hear- let’s make them heard.

Facebook: Kyle Waller


Thomas J Eyre

Thomas J EyreThe answer to where I get my ideas is all around me. I may be watching a film, and I can see a good plot twist I can incorporate into my work. Other times I may be out and about in public and see something like a couple arguing. I watch their body language, arm and hand gestures, and not forgetting their facial expressions. The tricky part is doing it without attracting their attention by staring at them as that can cause an altercation between you and the arguing people.
To make writing interesting and sound natural when it’s being read, you have to people watch and then convey what you see to readers through your words. Other inspiration comes from reading books, newspapers and magazines, or any printed matter. I once picked up an idea for a plot variation by reading the flight safety leaflet on a Boeing 737, while waiting to take off.

The description of a word variation in a thesaurus gave me another idea, so inspiration really does come from everywhere and nowhere baby, that’s where they’re at, going down a bumpy hillside in a hippy hat… Yep even Jeff Beck’s dodgy song lyrics.

https://thomasjeyre.com
https://www.facebook.com/thomas.eyre.3760
https://twitter.com/ThomasJEyre1
https://www.instagram.com/thomasjeyre1/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/thomas-eyre-a43aaa172/


Carol Cooper

Where Do Writers Get Their Ideas? [Roundup]I find that ideas pop into my head from just about anywhere. Sometimes an overheard conversation in a cafe or an old memory will spark off a useful train of thought. It can happen anytime, which is why, like most other writers, I keep a notebook to hand, including by my bed.

As for developing the idea into a polished piece of fiction, well, that’s harder because it demands time. Sometimes an idea doesn’t quite work out as I’d hoped. Even more often, I simply can’t read my writing.

Facebook page Carol Cooper’s London novels
Blog Pills and Pillow-Talk
Website www.drcarolcooper.com
Twitter @DrCarolCooper
Instagram DrCarolCooper


Lou Holly

Lou HollyMy ideas come mostly from three places: my imagination, my own life, and films. I watch a lot more movies than I read books. But whether it’s in book form or movie form, it all starts with the writing. My favorite genre of movies is Film Noir, so much of my crime novels are influenced in some way by the 1940s and 1950s shadowy plots. That being said, even the darkest of stories should be sprinkled with humor. I’ve led an extraordinary life and I also draw on past experiences for novel ideas.

https://www.amazon.com/SOUTHSIDE-HUSTLE-gripping-thriller-suspense-ebook/dp/B01DJHH030
https://www.amazon.com/RAZORBACK-gripping-crime-fiction-suspense-ebook/dp/B074THF6NY

 


Sherry Linker

Sherry LinkerI think one of the funnest aspects of writing is getting inspiration from people, places and even movies and books. I’ve always been observant of that around me and use pieces of such in my writing. I also incorporate bits of my life in what I write, so there’s always a sliding scale of truth-to-fiction. One of my favorite things to do when traveling is taking notes of different cultures, architecture, mannerisms and nature. I’ve always kept a notebook for recording observations to use for ideas! Whether I’m developing a character or a place, I incorporate pieces of truth with observations.


Jo Ullah

Jo UllahMy story ideas come from a smorgasbord of thoughts and elements. It all starts with a seed; an idea, a visual or a feeling. This can come from a dream, something said, seen or imagined. Then it takes root and sends up shoots. Sometimes an idea will stay floating for several years, not quite enough on its own until something else pops up to join and compliment it. Once a narrative is in full production I am amazed at the things that turn up in my life that correspond with it – adding, confirming, filling out.

www.joullah.com


Lucy Winton

Lucy WintonI suppose the obvious answer would be ‘my own head’. It’s always the characters that appear first, then the story. That can complicate things a bit!

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Bjørn Larssen
1 year ago

Both Robin and Debbie mention that truth is stranger than fiction – how true is that! I had this conversation yesterday with a non-writer, just comparing things that happened to us recently and saying to each other – “if this was in a book, everyone would say it’s way too far fetched and such a thing would never happen”.

Thank you for the round-up as always, Richard!

Carol Cooper
1 year ago

Readers often ask where ideas come from, and it’s great to see so many writers’ answers – along with some striking similarities!

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