Thursday, October 20, 2005

More on Story Ideas

Having been asked to write more about how I come up with stories got me thinking. I've never found that warehouse outside Tulsa, so I do most of the dirty work on my own. LOL Actually, the ideas are the fun part, the part that never runs out. Carrying out the work is the hard part. There are a lot of people who call themselves writers and who come up with ideas, but there are far fewer who actually do the work and get it all in publishable story form on paper.

Ideas come from anywhere. TV shows, the newspaper, songs, other books.

Which books haven't I mentioned? Georgia wanted to hear more details and Malvina said her favorite book is The Doctor’s Wife, so: The Doctor's Wife came from watching a talk show where the female guest told her story. She came from the "trash family" in a little town. I felt so sorry for her and her story was so sad that I sat and cried. Often when I'm moved by someone’s real life story, I want to write one that turns out better. It’s like I can fix the world one book at a time or something. The real person in this case was ridiculed and teased by the other children. Her family was so poor that she wore her brother’s underwear. Her mother gave birth to more than one baby and made the daughter go bury them. One particular time, she secretly gave the baby away. This was one of those reunion shows, and they brought out the sister whose life she saved so many years ago and they were reunited with hugs and tears. Bizarre story, eh? Once again truth is stranger than fiction. Well I changed all that and had the baby be my heroine’s and had her hide it to keep it safe. But that’s where the idea was conceived.

Most recently I got an idea for a story from a dateline news show about child victims/child heroes, and it featured Elizabeth Smart among others. One of the stories really impressed me, so I came up with my own situation. I asked myself what becomes of a child like this when they grow up? How do they cope with this stuff? The story evolved from there and it's under consideration for publication right now. It just feels like a BIG story to me. I’m excited about where it’s going.


  1. I love to hear about how authors come up with their ideas. As an aspiring writer, it's nice to know that I'm not the only one that's always thinking about the "what-if" scenerio.

    I finished my first book over the summer. I'm still doing some editing and I've entered several contests with RWA and it's local chapters. But I can tell you now, after the fact, that I went about it all wrong! Oh, if I had only known the steps that writers should take BEFORE they start writing!

    Thanks for the all the tips on story-line and character developement! My next attempt should be far more organized and therefore a little easier. At least, I'm trying to convince myself of that anyway. I can promise you that I have a lot more respect for authors like you after attempting to do it myself. It's a lot harder than it you think!

  2. It's funny but "where do you get your ideas" is the question I get almost exclusively when someone learns that I'm an author. And it always baffles me, because I'm full of ideas, tons of them coming from all directions, but it's getting them down and making it work that is the hard part. Ideas come to me from song titles and TV shows and reading the newspaper and the most unusual way I get ideas is from the Horse Racing Form. Have you ever seen some of the names of those horses? I jot them down when one intrigues me!

  3. Missy, good for you! If you'd like to try out my character grids for brainstorming and you can get Word file downloads, just email me and I'll send them for you.

    Charlene! Horse racing forms! LOL Okay toss out an intriging name for us. Waiting with baited oat breath....

  4. I enjoy hearing "trivia" about authors' books. My favorite books by you are Sweet Annie, Joe's Wife, and The Tenderfoot Bride. I do not know if you have discussed it yet, but I would love to know what inspired these stories.

  5. Jennifer, I keep a notebook for each project. I'll glance through those and see what I can remember about getting the ideas for the stories you asked about. Thanks for your interest!

  6. Sit in the waiting room of a shrink's office. You'll definitely get story ideas there. I met this woman who inspired me to write about her. She is far more gone then I am *G* but I was inspired.

  7. I always enjoy reading a book with a plot I've never read before.