Monday, September 23, 2013

Where Do Your Story Ideas Come From?

To a writer, this is the equivalent of a child asking where babies come from.

Meaning we hate to be asked this in front of other people.

Unlike the question about where babies come from, we don't always know the answer to the question "Where do you get your story ideas?"  And no one will believe you if you tell them that the "Story Idea Stork" brought them to you. 

The fact is that there is no single answer to this question.  For some writers, finding story ideas is much like Columbus looking for the passage to India--it's out there somewhere, we just have to find it.  And, much like Columbus, we sometimes find something totally different and not at all what we were looking for... but it works.

Other writers are like prospectors.  There is story gold to be found, so we dig.  And dig.  And dig even deeper.  And if we're fortunate, we hit the Mother Lode of story ideas.  Or we might find a nugget or two.  Either way, we're left with a big pile of dirt and rocks and a huge hole.  And that nugget.

Then there are writers for whom story ideas are handed to them by well-meaning folks, much like potluck leftovers no one liked are given to a college student living alone and presumed to be starving to death--in other words, they'll take anything.  This usually happens to a writer who has had their first book or story published and people they barely know who not-so-secretly fantasize about having written a book are eager to share their ideas in hopes that the newly published writer is so desperate for ideas that they'll take it (thereby giving them credit in the book's acknowledgements... and thus being the only way they'll ever see their name in print.)

There are ideas everywhere and sometimes they buzz around our heads like gnats and sometimes they hide like our car keys when we're running late, but they're there.  Many times we have the same idea other writers have had, but rather than discard it because it's not original (there really aren't a whole lot of original ideas left anymore), we look at it and process it a different way and it becomes a completely different story. 

I've found that the best answer to the question "Where do you get your story ideas?" is quite the simply the easiest and most honest one: "They're everywhere!"

Proof that there are plenty ideas just waiting to be found!

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