They Said It Best: Where Do Writing Ideas Come From?

so-you-want-to-be-a-writer-where-do-stories-come-fromSo I’m not the most consistent blogger, nor do I always feel like I have earth-shattering information to share outside of what you can already find on the magical world wide web. But let’s face it, there’s A LOT of information available on just about anything. So this year, I thought I’d start a series that pools information from some of my favorite sources into one, easy-to-find place! So every other Wednesday, I’ll post topics with links and sources from around the internet. Feel free to link your favorite articles or posts from your website on related subjects in the comments! The more info the better!

My first topic starts at the very beginning of a writer’s process: where do ideas come from? The easy answer is ANYWHERE. But if you need a little more guidance, hear what these writers had to say:

I brainstorm the old fashioned way, with pen and paper. When I have a story idea I jot down all the things I know for sure about how the story will go. Then I write down my questions. For example, what is the conflict? Where is the story set? How will I resolve the conflict? Then as the story starts to take shape, I begin writing down (in point form) how the chapters will go. I usually only plot a few chapters ahead at a time because I’m a pantser with plotter ambitions. For me, I know the story will work if I can keep asking myself questions about the plot. If I can’t think of questions, then the story is a dud and must be abandoned.

~Tammy Farrell, author of The Darkness of Light and The Highborn Chronicles

My ideas come from everywhere. Like a cyclone of random junk that somehow gets pieced together to form one solid idea. Music, movies, a picture from Pinterest. Anything can spark an idea. For FATAL, the idea came to me while watching a horror movie. I thought, I want to make a zombie who could pass for a high school student. Like, no one would even suspect he’s undead. But then he falls in love. Because he has feeeeeelings. And suddenly I had a zombie that was super unique. The book wrote itself after that.

~T.A. Brock, author of FATAL and BRUTAL

The character always comes first for me. Sometimes they come with an initial scenario, sometimes they don’t. But once I’ve got the character, I give them a name and a backstory, and then I ask–what now? Where will they go? What will they do? And as the plot forms, I throw in new characters, new places, new events. Every time, I imagine my character and ask myself, how will they react to this? I find that getting to know my main characters gives me plenty of ideas. Writing out their history, in particular, always leads me to new characters and events that feel naturally like part of my character’s story.

~Cait Spivey, author of I SEE THE WEB and A SINGLE THREAD

“Most of my inspiration comes from things I see. A tree. An old building. Some random person on the street. Sometimes it’s a character in my mind, and other times it’s a simple thought. For DOORS a thought entered my mind: What if we could travel to other worlds? What if there was a door?”

~Kathleen Palm, author of DOORS

My idea for the Mine series came about while listening to music. I have my ear buds in whenever I get the chance–ironing, working on budgets, shopping. The actual song was ‘Child Come Away’ by Kim Wilde. If you listen to the lyrics you’ll see how they fit with the idea she brought about.
The original idea was based on a vampire coming out of the water and seducing a girl on the beach. I had him being attacked by a secret group of people who knew vampires existed but the rest of the world didn’t. They tried to catch him, but he escaped–they took the girl instead.
Those who have read Sachael Dreams will see similarities between this original idea and the finished MS. A lot changed, but the basics are still there.

~Melody Winter, author of SACHAEL DREAMS

REUTS Publications Sr. Editor Kisa Whipkey also lists music as her main inspiration in her post on brainstorming and creativity.

“A somber, melancholy piece of music will likely inspire a sad, tragic, emotionally heavy story. Something fast with high intensity will likely equal a fight scene or action piece. Haunting and dramatic music? Something creepy and mysterious. I think you start to see the point. The “feel” of the inspiring music has a direct correlation to the “feel” of the idea.”

Bottom line? Inspiration can come from anywhere, as the picture at the top of this post identifies. Train yourself to notice even the tiniest things, and ask yourself, “What if?”


Share your inspiration and idea posts in the comments below, and tune in next week as the series continues with “Writer Processes: There’s no right way.”

Posted in They Said It Best Series, Writing Tagged , , , , ,

One Response to They Said It Best: Where Do Writing Ideas Come From?

  1. Pingback: Five Links Friday 1/16/15 | Write Good Books

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *