Wednesday, March 7, 2012



Where do you get your ideas for stories?

It's one of the most frequent questions writers are asked.  It's also one of the hardest to answer, because ideas come from everywhere, and that isn't what people want to hear.

So what does "everywhere" mean?  Some ideas come from personal experience or the experience of friends or family.  For instance, the idea for my second Silhouette Romance, A Saddle Made for Two, began with my encounter with a snake in my house.  Just to make it clear, I don't like snakes.  Not one bit.  And I don't think they belong in my house.  The heroine in that book was an independent, tough talking, tiny woman who competed as a barrel racer at rodeos.  She wasn't afraid of anything...except snakes.  And relationships.  I loved Ellie, especially because her reaction to that snake in her camper was exactly what mine had been when I found the big bull snake in my kitchen.  Except for that, there's very little Ellie in me.  Well, maybe. ☺

As a rule--at least for me--inspiration isn't something I can force.  It can be coerced and teased, and there are many ways to do that.  Music is often a prime inspiration for writers, invoking emotions that are a part of something or someone in the story.  A scene in my first Silhouette Romance, Rachel's Rescuer, was inspired by a song by country singer Collin Raye.  Another by him inspired another scene and much of the idea for my Harlequin American Romance, Bachelor Cowboy.  Foreigner's Until the End of Time was the perfect description of Tucker O'Brien, the hero in The Maverick's Reward, and I played it over and over, never tiring of it.

In addition to music, inspiration comes in many forms.  Pictures and photographs aren't only used for research, but can inspire a location or the action in a scene or a character.  For many writers, a story plays out in their minds in a way that's similar to a movie.

One of my favorite things about writing is when I suddenly start "hearing" a character.  It's one of the things people who don't write seem to think is very odd.  But characters are very real to writers.  While they aren't real people, like something we can look at and see with our eyes, our imaginations see them with our mind's eyes.  And just when do these characters usually decide to talk?  Never when needed and often at the most inopportune time.  I've lost count of the number of times I've had to get out of bed and go to the computer where I can record certain childhood memories of the character that are suddenly revealed or even snippets of conversations between two characters.

Open yourself up to the many types of inspiration.  It's not important where we find inspiration, it's what we do with it.  Use yours well!
“Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity.” - Bo Bennett

No comments: